Looking at Razie Mah’s (2014) A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion” (Part 1 of 24)

0001 Many home and private schoolers face a difficulty.

They want to teach their children and students about God and nature.

At the same time, they want their children and students to pass standardized tests constructed by government agencies that declare themselves to be “not religious”.

Can a “not religious” sovereign establish a religion?

I like to call this apparent anomaly, “Big Government (il)Liberalism”.

Other names also apply.

0002 Indeed, parents and teachers suspect that the standards… or perhaps, the norms… of these godless educational… er, indoctrinating agencies do not allow a type of thinking that has been common to Christian civilization since its inception.  This type of thinking is both analytic and synthetic and is promulgated by the schoolmen (or “scholastics”) of the so-called “Middle Ages”.

As it turns out, scholastic debates concerning mind-independent and mind-dependent reality end up with a definition of sign-relation that incorporates modern science, while at the same time transcending it.

Of course, the mechanical philosophers of the 1600s don’t know this.  Modern scientists try to model observations and measurements of phenomena, using their highly specialized disciplinary languages.  These models break down into two elements: cause and effect.

But, material and physical cause and effect cannot describe the causality inherent in sign relations.

0003 Surely, there are three elements to all existence.

Charles Peirce (1839-1914 AD) reads Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), a Baroque Scholastic, and comes up with the idea that there are three categories.  Firstness has one element.  Secondness (which includes mechanical science) has two elements.  Thirdness has three.  These three categories describe the causality inherent in a sign relation.

These three categories are also the foundation for the category-based nested form.

0004 So, what does this mean to parents and teachers?

None of the government agencies, who declare themselves to be “scientific”, can define the sign as a triadic relation.

So, perhaps that is a good place to start.

0005 Semiotics encompasses the natural sciences, not the other way around.

Teaching your students the analytic and synthetic practices of the category-based nested form and semiotics will prepare them for technology, engineering and mathematics. Science typifies secondness.  And, secondness stands between thirdness and firstness.

Say what?

Take a look at the following figure.  Even without familiarity with Peirce’s categories, the diagram tells a story concerning the relevance of triadic relations1 in regards to inquiry3 and science2.  Understanding is not the same as scientific determination.

Figure 01

0006 What about the social sciences?

I wonder, can modern social scientists observe and measure social phenomena?

Can they model observations of religious behavior, when they describe themselves as “not religious”?

If everyone can be religious and if social scientists choose not to be religious in order to build models of their observations of those who are, then isn’t there some sort of contradiction?

Or, is that the nature of specialization?

Speaking of specialization, sociologists do not study psychology.  Psychologists do not study sociology.  Plus, sociology and psychology ignore biology.  All these disciplines are alchemically sealed within their own academic echo-chambers.  They cannot hear one another.

Say what?

0007 The category-based nested form is a triadic relation, that is both synthetic and analytic.  It is useful for reading texts.  It is a powerful tool for picturing the purely relational characteristics of psychology, sociology, cognition and evolution.

A Course on How to Define the Word “Religion” offers a unique path into topics covered by the so-called “social sciences”, without the blinders of BG(il)L.

Please consider this course when developing a curriculum for your children and your students.


Looking at Razie Mah’s (2014) Course on How To Define the Word “Religion” (Part 2 of 24)

0008 A Course on How To Define The Word “Religion” may be found at smashwords and other e-book vendors.  Use the search terms: Razie Mah, series, course, how to define the word “religion”.

The course consists of ten primers, followed by the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”.

The primers and the masterwork are punctuated, not by page numbers, but by points.  A one-hour class may cover around forty points.  That is a little slower than one per minute.  If you conduct a class, record the number of points covered per session and report to raziemah@reagan.com.

0009 The first five primers are listed below.

Figure 02

0010 These five primers introduce the category-based nested form, the two-level and three-level interscope, and topics covered by psychology and economics.

0011 The second five primers are listed below.

Figure 03

0012 These five primers introduce tiers, institutions, politics and religion.

The range of applications for the category-based nested form is remarkable.

0013 These ten primers open the door to the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”.

This masterwork is one of three, covering the entire human evolutionary record.

0014 The method of instruction is to read and discuss.  Some points will pass rapidly.  Other points will evoke discussion.  Don’t worry about timelines.  The love of wisdom walks at her own tempo.

0015 The following blogs dwell on each of the ten primers.


Looking at Razie Mah’s (2014) A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form (Part 3 of 24)

0015 The category-based nested form comes first.

Some educators say that evolution should be a key concept in teaching sociology, psychology, and other social sciences.

Yet, the modern social sciences simply take the biological sciences for granted, then mimic the empirio-schematics of the natural sciences.  Disciplinary languages bring mathematical and mechanical models into relation with observations and measurements of phenomena.

The modern social sciences ignore human evolution and the mysterious character of the biological sciences.

The modern social sciences embrace empirio-schematics.

0016 Razie Mah proposes that human evolution has three aspects.  He writes three masterworks, one for each aspect, as depicted in the following figure.

Figure 04

0017 The third work, How To Define the Word “Religion” covers the character of our current Lebenswelt.   Speech-alone talk is one of the defining features of our current Lebenswelt.  The spoken word may be pictured as a category-based nested form.

Here is a diagram.

Figure 05

0018 How To Define the Word “Religion” relies on the truly postmodern philosophy of Charles S. Peirce.  The word, “postmodern”, is a site of contention, because many modern intellectuals label themselves with the term. What a fashionable attribute.  No one wants to be called, “modern”.  “Postmodern” is in vogue.

Yet, these self-identified “postmoderns” cannot identify Peirce’s three categories, nor how they fit together.  The category of firstness is the realm of possibility.  The category of secondness is the realm of actuality.  The category of thirdness is the realm of signs, mediations, judgments and normal contexts.

Instead, postmodern academics propose only two categories: their good and political fellow travelers and their evil and despised detractors.

Just kidding.

0019 Peirce’s categories permit the construction of the category-based nested form.

Here is a picture.

Figure 06

0020 Ten primers prepare the student for How To Define the Word “Religion”.  

The first is A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form.

0021 The student?

This course is suitable for freshmen of all stripes, whether in middle school, high school or college.

0022 How so?

Freshmen enter introductory courses.

Freshmen need intellectual tools.

The intellectual tools introduced in these primers are relevant to understanding all three aspects of human evolutionthe Lebenswelt that we evolved inthe first singularity and our current Lebenswelt.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2014) A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form (Part 4 of 24)

0023 Peirce’s categories label the number of elements.  Thirdness has three elements.  Secondness has two.  Firstness has one.

0024 The three elements of thirdness are relation, actuality and potential.  Each category is represented in thirdness.  Thirdness exhibits the logics of exclusion, alignment and complement.

0025 The two elements of secondness are contiguous.  One real element is contiguous with another real element.  For nomenclature, I place the contiguity in brackets: one real element [contiguity] other real element.  The contiguity has the character of substance, causality, embodiment, information and so forth.  Secondness exhibits the logics of contradiction and noncontradiction.

0026 The one element of firstness can be really goofy.  Imagine two frames.  In one frame, the canvas is covered with the color gray.  The other frame holds a painting of a park in Paris in the middle of summer.  Both images belong to firstness.

Here is another way to imagine firstness.  Picture a coin.  One item has two faces.  One can only observe one face at a time.  Firstness exhibits logics that are inclusive and allow contradictions.

0027 Here is a picture of the nested form.  The categories serve as subscripts.

Figure 07

0028 So, what do the covers for the primers, as well as the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”, portray?

Here is the pattern.

Figure 08

0029 Now, back to education.

I appeal to homeschoolers and private schools.

0030 How does one teach the ten primers as well as the masterwork?

The method is easy.  Read and discuss.  The text is marked with points.  Step by step, both instructor and student can walk together and examine each point.  Both will learn along the way.


Each point takes one to three minutes.

An assessment of class time may be found in day 23 of this blog.

0031 The advantage?

Right now, so-called “public” schools teach the scientific facts of human evolution, according to a Darwinian picture of descent with modification.  But, imagine that the facts constitute an actuality2 that will enter into a category-based nested form.

The following nested form results.

Figure 09

Indoctrination asks the student to recite the facts of human evolution2.

Education asks the student to consider the normal context3 and assess the potential1 underlying the facts2.

Facts are not the same as understanding.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2014) A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction (Part 5 of 24)

0033 The second primer covers sensible and social construction.

This primer is a little loopy, because, when sensible construction fails, social construction begins and when social construction ends, sensible construction begins once again.

0034 I proceed by way of example.

Today, in 2022 AD, all books on human evolution weave the fossil record into a seamless garment, starting around two million years ago and ending with paleolithic hunter-gathers.

A sequence of figures depict the actuality2 of descent with modification3.

Figure 10

0035 Descent with modification3a is situated by evolutionary science3b.

Here is a picture of a sensible construction.

Figure 11

0036 Clearly, a situation-level nested form emerges from (and situates) a content-level nested form.

Sensible construction is composed of content and situation levels, in a two-level relational structure.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2014) A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction (Part 6 of 24)

0037 What happens next?

Of course, some clever comedian adds more figures to the picture of human evolution painted by descent with modification.

The additional features raise a question.

Figure 12

0038 Comedians love to upset the narrative.

Clearly, the fat guy with a beer2a cannot be explained by evolutionary science3b with material and physical models2bbased on natural selection and genetics1b.

Neither can the hunch-back at the computer.

Sensible construction fails.

Figure 13

0039 When sensible construction fails, social construction begins.

A social construction appears within a nested form on the perspective level of a three-level interscope.  A three-level interscope is a nested form composed of nested forms.

Figure 14

0040 Well, of course, the guy with the beer does not descend with modification from the guy with a spear.  The two guys occupy different living worlds (or, in German, Lebenswelts).  The guy with a beer belongs to our current Lebenswelt.  The guy with the spear belongs to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

Does this sound vaguely familiar?

Recall that actuality2 represents a dyad composed of two contiguous real elements.  Actuality2 looks like this:

one real element [contiguity] other real element

Correspondingly the perspective-level actuality looks like this:

the Lebenswelt that we evolved in [first singularity] our current Lebenswelt2c

0041 Notice that elements of the perspective level are really empty slots.  

0042 What is the potential1c?

A perspective-level potential1c virtually brings the potential of natural selection and genetics1b into relation with the potential of both archaeology and history1a.

The potential1c is triadic relations.  Triadic relations include signs, mediations, judgments, normal contexts and category-based nested forms.  The human niche is the potential of triadic relations1c.

0043 What is the normal context3c?

The normal context3c is not clear.  Whatever it3c is, it3c puts evolutionary science3b into perspective, even as evolutionary science3b emerges from and situates the potential of Darwin’s foundational principle of descent with modification3a.

I do not think that the perspective-level normal context3c rules out theology.

If I look back at the original comedy, where the guy with a spear “evolves” into the guy with a beer, I see an intimation of a theocomedy, the humorous counterpoint to our great theodrama.

Human evolution comes with a twist.

0044 Here is a picture of the beginning of a new age of sensible construction.

Figure 15

Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2014) A Primer on the Individual In Community (Part 7 of 24)

0045 This primer comes third.

A nested form is composed a three elements.  The subscripts for each element are 1, 2 and 3.

An interscope is composed of three nested forms.  The subscripts for each level are a, b and c.

A three-tiered relational structure is composed of three interscopes.  The subscripts for each tier are A, B and C.

0046 In some specialized social circles, a three-tiered relational structure is called a “cake”.

Unfortunately, the term, “cake”, applied to the three-tiered relational structure, sounds half-baked.

0047 The individual in communityA is the first tier of this grand relational structure.

The discussion starts with a nested form, as depicted below.

Figure 16

0048 This nested form comes from theology.

A theological question gets raised, “What happens when a person dies?”

A theological answer is provided.

0049 Then, a three-level interscope for the individual in community is constructed by expanding each element of the “partially differentiated” nested form into a “fully differentiated” interscope.

Here is a comparison of the elements of the less differentiated nested form and the virtual nested form in the realm of normal context for the more differentiated interscope.

Figure 17

0050 The normal contexts are key psychological questions.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2015) A Primer on the Individual In Community (Part 8 of 24)

0051 Here is a picture of the resulting interscope.

Figure 18

0052 The three levels are contenta, situationb and perspectivec.

These three levels constitute a nested form.  Perspectivec brings situationb into relation with contenta.

A virtual nested form runs down each column, as noted in the prior blog, with the virtual nested form in the realm of normal context3.

0053 There are nine elements.  An archetype highlights some elements and shadows others.  Jungian psychology explores archetypes.

0054 Finally, there is a powerful connection to one of the upper tiers.

Consider the element in the upper right corner of the above figure.

The perspective-level potential1c is “rightfulness1cA“.

Rightfulness1cA connects to righteousness1aC, a potential on the content-levela of the upper tierC.

0055 Here is a picture.

Figure 19

Sociology connects to psychology.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2014) The First Primer of the Organization Tier  (Part 9 of 24) 

0056 The fourth primer introduces the organization tier.

The organizationB tier occupies the slot for actuality in a primal nested form.

The individual in communityA tier occupies the slot for possibility.

An unnamed upperC tier labels the slot for normal context.

Figure 20

0057 Why is the upperC tier not named?

Of course, the thirdC tier has a label.

But, as soon as a label occupies the slot for normal context, the actuality of the organizationB tier gets turned.  The current term is “spin”.  For example, corporate media “spins” the “narrative”, into which organizationB-tier actualities appear to fit.

The issue of “spin” presents a great challenge for the disciplines of economics and sociology, which aim to scientifically study the phenomena of organizations.  Academics are tempted to judge the organizationB tier, as if the thing itselfB could be ethically evaluated.

0058 Take a look at the nested form for the organizationB tier.

Assessment3B brings transactions2B into relation with the potential of ‘people working together’1B.

What do these words mean?

Every term tells a story.

Consequently, each element in the partially differentiated relational structure expands into a nested form, resulting in a three-level interscope.

Figure 21

OrganizationB is not differentiated.

The nested form of assessment3B, exchange2B and ‘working together’1B is partially differentiated.

The interscope with the levels of assessmentcB, exchangebB and ‘working together’aB is fully differentiated.


Looking at Razie Mah’s  (2015) The First Primer of the Organization Tier  (Part 10 of 24)

0058 How can an inquirer appreciate the three-levels of the organizationB tier?

Three metaphors encourage an intuitive grasp of these levels.  The family, the team and the tribe are social structures that belong to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  We innately anticipate these three social circles.

0059 But, there is a problem.

Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

In the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, all social circles work in harmony.  Intimates (5), family (5), teams (15), band (50), community (150), mega-band (500) and tribe (1500) co-evolve with humans.  Indeed, society, organization and individual in community are not differentiated.  Culture and nature co-evolve. So, our innate appreciation of the organizationB tier assists inquiry only so much.

0060 The inquirer must also find examples of the organizationB tier in our current Lebenswelt.

In the fourth primer I consider two historical examples and one pair of historical traumas.

Here is a list.

Figure 22