September 2, 2013
The Natural Language of Structured Thinking
In general, thinking is the act of identifying and investigating how observations relate to each other and what the relationships mean. These are acknowledged in terms of presences or absences, arrangements, distinctions, and influences. The “natural” elements of that acknowledgement consist largely of types, degrees, directions, and choices – all used to provide and retain a description of the “related observations”.
Ontology offers a system of descriptions that presumes a boundary around a group of thoughts, usually seen as a domain. A domain tells a user what target arena of interest is offered for, or is soliciting, activity. Furthermore, for a given user, a domain can represent the “comfort zone” of the user. Within that zone, thinking continues indefinitely both in breadth and depth of observation.
The most pronounced consequent experience of thinking is discovery, while the method applied in the act of thinking is the structure of the thinking. Methods offer prescription, but the actual prescription is not of outcomes. Instead, a method offers prescriptive guidance of exploration.
However, as thinking generates discoveries, making discoveries useful becomes a task of design. (Design establishes the correspondence between the way something can be used and the way the given user is able to actually use it. The variation of contexts, tasks, and users will all affect the incidental success of a design; but, the design also communicates – even prescribes -- how the item is intended to be used. ) Like syntax, Taxonomy performs the design task of organizing discoveries in a standardized way that makes them consistently re-discoverable and applicable as elements, by multiple diverse parties at any different times. By organizing a universe of observations and relationships, taxonomy both captures and recommends thinking, while populating a framework within which a variety of methods are actually utilized.
Method is responsible for making available forms of available elements work together. To expose and connect concepts, method itself most often relies on an available taxonomy but will also be willing to modify it. The taxonomy offers pre-existing concepts in forms making the concepts usable and, in effect, portable.
However, although some element (like a concept) has a form for making it usable, different elements may have different forms and their forms may not be inherently compatible.
Form itself can be organically generated or synthetically constructed, but neither of those approaches is inherently superior to the other. Instead, the utility of the form, which creates a difference in its worthiness, is established by applying design, and method then selects forms that it can integrate or orchestrate progressively towards a goal.
In this way, method becomes the structure of thinking, providing the internal logic of thinking’s overall form. Strong structures and weak structures can be distinguished from each other by the degree to which they promote coherency and persistence. This means that although concepts (elements) within thinking may individually be strong or vivid, the overall composition in which they are included may not have the same degree of strength due to gaps or weak links elsewhere. A key responsibility of method is to minimize the risk of such problems occurring or persisting.
Another risk lies in accidentally mistaking or substituting form as the authority of the thinking. As an example of when this occurs, users mistakenly believe that an idea is valid because of the way it is expressed. Although it is natural to rely on one’s experience of a thought (which is the engagement with its designed form), the structure of the thought is how it is actually made portable and persistent across different contexts, tasks, and users. Shared experience can make an idea compelling and popular, but it is not the same thing as shared understanding or transferred knowledge.
Ultimately, the goal of thinking is to promote a grasp of concepts not only in a point of view but across multiple points of view that add up to a greater perspective. Accordingly, methods for distinguishing, navigating, repurposing and cross-referencing concepts predominate as the natural language of structured thinking.
©2012 Malcolm Ryder / archestra
Posted by Malcolm Ryder at September 2, 2013 7:39 PM