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Relationship Between Elements of Knowledge

Use of computer systems to facilitate construction, comprehension and comparison of the concept thesauri of different schools of thought (Part #1)


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Quotes indicative of strategic relevance

Stafford Beer: Managing modern complexity. In: The Management of Information and Knowledge: a compilation of papers prepared for the 11th. Meeting of the Panel on Science and Technology of the Committee on Science and Astronautics (US House of Representatives, 1970):

Handling complexity seems to be the major problem of the age 1 in the way that handling material substance offered challenge to our forefathers. Computers are the t.ools we have to use, and their effective use must be directed by a science competent to handle the organization of large, complex probabilistic systems.

Georges Mounin: Discours inaugural du Colloque sur le mot structure sous las auspices de l 'UNESCO (In: Roger Bastide (Ed.). Sens et usages du terme structure dans les sciences humaines et sociales, 1962, 165 p.) .

Des mots aussi courants que "groups", "classe"; "pouvoir:" ou "structure ... comptent actuellement non pas deux, ou trois, ou quatre significations fondamentales -- ce qui est normal -- mais autant d'acceptions que d'auteurs, acceptions parfaitement irreducibles a un commun denominateur, et meme totalement autonomiques.

John M. Ziman: Information, communication and knowledge (Nature, 224,. 25 October 1969, p. 323):

I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of this activity of intellectual synthesis. Any notion that we may have about the nature of science includes the belief that something like an overall pattern is to yet discovered and described.. What we need is scientific knowledge -- not more and more miscellaneous and unrelated information.

René Maheu: Allocution du Directeur General de l'UNESCO au Colloque international de l'UNESCO sur le theme ''Science et Synthese", 1967):

Face a la spécialisation croissante de la pensée et de l'action par la diversification de la recherche et la division du travail (UNESCO) se doit de favoriser les recherches et les confrontations interdisciplinaires, d'encouragor les réflexions de 1'ensemble, bref de souligner l'importance vitale de l'esprit de synthèse pour l'équilibre de notre civilisation. Je dis bien vitale, car l'homme -- j'entends l'essentiel, a savoir son jugement, sa liberté -- peut aussi bien etre asphyxié par son savoir que paralysé par son ignorance, et il pout tout autant se perdre dans la complexité du comportement social dévorant que s'attrophier dans la simplicité élémentaire d'une condition dite de sous-développement.

René Maheu: Director General of UNESCO (Main Trends of Research in the Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO, 1970, p. xiv-xv):

The practical manifestation of this interdependence... ( the social sciences and the human sciences) is interdisciplinary co-operation, which culminates in multidisciplinary research and is embodied in teamwork: an indispensable basis for the knowledge of man, but at the same time an idea which, in general, abstract terms, has a dangerous fascination, and which might remain no more than an empty and unproductive slogan if its foundations and mechanisms were not clearly identified by contact with specific problems propounded to research, and with due regard to the various institutional, financial, technical. and human factors on which its development, fruitfulness and capacity for renewal and creation in fact depend.

Peter Drucker: The Age of' Discontinuity: guidelines to our changing society (1969):

The most probable assumption is that every single one of the old demarcations; disciplines, and faculties is going to become obsolete and a barrier to learning as well as to understanding. The fact that we are shifting from a Cartesian view of the universe, in. which the accent has been on parts and elements, to a configuration view, with the emphasis on wholes and patterns, challenges every single. dividing line between areas of study and knowledge.

Benjamin Lee Whorf: Language, Thought and Reality (1956, p. 84):

The possibilities open to thinking are the possibilities of recognizing relationships and the discovery of techniques of operating with relationships on the mental or intellectual plane, such as will in turn lead to ever wider and more penetratingly significant systems of relationships.

René Maheu: Preface (Main Trends of Research in the Social and Human Sciences. UNESCO, 1970, p. xxv):

One of the most significant results that should naturally emerge from a study such as this, is the presentation of a chart -- admittedly provisional and subject to constant revision -- of the strong points and weak points of interdisciplinary cooperation and of their substrates, and the identification of priority areas to which research scientists should direct their thinking and. institutions their activities.

Geoffrey Vickers: Value Systems and Social Process. (1970):

Like the life form's of the physical world, the dreams of men spread and colonize their inner world, clash, excite, modify and destroy each other, or preserve their stability by making strange accommodations with their rivals. So I regard it as a legitimate analogy, though not, of course, an exact one, to speak of our interpretative system -- I call it on appreciative system -- as an ecological system, even though the laws which order and develop a population of ideas (conflicting, competing, and mutually supporting) in communicating minds are different from those which order and develop a population of monkeys in a rain forest or of insects under a paving stone.

Every field of activity, politics, law, and not least science, like every society, has its own stability to guard. (p. 182)

René Maheu: Directeur Général da 1'UNESCO, 15e Conférence Générale, Comptes rendus des débats (1968):

L'uniformité croissante de la terminologie éthique que l'on remarque dans les réunions internationales, où elle facilite assurément les communications formelles et les ententes apparentes, ne doit pas nous abuser, Derrière le mur de brouillard des mots, la diversité, voire l'opposition des interprétations, des motivations et des utilisations divisent profondément les esprits et, a la faveur de cette confusion, les droits universels sont bien plus souvent invoqués comme une armes offensive ou défensive contre autrui que reconnus et pratiqués comme la route royale de l'union de soi et d'autrui en une fraternité objective.

Chuang Tzu (4th century B.C.): From Chuang Tzu: Genius of the Absurd, arranged from the work of James Legge, by C Waltham. Ace Books, page 50 and 72.)

Thus is affirmed now life and now death, now death and now life; now the admissibility of a thing and now its inadmissibility, now its inadmissibility and now its admissibility. The disputants now affirm and now deny, now deny and now affirm. Therefore the sagely man does not pursue this method but views things in the light of his heavenly nature, and hence forms his judgment of what is right... Words are like the waves acted on by the wind: the real point of the matters discussed by them is lost. The wind and waves are easily set in motion; the success of the matter of which the real point is lost is easily put in peril. Hence quarrels are occasioned by nothing so much as by artful words and one-sided speeches.

Preface: This report has been prepared for the Committee on Conceptual and Terminological Analysis (COCTA) of the International Political Science Association. It constitute a much-expanded version of' a set of notes which were discussed in relation to proposals in COCTA Working Paper No. 1 (prepared by Fred Riggs, Secretary of' COCTA), and in the COCTA Manifesto (prepared by Giovanni Sartori, Chairman of COCTA and Fred Riggs) at a meeting sponsored by the international Studies Association and held, on the invitation of the Rockefeller Foundation, at the Villa Serbelloni (Bellagio, Italy, 1-5 September 1971).

Although COCTA currently derives its main support from the political science field, it is intended that its approach should if possible be made relevant to a broad range of social sciences. This report has therefore been written in such a way as to make the design useful to a variety. of disciplines and users.

In order to achieve this, a very simple approach has bean. adopted which results, from a computer-level perspective, in a means of handling any entities or relationships. In this report, the stress has been placed on concepts, theoretical constructs, etc. It could equally well handle (i) organizations, and other social system entities and relationships, (ii) real "world problems" and their relationships, or possibly (iii) personal belief's and their interrelationships.

The computer approach suggested here is in fact the simplification and modification of one developed by the author for the Union of International Associations with a view to creating a data bank of entities significant to the international system, based initially on the contents of the Yearbook of International Organizations. The problems of concept-handling arose in the treatment of organization program concerns.

This work also suggested a more systemic approach to education about the interrelationships between fields of knowledge and activity as well as the profitability of handling and analyzing information on interlinking "world problems", in conjunction with the production of a Yearbook of World Problems (What is a World Problem?, International Associations, 1971; Jere W. Clark and Anthony Judge, Development of Trans-disciplinary Conceptual Aids, 1970)).

The possibilities of this computer approach may in fact be most quickly recognized and funded in studies of entities in natural environment systems where the representation of complex interlinking ''food chains and "food webs" has to date, posed an insurmountable problem (O. Pimentel, Complexity of ecological systems and problems in their study and management. In: Systems Analysis in Ecology, 1966). The use of the interactive graphics techniques suggested here, and for which a demonstration film has been prepared, may constitute a breakthrough in handling organized complexity (Anthony Judge, Visualization of Organization,16mm film, 1970). Hopefully it will be possible for groups interested in the different uses of the same type of network analysis computer program to work together in building up a case for funding -- particularly in the case of the graphics display programs,

This report makes reference to activities and. techniques in a wide spread of domains, Clearly the author can claim no special competence in all these domains. It is nevertheless important to juxtapose material from such different sources rather than simply provide a bibliographical citation, particularly as much of it is relatively inaccessible. A number of the Appendices are therefore summaries, partial extracts, or commented extracts from published material. It is hoped that this approach will facilitate the reader 's task of appreciating the many facets of this project.

Introduction: This report addresses itself to the practical problems of developing a means of filing concepts and other theoretical constructs in a data bank. Such concepts u1ould be filed in terms of their meaning and not in terms of the word by which they happen to be represented in a particular school of thought. The reason for this approach is that many of the words on u1hich most reliance is placed in the social sciences (e.g. "group", .class", "power", or "structure") have acquired a multiplicity of overlapping meanings (Fred W, Riggs, Concepts, Words and Terminology, University of Hawaii, Social Science Research Institute, 1971, COCTA Working Paper #1; Giovanni Sartori, Concept Misinformation in Comparative Politics, American Political Science Review, 64, December 1970, 4, pp.1033-1053).

The concept file so created would be used to generate lists, to facilitate classification and interrelation of concepts to produce concept thesauri, and, finally, to facilitate the allocation of "authoritative" terms to permit the production of terminological thesauri.

The object of this project would be to ensure that any qualified person -- with a few safeguards -- would be free to register entities in the file which would then become available for secondary analysis at any interested research centre,

One form such analysis might take would be the construction and comparison of various models or classification schemes for theoretical entities. At a tertiary level, efforts could be made to link such entities with each other, cutting across the boundaries of disciplines, ideologies, epistemological approaches, paradigms or problems. This activity would provide new alternative means of approaching the entities held on the file but would not affect their use for more restricted purposes.

In this report particular attention has been paid to some of the techniques available to analyze complex entity networks or structures. Because of this complexity and the problems of comprehending it, the use of interactive computer graphics has been examined as a powerful means of simplifying the task and making the project more widely significant.

Appendices [only available as separate searchable PDF documents, as noted below, or in the complete PDF version]

A. Project organization (Appendix A)

  • Organization of project A1
  • Classification and modelling A2
  • Types of model A3
  • Types of entity included A4
  • Types of relationship included A5
  • Data to be included on each entity A6
  • Limitation of scope A7
  • Concept notation in documents A8

B. Computer techniques (Appendix B)

  • Computer record handling software B1
  • The ADMINS computer system B2
  • Use of interactive graphic display techniques B3
  • Online specification of possible graphics demonstration programs B4

C. Methods of representation and analysis (Appendix C)

  • Representation of concept networks using graph theory C1
  • Relationship to artificial intelligence projects C2
  • Relationship to personal construct evaluation techniques C3
  • Semantic matrices C4
  • Use of input/output analysis C5

D. Earlier initiatives and sources of concepts (Appendix D)

  • Related and earlier attempts at concept coding D1
  • Conceptual dictionaries D2
  • Relationship to citation indexing method D3
  • Relationship to the U.D.C./ Dewey classification schemes D4
  • Relationship to the UN/OECD Aligned List of Descriptors D5
  • Relationship to the UNISIST proposals for a World Science Information System D6
  • The Shepherd's Citator Coding Technique D7
  • Use of the International Standard Book Numbering technique D8
  • Sources for social science concepts D9
  • International organizations possibly interested D10
  • Relationship to the SATCOM recommendations D11
  • International Center for the Terminology of the Social Sciences D12

E. Language and knowledge considerations (Appendix E)

  • The Concept of semantic fields E1
  • Use of several languages and translation problems E2
  • A discipline's model as a "language" E3
  • Knowledge, information, and documentation E4
  • Knowledge dynamics E5

F. Future possibilities (Appendix F)

  • Future prospects: an ideal knowledge-representation system F1
: an ideal knowledge-representation system F1

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