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Overreliance on Connotation

By Una J. Ada, October 06, 2018

First, let’s assume that all that we know is truth, or more precisely that our certainty in currently held knowledge is invariable and that said certainty for a given concept is arbitrarily high. For simplicity’s sake we will divide the set of all that is known into two smaller sets, $A$ will refer to the set of concepts that are (based on some arbitrary threshold) good and $B$ will refer to the set of all concepts that are bad.

We now introduce an unknown concept, represented here as the element $c$. Person 1 claims that $c$ is akin to another element, $d$, which is unknown to Person 2. Person 1 then asserts that $d\in B$, and therefore $c\in B$. Independently of any other elements, Person 2 determines that $c\in A$ (based on their own analysis and criteria). What then happens at the meeting of Persons 1 and 2?

Based on our initial assumptions, Person 1’s argument for the placement of $c$ in $B$ is likely more compelling that the independent analysis of Person 2. If we are arbitrarily certain in $d\in B$ then so too must we be certain in $c\in B$. To that end, Person 2 should rethink their analysis1. If we’re to agree that sets $A$ and $B$ are objective (as stated by their certainty being arbitrarily high). then Person 1 was correct to classify $c$ based on already classified elements such as $d$.

However, if we were to say the confidence in what is known is not arbitrarily high and is often unknown, then the situation may be reversed. Assuming Person 1 still asserts $d\in B$ therefore $c\in B$ and Person 2’s analysis is acceptable, then what would be brought into question would be Person 1’s assertion. If we believe Person 2 that $c\in A$ and we believe that $c$ is akin to $d$ then we must necessarily question the assertion that $d\in B$2.

  1. Assuming we do not consider the placement by Person 2 of $c\in A$ to be yet considered a certainty as the sets were declared at the beginning of this work. ↩︎

  2. This is funny, to me. ↩︎