C.54. A flawed agenda

It has been customary to frame the agenda for discussion of such topics as methodological “objectivity” in terms of a three-entity relationship: Or:Od => On. Which is to say that there obtains an observer, Or, focusing attention on an observed, Od, resulting in an observation, On. Concerns about objectivity center on whether the On represents the Od – and only the Od, lest “subjectivity” emanate from the Or.

Communication, however, can render and present the observed as an object (App. III), whatever the observed might be (e.g., thing or thingk [C-27]). (The philosophical concept of “intentionality” presumes much the same confrontation of Or and Od?)

But Or:Od => On is severely biased against the behavioral aspects of both observer and observed. G.G. Simpson, seeing behavior as biological, questioned the neglect of behavior in the observer. In BFPS we echo him with added emphasis, and then strongly question the flawed agenda’s neglect of behavior in the observed. Consider these molecular corrections with respect to behavior in the observing and in the observed:

Og(cog) : BE => pt. ABOUT (re pt. AT) => Mg(cmu) => On(cog+cmu)

Where minding’s cognition is directed toward a focal behavioral entity (all entities are behavioral) and the product of that cognition, a point ABOUT (re a point AT), is given expression by communicative moving, with the result of “having made an observation.”

Objectivity and subjectivity no longer suffice to encompass and express the consequentiality inherent in this amended agenda. We need to ask what kinds of representation and misrepresentation can and does cognition’s points ABOUT introduce. We need to ask whether communication technologies (e.g., natural languages in current use) are up to expressing all possible points ABOUT. And we need to make sure that we have not slighted the behavior half of behavioral entity (which, we have seen, we have indeed been doing all too long and all too frequently [III]).

This corrected agenda helps to indicate and illustrate a task often facing the receiver of an observation — and often a message that contains many such observations. That task is not easy. We must solve in order to see – i.e., solve the On as a puzzle in order to see one or both of what’s being talked about and what’s being said about it. When we consider transparency (of point ABOUT re point AT) as a criterion of effective communicating, solve-to-see is no minor matter. “Jargon” reminds us of this difficulty, commonly occasioned and exhibited by excessive use of unanchored concepts (C-22).

That we are typically unaware of the BPO bias (C-38, C-39) at work on that which we observe (XI: body/step > l; particular/general > 1; order of things/Nature of Things >1) and in the natural languages used for expressing cognizing and cognitions … all that makes solve-to-see far more difficult than this problem is usually credited as posing. (Although the barrier is very obvious in some of the conceptual reaches of philosophy, psychology and cultural studies – just to mention some locales of the more vexing.)

There is, in fact, an even more perplexing feature to this solve-to-see difficulty. Consider, for example, scholarly literatures that comprise points ABOUT other scholars’ points ABOUT. Then even “jargon” does not do justice to the labor imposed, as when the point AT cannot be discerned through a thicket of points ABOUT (themselves not clearly distinguished nor well expressed; see poorly anchored concepts: C-22).

If we are to do well, to be more productive in this Age of Composition (App. XII), we are going to have to do better by cognition and communication, working on and from a better behavioral basis. (See C-55, where language as technology is deemed in need of improvement as joint cognition and communication development.)

There is still another flawed agenda aspect to consider, one of framing. The Or:Od => On agenda frames our attention, limiting it to a single gap relationship (VI), the gap between Or and Od. But we can hardly avoid the presence and consequentiality of gappiness conditions, of the multiple relationships – and probable complex relationships — entailed by Or attending to more than one particular (e.g., as in decision making situations*).

Even more critically for our progress in problem solving, the framing occludes discontinuity per se (aka supergappiness), which is one of Everything’s three general persisting conditions, and thus carries along with it potential neglect of its companions: partial order completely and far too much of consequentiality.

This flawed agenda is not the procedural tool (App. VII) with which we want to face the future. It tends to look to the particulars of the past and present with more than a hint of “was-is-must be,” of an underlying order as a potential source of instruction for our behavior. It misses too much that is critical to problem solving. It neglects the need for compositional capability required for the solutions we still must produce (App. XI, App. XII). It gives little heed to the force of the behavioral problem, the solution for which is at the core of agency capability to be constructive (I, II; C-41). It leaves us unprepared (C-52).


* Just the simple 3-gap situation of Or and two Od’s, such as encountered in a decision between two alternatives, is revealing. The two relationships between Or and each of the Od’s (aka “saliences”) owe something to experiences with them as the basis for acquaintance, perhaps to a process of evaluation (IX). The observed relationship between the Od’s, as when based on a comparison of them with respect to a particular attribute or attributes (aka “pertinences”), involves a process of valuation. (See C-31.)

(c) 2012 R.F. Carter