Multidisciplinary studies/Introduction

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Multidisciplinary studies are required when a field of study, a topic or a problem of research crosses the borders of disciplines, university faculties, schools or departments and even school subjects, as traditionally subjects indicate independent bodies of knowledge. Therefore multidisciplinary or cross-disciplinary is just a tag to make sure that this is a kind of integration and not merging of several fields of interest in the scenery of organized knowledge representations. It could be regarded as a learning project after the course materials/lecture notes have been written up and presented.and Approaches to the study of a discipline or subject of study

The scope of the term multidisciplinary[edit | edit source]

As expected, the scope of such a course is unusually wide, covering more than one field of study. Typically the fields covered are not part of a composite subject, e.g. neuropsychology, or psychoimmunology, etc., but a treatment of stand-alone disciplines studying the same chunk of reality and applying their own terminology for the same. Consequently, these disciplines need to be aligned with respect to the subject matter of their interest and focus. Also, the relevant terminology need to be harmonized or "synchronized" for meaningful use and results. The current course will deal with the most generic terms of Philosophy, Psychology, Logic, Linguistics, and Computing. The rationale of such an approach lies in the fact that some problems cannot be solved by looking at them from a single science view, instead, you need to change views and shift viewpoints in order to identify a solution to the problems identified.

Such studies may be broken down into lectures, or lecture notes, which are further divided into subpages.

My plan: to run a multidisciplinary course tentatively entitled "synchronization of thoughts"

Synchronization of thoughts

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A multidisciplinary (maybe the term cross-disciplinary is better) approach is called for when dealing with any subject of such complexity as to defy capture within a single specialization. An example might be thinking (redirected in Wikipedia to) or thought Or with problems, such as breaking the Maya code that defy solution within a single specialization. In the course of finding a solution several methods were tested, because none of the individual disciplines viewpoints offered satisfactory explanations. The exploration into the meaning of the Maya script is a good example.

"Although it was now clear what was on many Maya inscriptions, they still could not literally be read. However, further progress was made during the 1960s and 1970s, using a multitude of approaches including pattern analysis, de Landa's "alphabet," Knorozov's breakthroughs, and others. In the story of Maya decipherment, the work of archaeologists, art historians, epigraphers, linguists, and anthropologists cannot be separated. All contributed to a process that was truly and essentially multidisciplinary. Key figures included David Kelley, Ian Graham, Gilette Griffin, and Michael Coe."

Unfortunately very few people are educated in several disciplines, hence few are able to do multidisciplinary research on their own, and if they have a PhD research proposal, they have difficulties of finding a tutor. All this is due to the unfortunate bipolarization of specialist vs generalist a divide, which indicates that school subjects and disciplines do not care about providing interfaces between their own specialization and others.

Explanation of course name[edit | edit source]

One of the basic problems in societal living is to synchronize the individual speakers and help them to cooperate. In addition to that effort to synchronize communication, the efforts to synchronize motion (moving about, or communicating again, but in a different sense) like as it is common with animals is also important, especially when moving in groups: like fish, antelopes and birds.

Why do we need to synchronize?

Because every object has its own time and life-cycle, and as we change all the time we have different experience and explanation of life that need to be synchronized/harmonized. A child and an adult have experience and knowledge of the world. This knowledge has to be synchronized and it is done by passing on the cultural heritage, by imitation, by copying the adult behavior. Synchronization is required for survival and there are three factors in human personality and behavior that can be synchronized. These are emotions, reason and will. We shall see later how and why.

Besides, it is becoming evident that the electrical activitise in the brain are and need to be synchronized, which gives you specific details of the realization of thinking in terms of phases, waves and locations activated and affected in the brain.

1. Synchronization

1. Synchronization means an attempt to cause at least two sources, such as one's mind and some learning object to be active, connected and interacting with each other at any moment of time on purpose.

2. The word thought is very vague and insufficiently defined, therefore one of the lectures will focus on providing an adequate definition of thoughts, ideas, notions, etc.

Synchronization is an operation that is very common and results in understanding. Not only films are synchronized (dubbed), or video captions (subtitling), but electric phases, concerted human motion, like in swimming, dancing and marching, etc. Animals also synchronize their movement when moving in flocks, herds or other group formations.

With respect to human beings and the human mind synchronization of feelings and emotions is very important as it helps create compassion, sympathy, the feeling of togetherness and belonging. The oldest way of synchronizing people's souls is music and dance. Since the effect of sounds is immediately perceived, people, even very young children will automatically move their body to follow the rhythm, tone or pattern of movement of other people. it can take the form of a fad or a craze, like flash mob.

Thus the examples of synchronized behavior, especially those of emotion is best seen in listening to and playing music, especially while in groups. Synchronized will is seen in marching, parades and other mass movements of people. The only place where reason is synchronized at a large scale is learning, especially at school where the main idea is to teach children rationality and rational behavior through understanding learning materials.

Physicists recently started a new area for research into the rules of any synchronization experienced or observed in nature.

2. Thinking

Thinking is very vaguely defined in any source, but it is generally agreed that thinking is a product of "reason", as opposed to "emotion" or "will, which are deemed to be different component of the mind or the soul. This seems to be acceptable as reason is something rational, devoid of feelings or bias, whereas will is assumed to be the component in control of making decisions, sometimes after having a fight of motivation between emotion and reason. Will must be the strongest component as it is needed for action, and action is the result of whatever motivation takes over, be reason or emotion.

Now thinking is therefore a process taking place very fast in the background allowing other foreground activities such as speech or listening go parallel, and it is not identical with using a language. On the contrary, thinking precedes formulating our ideas, which again are not identical with words or any other components of a natural language. Consequently, the quality of thinking, rationality, logic or reason is not a feature of using a language, but that of a wider term, namely behavior. It is sometimes attributed to intelligence, a competence for accommodation and survival as revealed in the behavior of many organisms.

But intelligence itself cannot explain successful survival of individuals or species on a large scale. Intelligence seems to be a capability to connect with other organisms and the environment in general in a dynamic process where greater intelligence means better and wider skills to adapt and to connect than lesser intelligence. All that subject is widely covered by contemporary and classic authors without coming to a common ground and agreement.

Despite the numerous efforts to say something more tangible about thinking than that it is best dealt with under the keyword thought, there is little agreement about the particulars of the process. The difficulties are obvious and with an enhanced interest in cognition and anything cognitive, empirical research is in place to dig the other end of the tunnel and meet the theories and speculations on thinking one day. Pardon me for the metaphor.

In any case, thinking does not lend itself easily to self-observation, yet there is one recent "tag" reflective thinking with an aim to explore the field as a stand-alone subject and that effort may bring some changes to the scenery. I strongly encourage you to read that page before going to our next subject (insert new heading).

Identifying the problems[edit | edit source]

1. The problem of integrating Foundation Ontologies (see AI, Formal Logic)

The multidisciplinary approach will help to identify a solution for the problem to define a common set of core ontology vocabulary elements and a shared world model. The field ontologies in AI have helped create WordNet, w:WordNet a collection or database of English words that may be used as keywords or tags to describe knowledge, which is still divided into knowledge about a language (words used to identify chunks of reality) and knowledge about realia (objects in the real world).

The same solution will offer a new approach to NLP problems for Machine Translation purposes. (Problem 3 below)

In addition, it is expected that a different approach to knowledge representation (query and retrieval languages) for library classification purposes (Information or Library Science) is to emerge as a result of the implementation of a new paradigm to describe the integrated human achievement in the fields of Philosophy, Psychology, Linguistics, Non Formal Logic, Cognitive Science and Computer Science with an aim to have a common understanding of reality.

The outline of such an integrated approach is presented with examples of how thinking and thought processes may be broken down into smaller chunks of operations that enable us to understand the limited wealth of relations in additions to the open world of objects and properties. Among others the application of John Dewey's disciplined mind (thinking) will help to highlight how.

2. The problem of harmonizing school subjects and improving thinking skills

The current problems in education where the various school subjects are not vetted against the concordances of their own individual vocabularies, hence each claiming to describe another chunk of reality than the ones presented by other science subjects could be solved by stepping further from simple subject integration (Merging). Besides, the teaching of new subjects such as critical thinking and reflective thinking are not founded by a proper inclusion of non formal logic and logic operations of dimensions other than truth values. Information is also evaluated in terms of applicability, promptness, reliability, currentness, relevance, precision and details, to name just a few. All that is left out from the approach by formal logic to validate knowledge and this is no longer acceptable.

3. The problem of supplying correct Machine Translation products

Attempts to automate translation processes are based on statistical analysis and processes and a bottom up design principle, whereas a more viable way is a top-down design approach, starting out from foundation ontology. In current practices at that level basic and very abstract concepts are not properly defined (e.g. event is one of them), while time itself is not present in such models. Objects, Properties and Relations are however a sufficient set to generate a descriptive tool for any natural language that may be used for the semantic analysis in MT once and for all.   The very same set of concepts is suitable for portraying individual and collective knowledge representations that can replace current curricula approach to education and open up an efficient road to teaching fast and forward thinking (Problem 2 above).

The Root Problem[edit | edit source]

The group of problems above, the list of which is not exhaustive, seem to have a wider problem in common, i.e. connectivity and alignment. Connectivity and alignment in this context of multidisciplinary studies are the issues, solving them calls for the explanation of the categories of some disciplines clearly by looking at the definitions of other terms used by other disciplines. This may also be called lateral thinking as it is an attempt to integrate the knowledge accumulated in the individual fields and create synergy. Therefore interpreting the key categories in the following disciplines will help understand the ways available to solve the more specific problems listed above.

Introduction to the first lecture[edit | edit source]

This resource material is meant to be peculiar in the sense that it covers a very wide area which is tagged by very general terms. Consequently, at a first glance the subject matter does not seem to be coherent or interrelated enough to be grasped as just one piece of work, or a single message. Such disparate markings of the text, however, should not be taken as an indication of a lesson that is too general to be of any use for practical purposes. On the contrary, this material is intended to provide practical solutions to problems that have not been possible to solve as yet, because we have been looking at them from a very close range. Consequently, our vision of the subject to this date has not been clear.

“Not seeing the woods for the trees” is a very common failure in perception, and it is probably the approach taken by lateral thinking, by choosing a bird’s eye view of the terrain that can help to overcome such a deadlock situation. Nevertheless, the treatment of the subject will call for occasional zooming on to some terms to show more details for clarification and concretization. Knowledge has always to be specific to be of any use, whereas thinking itself is a very vague term. I am trying to summarize my ideas about the subject under the tautological tag Reflective Thinking as from various sources that phrase may sound familiar to the reader.

Describing a panorama view or presenting a long range view of a complex subject matter is best explained by the trivia that everything is connected to everything, and most of us cannot imagine how seemingly disparate disciplines may be and should be linked together. On the other hand, when you are dealing with a subject matter portrayed in high resolution, or at a very poorly detailed scale, you are likely to find more points to connect up with topics outside that subject or focus, since the more specific and detailed you are, the more limited and less numerous your connections with distant areas would become. This idea will be detailed later under the meaning of the concepts specific and generic.

In assessing very large subjects or covering a very long period of time you need to use an aspect that is wide enough to cover the issue from the beginning to the end, in other words which spans through a whole area or life cycle without a need to go into details or a multitude of issues. By doing so, you can unify subjects that scientists are engaged to explore in more and finer details and not really being bothered about the success of bringing anything directly useful in solving problems in the wider society, or for use outside the academia. If your subject has no boundaries, such as infinity or eternity, then you are likely to end up with the concept of one, an undivided entity, the only thing of which you can say is, that it is bigger than anything you can think of or have experience of. And that idea itself is incomprehensible for a finite mind such as mine.

But if you come to the conclusion that even the biggest thing conceivable has a limit to its size, the your next question pops up how all this increase in size has been formed: whether it is working top down or bottom up, whether the egg or the chicken came first, etc. So you see all those thoughts ad questions are deeply embedded in our concept of spacetime, which has been relatively recently completed with the concepts of motion, energy and work (route, distance), but which terms are not really thought of in everyday discussions.

The model or example for the layout of the book by Schwartz “Definitions, Dictionaries, and Meanings” that I have in mind is available here.

Societal life requires all the three components of the human consciousness or the human mind, namely reason, emotion and will, to be synchronised in order to maintain the smooth operation and organic development of human communities. It also calls for certainty and an origo or a reference point of experience that needs to be verified against shared records of knowledge. Music is a good example how emotions can be used to create communities of accord, elections are a meagre example of how will may be synchronised in the hope of realising a future wanted in the form of a vision presented by the people in or aspiring to power.

Reason is said to be synchronised through logic, learning and knowledge, including classification systems, all to be debated everyday and challenged by common sense, experience and the outcome of human endevours. But reason and rational activity are feared to be on the decline in the general human exercise as emotions, especially excitements are sought at an increasing rate the world over. Time seems to be a rare commodity and contemplation and meditation in dialogues are a luxury. Thinking deep however may have a lot more in store than looking for immediate satisfaction or seeking thrill as opposed to exercising systematic curiosity.

This resurce material is going to be written in wiki form and a hypertext format, because of the varied vocabulary to be used in it that may not be evenly known to all the readers. The resource is also an experiment to show how procedural knowledge may be more useful than lexical knowledge which is examplified by such collections of facts and statements as found in encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. including the popular (and sometimes pain in the ass) Wikipedia. Having the ideas in here in hypertext fromat is expected to yield special benefits for the readers, as for instance some of the conclusions are aimed to attract the attention of the current practitioners of MT software design saying that all what we have today in terms of MT technologies may be changed for the better, if we can agree on some principles to be outlined in here later. Similarly, those involved in curriculum design and the audit of learning materials may also find it useful.

This writing is peculiar, because its approach to problems and reality does not concern such evident and practical issues as the usual drive for making profit or a career, discussing the feasibility of any plan or theory supported by sponsors, or taking sides with any force in power to help new ideas materialise, etc. No. I address some other basic facts of life as we know them today around the world . I am not interested in establishing a faith school, or joining the current fights over the division of meaning of life to six billion people. I am only interested in describing a theoretical solution to a number of problems that have not been solved by following the traditional paradigm describing human knowledge representations, and the so called facts. In my view if a problem has a theoretical solution, especially when it has a solution for a number of problems, then it is the current practices that must be reviewed to see if the theory is good enough for implementation. If it is, then it is just a question of time to see how an idea that first looks an utopy is going to materialise in due course as a necessity for anything invented as a treatment to a malady.

One final word of remark. It is always a dilemma what to teach. To teach what life is about is not the same as teaching any science or discipline as essential knowledge for living. Life is about getting on in society, among people with different status and motivation, with competing spirit and supportive inclination, with attractions and repulsions, amidst dangers and pleasures, exposed to ageing and illnesses, driven by intuition and instinct and controlled by emotions and reason. Well, you do not expect me to be involved in that, do you? The Landscape

Each educational resource is supposed to cover a subject, a single theme or a broad subject matter, if it is to address comprehensive questions. My work is intended to be multi-disciplinary, or cross-disciplinary, so it is going to discuss issues spreading over more than one disciplines. „What are these subjects and how many of them are there?” - you may want to know in advance.

Well, the answer to that question may be put forward in the form of a cloud of tags that are nowadays used in place of keywords or idex words. I agree, that it is a good point to define your boundaries of meandering, and it is always useful to give an account of anything to be enumerated in advance. So here is a list of topics so that we can have an inventory.

The primary objects or subjects covered in the focus of my analysis are

1. Categories of Psychology: including

Cognition, Thinking, Mind, Body, Soul, Self, Environment, and Knowledge. Emotion, Will, Reason, Chunking, Focusing. Anticipation, Search, Hit and Match. Mental Operations. Representation of Knowledge as locations in the brain.

2. Categories of Computing, including

Data and information. Sorting. Recursion. Representation of Knowledge in writing in 2D. Lexical knowledge vs Procedural knowledge. Specific and Generic, Concrete and Abstract. Representation of Knowledge in a computer as BOM lists.

3. Categories of Algebra: including

Numbers, One, Totality, Absolute, Relative, Integers. Algebraic Operations Properties of addition, substraction, multiplication and division.

4. Categories of Philosophy: including

Existence, Universe, Infinity, Life and Death, Material, Spirit, Creation. Form and Content, Quality and Quantity.

5. Categories of Logic: including

Relations, Objects, Properties, Events, etc. Definitions, Sequencing, Proposition, Recursion.

6. Categories of Linguistics: including

Meaning. Context. Name giving and definition Translation. Clauses. Parts of Speech, Verb, Noun, Headings and Messages, Sentences. Dictionaries. Wordnet.

7. Categories of Physics: including

Reality, Space, Time, Motion, Universe, Material, Energy, Information.

But they will not be treated in the above grouping. Instead, I am going to combine the topics in a manner that I find coherent and illuminating. So I am going to divide my material in four parts or four territories, as follows in next chapters.

Now the categories above are created by human thinking driven by analysis getting to know more and more about less and less. Not exactly, as the concepts cover objects that are huge and others that are tiny. And the amount of "knowledge", the representations of our findings is growing exponentially. So we have a problem of orientation, finding our way in a secondary version of reality, among the duplicates of the primary input, one of which is now available on computers designed to help to find a common denominator between different disciplines through the use of mathematics, or more precisely, numbers and algebra, the use of which is common to nearly all disciplines.

But "going metric" to become or to sound more scientific is one thing and to enable the lay people understand what good a particular discipline has for the public is another. The divide with the advent of computer is growing wider, so finding a method to describe how we think and how we have created this wealth of knowledge is the next thing to do, if we believe in the principles and values of education.

see Lecture 1: