ISSN 2567-6458, 25.November 2022 – 25.November 2022, 10:31h
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Parts of this text have been translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version), afterwards minimally edited.
This post is part of the book project ‘oksimo.R Editor and Simulator for Theories’ and represents an explanation box to the topic ‘World, Space, Time’.
In the example (part 1+2) already a little bit of the peculiarities of an ‘oksimo.R text’ becomes visible. These refer to aspects of space and time in our linguistic communication with texts. First comments on this here. More will follow later in the concluding overall theoretical presentation.
World, Space, Time
In our everyday life we presuppose – normally – the existence of a body world, to which also our own body belongs. We know of this — for the brain external — body world only something by the sense organs of our body and insofar as our brain ‘processes’ these signals of the sense organs – in the context of many other signals from the own body -, to different internal event structures. Perceptions of so-called ‘objects’ like cups, chairs, tables, cars, also animals and other people, are therefore ‘processed products’; we can never directly perceive the ‘triggering things of the external body world’ itself. Our brain creates a ‘virtual world’ in our head, but this is for us the ‘primary real world’. As a child one learns laboriously to distinguish between ‘mere imaginations (in our head)’ and such imaginations which also ‘correspond’ with immediate sensual perception and additionally link up with many kinds of ‘concrete (= sensual)’ properties. If a child is looking for his toy teddy bear in the ‘red box’ and it is not there, then this is one of the many experiences on the subject that the ‘imagination in the head’ should not automatically be equated with a ‘real factual situation’.
If our brain in closest cooperation with our body continuously generates a ‘virtual world’ of the ‘assumed external real world’, then it is already an interesting question, which of the many properties of the real world (which we know only on the basis of ‘experiences’ and ‘scientific reconstructions’), can be found in the virtual models of the brain? The question becomes even more exciting if we look at ‘linguistic communication between humans’: it is one thing that our brain ‘fills’ us with virtual constructs (ideas), it is quite another question which of these ideas can be communicated between brains (humans) by means of language.
The ‘space-time problem’ has been discussed by many philosophers and scientists. One of the most prominent representatives, who strongly influenced the discussion in European thinking at the beginning, is surely Immanuel Kant, who tried to work out with his book “Critique of Pure Reason” in 1781 (1787 2nd edition) that the ideas of ‘space’ and ‘time’ are laid out in our human thinking in such a way that we always ‘imagine’ and ‘think’ objective things as ‘part of a space’; he assumed the same for the idea of time. More precise analyses of this point of view of his are difficult for many reasons. For the following considerations one can be ‘sensitized’ by Kant’s position to the effect that in our ‘normal perception and thinking’ as well as then especially in our linguistic communication we have to reckon with properties which have to do with ideas of space and time.
oksimo.R Text as a ‘Set’
If we want to pursue the question whether and how ‘notions of space and time’ make themselves felt within normal linguistic communication, it is perhaps advisable to start with the format of oksimo.R texts, since these give the writer and reader ‘less freedom’ than a ‘normal’ English text. The format of oksimo.R texts can be described relatively easily.
The peculiarity of oksimo.R texts can be described relatively simply:
- An oksimo.R text is a ‘set’ (‘collection’) of ‘linguistic expressions’ of a ‘normal language’ (e.g. German, English, Russian, Spanish, …).
- As a ‘part of the set text’ each linguistic expression is an ‘element’ of the set text.
- The ‘order’ of these elements in the text does not follow a certain structure. This means that the ‘sequence’ of elements in the written form has no meaning of its own. As in a usual set of the mathematical concept of a set, the elements can be ‘regrouped’ among themselves without ‘changing’ an oksimo.R text.
- The elements of a ‘set oksimo.R Text’ have as such no specific meaning. A ‘meaning’ comes to the elements of an oksimo.R text only if the writer-readers of oksimo.R texts know the language of these elements (e.g. English) and assign ‘agreed meanings’ to the elements by virtue of their language competence. However, this meaning exists exclusively ‘in the minds’ of the writer-readers, not explicitly in the text itself.
With these first observations about the peculiarity of oksimo.R texts, one can make a first comparison to texts of a normal language (here: English).
Normal Text, not a mere Set
If we look at the text of a normal language (here: English), then we link the written expressions ‘automatically’ (spontaneously, …) with different ‘(linguistically induced) meanings’ while reading. These ‘linked meanings’ are on the one hand strongly dependent on the ‘individual learning history’ with specific ‘individual preconditions’, but on the other hand also on the ‘cultural patterns of the social environment’, within which a person acquires/ builds up/ develops his language competence.
While the linguistic expressions as such do not induce any particular ‘order’, the ‘switched on’ linguistic meaning structures can, however, articulate different ‘relations’ through the factual structures contained in them with their learned properties, which mutually refer to each other. Thus, for example, when speaking of a ‘cup on a table’, this implies a ‘spatial structure’ with a ‘stands-on’ or ‘is-under’ relation. Moreover, the writer-reader of a text ‘knows’ that normally a cup is not on a table, but only when someone has explicitly put the cup there. A sequence of expressions like ‘Gerd puts the cup on the table. When Peter comes in he sees that there is a cup on the table’ then appears to a reader as ‘normal/ usual/ accustomed’. But if the text would say ‘When Peter comes in, he sees that there is a cup on the table. Gerd puts the cup on the table’, then a normal reader would stop and ask himself what the text wants to say: The cup is on the table and only then it is put on the table?
This simple example demonstrates besides an ‘implicit spatial structure’ also an ‘implicit temporal structure: In everyday experience, embedded in an external body world, it is normal that properties – and thus a whole situation – can change. However, these changes do not happen (! ) in the sensory perception (the present as such is ‘absolute’), but are only revealed in the ‘downstream processing’ by the brain, which is able to ‘store’ partial aspects of a current sensory perception in such a way (a highly complex neuronal process), that it can ‘remember’ these ‘stored structures’ again (also a highly complex neuronal process) and additionally ‘compares’ them with ‘other memory contents’ in such a way (also a highly complex neuronal process) that our brain can thereby reconstruct a ‘sequence’ as well as ‘identify’ possible ‘changes between single elements of the sequence’. Because of this highly complex mechanism the brain can break up/ overcome the ‘absoluteness of the present’ by ‘remembering and comparing’.
A ‘normal text’ has many more special properties. Here, first of all, it is only important to see that it is the dimension of ‘linguistic meaning’ localized ‘in’ a human writer-reader, through which a set of linguistic expressions can induce a complex ‘network of properties’ that have their ‘own linguistically induced logic’.
Again, the whole spectrum of possible properties of ‘linguistic communication’ shall not be described here – a ‘sea’ of articles and books would could to be cited here – but only a few aspects shall be addressed which suggest themselves from the previous considerations on texts.
If the previous ‘working hypothesis on linguistic meaning’ is correct, then written linguistic expressions have the function to enable ‘between two brains’ a a ‘medium’ suitable to make so-called ‘signs’ out of the ‘linguistic expressions’.  A sign is a sensually perceptible material that can be related by ‘sign users’ to an ‘agreed space of sign meanings’. These agreed sign meanings are localized as such ‘in the head’ of the respective sign users, but they have the peculiarity that the different sign users have ‘learned’ by common ‘training’ which ‘sensuously perceptible realities of the external body world’ are to be linked with certain sign (material). If such a ‘coordination’ of sign(material) and sign-meaning succeeds (all children of this world practice this form of training in spontaneous language learning), a single sign-user can ‘hint’ at certain ‘elements of his meaning-space’ by practicing certain sign-connections to another trained sign-user. Through a ‘back and forth’ of statements, questions, possibly also interpretative gestures in a real situation, a certain ‘understanding’ can then – usually – be established. The more complex the circumstances are, the further away one is from a concrete situation, the more difficult it becomes to ‘convey’ what is meant sufficiently clearly.
What does all this mean in concrete terms?
For this we look at further examples realized with oksimo.R texts.
 Even in the area of ‘normal’ English texts, there is a great variety of texts that make very special demands on ‘filling in’.
 There are numerous disciplines in academia that deal more or less ‘generally’ with properties of ‘normal’ languages and communication with normal languages. The discipline that actually does this most ‘generally’, ‘semiotics’, still leads a rather ‘shadowy existence’ worldwide next to the ‘established’ other disciplines. Here, too, there exists a myriad of articles and books on the subject.
Recommended further Reading
It is recommended to continue reading from here with the section about a daily routine HERE.