Working Together on Knowledge

28 Jul

Given that language is the means to accomplish many different ends, such as artistic expression, historical accounts, marketing tools, and propaganda, how is written language used to understand ourselves and the world around us?

Language is used to pursue and acquire knowledge through the development of theories.

A theory is essentially an explanation about how the world works with respect to some subject area. For example, we have theories to explain: why the sun, moon and planets move the way they do; why the human eye perceives colors; what is the nature of light, etc. Theories are the substance of society’s knowlege base.

Knowledge can be seen as a large system that many different groups are working on. Not surprisingly, everyone has his or her own idea of the best way to proceed. People who work on knowledge acquisition have experienced regular controversy over assumptions and language standards.

Consider that working together as a group requires some attention to process. In order for a group to be productive, everyone in the group must accept certain standards. For example, consider whether the people working on the US space shuttle would have accomplished anything without agreement on: the language to communicate in, standard work schedules, project planning according to professional standards, rules for inspection, and a standard measurement system (metric or English) among other things.

Typically, theories that advance explanations for society’s knowledge have been advanced in an ad hoc manner. Subjective aspects of the scholar and his academic institution play a large role in how the work is regarded, rather than objective analytical criteria.

What are the standards for theoretical work in the service of science?

There are established standards for logic and methods of proof; however efforts to establish a standard system for formal theories have not been especially successful.

I propose some standards with respect to  definition, construction, communication, and theories to support the objective that a scientific explanation – any scientific explanation – be created so that it is clear and consistent. This body of work called Place of Understanding [or just Place] is a kind of constitution to establish order and regulate controversy with respect to theoretical science. It also offers a protocol for establishing a formal theory.

Please review it. It is published in chapters here (although the Results and Conclusion are still in process):
Working Together on Knowledge
Introduction to “Working Together on Knowledge”
Overview Presentation of Place of Understanding

See if you think it is successful. Consider ways that it could be improved. If we can achieve consensus for a final version of these standards, we will secure an opportunity for significant gains in productivity.

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