10 October 2016

Of Sacks, Edelman, perception, terminology and more #2

When Sacks writes:
Categorization is the central task of the brain, and reentrant signaling allows the brain to categorize its own categorizations, then recategorize these, and so on.
it suggests to me first, that Wittgenstein was on the right track, and more importantly that Edelman's theory of Neural Darwinism (and Sacks's interpretation thereof) gives a deeper explanation of why categorisation is so central and how it works.

And when I read
This perceptual generalization (of 'chairhood') is dynamic, so it can be continually updated, and it depends on the active and incessant orchestration of countless details.
it suggests to me:

  1. That it may be time to review that most fundamental concepts of lexicography and terminology in the light of Edelman's theory. Perhaps they too need to be more dynamic.
    (If this has already been done then I'd be very grateful if anyone out there could send me a relevant link or two.)
  2. That this may help us to understand why text analysis on the basis of dictionary definitions and/or term databases often leaves one with the feeling that the author has actually managed to say something different because the overall impression left by a given passage depends to some extent or another on the fuzziness of the meanings of many if not all words and terms.
  3. That this may help us to understand how superior observers, specialists and devotees of all sorts are able to steadily increase the amount of useful information they can extract from the close observation of whatever it is they are interested in. Think of the golf instructor watching a player's swing or a swimming coach watching a swimmer's stroke.
I may not be making myself completely clear (although I can say, in French, je me comprends) and I may not even be saying anything original, so feel free to set me straight if you wish.


  1. A lot of work has been done on this. Google "semantic mapping". Not the best reference, but this will get you going, and the bibliography on this page is quite useful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_mapper

    1. Thank you for your thoughts but, as far as I can tell, there is no link between the word 'mapping' in 'semantic mapping' and the neuronal mappings that Sacks and Edelman are talking about.


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