the study of meanings
the meaning or relationship of meanings of a sign or set of signs especially : connotative meaning
the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being
a set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and the relations between them.
“Thinking only begins at the point where we have come to know that Reason, glorified for centuries, is the most obstinate adversary of thinking”…
- Martin Heidegger
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours that servant and forgotten the gift”…
- Albert Einstein
In 1973 Hannah Arendt gave the Gifford Lecture — an annual lecture that has been delivered since 1888 that is transdisciplinary in its enquiry and brings together leading global thinkers in Religon, Science and Philosophy to diffuse Natural Theology in the broadest possible way.
An investigation into metaphysics  and the first principles of things.
Our eternal search for truth, meaning and understanding of the nature of Reality.
In her first set of lectures titled Thinking that took place in Aberdeen, Scotland which was part of her last major work before she died — The Life of Mind — she discussed the process of thinking, distinguishing between “Truth” & “Meaning”, “Knowing” & “Thinking” and the importance of our shared lived human experience.
It’s a conversation that contrasted the Algorithmic and the Semantic Minds in Thinking.
A world beyond deductive reasoning, reductionism, logic, knowledge, heuristics and compression.
A world that attempts to express all the paradoxes and Complexity of Reality.
A shift from the What and How to the Why?
A distinction between Knowledge and Wisdom.
A distinction between Abstraction and Experience.
She explored 18th Century Philosopher Immanuel Kant’s distinction between Verstand (intellect — cognition) that seeks to understand what the senses we perceive and Vernuft (reason — the unknowable) which is concerned with higher order understanding for deeper meaning.
A quote from Hannah Arendt in exploring this:
“The great obstacle that reason (Vernunft) puts in its own way arises from the side of the intellect (Verstand) and the entirely justified criteria it has established for its own purposes, that is, for quenching our thirst, and meeting our need, for knowledge and cognition…
The need of reason is not inspired by the quest for truth but by the quest for meaning.
And truth and meaning are not the same. The basic fallacy, taking precedence over all specific metaphysical fallacies, is to interpret meaning on the model of truth”…
It’s a plea for us to recognise the limits of what we can possibly know and our human condition.
The distinction between Science and Practical Wisdom — our Survival Instinct.
Whether it’s the influential work of 20th Century Philosopher Martin Heidegger (What is called Thinking? ) or Hannah Arendt they recognise that its when we combine the Algorithmic, Geometric and Semantic in how we Think — via the philosophical introspection, reflexivity and self reflection of Heidegger — or — the active thinking (our societal participation and humaness) of Arendt in making sense and shaping our world — we have a greater capacity to navigate the complexity of Reality.
A shift beyond a simple Model of the World anchored in reductionism, deduction, logic, and computation in sensemaking.
Narrowing The Reality Gap.
Ontology and Semantics
At the edge of the interface of how Humans make sense of Reality are Semantics and Ontology.
Ontology being our high level abstraction of the emergent complexity of Reality — a metaphysics that deal with the nature of being.
Concepts and categories in a domain that show the properties and relationships between them.
It insulates us from the “fine grain richness” of Complexity.
In contrast, Semantics is the study of how we make meaning out of this Reality.
The difference between our representation through language & signs and the things in the world that they represent.
Our morals, values, emotions, truths, beliefs and relationships .
Our interdependencies and interrelationships.
It’s in the connecting that we create the world.
The emergence of Language
“ We humanise what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human”…
- Hanna Arendt
Language — a structure system of communication and a way to humanise the Complexity — a way to share information, knowledge, experience and meaning — has been central to how humans make sense of the World.
Thinkers such as Immanuel Kant held that it emerged from the rational and logical, whilst 18th Century Philsopher Jean-Jacques Rosseau argued that language originated from emotions, and 20C. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein argued that philosophy was the study of language.
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”…
Language being an operating system for our Quantum Reality.
Through our lived experience — space & time -and interdependencies- Language provides context and thereby meaning.
Noam Chomsky, the father of modern day linguistics ( i.e. the science of language) was highly influential in the mid to later 20th Century in shaping new ideas in our understanding of language including biolinguistics where the principles underpinning the structure of language are preset in the human mind and genetically inherited.
An evolutionary development of the human species that distinguished humans from other animals by the modes of communication used.
A rational nativist internal view of language that can be contrasted with an empiricist external view of language where all knowledge including language comes from our environment and the lived experience.
This innate linguistic capacity of humans according to Chomsky enables us to acquire and produce language from linguistic data from the time we are babies — a unique capacity that contrasts us from other animals such as cats even though both are capable of inductive reasoning.
A human super power for a Complex World.
Patterning and Complexity
In the mid 20th Century British American Christopher Alexander brought a fresh perspective to the nature of Semantics through his chosen fields of architecture and design.
In his book A Pattern Language and his portfolio of work he presents a fresh view that in a world of increasing complexity the nature of how we view design fundamentally changes.
His Phd Harvard dissertation documented in his first book — Notes on the Synthesis of Form — arose from observations that architects, designers, builders etc… are increasingly grappling with the ever increasing complexity of new design structures.
It highlighted the limits of a reductionist deductive approach to design where economies of scale were optimised and processes standardised in response to ever growing complexity.
He contended there was an absence of system thinking and seeing systems as a whole.
A world where more and more technology was bolted or patched together to solve an ever increasing array of problems.
The more problems to solve, the more technology, the more external problems, the more technology. Rinse and repeat…
A phenomena starkly illuminated in Heidegger’s 1954 book — The questions concerning technology — that explores humans relationship with Technology.
He envisioned a more adaptive evolutionary biological approach — a continuous transformation.
Context and patterns mattered in solving problems.
A pattern language where his tools were patterns and not things, relationships which could be identified, recombined and reused in a way similar to language.
Each pattern is a rule which describes what you have to do to generate
The Adjacent Possible  — an evolutionary dance….
The essence of Creativity articulated by Kirby Ferguson in where “Everything is a Remix”.
“ The most dramatic results can happen when ideas are combined. By connecting ideas together, creative leaps can be made, producing some of history’s biggest breakthroughs”…
In an interview Christopher Alexander gave in 2014 he makes some critical observations on the work of Chomsky as it relates to generative gramma — linguistics as the study of a hypothesised innate grammatical structure.
“Chomsky’s work on generative grammar will soon be considered very limited… It does not deal with the interesting structure of language because the real structure of language lies in the relationships between words — the semantic connections. The semantic network — which connects the word “fire” with “burn,” red,” and “passion” — is the real stuff of language. Chomsky makes no attempt to deal with that and therefore, in a few years, his work will be considered primitive”…
Through the evolution of the Semantic Mind we have the opportunity to traverse the valley between the Random and the Regular — the Complexity of Reality — and identify Patterns and Relationships.
Semantic ontology, connections, interdependencies, interelationships.
Exploring the nature of Being and what it is to be Human?
A different form of thinking.
The emergence of Deep & Machine Learning
As we outlined in the Power of Patterns, In search for Ground Truths and Alchemy the emergence of Deep & Machine Learning represents a profound tectonic and fundamental shift in how we perceive reality.
Through the combination of exponential increases in information, examples, computation, memory and new chip designs (eg. GPUs) we now have the opportunity to find new Patterns in large oceans of data.
A computational form of Perception, Induction and Sensemaking.
A new lens and approach to Calculative Reasoning as recently outlined by University of Toronto Professor Brian Cantwell Smith that can be embraced by humans as instruments in judgement and our Semantic thinking of Reality.
Our search for Ground Truths.
“What we see of the world is only a sliver of what’s “out there.” There is much that is invisible to the eye, even when we augment our sensorial perception with telescopes, microscopes, and other tools of exploration. Like our senses, every instrument has a range. Because much of Nature remains hidden from us, our view of the world is based only on the fraction of reality that we can measure and analyze. Science, as our narrative describing what we see and what we conjecture exists in the natural world, is thus necessarily limited, telling only part of the story… We strive toward knowledge, always more knowledge, but must understand that we are, and will remain, surrounded by mystery… It is the flirting with this mystery, the urge to go beyond the boundaries of the known, that feeds our creative impulse, that makes us want to know more” …
– Marcello Gleiser – The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning
Just like how Heidegger, Rosseau, Hume and Arendt challenged our perception of Thinking.
The limits of Deductive Reasoning, Reductionism, Cause-Effect and Logic.
The integration and blending of different forms of Thinking will be required in the 21st Century.
The embracement of the Semantic Mind…
 Martin Heidegger — https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heidegger/
 Albert Einstein — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein
 Hannah Arendt — https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arendt/
 Gifford Lecture — https://www.giffordlectures.org
 TransDisciplinary — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transdisciplinarity
 Natural Theology — https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-theology/
 What is MetaPhysics? — https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/blog/what-is-metaphysics/
 Humility is truth and the sea of ignorance… — https://medium.com/@rlschutte/humility-is-truth-and-the-sea-of-ignorance-c289112cbd57
 The Life of the Mind: Hannah Arendt on Thinking vs. Knowing and the Crucial Difference Between Truth and Meaning — https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/09/16/hannah-arendt-the-life-of-the-mind/
 The Life of the Mind — life-mind
 Why Philosophy matters more than ever in the Age of Entanglement?… — https://medium.com/@rlschutte/why-philosophy-matters-more-than-ever-in-the-age-of-entanglement-8df9f23a90ae
In search of wisdom in the information and knowledge age… — https://medium.com/@rlschutte/in-search-of-wisdom-in-the-information-and-knowledge-age-ccb20f8b6d79
 Kant: Philosophy of Mind — https://iep.utm.edu/kantmind/
 The Survival Instinct — https://medium.com/@rlschutte/the-survival-instinct-dc770381566d
 What is called Thinking? — https://neologikonblog.wordpress.com/tag/summary-of-what-is-called-thinking/
 Reflexivity — reflexivity-bdd9d0a0fc7d
 The Reality Gap — the-reality-gap-74da0e5e869a
 Reckoning and Judgment The Promise of AI — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8t5Jg7PthFI&t=78s
 Jean Jacques Rousseau — rousseau
 Ludwig Wittgenstein — https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein/
 When two worlds collide… — https://medium.com/@rlschutte/when-two-worlds-collide-645e95bbfba7
 Noam Chomsky — https://pca.st/episode/12e4341a-92be-426c-9248-0d2249cedd1c
 Christopher Alexander — Christopher_Alexander
 Pattern Language — https://www.patternlanguage.com
 Notes on the Synthesis of Form — https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674627512
 The questions concerning technology — https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/philosophy-of-technology/0/steps/26315
 The Adjacent Possible — Theory of the Adjacent Possible w/ Stuart Kauffman — https://youtu.be/GJwoHyJDVLk
 Everything is a Remix — https://www.everythingisaremix.info
 Systems generating systems — architectural design theory by Christopher Alexander — https://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/systems-generating-systems-architectural-design-theory-by-christopher-alexander-1968/
 David Krakauer on The Landscape of 21st Century Science — 1
 The Power of Patterns — the-power-of-patterns-e1dc4c2352aa
 In search for Ground Truths — https://medium.com/@rlschutte/in-search-of-ground-truths-3817ce821572
 Alchemy — https://medium.com/@rlschutte/alchemy-3c9eaf7799e
Humility is truth and the sea of ignorance — https://medium.com/@rlschutte/humility-is-truth-and-the-sea-of-ignorance-c289112cbd57
 The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning — https://marcelogleiser.com/books/the-island-of-knowledge