Theory and Therapy of Representations

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Jon Awbrey

Dec 18, 2019, 1:00:45 PM12/18/19
to Cybernetic Communications, Ontolog Forum, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG

"Representation" is a concept we find at the intersection of
cybernetics, epistemology, logic, mathematics, politics, and
psychologies both cognitive and clinical. In my own studies
it led me from math to psych and back again, with sidelong
glances at the history of democratic governance. Here's
one blog post recent discussions brought back to mind:

Cf: Theory and Therapy of Representations : 1

Again, in a ship, if a man were at liberty to do what
he chose, but were devoid of mind and excellence in
navigation (???????????? ????????????????????????), do you perceive
what must happen to him and his fellow sailors?

-- Plato : Alcibiades, 135A

Re: Michael Harris

Statistics were originally the data that a ship of state needed
for stationkeeping and staying on course. The Founders of the
United States, like the Cybernauts of the Enlightenment they
were, engineered a ship of state with checks and ballasts
and error-controlled feedbacks to achieve the bicameral
purpose of representing both reality and the will of
the people. And Max Weber understood that a state's
accounting systems were intended as representations
of realities that its crew and passengers must
observe or perish.

The question for our time is --

What are the forces that distort our representations
of what's observed, what's expected, and what's intended?




my word press blog:
facebook page:

Paola Di Maio

Dec 18, 2019, 9:20:06 PM12/18/19
to ontolog-forum, Cybernetic Communications, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Thank you Jon
have been working on this question a lot :-)

What are the forces that distort our representations
of what's observed, what's expected, and what's intended?

the short answer is.... the force behind all distortions is 
our own unenlightened mind, and all the shortfalls this comes with




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Jon Awbrey

Dec 20, 2019, 9:20:28 PM12/20/19
to Cybernetic Communications, Ontolog Forum, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Cf: Theory and Therapy of Representations : 4

Re: Theory and Therapy of Representations : 3

Re: Ontolog Forum (

What are the forces distorting our representations of
what's observed, what's expected, and what's intended?

The short answer is .... the force behind all distortions is our
own unenlightened mind, and all the shortfalls this comes with.

I think that's true, we have to keep reflecting on the state of our
personal enlightenments. If we can do that without losing our heads
and our systems thinking caps, then there will be much we can do to
promote the general Enlightenment of the State.

Well, the weekend is upon me, and I find myself in a weakened state,
so I'll leave off here with another recurring train of thoughts:

Cf: Theory and Therapy of Representations : 2

In a complex society, people making decisions and taking actions at places remote from you have the power to affect your
life in significant ways. Those people are your government, no matter what spheres of influence they inhabit, private
or public. The only way you get a choice in that governance is if there are paths of feedback that allow you to affect
the life of those decision makers and action takers in significant ways. That is what accountability, response-ability,
and representative government are all about.

Naturally, some people are against that.

In the United States there has been a concerted campaign for as long as I can remember -- but even more concerted since
the Reagan Regime -- to get the People to abdicate their hold on The Powers That Be and just let some anonymous
corporate entity send us the bill after the fact. They keep trying to con the People into thinking they can starve the
beast, to limit government, when what they are really doing is feeding the beast of corporate control, weakening their
own power over the forces that govern their lives.

That is the road to perdition as far as responsible government goes. There is not much of anything one leader or one
administration can do unsupported if the People do not constantly demand a government of, by, and for the People.



Dec 21, 2019, 3:25:32 PM12/21/19

Good morning.  This is winter solstice -- a special time for people in-synch with that clock...


Jon's comment and response to PDM makes me want to respond.  I was stimulated by the initial comment from Jon suggesting interdisciplinary breadth and influences, and the link to politics and democratic governance.  I do tend to live there myself, and I see the explosive flood of political irritation we've been witnessing on American cable news lately as a horrendous train wreck in semantic distortion.   I'm inclined to say flat out -- this system does not work, and it's not fixable without a hugely vitalizing injection of enlightened insight.


I've been off any sort of ontology for several months, but these brief comments here stimulated me.  I got into this theme of "representation", and read a Barry Smith article on that theme


Beyond Concepts: Ontology as Reality Representation:


And I went back to this extremely tantalizing topic of "Closed Loop Interval Ontology" -- which continues to glimmer in the back of my psyche with a kind of awesome magnetism.


I might pick up this subject again -- but maybe start by approaching it from its historical roots -- a flood of anthropology on symbolism -- concepts like the Great Chain of Being or Mandala, or any kind of vision of The Sacred Tree...


I did write a one-page description the other day, probably under the influence of this new espresso maker.  I'll just paste it in here...


And PS, Jon, on the "weakened state" -- eat your spinach.  We got a ways to go here.  😊


- Bruce




Notes from December 19, in response to Ontolog


Generally, the claim is: all the major principles defined in semantic ontology and traditional epistemology can be defined on this model, in a systematic and consistent way.  It holds them all, contains them all, links them all together as a single concept subject to a vast array of interconnected interpretations and applications – all of which can arise within the same systematic context.



It is the foundation of both empirical science and philosophy. It is the foundation of engineering.  It directly links the liberal arts and the humanities to the sciences, in one smoothly integrated form and container.  It links mysticism to science.  It explains the properties of metaphor and analogy.


In the political and social context of collective decision-making, it is a pole-star and universal containing framework linking the whole to the part.  It is the framework for collective convergence of “diversity” towards “unity”.


This model presumes that all these below topics from classical epistemology can be smoothly mapped onto this one linearly extended 2-dimensional framework, with a few essential top-level definitions completely clear, such as “unit” and “continuum”, with everything defined on (within)  the hierarchy contained by (within) the linear boundaries of this form.  Every element within this framework is defined and constrained by the concept of “interval”.  Everything is an interval, occurs within or is defined within an interval.


Now we propose that the entire structure is a single interval – a single unit interval supposedly containing everything we can possibly define.


And noting that the basic form of this object is a linear extension in two dimensions x and y:


The extension of this form (“width”) as a single interval in the x (horizontal) dimension has “2 edges” separated by the “height” of the y dimension, which links the edge of the unit interval defining the top level of abstraction (the infinite) to the unit interval defining the lowest level of abstraction (the infinitesimal)  – with all ontology and taxonomy and semantics defined within the bounded range defined by the y axis.


We then close this framework, mapping and connecting the top edge in the x axis to the bottom edge of the x axis, forming the object known as a “moebius strip”.


In this action, we have then closed the entire range of analytic taxonomy and semantic structure within a single closed bounded interval of infinite (and infinitesimal) extension.  This single “closed loop” contains everything, all defined in a uniform systematic way in terms of “intervals”.


Each edge of this form is the boundary of an interval.  It defines both “infinite” and “infinitesimal”  and everything in-between in a single algebraic loop closed on itself.  All interpretation and definition occurs within this form.


A few of the many terms subject to systematic definition in this framework





                    Number (all types)





                    Unit interval



                    Ordered class

                    Taxon / taxa


                    Many / One

                    Levels / types of variables

                    Global / Local

                    Whole / Part

                    Induction / Deduction

                    Value (whether numeric/empirical or abstract)




                    Boundary value







Bruce Schuman

Santa Barbara CA USA


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