Not so abstract ideas: Understanding abstraction from an emergent systems perspective

Thought, reason, language: These cognitive gifts of the Muses are what help to make human beings special. In much of traditional cognitive science, these higher level cognitive functions are believed to be the basis of abstraction, or the processing of abstract concepts. Unfortunately, our understanding of abstraction also biases our understanding of cognition. MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE […]

Emergent language: Words as sounds, references, and concepts

Words are integral to language, and language is integral to the human experience. Words help us to think and communicate about information more effectively than we could without them. Yet we don’t often stop and consider the nature of words themselves or how it is that they can provide such amazing utility. An individual’s initial […]

Showing is telling: Design as medium, message, and meaning

The medium is the message. — Marshall McLuhan Reference Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man | Marshall McLuhan What if conceptual information (the message) is a generative abstraction of the information we process about the physical world (the medium)? Abstract in terms of being a greater level whole derived from lesser parts, and generative in […]