Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
organon1973

A definition of 'context'

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Here you are; I can think of none better:

The perspective in and from which a thing is viewed.

Not only 'from' which a thing is viewed, but 'in' which a thing is viewed. Both needed. Why? I need myself to formulate this explicitly; is it a matter of tying perspectives together, a need relating to integration? Both 'internal', and 'external'? Linking all that is known, into a unified, non-contradictory 'model', that ties to, integrates with, all that is?

"A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell whether it is or is not a fact. A lie will not fit anything except another lie."

- Robert Ingersoll

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What problem are you trying to solve here?

Context

Knowledge is contextual . . . By “context” we mean the sum of cognitive elements conditioning the acquisition, validity or application of any item of human knowledge. Knowledge is an organization or integration of interconnected elements, each relevant to the others . . . Knowledge is not a mosaic of independent pieces each of which stands apart from the rest . . . .

In regard to any concept, idea, proposal, theory, or item of knowledge, never forget or ignore the context on which it depends and which conditions its validity and use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cognition is a process, which means that any train of thought has both a subject and a direction.  Whether you intend to solve some problem or answer some question (like this one), there is some purpose for every line of reasoning. 

Information which is "relevant" to any train of thought is that information which brings it closer to fruition. 

Any thought's "full context" consists of all of the relevant information available to you.

 

Or, if you prefer, "the sum of cognitive elements conditioning the acquisition, validity or application of any item of human knowledge."

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have considered context to be more like viewing the thing while also considering all the other relevant things around it. I don't consider perspective to play an essential role in defining the meaning of context.

Edited by Peter Morris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/1/2014 at 12:18 AM, Peter Morris said:

I would have considered context to be more like viewing the thing while also considering all the other relevant things around it. I don't consider perspective to play an essential role in defining the meaning of context.

All definitions are contextual, and a primitive definition does not contradict a more advanced one: the latter merely expands the former. ("Definitions,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 42–43)
The key for me is that he uses the phrase "within the field of one’s awareness". So I would conclude: That which is causing, maintaining the field of awareness is the context. But the "field", is the context. The field is experienced when the perception is experienced. So "perspective" fits very well.

If I am looking at a hair with a microscope, it looks different than with the naked eye. It looks large in the microscopic context and small "line" in the naked-eye context. One could say "from the perspective of looking through a microscope it is this". From a different perspective, it is that.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/2/2017 at 3:16 PM, Easy Truth said:

The key for me is that he uses the phrase "within the field of one’s awareness". ... But the "field", is the context. The field is experienced when the perception is experienced. So "perspective" fits very well.

That's true enough.

 

On 11/2/2017 at 3:16 PM, Easy Truth said:

So I would conclude: That which is causing, maintaining the field of awareness is the context.

Firstly, the field of awareness itself is the context; that which is causing it is the subject. For example: when viewing a hair under a microscope your lab, your equipment and everything you know about that hair (and all hair in general) is the context; the hair itself, which is causing your cognition, is the subject.

 

Secondly, even that is only a description of "context"; not a prescription. You could look at the hair while thinking about your lab assistant, the manufacturer of your particular microscope, a smudge on its lens, what you know about this particular hair or anything else. You could hold literally anything in the field of your awareness while viewing that hair and neither your definition nor the one I just provided would tell you what you should focus on.

 

That's why I mentioned the "purpose" of your cognition. If you're testing a new brand of shampoo for any dangerous side-effects then your lab assistant is irrelevant and has no place in that cognition (unless she's been using it herself). 

What you should or shouldn't consider depends entirely on what you're trying to discover.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Firstly, the field of awareness itself is the context; that which is causing it is the subject. For example: when viewing a hair under a microscope your lab, your equipment and everything you know about that hair (and all hair in general) is the context; the hair itself, which is causing your cognition, is the subject.

 

Secondly, even that is only a description of "context"; not a prescription. You could look at the hair while thinking about your lab assistant, the manufacturer of your particular microscope, a smudge on its lens, what you know about this particular hair or anything else. You could hold literally anything in the field of your awareness while viewing that hair and neither your definition nor the one I just provided would tell you what you should focus on.

 

That's why I mentioned the "purpose" of your cognition. If you're testing a new brand of shampoo for any dangerous side-effects then your lab assistant is irrelevant and has no place in that cognition (unless she's been using it herself). 

What you should or shouldn't consider depends entirely on what you're trying to discover.

 

I see your point. Although I do have a question why do you mention "prescription" with regards to context? To define context isn't all you need the description?

The reason I am confused is that I find myself only observing the context, I don't see myself trying to create the context based on what I want to discover.

Object A is in front of object B (B is hidden behind A) based on looking at it from the south. From the west, both objects are visible. So If I want to see both objects, I choose the perspective/context "west". Then it allows me to see both. (I am not trying to discover them, or you calling this discovering?).

When it comes to discovering, I accidentally looked at it from the west and I found out there also exists an object B. Previously I only saw Object A from the south.

As an aside, I feel that the concept "context" is extremely important because I see many disagreements due to two people talking about the same thing but in different contexts and not being able to detect the other person's context. If I can master awareness of contextual shifts, it should become easier to create more agreements.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

As an aside, I feel that the concept "context" is extremely important because I see many disagreements due to two people talking about the same thing but in different contexts and not being able to detect the other person's context. If I can master awareness of contextual shifts, it should become easier to create more agreements.

That's true, but "agreement" doesn't always mean "truth". Millions of people can agree that the Bubonic Plague is caused by sin.

17 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

The reason I am confused is that I find myself only observing the context, I don't see myself trying to create the context based on what I want to discover.

Why not? If you wanted to know some thing wouldn't you try to learn it by reasoning from a certain specific body of knowledge (neither including anything irrelevant nor excluding anything relevant)?

 

It doesn't have to be done that way. 

What makes "creationist science" (I'm not kidding) wrong is the inclusion of something irrelevant (the Bible) into the context of its "science". This makes all the conclusions they draw from their context laughably absurd, in order not to contradict the dark-age "facts" they want to integrate into their "science".

What makes most peoples' conception of "selfishness" (concern with one's own interests) wrong is that it excludes something relevant (what one thinks those interests actually are and why one thinks so) from the context of moral judgement. This prevents them from even attempting to reason about their own interests or values (because what's there to figure out?) which leaves their choice of goals and aspirations up to whatever subconscious connections they might happen to make (whether this leads them to desire things which in fact help them or harm them).

Both kinds of mistake stem from trying to understand some thing from the wrong contextual basis.

 

In order to live long and prosper you must be able to act (mainly in the form of productive work, but that's only part of it). In order to act you have to know what you're trying to do, why it should be done and how to do it. In order to know any of that you have to be able to think correctly (which includes being able to judge which context would give you the correct answer to which question).

That's why epistemology matters.

 

P.S: 

In case you didn't believe me about "creationist science", here are some of the worst methods of thinking I have ever seen before! :thumbsup:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×