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The Model

  1. Jul 5, 2004 #1
    I’ll show you my model if you will show me yours.

    Humans are intellectual model builders. At birth I begin to create an understanding of the world I perceive. I suggest that understanding is an act of creation. Understanding is the product that reason creates, it is the model of my world, as I perceive it.

    The model starts out as simplistic and chaotic. The rest of my life is an attempt, for reasons of self-interest, to make my model more suitable; in tune with, true to, the world I perceive. Reason is the intellectual faculty that ‘guides’ this endeavor.

    The better my reason works the better will be my model. The science of reason is Critical Thinking. The more expert I am at Critical Thinking the better my model. The more I recognize this fact the better my chances of building a sophisticated model.

    The lumber and nails I use for my model is the knowledge I have learned. The greater my knowledge of history the better is my understanding of human nature. The greater my knowledge of philosophy the better my reason functions. The greater my knowledge of science the better my understanding of nature. Mathematics is the science of pattern, what better agent for model building?
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  3. Jul 5, 2004 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    I agree that all the practices and abilities you list contribute to accurate model building, and that accurate model builiding is crucial to critical thinking; but to your list I would add practices and abilities which, for me anyway, are even more crucial because they make one's model building more empirical and human.

    The first and most important, in my opinion, is a commitment to discovering truth no matter what it is. That seems to take a bit of courage and determination. Second, our most powerful source of information is our own sensitive nature. A person who goes around always thinking, but never giving adequte weight to personal experience and to feeling one's self, becomes little more that a walking bunch of theories. Third, to constantly work at being absolutely and utterly unbiased. Most people's mentality becomes predisposed early on so that built into one's models are filters which prevent certain information from being considered objectively or to be ignored altogether. The fourth is tied to the third, and that is to keep all models flexible so they can be adjusted as new information is obtained; they should even disposable if facts warrent that. Finally, if model building only takes place in the head, how do we know how accurate the models are? So, I believe a person should, as much as possible, live their models and let oneself be a testing ground.

    In these ways model building can become something which is both practical and which deepens our humanity. It can help us avoid the pitfall some intellectuals fall into of sacrificing the development of one's full human potential for the chance to become a living computer. :smile:
  4. Jul 5, 2004 #3
    Because we are ignorant we may learn.

    That is my model. However, if that is just too simplistic for you, I will post a new thread entitled, "The Gift of a Question".
  5. Jul 5, 2004 #4
    I consider the model constructed by understanding includes knowledge, prejudices, biases, myths, assumptions, emotions, i.e. everything that makes up the mental sculpture that is me. Or perhaps it is my mental soul. From this 'mental soul' my understanding creates small models that is my understanding of some particular matter under consideration.
  6. Jul 5, 2004 #5
    Of course, what you are describing falls under the catagory of the cognitive sciences. Exactly which it might be cannot be assertained from your brief description.
  7. Jul 5, 2004 #6

    Les Sleeth

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    If one accepts, "prejudices, biases, myths . . . emotions," as part of one's modeling discipline, then colorful models might be created, but I don't see how critical thinking will be achieved relying on such models.
  8. Jul 5, 2004 #7
    what if we reverse the concept and say that 'the model begins as a reflection of your sub-c.' It is neither simplistic nor chaotic, rather the model obeys your desires.

    as you learn and experience the model becomes more complex as we understand more and want more.

    what do you see when you realize that the more you know, the more you understand that you don't know much???

    olde drunk
  9. Jul 5, 2004 #8

    Les Sleeth

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    I personally can't see a problem understanding his point. From birth we build mental constructs to represent reality, and then we use those models to think about things the models represent. So both the information we use to build models and our reasoning skills are important.

    I tried to add that in addition to those practices, the best models are generated by those who overall give top priority to being experiential before, during, and after using mentality.
  10. Jul 5, 2004 #9

    Les Sleeth

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    Well, I assumed from Coberst's statement "The better my reason works the better will be my model. The science of reason is Critical Thinking. The more expert I am at Critical Thinking the better my model," that he wanted to use his modeling to understand the nature of things. If so, then what's the point of a model that merely reflects one desires? Of course there's nothing wrong with desire models in themselves . . . I only mean in regard to being a tool for critical thinking. For that, isn't the point to build models that represent reality as precisely as possible? And, to reiterate my point, hasn't the need to experience what we represent with models been demonstrated as the best way to confirm the accuracy of our models?
  11. Jul 5, 2004 #10
    Note that what you are describing is merely another description, an abstraction about another abstraction. Exactly what constitutes the "real" world is debatable and, hence, the confusion with his model.
  12. Jul 5, 2004 #11

    Les Sleeth

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    How else does one communicate? We use the abstractions of words and concepts to exchange ideas about the aspects of reality we perceive. Before we do that, we build intellectual models to represent reality in order to think about it, just as coberst said. So I still don't see any confusion in his statement.

    As far as what constitutes the real world being debatable, true. But since we all know that, the time the issue most often arises is when we decide to cooperate on some project where we need to agree about how reality works. For that, experience has proven most useful in providing that common ground. For me at least, I don't have any problem understanding that my mental models are not the reality they are meant to represent in my thinking processes . . . one is thought about, the other is experienced, respectively.
  13. Jul 5, 2004 #12
    Les Sleeth

    I consider knowledge, prejudice, biases etc to be the building material of the model not the “the modeling discipline”. I would think that one would consider reason to be the discipline for both acquisition of knowledge and for construction of understanding. Critical Thinking the discipline of reason does not depend on understanding. I would think that one could have Critical Thinking skills and attitude without one having an understanding of Critical Thinking. This example is far out but one can say have memorized the encyclopedia without understanding anything about the matter.
  14. Jul 5, 2004 #13
    Communication is not simply talking over each other's heads. It is the art of listening as well, which requires an open and accepting attitude. Without the attitudes and affect we bring to our communications, they are just so many bits of meaningless data. No different really than the programs on my computer spouting data (ie-without meaning or understanding and, quite often, without any purpose.)

    This is what communication is about, the heart. Without a clear reference to the heart and specific contexts, communication is impossible.
  15. Jul 5, 2004 #14

    Les Sleeth

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    I can't understand why bias or prejudice would be linked with knowledge in a model unless you are talking about constructing a model of something like the causes of racial prejudice. But I meant one's own prejudices, and then I don't see how that can be knowingly allowed in a model that's to be used in critical thinking.

    Wow, do we disagree there. How does reason "acquire" knowledge? I am someone who believes knowledge comes from experience, not reason. You can experience and know, but you can't reason and know anything except more concepts (maybe that's what Wuli was criticizing). It is when a person experiences that which he reasons to be possible that knowing happens. But then yes, reason can serve to bring understanding, especially when one reasons with information confirmed by personal experience.

    I must remind you of what you said in your original post, "At birth I begin to create an understanding of the world I perceive. I suggest that understanding is an act of creation. Understanding is the product that reason creates, it is the model of my world, as I perceive it. . . . The better my reason works the better will be my model. The science of reason is Critical Thinking. The more expert I am at Critical Thinking the better my model."

    I am answering you in the context of how you used critical thinking. You did not use it in the context of rote memory, but rather as a path to understanding. And actually, critical thinking is not considered the "science" of thinking because it many times depends on informal logic. To think critically is another way of saying to evaluate, and those best at that skill are often found relying on inference, which lies outside the formalism of science.

    I love the idea of model building, I do it all the time. But then, as you say, so does everyone. What distinquishes quality models from inferior ones? Well, when a model can be tested somehow, so that we can observe how well it predicts and explains, then that sets it apart from other models. The model that women were too weak-minded to vote or run a business . . . how accurate was that? What proved it inaccurate? Certainly not a bunch of people sitting around debating it, trying to reason their way to the truth. It was when some women proved it wrong through actions. Once the ideas of a model are transferred from hypothesis to actuality, that is when we learn the most about the accuracy of our models.
  16. Jul 5, 2004 #15

    Les Sleeth

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    Very true, and I think you know I agree with that totally. In fact, I'd put the the open heart (and mind) first on the list of what brings about successful communication (actually, in my first post here, my "additions" to his list of skills for model building could be categorized as "heart" stuff).

    But I have been answering in the context of coberst's theme, which was intellectual model building. I don't see a conflict between that and heart. If the heart is good, then we can focus on what makes a good intellectual model, and for that I still say that model which is constantly tested by personal experience, and whose construction is most free from bias, is the best model.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2004
  17. Jul 5, 2004 #16
    Personal experience that is free from bias, is a contradiction in terms. So is the idea that we can more or less biased than we are. Again, without a specific context such sweeping statements are meaningless. Each of us as individuals might read into them whatever meaning we wish, but the statements themselves possess no clear rational or linguistic accept to imply that intellect and emotion can be seperated and, thus, pose a contradiction.
  18. Jul 6, 2004 #17

    Les Sleeth

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    It might be a contradiction in terms for you. It's true, there is only one kind of experience, and that is personal, but experience is one thing, evaluation is another. I can see, smell and feel a rose without bias can't I? If I say, "I don't like the smell of a rose," then I've added my evaluation to it. It could be that my body chemistry reacts badly to the rose, in which case again it isn't bias, but a natural response. But if I dislike roses because they remind me of someone I hate who used to raise roses, then that is an evalution which is influenced by my conditioning, and therefore isn't objective. Even so, I might be able to set aside my emotions about the rose in a rose perfume contest, and smell each perfume trying to decide which most smelled like a real rose, in which case I've been able to experience without bias.

    Again, maybe that's true for you. I know lots of people so stuck in their ways and so egocentric, that regaining objectivity doesn't hold the slightest interest to them. Others of us actively work to get there, and stay there. Certainly you aren't judging what's possible by what you value or are interested in are you?

    As for me, I am quite certain objectivity is not impossible, if not to perfect, at least to improve upon. For example, when I play racquetball doubles, and someone makes shot so low and fast it is difficult to tell if it was good, more often than not the team that made the shot calls it good, and the team that is going to lose the point/serve calls it bad. There are those who try to be honest and call it the way they see it no matter who's going to benefit or lose, but have a harder time doing that if the point is going to decide the game. And there are others of us who realize that sense perception is distorted by movement, and that once there are opposing reports about what was observed, the only logical solution is to replay the point.

    Now, I myself went through that evolution as part of my efforts to attain objectivity. I remember this time where I was in an important game, there was a dispute, and I knew the other side's shot was good (my partner hadn't seen it, but thought it "sounded funny"). I stood on the border, my selfishness wanting to replay that point, but tugged at by the desire to be "clean" of bias. When I finally shook off my bias and reported what I'd witnessed, it felt so good I've been practicing that ever since (in racquetball).

    My point is, one can become more selfless, less egocentric, less opinionated, more interested in the truth than being "right," and therefore also work to eliminate personal bias from one's critical thinking.

    Well, I wish you'd make up your mind. Are we talking heart or formal logic? Do you think "heart" is emotion? If so, you and I have been discussing two completely different things. I don't know about you, but I keep my emotions as far away from my consciousness as possible (true, I'm not always successful at that). Now, if we are talking sensitivity, then that is a different story. I think we have an underlying feeling/sensitive nature, that is even more basic to us than rationality. That feeling nature can be accentuated in ways by both hormones and conditioning, and thus one experiences emotion. Stay away from hormones and conditioning, and one gets to experience one's pure sensitivity. Well, at least, I do. I don't know what inner skills you are capable of. :smile:
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2004
  19. Jul 6, 2004 #18
    This is called honesty. Its a relatively simple character trait, not a philosophy or mode of critical analysis.
  20. Jul 6, 2004 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    Okay, let's call it honesty. But while in the old mode of calling shots disproportionately in favor of my team, I remember feeling like I was "right" and they were wrong. If you'd said I was being dishonest, I would have been deeply insulted. My action may have been inaccurate, but I believe rather than dishonesty, what jaded my judgement was due to my devotion to my teammate and our team effort, along with feeling in opposition to our opponents. This happens all the time. Look at family members who refuse to look objectively at their child's behavior, or when people are socially part of some group and go along with the group's values rather than independently questioning the morality of some situation. Emotions, fear, the need to belong, etc. can determine how one decides-evaluates things. That ability to step back from a situation, and look at it in relation to how it is apart from what it personally means to us, is a real talent, and takes work to achieve.

    The value of that to critical analysis is tremendous if you ask me. I continue to work on it everyday because I see how much better my decisions are when my "self" (i.e., conditioned, egocentric, emotional, opinionated, etc. self) isn't part of it.
  21. Jul 6, 2004 #20
    Nonsense. When you argued 'disproportionately in favor of your team', you knew you were lying. Your eyes didn't change - photons still traveled from the floor to your eye and were interpreted by your optical nerves as neatly as they were when you were in any other non-competitive state of mind.

    What changed was your level of honesty, not the raw materials with which you judged. After making a (knowingly) false judgement, you accepted it as fact. This is common among all liars (and I am one too). After lying, you believe the very lies you perpetuate. It happens all the time.

    Regarding the examples you cited, I can state with conviction that everybody lies all the time. More often than they tell the truth, in fact. It becomes such a natural thing to do, that we don't even realize it when we do it.
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