Sunday, 1 March 2015

'Concept' defined

The notion of "conceptual integrity"—however defined—should include the notion of "categorization". Categorization is defined as:

Categorization is the process in which ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated, and understood. Categorization implies that objects are grouped into categories, usually for some specific purpose. Ideally, a category illuminates a relationship between the subjects and objects of knowledge. Categorization is fundamental in language, prediction, inference, decision making and in all kinds of environmental interaction. (

In fact, Kant argues, that our notions of space and time are fundamental, primitive elements (I'd say, 'dimensions' really) of sentient consciousness. Insert the notion of realis and irrealis moods and we become masters of space and time as not only are "past", "present" and "future" possible to differentiate (realis mood), but so are possible contingent, speculative and aspirational constructs: "will have had..."; "will not be..."; "would've wanted...", etc. etc. (irrealis or perfective moods).

When "ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated and understood", the deeper implication is that we've somehow managed to grammaticalize said "ideas and objects" into a convincing narrative: John not only saw (something); he formed opinions, invested emotions, and "interpreted" and, in turn, "encoded" meaning into the elements organized for that specific and particular purpose of the discourse. Political and/or artistic motives aside: the power of a concept so grammaticalized frees the mind to roam the limits and delineations of the sign (no less!).

Nothing occurs in isolation.

The self-same mise-en-scene is used and reused, each iteration changed a little here and there—it is a historical process we are talking about here. The sum total of all acts narrated—like landmarks on a map—is less than the apparent 'naturalness' of its (the narrative's) place and time inside the totality of experience (mental, physical and potential)—ie, its trajectory is continuous and logically-plausible. The landscape is where a map isn't and simply cannot be, and it is in the landscape where we exist.

Even in the irrealis, we take the existence of this landscape for granted: we hope that our statements/plans are realized in this unspoken landscape for all to see and to verify for us the veracity of the constellation of concepts we "saw".

The morpheme /tuqu-/ is not a particular instance or degree of "mortality" but captures instead everything from an expiring plant (tuqulijuq) to someone/something having, in fact, died (tuqulauqtuq)., and one may also say tuqussaut (poison).

At the morphemic level, the Inuit language has rules to construct stems (tuquli-; tuqulauq-; etc.) that comprise of a conceptual root (/tuqu-/) and how it changes from a verb to a noun and/or vice-versa depending upon the subsequent affixes + pronominal ending it takes on. These grammatical rules are highly constraining and discriminating of what they'll allow as acceptable constructs.

In the Inuit language, the grammatical  root exists both as an idea and a marker whose value is often not immediately obvious (a "marker" is a technical notion: for eg, 'man' is unmarked (and, ostensibly, basic) while 'woman' is marked (and, ostensibly, contingent)) but only realized following a grammatical process. For /qiqi-/:

uluanga qiqittuq  "his cheek is frost-bitten"

nattiviniq qiqijuq  "the seal meat is freezing"

-the two senses differ, and it is the /t/+tuq in the first instance that is marked (let us say for the moment that /t/ is a passive marker) while its absence denotes that it is the subject itself (S) that is spoken of/acted upon (ie, qiqijuq  "S is freezing").

The elegance and strength of a concept is that it is the unchanging (isomorphic) anchor on which other ideas and notions may be built upon. The outcome is not necessarily predictable but it is intimately linked to a given concept.


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