Sunday, April 10, 2011

Complex Equivalence

The concept of the day is “Complex Equivalence”.  An individual’s cognitive map or sensory representation of a particular word, label or expression; or possibly better said, the meaning the individual assigns to an abstract form of words.  A different experience that has the same meaning (equivalent) as the experience they are considering.

Misunderstanding and miscommunication occur when two individuals each assign different meanings to a word or phrase and then act as if they were describing the same experience.

Think of political descriptive labels as a good example of this.  The definitions of a “Liberal” or a “Conservative” are entirely different for those who identify themselves as either, than it is for those who do not.  Each sees their point of view as admirable and obviously as a better way of thinking.  And each sees the other as an opponent, often using the description as if it was a well defined epithet, one that we all agree to the meaning of.

It’s an attempt to reframe the meaning of a word by using it repeatedly, as shorthand, to redefine the word.
It begins to feel like the only way to correctly understand the perceived meaning of a word or phrase is by taking a poll.  But even then, you end up with differences of prevalent definition according to whether the poll respondent lives in a “Red State” or a “Blue State”.

But, words mean things.  With the presence of 24 hour media, ubiquitous beyond what most would ever have believed possible a generation ago, we have to guard against revisionists.

I used to be very politically minded.  But seeing the same tactics used by both sides to whatever advantage they sought at the time, I grew weary of it all.  Talking heads on TV sound like broken parrots, repeating the same things, like mantra. 

Say it loud and often enough and it’s true, right?

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