Random Questions

May 27th, 2012

While cleaning my office this morning, I came across a file folder with pages containing random notes presenting ideas that I was curious about. I was just about to throw it away when it occurred to me that the contents of these notes might prove interesting. They’re all rather old, perhaps ten years old. Here then are selected comments in the notes:

The development of abstraction in language
Abstraction as the foundation for syllogism as opposed to abstraction as unseen or intangible
Abstraction through adjectives
Do all adjectives support syllogisms? Yes.
I want enological categories: felony, tenure, alienate, compensation, grace, sin

I should expand my study of conjunctions. In particular, I need to categorize them more precisely.

Maastricht: My lecture wasn’t too great – 6 out of 10 on my personal scale – but it seemed good enough for the audience. The most interesting idea to emerge from the day arose from my comments about verbs. The audience seemed to grasp the concept and asked many questions. There was some skepticism arising from my overemphasis on the number of verbs. Several persons countered with the idea of elegance, the idea that a game benefits from a small set of verbs that span a large behavioral space. Elegance can be expressed as the number of unique paths that can be generated divided by the number of verbs (paths per verb). Or by the independence of verb sequences – do N verbs yield N! sequences? Or is P(Vi, Vj) = P(Vi, Vk) for all i,j, and k?
Strange observation on the turboprop from Maastricht to Schipol. At about 20,000 feet, I saw droplets of water jiggling around on the rearward face of the nacelle. I suspect that warm moist air was exiting the nacelle there – but it wasn’t the exhaust.
How did the Greeks lose the theological version of science? What disconnected gods as prime movers? Everybody else, right up to the Greeks, attributed all causation to gods. Why and how did the Greeks lose this?
What was the literacy rate in Greece, Rome, Egypt?
Check Indo-European theology. Was it so weak that the Greeks never expected religion to substitute for science?
Indo-European politics was anarchic, which made IE gods less authoritarian, which limited religious control over science.
Check use of passive voice as an indicator of poor sense of causality.
Word length inversely proportional to frequency of use? If so, what conclusions can we draw about conjunctions or, and, if, nevertheless, moreover, etc?
[Several long lists of words grouped by various categories such as intensifiers, emotive, narrative, causality, spatial, social, sequential, metaphorical]
Why did the money economy in Europe encourage quantification and numeracy when it failed to do so in previous civilizations?
The Greeks exalted Odysseus for his cleverness rather than his strength. Did any other ancient cultures do the same?
How big is the vocabulary of ASL [American Sign Language]?
Count the number of conjunctions of all forms in various large bodies of work by a single author. We should see a greater frequency in modern works. But can we look at ratios of word frequencies for different conjunctions? Did they shift over time?
How about tracing the etymologies of a wide variety of abstract nouns? Can we show that these abstractions entered languages later than nouns for more tangible ideas? How do we measure the degree of abstraction of a word?
Space is the container for nouns but Time is the container for verbs.
Can I find bocce balls?
[long lists of conjunctions with corresponding boolean expressions. Dates of first appearance from OED. Tables of conjunctions in different languages. You can see the results of this work in two essays: Cognates and Etymologies]