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Classifying anecdotes and stories

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  • ms@ms.lt
    I share a long overview that I wrote in response to a request for taxonomies of anecdotes. In particular, I share with John Roger s Cyfranogi, as John is a
    Message 1 of 1 , May 12 2:06 PM
      I share a long overview that I wrote in response to a request for
      taxonomies of anecdotes. In particular, I share with John Roger's
      Cyfranogi, as John is a master storyteller. Andrius

      I've used two approaches in my philosophical research. I distinguish
      between short "anecdotes" and full-fledged "stories".

      For example, I've written out almost 100 anecdotes about "my money mind",
      episodes in my life that informed my thoughts about money (and about my
      loving parents, thank you!)

      I recently realized that each of them is informing a particular "way of
      figuring things out". And I've developed a system (a House of Knowledge)
      for categorizing those ways into 24 frames of mind (or rooms). Dave Gray
      found it quite readable, see here:

      In general, episodes are of the following types. You can think of them as
      dialogues with an abstract person or quality that becomes more and more
      concrete as this unfolds.

      Avoiding what would keep us from learning:
      * Avoiding evil, not shutting ourselves down

      One branch models our inner world:
      * Rooting ourselves in our inner world, believing
      * Presuming others likewise, believing in believing
      * Integrating some of us, believing in believing in believing
      * Fostering an environment for integration, believing in believing in
      believing in believing

      Another branch models our outer world:
      * Being completely open to the outer world, caring
      * Focusing and maximizing our openness, caring about caring
      * Recognizing the limits of our openness, caring about caring about caring
      * Allowing for an ideal that transcends our limits, caring about caring
      about caring about caring

      The two branches are loosely coupled by the scientific method:
      * Taking a stand, having a hypothesis, extending the applicability of what
      we take to be true
      * Following through, designing and doing an experiment, driving it to its
      "logical" conclusion, breaking the model or not
      * Reflecting, noting the outcome, generalizing it as a principle

      The two branches, taken as wholes, are completely matched:
      * Allowing for a person-in-general, matching up the inner and outer worlds

      Then we have a system where people etc. can substitute for each other. We
      can have valuation or truth or reality etc. And we can think of them as
      relating two perspectives, like a game player (within the system) and a
      game maker (beyond the system). There are four levels of knowledge at
      which game player is related to game maker:
      * 0) Whether. Game player and game maker are taken to be the same, they
      are conflated, as when we learn by feeling how we feel in our heart or
      * 1) What. Game player knows what we learn from experience whereas game
      maker knows the innate model.
      * 2) How. Game player's knowledge is implied by the game maker's
      knowledge, but not the other way around.
      * 3) Why. Game player and game maker are taken to be different, taking up
      different perspectives from Whether-What-How-Why, with the game maker
      taking the broader perspective, Why being the broadest. (This yields the
      six pairings that come next.)

      Inside the system, there are six more ways, each of which accords with a
      counterquestion (doubts such as "How do I know I'm not a robot?" are
      addressed by relevant counterquestions such as "Would it make any
      difference?"). Each counterquestion inserts a broader perspective
      (Why=God's perspective, How=person-in-general's perspective,
      What=person-in-particular's perspective) into a narrower situation
      (How=person-in-general's situation, What=person-in-particular's situation,
      Whether=world's situation). So a person-in-general lives out a
      person-in-particular's situation as that question "Would it make any
      difference?" Furthermore, each of these ways accords with a restructuring
      (visualization) for building up a system.
      * How does it seem to me? evokes evolution (hierarchy restructured by
      sequence) for determining weights
      * What else should I be doing? evokes atlas (network restructured by
      hierarchy) for determining connections
      * Would it make any difference? evokes canon (sequence restructured by
      network) for determining priorities
      * What do I have control over? evokes chronicle (sequence restructured by
      hierarchy) for determining solutions
      * Am I able to consider the question? evokes catalog (hierarchy
      restructured by network) for determining redundancies
      * Is this the way things should be? evokes tour (network restructured by
      sequence) for determining paths
      (If you want to see concrete examples of these six, look at the Sermon on
      the Mount! Jesus makes use of them all in his "antitheses", "you have
      heard it said... but I say unto you...", for example, if you love only
      your friends, how are you different from the pagans?) I also used them in
      a concrete form to coach peacemakers to engage murderous gangs on the
      roads in Kenya, namely: be straightforward, be thorough, be vulnerable,
      let them win, let them teach you, stick to your principles.

      And then those last ways are treated as a unity, like the gap or slack
      between the perspective and situation:
      * There is a greater context in which everything can be reinterpreted and
      get unexpected meaning. (As when 10+4=2 because we're talking about a

      The point of it all is perhaps to appreciate the distinction between game
      players and game makers, as relates us and God. I have to think about

      Note: Another example of the 6+4 model is in my paper "The Algebra of
      Copyright", see especially the diagram:
      which I got to present to Joseph Goguen's class because I related it to
      his algebraic semiotics of user interface design. (Yes, he was brilliant!
      and a great shame that he passed away.) Another example of the 6+4 model
      is the Ten Commandments (4 positive "do's" and 6 negative "don'ts") and
      another example is John Caswell's Business Equation:

      You may think it's not practical because it's very abstract and very
      involved. It may be way too much. It's much of my life's work, and it's
      how I'm relating my life's work.

      But you can see how I'm applying it to different domains and it becomes
      (I'll be crowdfunding Jesus's philosophical portrait.)

      If you gave me a list of anecdotes, then I could sort them for you and you
      would see. Then the categories would become more concrete. And they may
      perhaps become concrete enough for other people to use, but certainly for
      you to use.

      Indeed, this is what I think I should be doing with myself at this time,
      what would be best for everybody that I do. I have a system which I think
      takes any domain and organizes it according to a universal language. This
      means that specialists from different domains can talk to each other. But
      especially, as Pamela McLean has pointed out, it means that
      interdisciplinary people who are "specialist generalists" and good at
      talking with specialists from different fields, such people are able to
      show what they do. I can and will make "philosophical portraits" of such
      people, both for free and for pay, starting with Jesus and Pamela. It's a
      great help for me whoever would have me do their portrait, survey their
      personal ways of "figuring things out".

      I also mentioned stories. In 1988-1989, I did a study of Lithuanian folk
      tales to think through a general theory of narrative. First, I chopped
      them up into atomic units by noting that they must keep our attention, and
      that they do this by creating and then relaxing tension, which allows us
      to define such units where tension is created and then relaxed. Next, I
      noticed that there are four tones of voice for creating tension. If you
      want me to take my coat off, you can:
      * 3) Force me, as when the sun beats down on me and I'm so hot I have to
      take it off.
      * 4) Command me, "Take it off!"
      * 5) Explain to me, "If you take your coat off, then you won't be so hot."
      * 6) Ask me, care about me, "Would you like to take your coat off?"
      Different characters may create tension, but even so, the tone of voice
      stays the same throughout the beginning of the story, and stays the same
      (but is different) at the end of the story. See the diagram:
      This means that something "happens" in the story, namely, the tone of
      voice shifts. I observed seven kinds of stories and I think they are
      related to rites of passage (I list Catholic sacraments)
      * Commanding => Caring: Transgression (Reconciliation)
      * Caring => Commanding: Empowerment (Confirmation)
      * Commanding => Explaining: Marking of the good (Baptism)
      * Explaining => Commanding: Calling (Priesthood)
      * Caring => Explaining: Rescue (Anointment of the Sick)
      * Explaining => Caring: Coming together (Communion)
      * Forcing => Caring: Adaptation (Wedding)
      See the diagrams:
      So, for example, Cinderella is an example of a story of "Marking of the
      good" (she was the good one) and it starts off with Commanding ("do this,
      do that") but ends with Explaining ("the shoe fits!"). If it ended with a
      tone of voice of Caring, though, ("where is your shoe?"), then it would be
      a story of Transgression. So it's a model for mapping out what kind of
      events can happen.

      The above theory could also be applied by a computer to extract the story
      type automatically because it's not hard to build algorithms to catch the
      tone of voice based on the words and symbols in a sentence, and indeed,
      get better and better results by leveraging the hypothesis that, in a good
      story, the tone of voice stays the same in the beginning and different,
      but the same, at the end.

      Thank you for helping me appreciate how this might be useful somewhere,
      someday. It would be so great if I could help you.


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      (773) 306-3807
      Blue Island, IL
      Twitter: @selflearners
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