Basic Orientation
Book1: R-E Living & "Homo Rationalis"
Book2: Humanianity
Book3: Mind-Body Problem
Preface
Introduction
Causation and Explanation
Physical and Mental Worlds
Modeling
Subjective Experience
Subjective Model
Objective Model: Linguistics
Objective Model: Agreement
Objective Model: Rationality
Objective Model: Measurement
(More)
Book4: (Future Possible Development)
Child Rearing Issues
Philosophico-Religious Issues
Psycho-Socio-Cultural Issues
The Twelve Articles
Relevant Autobiography
 
"HOMO RATIONALIS" AND HUMANIANITY
 
HELPING TO PROMOTE OUR THIRD EXPONENTIAL CHANGE
 

OBJECTIVE MODEL: AGREEMENT



Beliefs can be shared (described to another) because they are modeled by tools that have been developed by means of agreement, these tools being symbols and the rules of syntax, or language. The meanings of the sentences may be pretty much the same for those using them and for those hearing or reading them. This similarity has been produced by much repetition of interaction among humans using them, with correction of each other when meanings seem too atypical, the process by which meanings become more objective, or independent of the individual. (Note again that we are beginning to talk about objectivity.)


Furthermore, two people who share with each other (linguistic) models of their own beliefs about something can now compare those models and see whether they are the same or not. The models can be put into sentences, and then it can be seen as to whether those sentences are the same. By comparing their beliefs in this manner, they can come to a conclusion as to whether they agree or not (using the first meaning of "agree," given above, the having of the same beliefs).


But notice that I cannot compare your linguistic models of your subjective models of your subjective experience with your subjective experience itself to see if they are good (accurate) models, because I cannot experience your subjective experience and because your subjective models of your subjective experience cannot be observed, only inferred (from what you do and/or say). I can "take your word for it," with regard to whether you believe something or not. (But of course you could be lying, delusional, confused, linguistically inaccurate, etc.) What we can agree to is only whether we are "saying the same thing," and therefore are probably in agreement, because that is what we can both observe. ("Is that not what I said?" "Yes, I agree that that's what you said.")


Yes, you and I can tell whether you and I are using the same words in the same sentences, as we linguistically model our subjective models (or beliefs). I can repeat back to you what you have said, and vice versa. And agreement can mean that we will tell each other that our linguistic models (of what we believe) are the same, that is, consist of the same or sufficiently similar sentences (using the second of the four meanings of "agreement," above, ). ("Yes, I agree with you," meaning something like, "If I were to state a sentence that modeled my belief about this, that sentence would be the same as the sentence you have just expressed.")


The sharing and comparing of beliefs is a very important new skill being added to our repertoire as a species, because we are now beginning to be able to talk about things that not only are not currently present within our own subjective experience, but in fact may never be. If I am told that someone I know is doing something far away from here, I will not be able to see that happening personally. I will not have that subjective experience. I may, within my subjective experience, be able to "imagine" it, meaning that I may take fragments of memories and construct a model of something that I will not be able to experience actually happening. This model (made out of imagined subjective experiences) will be my belief as to what my friend is doing, independent of my being able to observe him or her doing it. As a belief, it will allow for predictions on the basis of which I may take some action to achieve some predicted outcome.


I may model those beliefs with imaginary images as well as with words (sentences), but note how drastically different such images and sentences are from the actual seeing and otherwise perceiving of what I believe is happening. Such beliefs are about things that are independent of subjective experience, that is, independent of subjective experience other than the subjective experience of having been "told."


And therefore, because of language, I can acquire many beliefs about things that are far, far away, so to speak, from my subjective experience. Therefore, I can have many, many more beliefs (and quite accurate ones) than I could have only as a part of my Subjective Model of my subjective experience. I can learn about things I would never even have imagined on my own.


And now notice that it is also becoming possible, with this linguistic modeling, to "correct" one's subjective models of subjective experience. (A says, "I looked where you told me to, but it wasn't there." B says, "Oh, well then I must have been wrong.")


Now let us be clear about something that is happening here. What we are beginning to talk about is what will be relevant to the meaning of our word, "objective." We are talking about agreement. So let us review.


You consist, so to speak, of the sum total of your subjective experience. (This is only one way of defining "you," that leaves out the concept of the ego boundary. I have stated it this way only to help you to focus on what I am talking about.) Only you have access to this subjective experience of yours, and this is all you have access to. (Remember that in the terminology used here, there is no such thing as "objective experience," that is, no meaningful use of such a term.)


Also, you have developed beliefs about (models of) your subjective experience that allow you to do things, such as walk places, get things, find things, use things, watch out for things, relate to people, etc. You have learned how to live moment-to-moment without making mistakes, most of the time. When something surprises you, it does so because it is different from what you expected, or were automatically predicting, by virtue of the beliefs you have had about that area of your subjective experience. Thus, if that happens, your model of part of your subjective experience (your beliefs about it) must be inaccurate in some way.


And that entire last paragraph has nothing to do with language. It is the same as what is true for other animals with brains or central nervous systems that are capable of learning. Although your life indeed depends upon others around you, your beliefs about your subjective experience are initially and almost entirely based only upon your subjective experience, resulting generally from your experiencing of some degree of regularity or predictability of experience.


Remember now that for our convenience we are labeling the totality of beliefs that you have developed in response to regularities in your subjective experience as "the Subjective Model." This model is the totality of how things currently seem to you at any given time or would currently seem to you for any possible situation you could be in. (And remember that the Subjective Model can even be considered to include subjective experience itself, though it goes beyond subjective experience to even fairly complex beliefs about it.)


But as we go beyond the "Subjective Model," we begin to talk about your interaction with others. It is through that interaction, and more specifically through agreement with others, that you now can have linguistic models of parts of that Subjective Model of your subjective experience. You can "describe" (create a linguistic model of) what your subjective experience has been, and what you have come to believe about it. You can describe how things seem to you. You can describe how long the day has seemed, and whether the day has been tiring or exhilarating or anxiety-provoking. You can describe how cramped you have felt because of being inside all day, when you wished you were outside with others. You can describe how you nearly stumbled going down the stairs, and how you somehow grabbed hold of the railing and saved yourself from a fall. You can describe how scrumptious your lunch was, and all the memories of certain past experiences it aroused in you. You can describe how excited you are about what you think is about to happen. You can describe where you believe a particular item is. And you can describe how long you believe something will take to do or to happen.


But in addition, as you describe what you believe, you begin to find that others sometimes "disagree." You find that some of your beliefs probably are inaccurate, because others claim they are. (For example, someone says, "Oh no, it will take a lot longer than you think!")


So let us note that there is something new being added on to your subjective experience and your Subjective Model of it. What is being added on is based upon cooperation with others, agreement to do things in a certain way, that is, agreement to use words in a certain way. This "something new" is the beginning of the development of what I am calling the "Objective Model," called objective because it requires something more than just your subjective experience. It requires more than just your Subjective Model, your beliefs about what you have been, are, and will be experiencing, or how things seem to you. It requires agreement with others about certain things, for now primarily about the meanings of symbols and about the rules for using them. And it will ultimately require much more, as follows.


[Edit 02/22/2018:
Yesterday, a friend who is reviewing this book pointed out a seeming contradiction between what is written in the above paragraph, namely:

So let us note that there is something new being added on to your subjective experience and your Subjective Model of it.
and what has been written in the chapter on "Subjective Experience," namely:
For you, you "are" your subjective experience, nothing more. This is all you have to work with.
So indeed that sentence in the above paragraph should have been something like:
So let us note that there is something new being added on to a part of your subjective experience and your Subjective Model of it; first, there is that part that does not include what those entities called "other people" tell you (through speech, writing, pictures, diagrams, equations, etc.), and then there is this new, added part that does consist of these extra beliefs (models) that you have acquired only from what you have been "told" by other people.
End of edit]


(Note that I am capitalizing "Objective Model" for the same reason that I am capitalizing "Subjective Model," to refer to the total set of models, or beliefs, that we are considering, with, again, the implied idealistic goal of it being completely consistent and maximally accurate such as to be one comprehensive and best Model, a goal being aimed toward, but not with the expectation of achievement.)


As the child develops, he or she soon learns that, no matter how things may seem, there is agreement by "everyone" (others, or most others) about certain things. The child learns that there may be the way things seem, but there also is the way things actually are, according to others. It may not seem like bedtime, but it actually is, and there is apparently a way to tell. There is beginning to be a way for the child to tell whether some of his or her beliefs are "correct" or not, that is, whether his or her subjective models of subjective experience are accurate or not, a way to tell that does not rely upon whether or not the child has made a mistake, a way other than "learning from (one's own) experience." This other way is simply one of paying attention to others' linguistic models in comparison to one's own. It is listening to what one is being told.


Obviously, we are talking now about what might be called "objectivity." The child, all children, all humans have beliefs that can sometimes be demonstrated or claimed by other humans to be correct or incorrect, accurate or inaccurate (or at least questionable). And initially the way these beliefs can be checked for accuracy is through sharing them with others (describing them to others) and comparing them with the beliefs of others, done almost exclusively through language, but also (ultimately) through related symbolic representation and communication (like mathematics, diagrams, maps, etc.).


And please note again that with the advent of this new kind of modeling, this primarily linguistic modeling, the child, or person, can acquire drastically more beliefs than had been possible based upon his or her own subjective experience. The most obvious examples are what we call "formal education" and "the media," but also simply being told by someone else about what is happening (or has happened or will be happening) or what someone is doing (or has done, or will be doing).


So now we are talking about a set of beliefs that have been arrived at by humans by an agreed-upon method, independent of any one person's beliefs. That set of beliefs I am referring to as "the Objective Model."


(What we have described so far, however, is only the beginning of the development of the Objective Model. It will develop into something even more complex and useful, by virtue of additional methods of attaining "objectivity," and therefore increased accuracy, or ability to predict.)


We of course are quite aware that disagreement is widespread. The "Objective Model," as the term is used here, is really a collection of models, many of which are contradictory to one another. So when I refer to "the" Objective Model, this is really shorthand for the entire set of objective models (of the way the world is, was, or will be), even though those beliefs, or models, may be different for different people. What makes this "Objective Model" different from the "Subjective Model," beyond the agreement regarding word usage, is the beginning requirement of agreement among people for the legitimization of belief. (Again, there will be other requirements also, yet to be described.) Yet, the Objective Model is in certain ways indeed an improvement on the Subjective Model. The Objective Model does not replace the Subjective Model, but adds to it. The improvement is with regard to the probable accuracy of one's beliefs about certain things, in addition to the (vastly) increased number of possible beliefs one can have.


Since we are talking about the emergence of, or development of, the Objective Model, that is, a set of additional and at times different beliefs from those beliefs of the Subjective Model, it is important to recognize that this model is nevertheless emergent out of the Subjective Model. It is not a totally discrete phenomenon, coming out of nowhere. Yet, when we take a look at what it has become, we can see it as drastically different from the Subjective Model. The Subjective Model is your own set of beliefs about your own subjective experience, activated in all of your moment-by-moment actions and by the moment-to-moment situations that you find yourself in. The Objective Model is a set of beliefs arrived at by humans through cooperation and agreement, at first having to do with assignment of agreed-upon meanings to words and development of agreed-upon rules for using them (rules of syntax), and then through comparison of the sentences (linguistic models of beliefs) produced by, not just oneself, but "everyone" (or at least "those in the know").


Another difference between the two Models, Subjective and Objective, has to do with the source of, or reason for, the beliefs.


The Subjective Model beliefs come directly from subjective experience, without a linguistic model producing the beliefs (even though the beliefs may later be linguistically modeled, as when we tell someone what we have experienced and what we have learned from our experiences). We simply learn, from moment-by-moment observation, that some things predictably occur in certain situations, and that when we do certain things, certain things happen.


The Objective Model beliefs, however, generally come secondarily from linguistic models of the Objective Model, and thus from other people. Very often we first learn something in words, spoken or written by other people, and then we take action based upon the belief that what those words say is actually so. ("I took that turn to the right, because I believed what I had been told about how to get there.")


The Subjective Model is built from the bottom up (from subjective experience), whereas the Objective Model is to a great extent built from the top down (from being told things, in speech or writing, by others, and thus coming to believe them and therefore to act upon them, and only then with possible resulting confirmation or disconfirmation of the accuracy of those beliefs by virtue of experiencing the outcomes of those actions).


So the Objective Model in a person's brain is almost entirely based upon or derived from a linguistic model of it that comes from another person or other people. Much of what we learn is sets of propositions (sentences) that are regarded as "true" or "probably true," which, however, have almost no effect on our behavior, or decision-making, beyond things we say (or think) about them. There are things that I believe that have no effect on my behavior other than what I tell other people as I am letting them know what I believe. In formal education, we come to believe all sorts of things that we learn from no other source than what we read or hear linguistically presented to us by others, and we seldom manifest the having of those beliefs beyond our simply talking about having them. In a sense, we acquire enormous amounts of "useless information," at least useless beyond our demonstrating our having it (with whatever benefits may accrue from such demonstration, such as social status or employment or degrees on the wall).


On the other hand, some parts of the Objective Model do indeed have drastic effects on our behavior. We learn from others all sorts of things that we could not have imagined ourselves, and we use this information, or these beliefs, in much of what we do. We wash our hands before eating because of the Objective Model, not the Subjective Model. Some of us eat certain things because we have been told by others that they are good for us. We go to a specific store because of what we have been told about it. We invest and vote because of what we have read and what we have seen and heard in the media. But when we confidently plop down in our favorite chair, without fear of crashing through it, the Objective Model probably has almost no influence on that behavior, which is determined instead primarily by our Subjective Model (what we have learned to expect).


We should note that as the Objective Model develops within an individual, it does indeed have some mild "corrective" effect on the Subjective Model, and whether a particular belief is then a part of the Subjective Model or the Objective Model can therefore become unclear. But beliefs of this sort (of uncertain classification) are relatively extremely small in quantity, compared to those that are clearly within either the Subjective Model or the Objective Model. An example of lack of clarity as to whether a belief is a part of the Subjective or the Objective Model would be being told how to do something more effectively, in a way that does not come naturally, and after a while coming to do that thing the new way automatically, it simply "feeling" right (natural) to do it that way, the belief being that this is the way to do it that will be successful. (Some have referred to this, in regard to the development of a physical skill, as "muscle memory," though of course we know that the memory is in the central nervous system. The term "automatize" has been used for this process.)


Another way of dealing with this uncertainty regarding whether a belief is a part of the Subjective Model or the Objective Model is simply to state that a particular belief may be a part of both Models. ("I always knew that this was supposed to be true, but now I have seen it for myself.")


It should be noted that the "Objective Model" term is being used in two ways. It primarily is referring to beliefs obtained primarily from others in the manner described, those beliefs being in the mind/brain of an individual. But it also is referring to the total set of such beliefs increasingly developed by our species, through the methods described, so that one individual can be said to have only one version of only part of this total set. And of course many of these beliefs are contradictory to others, our species having different, conflicting beliefs about the way the world is, was, and will be. And therefore one individual may indeed have contradictory beliefs acquired from others, often without some recognition of such contradiction. So the defining characteristic of the Objective Model, as the term is being used here, is the method by which the referred-to beliefs have been arrived at (and therefore their source), not "where" those beliefs are located (within an individual or within a species). For any individual, both Subjective Model beliefs and Objective Model beliefs have an effect on behavior.


So although there is an overlap of, or indistinct boundary between, the contents of the Subjective Model and the contents of the Objective Model, that is, the respective sets of beliefs, there is a distinct, defining difference between the two Models having to do with the process of arising of those beliefs, namely, (1) arising automatically from ongoing, moment-by-moment subjective experience (how things "seem"), as opposed to (2) arising from the sharing and comparing of linguistic models of beliefs, such as to achieve "objectivity," that is, independence from how things "seem" to any one person. It is thus important to view the Subjective Model and the Objective Model as two completely distinct models, even though a specific belief may be found in both of them. And when the two Models contain beliefs that are contradictory, the probability is higher that the belief in the Objective Model is the more accurate one, because of being more "objective," though we know that the probability is not 100%.


There is, as has been noted, no guarantee that any particular part of the Objective Model is accurate or correct. In fact, we know that there is much that people collectively believe or have believed that ultimately may not be considered to be correct. But at least there is that awareness that it may not be correct. In response to this awareness, we have looked for a criterion or criteria to help decide whether to be satisfied that some part of the Objective Model is indeed accurate or "true." Simple agreement with regard to the linguistic modeling of those beliefs is not the best that we can do. So we move forward in our journey toward "objectivity."