Map and territory: Natural structures

by casebash1 min read1st Aug 20179 comments

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This will be a very short post which simply defines one term which I find useful when discussing the map and the territory.

I find it very useful to have a term that helps clarify that the map is not completely arbitrary and that there are things in the territory that are natural candidates for appearing in the map. For example, for the Ship of Thesus, one natural candidate is the pure, original, unmodified ship; another are the fixed percentages (ie. 50% original); another would be a continuity based measure. If you are asked to create a definition of what counts as the Ship of Thesus, these are some of the first ideas that you would come up with, although you would of course need to define it in much, much more detail to get all the way down to the level of the territory.

Or suppose you are trying to define what is meant by table. Again, the definition is purely arbitrary and whatever you choose, but there are certain natural structures in reality that pop out at you. One might be all four-legged, non-living objects with a flat top, another might relax the four-legged requirement so that it only required four legs at one particular time, ect.

When I'm explaining that a particular concept has been reified, it greatly clarifies my position to explain that I don't believe that the concept is empty, but there is *something* behind it that leads us to want that word. That something is really not a single thing (or else it would be real, not reified), but a collection of closely related 'natural structures'. Each of the definitions provided for the Ship of Thesus or a table corresponds to a different natural structure, while the term itself appears in the map. I hope you find this word useful too, but if you have any suggestions for a better term, please mention it in the comments.

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