OKSIMO MEETS POPPER. Popper’s Position

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 31.March – 31.March  2021
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

CONTEXT

This text is part of a philosophy of science  analysis of the case of the oksimo software (oksimo.com). A specification of the oksimo software from an engineering point of view can be found in four consecutive  posts dedicated to the HMI-Analysis for  this software.

POPPERs POSITION IN THE CHAPTERS 1-17

In my reading of the chapters 1-17 of Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery [1] I see the following three main concepts which are interrelated: (i) the concept of a scientific theory, (ii) the point of view of a meta-theory about scientific theories, and (iii) possible empirical interpretations of scientific theories.

Scientific Theory

A scientific theory is according to Popper a collection of universal statements AX, accompanied by a concept of logical inference , which allows the deduction of a certain theorem t  if one makes  some additional concrete assumptions H.

Example: Theory T1 = <AX1,>

AX1= {Birds can fly}

H1= {Peter is  a bird}

: Peter can fly

Because  there exists a concrete object which is classified as a bird and this concrete bird with the name ‘Peter’ can  fly one can infer that the universal statement could be verified by this concrete bird. But the question remains open whether all observable concrete objects classifiable as birds can fly.

One could continue with observations of several hundreds of concrete birds but according to Popper this would not prove the theory T1 completely true. Such a procedure can only support a numerical universality understood as a conjunction of finitely many observations about concrete birds   like ‘Peter can fly’ & ‘Mary can fly’ & …. &’AH2 can fly’.(cf. p.62)

The only procedure which is applicable to a universal theory according to Popper is to falsify a theory by only one observation like ‘Doxy is a bird’ and ‘Doxy cannot fly’. Then one could construct the following inference:

AX1= {Birds can fly}

H2= {Doxy is  a bird, Doxy cannot fly}

: ‘Doxy can fly’ & ~’Doxy can fly’

If a statement A can be inferred and simultaneously the negation ~A then this is called a logical contradiction:

{AX1, H2}  ‘Doxy can fly’ & ~’Doxy can fly’

In this case the set {AX1, H2} is called inconsistent.

If a set of statements is classified as inconsistent then you can derive from this set everything. In this case you cannot any more distinguish between true or false statements.

Thus while the increase of the number of confirmed observations can only increase the trust in the axioms of a scientific theory T without enabling an absolute proof  a falsification of a theory T can destroy the ability  of this  theory to distinguish between true and false statements.

Another idea associated with this structure of a scientific theory is that the universal statements using universal concepts are strictly speaking speculative ideas which deserve some faith that these concepts will be provable every time one will try  it.(cf. p.33, 63)

Meta Theory, Logic of Scientific Discovery, Philosophy of Science

Talking about scientific theories has at least two aspects: scientific theories as objects and those who talk about these objects.

Those who talk about are usually Philosophers of Science which are only a special kind of Philosophers, e.g. a person  like Popper.

Reading the text of Popper one can identify the following elements which seem to be important to describe scientific theories in a more broader framework:

A scientific theory from a point of  view of Philosophy of Science represents a structure like the following one (minimal version):

MT=<S, A[μ], E, L, AX, , ET, E+, E-, true, false, contradiction, inconsistent>

In a shared empirical situation S there are some human actors A as experts producing expressions E of some language L.  Based on their built-in adaptive meaning function μ the human actors A can relate  properties of the situation S with expressions E of L.  Those expressions E which are considered to be observable and classified to be true are called true expressions E+, others are called false expressions  E-. Both sets of expressions are true subsets of E: E+ ⊂ E  and E- ⊂ E. Additionally the experts can define some special  set of expressions called axioms  AX which are universal statements which allow the logical derivation of expressions called theorems of the theory T  ET which are called logically true. If one combines the set of axioms AX with some set of empirically true expressions E+ as {AX, E+} then one can logically derive either  only expressions which are logically true and as well empirically true, or one can derive logically true expressions which are empirically true and empirically false at the same time, see the example from the paragraph before:

{AX1, H2}  ‘Doxy can fly’ & ~’Doxy can fly’

Such a case of a logically derived contradiction A and ~A tells about the set of axioms AX unified with the empirical true expressions  that this unified set  confronted with the known true empirical expressions is becoming inconsistent: the axioms AX unified with true empirical expressions  can not  distinguish between true and false expressions.

Popper gives some general requirements for the axioms of a theory (cf. p.71):

  1. Axioms must be free from contradiction.
  2. The axioms  must be independent , i.e . they must not contain any axiom deducible from the remaining axioms.
  3. The axioms should be sufficient for the deduction of all statements belonging to the theory which is to be axiomatized.

While the requirements (1) and (2) are purely logical and can be proved directly is the requirement (3) different: to know whether the theory covers all statements which are intended by the experts as the subject area is presupposing that all aspects of an empirical environment are already know. In the case of true empirical theories this seems not to be plausible. Rather we have to assume an open process which generates some hypothetical universal expressions which ideally will not be falsified but if so, then the theory has to be adapted to the new insights.

Empirical Interpretation(s)

Popper assumes that the universal statements  of scientific theories   are linguistic representations, and this means  they are systems of signs or symbols. (cf. p.60) Expressions as such have no meaning.  Meaning comes into play only if the human actors are using their built-in meaning function and set up a coordinated meaning function which allows all participating experts to map properties of the empirical situation S into the used expressions as E+ (expressions classified as being actually true),  or E- (expressions classified as being actually false) or AX (expressions having an abstract meaning space which can become true or false depending from the activated meaning function).

Examples:

  1. Two human actors in a situation S agree about the  fact, that there is ‘something’ which  they classify as a ‘bird’. Thus someone could say ‘There is something which is a bird’ or ‘There is  some bird’ or ‘There is a bird’. If there are two somethings which are ‘understood’ as being a bird then they could say ‘There are two birds’ or ‘There is a blue bird’ (If the one has the color ‘blue’) and ‘There is a red bird’ or ‘There are two birds. The one is blue and the other is red’. This shows that human actors can relate their ‘concrete perceptions’ with more abstract  concepts and can map these concepts into expressions. According to Popper in this way ‘bottom-up’ only numerical universal concepts can be constructed. But logically there are only two cases: concrete (one) or abstract (more than one).  To say that there is a ‘something’ or to say there is a ‘bird’ establishes a general concept which is independent from the number of its possible instances.
  2. These concrete somethings each classified as a ‘bird’ can ‘move’ from one position to another by ‘walking’ or by ‘flying’. While ‘walking’ they are changing the position connected to the ‘ground’ while during ‘flying’ they ‘go up in the air’.  If a human actor throws a stone up in the air the stone will come back to the ground. A bird which is going up in the air can stay there and move around in the air for a long while. Thus ‘flying’ is different to ‘throwing something’ up in the air.
  3. The  expression ‘A bird can fly’ understood as an expression which can be connected to the daily experience of bird-objects moving around in the air can be empirically interpreted, but only if there exists such a mapping called meaning function. Without a meaning function the expression ‘A bird can fly’ has no meaning as such.
  4. To use other expressions like ‘X can fly’ or ‘A bird can Y’ or ‘Y(X)’  they have the same fate: without a meaning function they have no meaning, but associated with a meaning function they can be interpreted. For instance saying the the form of the expression ‘Y(X)’ shall be interpreted as ‘Predicate(Object)’ and that a possible ‘instance’ for a predicate could be ‘Can Fly’ and for an object ‘a bird’ then we could get ‘Can Fly(a Bird)’ translated as ‘The object ‘a Bird’ has the property ‘can fly” or shortly ‘A Bird can fly’. This usually would be used as a possible candidate for the daily meaning function which relates this expression to those somethings which can move up in the air.
Axioms and Empirical Interpretations

The basic idea with a system of axioms AX is — according to Popper —  that the axioms as universal expressions represent  a system of equations where  the  general terms   should be able to be substituted by certain values. The set of admissible values is different from the set of  inadmissible values. The relation between those values which can be substituted for the terms  is called satisfaction: the values satisfy the terms with regard to the relations! And Popper introduces the term ‘model‘ for that set of admissible terms which can satisfy the equations.(cf. p.72f)

But Popper has difficulties with an axiomatic system interpreted as a system of equations  since it cannot be refuted by the falsification of its consequences ; for these too must be analytic.(cf. p.73) His main problem with axioms is,  that “the concepts which are to be used in the axiomatic system should be universal names, which cannot be defined by empirical indications, pointing, etc . They can be defined if at all only explicitly, with the help of other universal names; otherwise they can only be left undefined. That some universal names should remain undefined is therefore quite unavoidable; and herein lies the difficulty…” (p.74)

On the other hand Popper knows that “…it is usually possible for the primitive concepts of an axiomatic system such as geometry to be correlated with, or interpreted by, the concepts of another system , e.g . physics …. In such cases it may be possible to define the fundamental concepts of the new system with the help of concepts which were originally used in some of the old systems .”(p.75)

But the translation of the expressions of one system (geometry) in the expressions of another system (physics) does not necessarily solve his problem of the non-empirical character of universal terms. Especially physics is using also universal or abstract terms which as such have no meaning. To verify or falsify physical theories one has to show how the abstract terms of physics can be related to observable matters which can be decided to be true or not.

Thus the argument goes back to the primary problem of Popper that universal names cannot not be directly be interpreted in an empirically decidable way.

As the preceding examples (1) – (4) do show for human actors it is no principal problem to relate any kind of abstract expressions to some concrete real matters. The solution to the problem is given by the fact that expressions E  of some language L never will be used in isolation! The usage of expressions is always connected to human actors using expressions as part of a language L which consists  together with the set of possible expressions E also with the built-in meaning function μ which can map expressions into internal structures IS which are related to perceptions of the surrounding empirical situation S. Although these internal structures are processed internally in highly complex manners and  are — as we know today — no 1-to-1 mappings of the surrounding empirical situation S, they are related to S and therefore every kind of expressions — even those with so-called abstract or universal concepts — can be mapped into something real if the human actors agree about such mappings!

Example:

Lets us have a look to another  example.

If we take the system of axioms AX as the following schema:  AX= {a+b=c}. This schema as such has no clear meaning. But if the experts interpret it as an operation ‘+’ with some arguments as part of a math theory then one can construct a simple (partial) model m  as follows: m={<1,2,3>, <2,3,5>}. The values are again given as  a set of symbols which as such must not ave a meaning but in common usage they will be interpreted as sets of numbers   which can satisfy the general concept of the equation.  In this secondary interpretation m is becoming  a logically true (partial) model for the axiom Ax, whose empirical meaning is still unclear.

It is conceivable that one is using this formalism to describe empirical facts like the description of a group of humans collecting some objects. Different people are bringing  objects; the individual contributions will be  reported on a sheet of paper and at the same time they put their objects in some box. Sometimes someone is looking to the box and he will count the objects of the box. If it has been noted that A brought 1 egg and B brought 2 eggs then there should according to the theory be 3 eggs in the box. But perhaps only 2 could be found. Then there would be a difference between the logically derived forecast of the theory 1+2 = 3  and the empirically measured value 1+2 = 2. If one would  define all examples of measurement a+b=c’ as contradiction in that case where we assume a+b=c as theoretically given and c’ ≠ c, then we would have with  ‘1+2 = 3′ & ~’1+2 = 3’ a logically derived contradiction which leads to the inconsistency of the assumed system. But in reality the usual reaction of the counting person would not be to declare the system inconsistent but rather to suggest that some unknown actor has taken against the agreed rules one egg from the box. To prove his suggestion he had to find this unknown actor and to show that he has taken the egg … perhaps not a simple task … But what will the next authority do: will the authority belief  the suggestion of the counting person or will the authority blame the counter that eventually he himself has taken the missing egg? But would this make sense? Why should the counter write the notes how many eggs have been delivered to make a difference visible? …

Thus to interpret some abstract expression with regard to some observable reality is not a principal problem, but it can eventually be unsolvable by purely practical reasons, leaving questions of empirical soundness open.

SOURCES

[1] Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, First published 1935 in German as Logik der Forschung, then 1959 in English by  Basic Books, New York (more editions have been published  later; I am using the eBook version of Routledge (2002))

 

 

THE OKSIMO CASE as SUBJECT FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Part 5. Oksimo as Theory?

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 24.March – 24.March 2021
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

CONTEXT

This text is part of a philosophy of science  analysis of the case of the  oksimo software (oksimo.com). A specification of the oksimo software from an engineering point of view can be found in four consecutive  posts dedicated to the HMI-Analysis for  this software.

DERIVATION

In formal logic exists the concept of logical derivation ‘⊢’ written as

EX e

saying that one can get the expression e out of the set of expressions E by applying the rules X.

In the oksimo case we have sets of expressions ES to represent either a given starting state S or to represent as EV a given vision V. Furthermore  we have change rules X operating on sets of expressions and we can derive sequences of states of expressions <E1, E2, …, En> by applying the change rules X with the aid of a simulator Σ onto these expressions written as

ESΣ,X <E1, E2, …, En>

Thus given an initial set of expressions ES one can derive a whole sequence of expression sets Ei by applying the change rules.

While all individual expressions of the start set ES are by assumption classified as true it holds for the derived sets of expressions Ei  that these expressions are correct with regard to the used change rules X but whether these sets of expressions are also true with regard to a given  situation Si considered as a possible future state Sfuti has to be proved separately! The reason for this unclear status results from the fact that the change rules X represent changes which the authoring experts consider as possible changes which they want to apply but they cannot guarantee the empirical validity for all upcoming times   only by thinking. This implicit uncertainty can be handled a little bit with the probability factor π of an individual change rule. The different degrees of certainty in the application of a change rule can give an approximation of this uncertainty. Thus as longer the chain of derivations is becoming as lower the assumed probability will develop.

SIMPLE OKSIMO THEORY [TOKSIMO]

Thus if we have some human actors Ahum, an environment ENV, some starting situation S as part of the environment ENV, a first set of expressions ES representing only true expressions with regard to the starting situation S, a set of elaborated change rules X, and a simulator Σ then one can  define a simple  oksimo-like theory Toksimo as follows:

TOKSIMO(x) iff x = <ENV, S, Ahum, ES, X, Σ, ⊢Σ,X, speakL(), makedecidable()>

The human actors can describe a given situation S as part of an environment ENV as a set of expressions ES which can be proved with makedecidable() as true. By defining a set of change rules X and a simulator Σ one can define  a formal derivation relation Σ,X which allows the derivation of a sequence of sets of expressions <E1, E2, …, En> written as

EST,Σ,X <E1, E2, …, En>

While the truth of the first set of expressions ES has been proved in the beginning, the truth of the derived sets of expressions has to be shown explicitly for each set Ei separately. Given is only the formal correctness of the derived expressions according to the change rules X and the working of the simulator.

VALIDADED SIMPLE OKSIMO THEORY [TOKSIMO.V]

One can extend the simple oksimo theory TOKSIMO to a biased  oksimo theory TOKSIMO.V if one includes in the theory a set of vision expressions EV. Vision expressions can describe a possible situation in the future Sfut which is declared as a goal to be reached. With a given vision document EV the simulator can check for every new derived set of expressions Ei to which degree the individual expressions e of the set of vision expressions EV are already reached.

FROM THEORY TO ENGINEERING

But one has to keep in mind that the purely formal achievement of a given vision document EV does not imply that the corresponding situation Sfut    is a real situation.  The corresponding situation Sfut  is first of all only an idea in the mind of the experts.  To transfer this idea into the real environment as a real situation is a process on its own known as engineering.

 

THE OKSIMO CASE as SUBJECT FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Part 2. makedecidable()

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 23.March – 23.March 2021
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

CONTEXT

This text is part of a philosophy of science  analysis of the case of the oksimo software (oksimo.com). A specification of the oksimo software from an engineering point of view can be found in four consecutive  posts dedicated to the HMI-Analysis for  this software.

STARTING WITH SOMETHING ‘REAL’

A basic idea of the oksimo behavior space is to bring together different human actors, let them share their knowledge and experience of some real part of their world and then they are invited to  think about, how one can   improve this part.

What sounds so common — some real part of their world — isn’t necessarily  easy to define.

As has been discussed in the  preceding post to make language expressions decidable this is only possible if certain practical requirements are fulfilled. The ‘practical recipe’

makedecidable :  S x Ahum x E —> E x {true, false}

given in the preceding post claims that you —  if you want to know whether an expression E is concrete and can be classified as   ‘true’ or ‘false’ —   have to ask  a human actor Ahum , which is part of the same  concrete situation S as you, and he/ she  should confirm or disclaim   whether the expression E can be interpreted as  being  ‘true’ or ‘false’ in this situation S.

Usually, if  there is a real concrete situation S with you and some other human actor A, then you both will have a perception of the situation, you will both have internal abstraction processes with abstract states, you will have mappings from such abstracted states into some expressions of your internal language Lint and you and the other human actor A can exchange external expressions corresponding to the inner expressions and thereby corresponding to the internal abstracted states of the situation S. Even if the used language expressions E — like for instance ‘There is a white wooden table‘ — will contain abstract expressions/ universal expressions like ‘white’, ‘wooden’, ‘table’, even then you and the other human actor  will be able to decide whether there are properties of the concrete situation which are fitting as accepted instances the universal parts  of the language expression ‘There is a white wooden table‘.

Thus being in a real situation S with the other human actors enables usually all participants of the situation to decide language expressions which are related to the situation.

But what consequences does it have  if you are somehow abroad, if you are not actually part of the situation S? Usually — if you are hearing or reading an expression like  ‘There is a white wooden table‘ — you will be able to get an idea of the intended meaning only by your learned meaning function φ which maps the external expression into an internal expression and further maps the internal expression into the learned abstracted states.  While the expressions ‘white’ and  ‘wooden’ are perhaps rather ‘clear’ the expression  ‘table’ is today associated with many, many different possible concrete matters and only by hearing or reading it is not possible to decide which of all these are the intended concrete matter. Thus although if you would be able to decided in the real situation S which of these many possible instances are given in the real situation, with the expression only disconnected from the situation, you are not able to decide whether  the expression is true or not. Thus the expression has the cognitive status that it perhaps can be true but actually you cannot decide.

REALITY SUPPORTERS

Between the two cases (i) being part of he real situation S or (ii) being disconnected from the real situation S there are many variants of situations which can be understood as giving some additional support to decide whether an expression E is rather true or not.

The main weakness for not being  able to decide is  the lack of hints to narrow down the set of possible interpretations of learned  meanings by counter examples. Thus while a human actor could  have learned that the expression ‘table’ can be associated with for instance  25 different concrete matters, then he/ she needs some hints/ clues which of these possibilities can be ruled out and thereby the actor could narrow down the set of possible learned meanings to then only for instance left possibly 5 of 25.

While the real situation S can not be send along with the expression it is possible to send for example a drawing of the situation  S or a photo. If properties are involved which deserve different senses like smelling or hearing or touching or … then a photo would not suffice.

Thus to narrow down the possible interpretations of an expression for someone who is not part of the situation it can be of help to give additional  ‘clues’ if possible, but this is not always possible and moreover it is always more or less incomplete.

 

 

 

 

THE OKSIMO CASE as SUBJECT FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Part 1

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 22.March – 23.March 2021
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

CONTEXT

This text is part of a philosophy of science  analysis of the case of the oksimo software (oksimo.com). A specification of the oksimo software from an engineering point of view can be found in four consecutive  posts dedicated to the HMI-Analysis for  this software.

THE OKSIMO EVENT SPACE

The characterization of the oksimo software paradigm starts with an informal characterization  of the oksimo software event space.

EVENT SPACE

An event space is a space which can be filled up by observable events fitting to the species-specific internal processed environment representations [1], [2] here called internal environments [ENVint]. Thus the same external environment [ENV] can be represented in the presence of  10 different species  in 10 different internal formats. Thus the expression ‘environment’ [ENV] is an abstract concept assuming an objective reality which is common to all living species but indeed it is processed by every species in a species-specific way.

In a human culture the usual point of view [ENVhum] is simultaneous with all the other points of views [ENVa] of all the other other species a.

In the ideal case it would be possible to translate all species-specific views ENVa into a symbolic representation which in turn could then be translated into the human point of view ENVhum. Then — in the ideal case — we could define the term environment [ENV] as the sum of all the different species-specific views translated in a human specific language: ∑ENVa = ENV.

But, because such a generalized view of the environment is until today not really possible by  practical reasons we will use here for the beginning only expressions related to the human specific point of view [ENVhum] using as language an ordinary language [L], here  the English language [LEN]. Every scientific language — e.g. the language of physics — is understood here as a sub language of the ordinary language.

EVENTS

An event [EV] within an event space [ENVa] is a change [X] which can be observed at least from the  members of that species [SP] a which is part of that environment ENV which enables  a species-specific event space [ENVa]. Possibly there can be other actors around in the environment ENV from different species with their specific event space [ENVa] where the content of the different event spaces  can possible   overlap with regard to  certain events.

A behavior is some observable movement of the body of some actor.

Changes X can be associated with certain behavior of certain actors or with non-actor conditions.

Thus when there are some human or non-human  actors in an environment which are moving than they show a behavior which can eventually be associated with some observable changes.

CHANGE

Besides being   associated with observable events in the (species specific) environment the expression  change is understood here as a kind of inner state in an actor which can compare past (stored) states Spast with an actual state SnowIf the past and actual state differ in some observable aspect Diff(Spast, Snow) ≠ 0, then there exists some change X, or Diff(Spast, Snow) = X. Usually the actor perceiving a change X will assume that this internal structure represents something external to the brain, but this must not necessarily be the case. It is of help if there are other human actors which confirm such a change perception although even this does not guarantee that there really is a  change occurring. In the real world it is possible that a whole group of human actors can have a wrong interpretation.

SYMBOLIC COMMUNICATION AND MEANING

It is a specialty of human actors — to some degree shared by other non-human biological actors — that they not only can built up internal representations ENVint of the reality external to the  brain (the body itself or the world beyond the body) which are mostly unconscious, partially conscious, but also they can built up structures of expressions of an internal language Lint which can be mimicked to a high degree by expressions in the body-external environment ENV called expressions of an ordinary language L.

For this to work one  has  to assume that there exists an internal mapping from internal representations ENVint into the expressions of the internal language   Lint as

meaning : ENVint <—> Lint.

and

speaking: Lint —> L

hearing: Lint <— L

Thus human actors can use their ordinary language L to activate internal encodings/ decodings with regard to the internal representations ENVint  gained so far. This is called here symbolic communication.

NO SPEECH ACTS

To classify the occurrences of symbolic expressions during a symbolic communication  is a nearly infinite undertaking. First impressions of the unsolvability of such a classification task can be gained if one reads the Philosophical Investigations of Ludwig Wittgenstein. [5] Later trials from different philosophers and scientists  — e.g. under the heading of speech acts [4] — can  not fully convince until today.

Instead of assuming here a complete scientific framework to classify  occurrences of symbolic expressions of an ordinary language L we will only look to some examples and discuss these.

KINDS OF EXPRESSIONS

In what follows we will look to some selected examples of symbolic expressions and discuss these.

(Decidable) Concrete Expressions [(D)CE]

It is assumed here that two human actors A and B  speaking the same ordinary language L  are capable in a concrete situation S to describe objects  OBJ and properties PROP of this situation in a way, that the hearer of a concrete expression E can decide whether the encoded meaning of that expression produced by the speaker is part of the observable situation S or not.

Thus, if A and B are together in a room with a wooden  white table and there is a enough light for an observation then   B can understand what A is saying if he states ‘There is a white wooden table.

To understand means here that both human actors are able to perceive the wooden white table as an object with properties, their brains will transform these external signals into internal neural signals forming an inner — not 1-to-1 — representation ENVint which can further be mapped by the learned meaning function into expressions of the inner language Lint and mapped further — by the speaker — into the external expressions of the learned ordinary language L and if the hearer can hear these spoken expressions he can translate the external expressions into the internal expressions which can be mapped onto the learned internal representations ENVint. In everyday situations there exists a high probability that the hearer then can respond with a spoken ‘Yes, that’s true’.

If this happens that some human actor is uttering a symbolic expression with regard to some observable property of the external environment  and the other human actor does respond with a confirmation then such an utterance is called here a decidable symbolic expression of the ordinary language L. In this case one can classify such an expression  as being true. Otherwise the expression  is classified as being not true.

The case of being not true is not a simple case. Being not true can mean: (i) it is actually simply not given; (ii) it is conceivable that the meaning could become true if the external situation would be  different; (iii) it is — in the light of the accessible knowledge — not conceivable that the meaning could become true in any situation; (iv) the meaning is to fuzzy to decided which case (i) – (iii) fits.

Cognitive Abstraction Processes

Before we talk about (Undecidable) Universal Expressions [(U)UE] it has to clarified that the internal mappings in a human actor are not only non-1-to-1 mappings but they are additionally automatic transformation processes of the kind that concrete perceptions of concrete environmental matters are automatically transformed by the brain into different kinds of states which are abstracted states using the concrete incoming signals as a  trigger either to start a new abstracted state or to modify an existing abstracted state. Given such abstracted states there exist a multitude of other neural processes to process these abstracted states further embedded  in numerous  different relationships.

Thus the assumed internal language Lint does not map the neural processes  which are processing the concrete events as such but the processed abstracted states! Language expressions as such can never be related directly to concrete material because this concrete material  has no direct  neural basis.  What works — completely unconsciously — is that the brain can detect that an actual neural pattern nn has some similarity with a  given abstracted structure NN  and that then this concrete pattern nn  is internally classified as an instance of NN. That means we can recognize that a perceived concrete matter nn is in ‘the light of’ our available (unconscious) knowledge an NN, but we cannot argue explicitly why. The decision has been processed automatically (unconsciously), but we can become aware of the result of this unconscious process.

Universal (Undecidable) Expressions [U(U)E]

Let us repeat the expression ‘There is a white wooden table‘ which has been used before as an example of a concrete decidable expression.

If one looks to the different parts of this expression then the partial expressions ‘white’, ‘wooden’, ‘table’ can be mapped by a learned meaning function φ into abstracted structures which are the result of internal processing. This means there can be countable infinite many concrete instances in the external environment ENV which can be understood as being white. The same holds for the expressions ‘wooden’ and ‘table’. Thus the expressions ‘white’, ‘wooden’, ‘table’ are all related to abstracted structures and therefor they have to be classified as universal expressions which as such are — strictly speaking —  not decidable because they can be true in many concrete situations with different concrete matters. Or take it otherwise: an expression with a meaning function φ pointing to an abstracted structure is asymmetric: one expression can be related to many different perceivable concrete matters but certain members of  a set of different perceived concrete matters can be related to one and the same abstracted structure on account of similarities based on properties embedded in the perceived concrete matter and being part of the abstracted structure.

In a cognitive point of view one can describe these matters such that the expression — like ‘table’ — which is pointing to a cognitive  abstracted structure ‘T’ includes a set of properties Π and every concrete perceived structure ‘t’ (caused e.g. by some concrete matter in our environment which we would classify as a ‘table’) must have a ‘certain amount’ of properties Π* that one can say that the properties  Π* are entailed in the set of properties Π of the abstracted structure T, thus Π* ⊆ Π. In what circumstances some speaker-hearer will say that something perceived concrete ‘is’ a table or ‘is not’ a table will depend from the learning history of this speaker-hearer. A child in the beginning of learning a language L can perhaps call something   a ‘chair’ and the parents will correct the child and will perhaps  say ‘no, this is table’.

Thus the expression ‘There is a white wooden table‘ as such is not true or false because it is not clear which set of concrete perceptions shall be derived from the possible internal meaning mappings, but if a concrete situation S is given with a concrete object with concrete properties then a speaker can ‘translate’ his/ her concrete perceptions with his learned meaning function φ into a composed expression using universal expressions.  In such a situation where the speaker is  part of  the real situation S he/ she  can recognize that the given situation is an  instance of the abstracted structures encoded in the used expression. And recognizing this being an instance interprets the universal expression in a way  that makes the universal expression fitting to a real given situation. And thereby the universal expression is transformed by interpretation with φ into a concrete decidable expression.

SUMMING UP

Thus the decisive moment of turning undecidable universal expressions U(U)E into decidable concrete expressions (D)CE is a human actor A behaving as a speaker-hearer of the used  language L. Without a speaker-hearer every universal expressions is undefined and neither true nor false.

makedecidable :  S x Ahum x E —> E x {true, false}

This reads as follows: If you want to know whether an expression E is concrete and as being concrete is  ‘true’ or ‘false’ then ask  a human actor Ahum which is part of a concrete situation S and the human actor shall  answer whether the expression E can be interpreted such that E can be classified being either ‘true’ or ‘false’.

The function ‘makedecidable()’ is therefore  the description (like a ‘recipe’) of a real process in the real world with real actors. The important factors in this description are the meaning functions inside the participating human actors. Although it is not possible to describe these meaning functions directly one can check their behavior and one can define an abstract model which describes the observable behavior of speaker-hearer of the language L. This is an empirical model and represents the typical case of behavioral models used in psychology, biology, sociology etc.

SOURCES

[1] Jakob Johann Freiherr von Uexküll (German: [ˈʏkskʏl])(1864 – 1944) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jakob_Johann_von_Uexk%C3%BCll

[2] Jakob von Uexküll, 1909, Umwelt und Innenwelt der Tiere. Berlin: J. Springer. (Download: https://ia802708.us.archive.org/13/items/umweltundinnenwe00uexk/umweltundinnenwe00uexk.pdf )

[3] Wikipedia EN, Speech acts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_act

[4] Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( 1889 – 1951): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein

[5] Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1953: Philosophische Untersuchungen [PU], 1953: Philosophical Investigations [PI], translated by G. E. M. Anscombe /* For more details see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_Investigations */