Basic Orientation
Book1: R-E Living & "Homo Rationalis"
Book2: Humanianity
Book3: Mind-Body Problem
Book4: (Future Possible Development)
Child Rearing Issues
Philosophico-Religious Issues
01 Science And?/Versus? Religion
02 Dear God,...(And "To Jesus")
03 Are You Spiritual (Like I Am)?
04 Latest Bible Update
05 The Concept of the "Model"
06 Humanoblasts & Humanaoclasts
07 Definitions - Blah, Blah, Blah
Psycho-Socio-Cultural Issues
The Twelve Articles
Relevant Autobiography



A lot of the system of thought that I have put together and advocate for makes use of the concept of the "model." The concept of the "model" has become very prominently used in modern science. I use it extensively in my first book (Book1), and it is very important in my developing book regarding the mind-body problem (and the free will vs. determinism problem), and the following excerpt clarifies the concept.

Excerpt from For Everyone: Rational-Ethical Living and the Emergence of "Homo Rationalis": The Most Important Book, page 19:

Let us now be as clear as possible about what a model is.

Let us consider the model of a car. This model consists of parts of the model put together in a very specific way. In other words, I can't just put the wheels, doors, headlights, hood, etc., together "any old way." The way the model "works" is that the relationships between the parts of the model are such that a person can imagine what the relationships between the parts of the actual car are. (In other words, if I were to look at the model car, I would have some idea as to what the real car looked like, and if I then looked at the real car with this expectation, or prediction, and saw something different, I would say that the model was incorrect, or inaccurate. Conversely, if I looked at the real car and then at the model, and saw something different than I expected, or predicted, I would say the model was incorrect, or inaccurate.) So a model consists of parts, put together such that the relationships between the parts of the model can be translated into the relationships between the parts of that which is being modeled. In the case of the model car, the distance between its wheels, or between its headlights and its taillights, can be translated into the distance between those equivalent parts of the real car.

Notice that the model is never exactly the same as that which it is modeling; otherwise it would actually be the same thing rather than a model of it. A thing is a model to the extent to which it allows one to predict, because of the parts of the model and the relationships between those parts of the model, some attributes of or facts about that which is being modeled. It cannot predict everything about it, but there are generally only certain things that we want to know, anyway.

Now a model must be constructed of some "material" or "materials." It is made of something. The model car may be made of wood, metal, plastic, etc. But notice that a picture or a map may also be a model, a two-dimensional one, of something. In a similar manner, a diagram may be a model, one that reduces the number of aspects of something being modeled to a minimum. A mathematical equation is perhaps the most extreme example of the reduction of the aspects of something being modeled to a minimum. But in this book, the most usual meaning of the concept of a model will be a collection of words, put together in certain ways, that evoke in the other person's mind an image or idea of something that is as close as possible to the image or idea of the something that is in the mind of the person constructing the model. Thus, a verbal model of something is essentially a description (in words) of something. There is perhaps little or no difference between the concept of a model of something and the concept of a description of something. And if what I want to do is to convey to you, or describe to you, what I want you to do, I can describe it in words or I can describe it in gestures, or I can even do it myself, such that my behavior is a model for you to "imitate."

Let us return now to the example of my seeing something around the corner that my friend has not yet seen. When, because of my description, my friend comes to have an image in his or her mind of what is around the corner, that image represents a model of what is around the corner. And I want his or her model to be similar to mine, that is, to the image in my mind.

(Actually, saying that the image is a model is somewhat of a metaphor, since it would usually not be referred to as a "tool." It occurs automatically, rather than as a result of a voluntary act, and it seems to be a part of the person rather than something being "used" by that person. On the other hand, there is really no clear dividing line between what a tool is and what a tool is not. For instance, one could regard a boulder as a tool if a person or other animal got on top of it to see further, and one could even regard the use of an appendage as a tool, as for instance in the example of using one's fingernail in the place of a screwdriver. And some of these usages are quite automatic, rather than "deliberate." So the use of the term "tool" in the above manner is optional. The important point is that the image can be broken down into parts that have a relationship to each other, and that those parts and the relationships between them can be translated into the parts and relationships in "the actual thing," in such a manner as to make predictions about the actual thing possible. An example is that if I have an image in my mind of something I have not yet seen, that image is a prediction of what I will see when I actually look at it.)

Now in the case of verbal description or modeling, what is the "thing" that I am using to create that image, or model? It will have parts (symbols, or words), and relationships among those parts such that they will be translated into the desired image in my friend's mind. In other words, I will be using a model, constructed of words and relationships among them, to create a model, consisting of an image in my friend's mind, of what he or she will see if he or she looks around the corner. (And yes, whatever he or she sees will again be a model in his or her mind, or nervous system, of what is actually there.) So we want to understand more about constructing a model with words, that will produce another model, the image.

As we have seen, the words themselves, by themselves, cannot construct such an image. Something else is needed. What is needed is an understood way of using those words such that a specific image is created. There must be a way of using the words that is agreed upon, such that if that way of using the words, or that set of procedural rules for using the words, is followed, there can be a fair amount of confidence that the desired image will be created in the other person's mind.

These rules are the rules of syntax. These rules are the glue that hold the various symbols together in precise ways, such that the finished product can model a specific thing in the world. The finished product goes by various names. I will use one of them, namely, the "proposition." In other words, the models we will be talking about will be constructed with a set of one or more propositions. A proposition, as I am using it in this book, will be essentially the same thing as a declarative sentence.

(There are other kinds of sentences, such as questions, requests, and commands, that usually are not considered propositions. I believe that they can generally be translated into propositions. "Bring me that!" can be translated into "I want you to bring me that and it is consistent with the nature of our relationship that I can expect you to bring it to me if I let you know in this manner that that is my wish." To keep matters simple, we will use as our examples only simple declarative sentences, and to help us think and communicate clearly, I will use the term "proposition," rather than "sentence." But also note that a mathematical equation can serve as a proposition, just as can a series of gestures made in accordance with the rules of sign language.)

Consider "John handed Mary the book." Then consider "Mary handed John the book." Then consider "Handed Mary the John book." The same five words were used, but because of the rules of syntax, the three "propositions" have different meanings, and one probably has little or no meaning at all. And the rules for using the symbols in a mathematical equation are exactly equivalent to the rules of syntax in language. For example, A/B is not the same as B/A. In the same way, there are rules for constructing diagrams, graphs, and charts, and for using signs in sign language. So in the construction of any model, the "materials" of which the model is constructed must be assembled according to an agreed-upon set of rules for their use in order for the model to work, that is, to allow accurate expectations or predictions about that which is being modeled. These rules are the ways in which to use the parts of a proposition such that the proposition can be translated into an image, or understanding, of what the proposition is supposed to mean. (The recipient of the proposition might say to the sender, or speaker, "I believe I understand what you mean," or, "I get your meaning.")

As noted, using this concept of "model," mathematical equations that represent processes in the universe can be considered models. By knowing how to translate the variables in the equations into readings from experiments, one can make predictions as to what those readings will be. Thus, these equations are referred to as mathematical models, and they are especially useful for modeling phenomena that cannot be modeled by objects in the physical world or by objects that we know by virtue of our visual field. (For instance, quantum physics makes use of models of objects that cannot resemble any objects that we are familiar with, such as billiard balls, and therefore quantum physics has become much more of a mathematical model, compared to our understanding of physics prior to the recognition of quantum phenomena.)

So just as, in the model of the car, the parts of the model car had to be put together in just the right way in order for the model to be an accurate model of the real car, in the model of the above interaction between John and Mary, the words had to be put together in just the right way in order for the proposition to be an accurate model of what actually happened between John and Mary.

It can really be said, then, that our "understanding" of something is a model of it. Our understanding of something physical is often our internal image of it, and that image would therefore be a model. Our understanding of a complicated process would be our imagination of the interactions of parts of the process, and that imagination again would be a model.

The more accurate our understanding is of something, that is, the more accurate our models are, the more accurate our predictions will be regarding our experiences and regarding the outcomes of our actions.

The development of the ability to use this new set of tools, namely, models of things about the world constructed of symbols put together according to the rules of syntax such as to make sets of propositions, and the ability to do this essentially to an infinite extent, was the first new development that made our species stand out as different from, and ultimately more capable than, all other species on the planet at this time, and we ultimately became drastically different from how we had been before.

(End of excerpt from Book1.)

Now here is a recent selection from my Book3, in development, regarding the mind-body problem. There is of course much repetition, but also some expansion of the concept.


So first we will now need to be clear about what I am meaning by the concept, "modeling," or "model." What I mean by "modeling" should become increasingly clear in what follows, but a "model" is anything that is constructed or formed that allows for predictions about that which is being "modeled."

Please note that I did not say that a model was something constructed for the purpose of making predictions. I said that a model allows for such predictions. If a stone rests on mud that subsequently dries up, the impression left in the mud would be a model of the surface of the stone. It could indeed be used to predict what the surface of the stone would be found to be like, but the formation of that model simply happened, it did not take place because of some "purposeful act." So "model," as I am using the term in this presentation, is anything that could be used to predict something about something else. And that "something else" would be what was "modeled" by the model, according to our terminology.

So, please note that, also, the stone (or one surface of it) could be considered a model of the impression in the dried mud.

But to understand better, it will be helpful to think of examples of purposeful modeling.

For us humans, a model car, would be an example. With that model car, if it is accurate, we can predict certain things about the car that the model is of, even if we have never seen the actual car. Architects may construct models of what they intend to build, those models enabling predictions to be made about the future, when the project has been completed. But, as other examples, science uses mathematical and statistical models, allowing for very precise predictions. And maps, pictures, and graphs can also be considered models. They allow us to predict where things will be found, what they will look like, and what some measurements of them will turn out to be.

And we can think of examples of purposeful modeling that is done somewhat automatically.

A sentence (or set of sentences) or a verbal description can be considered a (linguistic) model of that which one is talking about, essentially being a prediction of what we would find if we ourselves checked out what was being said or written. And our imagination of something is a model of that something, a prediction of what it will or would be "like" (look like, sound like, etc.), just as our memory of something is a model of something that presumably existed or happened in the past, meaning that we can or could predict now what we would find if we looked at all the evidence we have of what happened in the past (or even, if such were possible, we magically went back in time and watched it happening).

Note that, within mathematics, a graph of an equation is a model of that equation, just as an equation can be a model of a graph. Given one, things about the other can be predicted.

Any model is constructed by (consists of) the arrangement of something or some things. A model car is constructed, perhaps, with plastic and metal and various paints, arranged in a specific way. A graph is constructed with ink on paper or pixels on a screen, arranged as lines, etc. A picture is constructed with some sort of media, arranged in a particular way. Mathematical equations are constructed with mathematical symbols arranged according to certain rules. Sentences are constructed with words (symbols) arranged in a certain way according to the rules of syntax. Memory is constructed with parts of memories of experience, arranged to be consistent with what actually happened. And imagination (or fantasy) is constructed with parts of memories of experiences, arranged to represent something new or something not present.

But now I believe it will be quite helpful to broaden this concept to include modeling that naturally (as opposed to purposefully) happens, as I already have mentioned, and then to include "modeling" by animals in general, at least some animals, rather than just humans. More specifically, if we watch a rat get to "know" a particular setting, such as a cage or a maze or a natural environment, we will note that the rat seems to become able to predict what direction will lead to success in its efforts to get somewhere or accomplish something. For instance, in the maze, it will learn where food is, that is, how to get there. So there develops in that rat's brain something, perhaps a network of enhanced synaptic connections, that corresponds to things about its environment. If we really understood exactly how the brain works, then by studying that rat's brain, we ourselves should also be able to understand (predict) where the food is. Thus, the rat's brain contains a model of its surroundings, constructed probably out of enhanced neuronal connections arranged in some sort of way. With that model, the rat can be successful in finding food. "It knows where the food is." "It has a belief as to where the food is, and that belief, that model, is accurate." That belief, or model, enables the rat to predict successfully where the food will be found. The belief, or model, works. (And if it doesn't work, then by definition it is not accurate, and it leads to "mistakes," or outcomes of behavior different than predicted.)

(Note again that the formation of this model in the rat's brain happens just naturally and automatically. It is not something the rat "purposely does." The rat doesn't know anything about neurons, or models, or learning processes.)

So we are saying that animals (including humans), as they learn, develop beliefs, which are models in the brain or central nervous system about the way the world is, was, or will be, and that these beliefs or models allow the animals to predict what is going to happen, either in general in a given situation or as an outcome of their own potential or actual behavior in that situation. And those predictions are more likely to turn out to be what does indeed happen if the beliefs, or models, are accurate. Inaccuracy of belief leads to surprises, and behavior based upon inaccurate beliefs leads to unintended outcomes, or mistakes, which often are undesirable (even tragic or fatal), though of course not always.

Please note that I am using the word "belief" with dual meanings, at least at first glance. We know that "belief" is usually a term assigned to an entity assumed to exist in the "mental world." But I am also using it to refer to whatever it isin the brain (a part of the "physical world"), perhaps a network of enhanced neuronal connections, that is arranged such that it corresponds to something about the world. This dual meaning is an example of how we think of the world as having two "aspects," a "physical" and a "mental" aspect, of what is actually the same thing. But this issue has yet to be discussed. Nevertheless, I believe you will find no problem occurring by virtue of using the term "belief" in this way, for the purposes of this presentation. And the explanation of this dual usage will be discussed below, since it is part of what this whole presentation is about.*

We might mention here that we use the word "understanding" to refer to our set of beliefs about something. The rat understands how to get to the food. We understand what makes people behave a particular way. We understand why the moon circles the earth. And that understanding may be very accurate, very inaccurate, or somewhere in between, because beliefs vary with respect to accuracy, that is, their ability to produce predictions that turn out to be what actually happens.

Also, let us recognize that "assumption" means a belief that is accepted as accurate without necessarily having been legitimized (demonstrated to be likely to be accurate by meeting a legitimization criterion), and is thus a model and probably a basic part of a larger model. We well know that when a belief system is being questioned because of inaccurate predictions (evidence arising against the belief system), one possibility is that certain assumptions within that belief system may be inaccurate or incorrect, and should therefore be questioned. Within a mathematical or logical system, an assumption would be equivalent to an "axiom," another example of a term referring to a "model" as used in this presentation.

So we are considering a number of different words and the concepts they stand for to be simply examples of some states that parts of the brain may be in, having to do probably with the enhancement of synaptic connections among neurons (though we may find out differently in the future), and those states that the brain may be in we are considering to be models of things or situations, for instance, models of the way things are, or have been, or will be (or, for that matter, the way things could be, could have been, or could be in the future, etc.). These words (and the concepts they stand for) include "perception," "belief," "assumption," "axiom," "prediction," "understanding," "imagination," "memory," etc. These are all "models."

The brain contains models of the world. That is why the brain can successfully "figure out" and "decide" what to do. And note that we are using terms that usually refer to mental entities and assuming that they refer to some states of affairs within the brain. So this equivalence that we are allowing for currently still contains the problem that we are dealing with, the unclear relationship between physical and mental entities.

Now, armed with all this terminology, we need to continue the approach to the problem of what the difference is between the mental world and the physical world, if indeed there are those two worlds. This approach will involve, I believe, the necessity for sustained effort involving the thinking of new thoughts, never an easy undertaking. To be successful, we will need to continue to be as precise as possible in the meanings of words as used in this specific discussion.

(End of excerpt from developing Book3.)