Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (2014) “A Natural History of Human Thinking” (Part 1 of 22)

0187 In the preface, the author notes that this book is a prequel to The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (1999, Harvard University Press).  The question is the same.  What makes humans unique?  The answer is the same.  Humans think differently than great apes, their closest biological kin.

In 1999, researchers in evolutionary anthropology could say, “Only humans think of other humans as intentional agents.  Plus, my cat and my dog are intentional operators, as well, say nothing of the weather.”

Okay, I added the second sentence for dramatic effect.

Unfortunately, research conducted after 1999 introduces a problem.  It turns out that great apes recognize intentionality in others.

Uh oh.

0188 This book is the third marker in Tomasello’s intellectual journey.  I start following his trek with Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (1999) “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition” (appearing in Razie Mah’s January 2024 blog).  The second marker that I examine may be found in Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (2008) “Origins of Human Communication” (appearing later in the same blog for the same month).

0189 In the publication before me, A Natural History of Human Thinking (2014, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts), Tomasello explicitly abstracts three cognitive processes in order to distinguish humans from apes.  The processes are cognitive representation, inference and self-monitoring.  He then proposes that all three components were transformed in two key steps during hominin evolution.  He labels his claims, “the shared-intentionality hypothesis”.

0190 Does this follow the trajectory set by previous works?

Here is a theme that appears in the second marker, pre-emptively modified with the above propositions in mind.

0191 This modified picture allows me to offer slogans for movements zero and one.

For zero, the slogan is “I work for food.”

For one, the slogan is “We work for food.”


Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (1999) “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition” (Part 1 of 12)

0001 In 1999 AD, Michael Tomasello, then co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, publishes the work before me (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts).

To me, this work marks the start of the author’s twenty year journey, culminating in a theory of human ontogeny, published in 2019.  The word, “ontogeny”, refers to human development and associates to the human phenotype.

0002 What interests me in Tomasello’s journey?

As noted in Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) Adam and the Genome (available at smashwords and other e-book venues), “phenotype” and “adaptation” are not the same.  Instead, these labels apply to distinct actualities that coalesce into a single actuality.  One may call that single actuality, an individual, a species or a genus.  One may also call that single actuality, “a mystery”.

I am interested in the natural history side of the mystery of human evolution.  However, the genetic (or ontogenetic) side cannot be ignored.  Plus, natural history cannot be reduced to genetics, or visa versa

0003 Chapter one of Tomasello’s book is titled, “A Puzzle and a Hypothesis”.

Of course, a puzzle is not a mystery.  A puzzle can be resolved.  A mystery cannot.

The puzzle starts with genetics.  Geneticists have examined the DNA of chimpanzees, bonobos and humans and predict that the last common ancestor lives 6 or 7 Myr (six or seven million years ago).

In contrast, physical anthropologists (natural historians) propose the fossil record noted in the following figure.  With terminological sleight of hand, they refer to human ancestors as “hominins”, even though the old term for any bipedal primate (ape or human) is “hominid”. 

0004 Hmmm. Does the puzzle concern time?

According to genetics, the last common ancestor (LCA) between chimpanzees and humans lives 7 Myr (millions of years ago).  But, little significant shows up in the fossil record until 4 Myr.  Our lineage obviously evolves feet first.  As it turns out, starting around 5 Myr, the extent of tropical vegetation in Africa decreases due to desiccation.  Bipedality is an adaptation to mixed forest and savannah.

0005 The fossil record provides other clues, especially stone tools.

The first stone tools are Oldowan.  Oldowan stones tools are constructed on site.  They are used to scrape meat off of bone and to crack long bones (that are full of fatty marrow).

Acheulean stone tools appear later in the archeological record.  Acheulean stone tools are made beforehand and carried with some intention in mind.  They have the appearance of a giant tooth.  Notably, Acheulean stone tool technology remains unchanged for over a million years.  Innovations in stone-tools follow the domestication of fire.

0006 Surely, these two tables are puzzling.  In the first, the fossil record pertains to changes in hominin phenotypes.  In the second, the fossil record pertains to hominin adaptations, but these adaptations are not phenotypic. They are artifacts.  Are these adaptive artifacts cultural?  Are they behavioral?  I wonder, “Do the words, ‘culture’ and ‘behavior’, capture the matter and the form of these artifacts?”  It is as if an adaptation recognizes matter and generates form.

0007 What is the nature of the adaptation that maintains (and occasionally changes) artifacts, as if these artifacts are phenotypes?

Tomasello suggests that an adaptation is a novel form of social cognition.  Our lineage adapts to a new way of thinking about one another, eventually allowing sociogenesis, new styles of learning and cultural evolution.

0008 Tomasello proposes that there is one adaptation that potentiates subsequent adaptations.

Razie Mah proposes that there is one ultimate niche for our lineage.  The hypothesis is presented in the e-book, The Human Niche (available at smashwords and other e-book venues).

0009 Do Tomasello (in 1999) and Mah (in 2018) propose that our lineage is defined by the same adaptation… er… niche?

What is the difference between an adaptation and a niche?

To these questions, I next attend.


Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (1999) “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition” (Part 12 of 12)

0072 Chapter five is titled, “Linguistic Construction and Event Cognition”.  The perspective-level linguistic communication2c participates in ongoing events2a.

Tomasello claims that joint attention is the key adaptation from which subsequent adaptations proceed.  Surely, the three-level interscope depicted above does not contradict this claim.

After all, the evolution of joint attention should precede the evolution of linguistic communication.

0073 However, there is a disjunction, because great apes show few (if any) tendencies that may be characterized by joint attention.  Even the occasional monkey hunt by chimpanzees is best characterized by several individuals deciding to pursue the same thing at the same time.  The monkey-prey is the focus of attention, but the attention is disjointed, not really coordinated.

So, there must be a period before the evolution of joint attention, where individual intentionality reigns, even when group action takes place.

0074 So, when are these eras happening?

Tomasello wants to place the evolution of joint attention before the time of Homo heidelbergensis, who appears in the fossil record between 800 and 400kyr (thousands of years ago).

To me, this makes sense only so far as this.

Homo heidelbergensis leaves traces of cultural behavior in the archeological record.

To me, such traces indicate that these hominins are in the subsequent build-on era.

So, Tomasello’s timeline may require clarification.

0075 Okay, now that I am nitpicking, I must ask, “Is there a problem with making joint attention2a the foundation of an evolutionary theory?”

Allow me to return to Tomasello’s vision.

0076 According to Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) Adam and the Genome (by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues), adaptation2 and phenotype2 belong to two independent scientific disciplines: natural history and genetics.  Since both belong to situation-level nested forms that rely on different potentials, one cannot situate or contextualize the other.  However, this is precisely what occurs in Tomasello’s vision.

Of course, Tomasello’s vision remains a breakthrough in the framework of modern science.  At least, the phenotype does not correspond to the adaptation.  Instead, the phenotype2c puts culture2b into perspective.  Then, culture2b virtually situates the adaptation of joint attention2a.

Yes, to repeat, the phenotype2c does not directly situate the adaptation2a.  Tomasello’s vision leads upwards from joint attention2a to human culture2b and then to human cognitive development2c. Cognitive development2c puts culture2b into perspective, just as culture2b virtually situates joint attention2a.

Tomasello’s vision is truly remarkable.

0077 And, it is difficult to achieve.

This book is the start of a twenty year journey.

0078 As noted in points 0055 through 0058, the last few chapters cover the cultural (situation) and ontogenetic (perspective) levels of Tomasello’s vision.  As far as I can see, these chapters labor to show how human ontogeny2c (the scientific study of human development) virtually contextualizes human culture2b (a somewhat vaguely defined term that refers to all situations where joint attention2a pertains).  In the process, Tomasello must also explain how human culture2b, especially spoken language and symbolic representation, virtually emerges from and situates joint attention2a.

How ambitious is that?

0079 Here a picture of the virtual nested form in the realm of actuality (the vertical column in secondness in Tomasello’s vision, portrayed as a nested form).

The normal context of the behavior of newborns and infants2c virtually brings the actuality of spoken language and symbolic representation2b into the potential of a foundational adaptation2a.

0080 Yes, this is very ambitious, and the final three chapters of this book strain to meet the challenge.  They should be read with this in mind.  The last three chapters are well composed.  Tomasello is an excellent writer.  He is very organized.  But, his exposition is like lifting a two-hundred pound octopus out of the water.  As soon as one arm is lifted, a different one slides back into the murk.

0081 Plus, there is the lingering issue of natural history.

Here is a picture with Tomasello’s guesses.

Tomasello makes two associations that make no sense at all, when considering joint attention2b as an adaptation to sociogenesis1b in the normal context of natural selection3b.  Sociogenesis1b is the human niche1b.  The human niche1b is the potential1b of triadic relations2a.  Consequently, the adaptation of joint attention2a should be marked in the archaeological record with the appearance of the Homo genus, around 1.8Myr (millions of years ago).

0082 With that in mind, I close this examination of the first step in Tomasello’s journey, scientifically exploring who we are.  The next step is a book that expands and clarifies this first step.  It is published nine years later.


Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (2008) “Origins of Human Communication” (Part 1 of 12)

0083 In 2008 AD, Michael Tomasello, then co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, publishes the work before me (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts).

This book is the second marker in Tomasello’s intellectual journey.  I start following his journey with Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (1999) “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition” (appearing in Razie Mah’s January 2024 blog).  That is the first marker.

0084 The second marker starts as an academic presentation in 2006.  His Jean Nicod Lectures, in Paris, concerns his work on great ape gestural communication, human infant gestural communication and human children’s language development.  These lectures attempt to construct one coherent account of the evolution of hominin communication.

Oh, that terminology.  Where Tomasello inscribes, “human”, I say, “hominin”.

0085 From my examination at the first marker, I already have a guess about Tomasello’s vision.

Here is a picture.

0086 Note that the titles of the levels have changed.

Also note that human ontogeny2c or models of child development currently built by psychologists2c, associates to phenotypes and genetics.  Joint attention2a or models in evolutionary psychology concerning hominin cognition2a,associates to adaptations and natural history.

0087 Tomasello uses the word, “origins”, in his title.  Does this suppose that human communication may be regarded as a phenotypic trait or as an adaptation?  Or maybe, the conjunction is “and”.

In the above figure, I get the idea that the phenotype virtually contextualizes the adaptation.  But, that is not really the case.  The phenotype2b virtually situates a species’ or individual’s DNA2a.

Here is a diagram.

0088 Not surprisingly, this diagram in genetics has the same two-level relational structure as Darwin’s paradigm for natural history.

0089 What does this imply?

A mystery stands at the heart of evolutionary biology.

The adaptation is not the same as the phenotype.

Yet, together, they constitute a single actuality, which may be labeled a genus, a species or an individual.

Two category-based nested forms intersect in the realm of actuality.  It is like two streets that meet.  The intersection is constituted by both streets.  As far as traffic goes, intersections are sites of dangerous contradictions.  Traffic from one street should not collide with traffic from the other street.  I suppose that the intersection of adaptation and phenotypecarries irreconcilable contradictions as well.

0090 Perhaps, Tomasello’s vision may be resolved by considering both joint attention2a and human ontogeny2c as adaptations, even though the latter is technically, phenotypic.

I suggest this because selection is the normal context for all three levels in Tomasello’s vision.  Since natural selection goes with adaptation, the vision is one of natural history.

0091 That implies that the potentials for all three levels are like niches.

Human ontogeny2c is an adaptation that emerges from and situates the potential of human culture2b, where human culture2b is like an actuality independent of the adapting species of individuals undergoing development3c.

Human culture2b is like an adaptation that emerges from and situates the potential of joint attention2a, where joint attention2a is like an actuality independent of the adapting ways of doing things3b.

Joint attention2a is like an adaptation that emerges from and situates sociogenesis1a, where sociogenesis1a is the potential of… what?… I have run out of actualities independent of the adapting species.

0092 Here is where the foundational Tomasello-Mah synthesis enters the picture.

Ah, so here is a problem.

Tomasello’s vision of the origins of human communication conceals the actuality underlying sociogenesis1athe potential1a giving rise to joint attention2a.  The human niche is the potential of triadic relations.

0093 What about the subscripts in the preceding paragraph?

They belong to Tomasello’s vision.

0094 This subscript business can be confusing.

To me, the concealment in Tomasello’s vision is not necessarily a drawback.  Rather, it presents an opportunity to re-articulate Tomasello’s arc of inquiry using the category-based nested form and other triadic relations.

0095 In the prior series of blogs, examining a book published in 1999, I introduced an interscope for the way humans think that derives from work by medieval schoolmen, the so-called “scholastics” of the Latin Age.

Here is a picture of the scholastic version of how humans think, packaged as a three level interscope.


Looking at Joseph Farrell’s Book (2020) “The Tower of Babel Moment” (Part 1 of 10)

0001 The full title of the work before me is The Tower of Babel Moment: Lore, Language, Leibniz, and Lunacy.   The author is one of the wandering stars of our current age, an era when academics award more doctorates than any job market can absorb.  Professors with sharp elbows occupy the few available academic positions, leaving brilliant and successful graduates, the ones with sharp minds, to find places in heaven knows where.

Farrell finds a spot on the internet, that once verdant pasture of free expression, and establishes his own scholastic exploration outside of modern institutional constraints.  In short, he founds his own school.  Those who listen to his voice offer remuneration.  God bless all concerned.

0002 The work before me offers speculation on the nature of the titular biblical story.

Farrell proceeds by way of a spiral staircase of observations and… may I say?.. expansive “measurements”.  Measurements of what?  The literature of the seventeenth century?  The titans of the late Renaissance?  Yes, that will do.

0003 My goal in this examination is to shoehorn Farrell’s exploration into a category-based nested form composed of category-based nested forms.  The interscope is elaborated in A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.  Of all procrustean beds that I have at my disposal, the interscope is most accommodating.

Here is a diagram of the interscope.

0004 The method is simple.  First, associate features of Farrell’s argument to elements in the above matrix.  Second, discuss the implications.

Each nested form consists of four statements, the most paradigmatic of which goes like this.  A normal context3 brings an actuality2 into relation with the possibilities inherent in ‘something’1.  The subscripts refer to the categories of Charles Peirce.  Thirdness brings secondness into relation with firstness.

The nested form is fractal.  An interscope is a category-based nested form composed of category-based nested forms.  A two-level interscope associates with sensible construction.  A three-level interscope corresponds to social construction.  Note how the labels change from 1, 2 and 3 to a, b, and c.

The three-level interscope allows the visualization of virtual nested forms, composed of elements within one column.  For example, the virtual nested form in the realm of actuality turns the second column into a category-based nested form,where a perspective-level actuality2c (as virtual normal context) brings a situation-level actuality2b (as virtual actuality) into relation with a content-level actuality2a (as virtual potential).

0005 Farrell opens chapter one with his personal discovery of Leonard Bernstein’s recorded lectures, titled “The Unanswered Question”.  In these lectures, Bernstein discusses Noam Chomsky, who has his own unanswered questions.  Chomsky, in turn, provokes Farrell to ask his own unanswered question, “How do linguists go about demonstrating linguistic universals?”

A universal may be regarded as an observable feature “measurably” appearing in all spoken languages.

0006 Phonologists find common observable features in the sounds of speech.  Common sounds are attributed to the anatomy of the head and neck.

Etymologists find common observable features in closely related words in different languages.  The words are similar and not identical, because they arise from isolation and drift among speaking populations, in a manner similar to biology’s slogan, “descent with modification”.

0007 The key?

Universals imply common origins.  For phonologists, the universal is biological.  For the linguist, the universal is… perhaps lost… in the recesses of time.

0008 A dramatic hypothesis stands against this key.  A sudden change may destroy the common language of humanity.  That change may be labeled, “A Tower of Babel Moment”.

0009 Years ago, Farrell proposes a wider context to this type of hypothesis.  The scenario includes ancient cosmic wars and world grids.  But, these are other books, and other matters, than the text at hand.

0010 So, before going on to chapter two, let me draw some associations.

On the content level, the normal context is language3a.  The actuality may be called a “topology”, or a map of all spoken languages2a.  The potential is that universals imply common origins1a.

The normal context of language3a brings the actuality of cross-language maps2a into relation with the potential of ‘the idea that universals imply common origins’1a.

On the situation level, the normal context is a civilizational moment3b.  The actuality is the Tower of Babel (the biblical story)2b.  The possibility is ‘discontinuity’1b.

The normal context of a civilizational moment3b brings the actuality of the story in Genesis 112b into relation with the potential of a discontinuity1b that corresponds to God confounding the common language of the plains of Shinar.

0011 Here is the two-level interscope.


Looking at Appendix 1.1 in Brian Kemple’s Book (2019) “The Intersection” (Part 1 of 18)

0028 This is the second blog in a series.

 Looking at Brian Kemple’s Book (2019) “Intersection” appears in Razie Mah’s blog from May 15 through 18, 2023.  In that brief examination (points 0001-0027), a technical category-based definition of the term, “intersection” is shown to mesh with the theme of Kemple’s book, whose full title is The Intersection of Semiotics and Phenomenology: Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue (Walter de Gruyter, Boston/Berlin).

To me, that is fascinating.

0029 In this series of blogs, I examine Kemple’s appendices.

Yes, he has more than one appendix.

Plus, there are subdivisions.

0030 Appendix 1.1 is titled, “Presentative forms and the grounding of transcendence”.  My associations will draw upon A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form and A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction, as well as A Primer on Natural Signs, Comments on John Deely’s Book (1994) New Beginnings, and Comments on Newell Sasha’s Article (2018) “The Affectiveness of Symbols”.  These primers and comments touch base with Razie Mah’s masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”, which is available, along with the other mentioned e-works, at smashwords and other e-book venues.

0031 The title of Appendix 1.1 contains two technical terms.

“Presentative forms” is a term coined by Jacques Maritain and literally means a form that is substantiated by its presentation, rather than by matter.  The hylomorphe is presentation [substantiates] form, rather than matter [substantiates] form.

“The grounding of transcendence” is a phrase used by Martin Heidegger.  It conveys what the presentative form accomplishes.  The presentative form accomplishes more than matter-substantiated form, because it leads to (grounds) another form, which is located at a higher categorical level (transcendence).

Figure 01

0032 Surely, this implies that presentative forms and the grounding of transcendence coincide in a particular way.  The “matter” of the presentative form associates to the adjacent lower category of its corresponding “form”

Is this is a general feature of presentative forms?

Well, the claim is a good working hypothesis.


Looking at Appendix 3 in Brian Kemple’s Book (2019) “The Intersection” (Part 18 of 18)

0161 What about Appendix 3, titled “Synechism and semiosis”?

0162 Well, I best look into Appendix 4, which presents a helpful list of definitions.

“Synechism” is a principle of continuity.  There are no hard and fast distinctions between possibilities, because firstness is monadic.  In the empirio-schematic judgment, the dyad, a noumenon [cannot be objectified as] its phenomena, exists in the realm of possibility and obeys this principle.  There are no phenomena without their noumenon.  There is no noumenon without its phenomena.  The hazards of synechism are yet to be deeply appreciated.  For scientific inquiry, what happens when certain actors claim to be observing the phenomena of a noumenon which is not… um… obvious to other people?

“Tychism” is a corollary of synechism.  Peirce envisions chance (er… possibility) as universal.  Without possibility, there is no actuality or normal context.  If there is an actuality that appears out of nowhere, in such a fashion that it has no normal context, then we are back to phenomena of a noumenon which is not… um… subject to understanding.

“Semiosis” is the action of signs.  Signs are triadic relations.  Triadic relations constitute the human niche.

0163 For the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, our ancestors adapt to an ultimate niche as well as many proximate niches.  This means that hominin evolution is both convergent, with respect to our ultimate niche, and divergent, with respect to many proximate niches.  The ultimate niche is the potential of triadic relations.  The proximate niches are regional ecologies and environments.

Language evolves in the milieu of hand talk.  Hand talk relies on the semiotic qualities of icons and indexes to motivate a relation between parole (hand talk) and langue (mental processing).  As this motivated relation becomes more and more conventional (that is, habitual within hominin social circles), hand-talk gestures become more and more like signs in an arbitrary system of differences (that is, symbols).  Grammar consists of symbolic operations within a finite set of symbols.  By the time anatomically modern humans appear, hand talk is fully linguistic.

0164 Speech is added to hand talk with the appearance of our own species, Homo sapiens.

Humans practice hand-speech talk for around 200,000 years, with great success.

0165 Around 7,800 years ago, the end of the previous ice age raises sea-levels, flooding shallow geological basins such as what is now the Persian Gulf.  In the process, two hand-speech talking cultures, one settled on the basin and one settled along the coast and river gorge, are forced into proximity.  A pidgin and then a creole ensues.  The creole is the Sumerian language (unrelated to the nearby Semitic languages).  But, more importantly, this creole is the first instance of speech-alone talk.

At its inception, the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia is the only culture in the world practicing speech-alone talk.

It is no coincidence that the world’s earliest civilization arises in southern Mesopotamia.

Speech-alone talk potentiates civilization.

0166 Our current Lebenswelt is marked by speech-alone talk.  Speech-alone talk spreads from the Ubaid to the four-corners of the world, potentiating unconstrained social complexity wherever it goes.

7800 years ago, the world population may have been as many as seven million.

Today, it is seven billion.

Such is the significance of the first singularity, the transition from hand-speech talk to speech-alone talk.

0167 Heidegger is a German philosopher who strives to restart Western philosophy after it fumbles its founding charisma.

Peirce is a precocious American post-modern who becomes fascinated with one of the crucial questions asked by scholastic philosophers, “What is the causality inherent to the sign-relation?”

0168 Both these philosophers propose ideas that address a single question, “What is the nature of our current Lebenswelt?”

Their answers apply to a single actuality.

0169 I do not know the name of this actuality, but I do appreciate the significance of Kemple’s attempt to delineate an intersection (without being aware that the term, “intersection”, might have a technical definition that supports his inquiry).

An intersection is an actuality composed of two actualities, each of which has its own nested form.

0170 For these reasons, Brian Kemple’s book, The Intersection of Semiotics and Phenomenology: Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue, deserves interest.  While my examinations, so far, covering the term, “intersection”, and the appendices, are sparse, they are suggestive.  There is a lot at play within the pages of this book.


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 Series (2015)  A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion”  (Part 24 of 24)

0161 In conclusion, 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 promulgate a religion, even though they declare themselves to be “not religious”.

This course is one way to approach the difficulty.

This course offers a path, a text, along which you, the adult, and your children and your students may walk together.

0162 No other work in the field of education in 2022 compares.

Except of course, other courses by Razie Mah, such as A Course on The Archaeology of the Fall and A Course on the Human Niche.

Welcome to the fourth age of understanding.

0163 A Course on How To Define The Word “Religion” may be found at smashwords and other e-book vendors, using 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”.

Each primer and masterwork is punctuated, not by page numbers, but by points.  A one-hour class may cover between twenty and 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.

0164 These blogs provide a taste of the style and the content.  They complement, rather than substitute, for the primers and the masterwork.

I hope that you enjoy these blogs and pass them onto others who may serve as guides in a world where education is the job of parents and those similarly motivated, rather than those who are certified by the state.

God bless.


Day 1: Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 1 of 8)

0001 What is Reality?

Reality is a journal for philosophical discourse.

It is worthy of financial support by people of good will.

Reality is the only journal, to date, closing the gap between Thomistic philosophy and Peircean semiotics.

Brian Kemple Ph.D. is the editor of Reality.

0002 He is also the last graduate student of the late John Deely (1942-2017), of fond memory.  

0003 The essay at hand appears in 2020, volume 1, and covers pages 76-123.

The full title is “Signs and Reality: An Advocation for Semiotic Realism”.

0004 The issue is captured on page 115.

Kemple writes (more or less), “If we are to have a living, thriving realism, it must be a realism capable of dealing with the entirety of the real; not only the reality that we engage directly through our senses, but the reality we experience perceptually and intellectually as well, a reality comprising the relations and especially the sign-relations that constitute so much of our experience.”