Definitions of Terms


This chapter provides information about the philosophical ideas and associated terminology that underlie Relational Thinking Styles (RTS) and briefly explains how these relate to computational modeling and to the Davis Non-Verbal Assessment, all of which comprise much more than a list of definitions. This chapter also provides a rationale for the importance of understanding terms in their context. The objectives of this chapter are to introduce readers to the philosophical underpinnings of RTS and provide them with the background and vocabulary to understand the rest of the book.
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Definitions are like the list of ingredients for a recipe. Without that list, which often includes specific descriptions of certain terms (such white pastry flour instead of merely listing flour) a novice baker could produce consistently tough piecrusts and never understand why.

The purpose of this chapter is to clarify the perspective from which this theory operates and to offer the meanings of some of the specific terms related to the theoretical model of Relational Thinking Styles (RTS). For the terminology of RTS is not specific to computational modeling, Artificial Intelligence (AI), or to most other related fields, though it offers the possibility of fruitful applications within a variety of disciplines. In addition, RTS has no specific epistemological domain other than its derivation from American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce’s concepts. Even that relationship varies enough from Peirce’s verbal/mathematical perspective that Peircean scholars may have difficulty recognizing the connection. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to provide as clear a set of definitions of terms and contexts as we can. Readers may be familiar with many of these terms in different senses than those we use here. However, the terms and concepts as defined here are the meanings we will use throughout this book for explaining the philosophical/semiotic construct that is RTS.

Pragmatism, or at least the pragmatic philosophy of Peirce (1935, Vol. 5, para. 12), is a philosophy of definition and clarification. It derives from the meaning of belief proposed by Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain who defines belief as that upon which we are “prepared to act” (1988, p. 597). Peirce contends that “a belief need not be conscious” (Peirce, 1932, Vol. 2, para. 148), a contention that RTS will demonstrate. Inferencing, which both relies upon and results in beliefs, involves the formation of a habit as it produces a belief or opinion. Since a genuine belief or opinion is something upon which a man is prepared to act, an inference is, in a general sense, a habit. We also contend that the way in which a particular individual makes inferences is so habitual that these habitual ways of inferencing can be observed and codified.

Thus, the background portion of this chapter will make the case for definition, while the main part of the chapter addresses both general and specific definitions that should provide some insight into the direction we will be taking for this book. There will be more definitions of specific terms as this text progresses.

As for references throughout this book, readers may notice that many of these seem out of date in terms of contemporary research. One reason for this is that references related to Peirce are taken from primary sources—that is, his own words as much as possible. Many references related to the development and explanation of RTS are derived from sources used by Dorothy Davis as she developed the RTS model in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Other dated references stem from the field research undergone by Phyllis Chiasson and Davis from 1978 through 1983, as they explored other versions of thinking styles in a vain attempt to find a model similar to their own. The only clear relationship of RTS to any theoretical model that we have found is that of Peirce’s phenomenological categories and its ensuing expression as an everyday non-deliberate reasoning process, which Peirce terms logica utens.

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