(Last update 17 May 2002) (Drawn and adapted from various sources. Part of the Psybertron K-Blog)

(See Glossary page for “One-Look” link, usually finding the Merriam-Webster entry most comprehensive and clear.)





Metaphorical Aphorism

A statement or saying, often, but not exclusively, an aphorism, often partly metaphorical.

See Aphorism


Knowing what you believe.

Concerning knowledge perceived from subjective feelings.

I know this is true, even though I probably couldn’t prove it to you.


We hold this truth to be …

A concise or terse statement of, or embodying, a general principle or truth.

See Adage


Knowing what you see

Concerning knowledge perceived from acquaintance with observable empirical facts.

I can see it from here and I can see that it is red.


Purposeful automation

Discipline concerned with information, feedback, identity and purpose.

Cybernetics as defined in the 1940s independent of whether the system in question was an animal or machine, individual or population


Presuming Universal Truth.

Logical reasoning proceeding primarily from previously known facts. Essentially subjective, since “previous knowledge” depends on the knower and their context.

Fine for checking the logical consistency of any sets of facts, (consolidating existing knowledge) but exposed to the risks that none of these “facts” is necessarily true in any absolute sense (so no new knowledge emerges). Deductive reasoning is a process essential to knowledge, provided it is remembered that the process is testing the “presumption” of previous knowledge.


Logical Argument

The method of arriving at a thesis or constructing a proof, or simply conducting and argument, by use of analysis and synthesis of a series of classical logical syllogisms, particularly (after Hegel) involving the inclusion of contradictory antithesis in the argument.

Eg We hold A to be true. If B and C imply A cannot be true, then either B or C is false or our original premise must be false.


The Science of Knowledge

How do we know something? Philosophy that concerns the forms, nature, and preconditions of knowledge.



Group Communication Behaviour

Analysing the information and knowledge in a particular domain by observing the behaviours of the whole group of stakeholders interacting in that domain.

(Literally social anthropology)


Word Derivation

The origin and derivation of words or phrases and components thereof from previous linguistic forms and associated semantics.



Explaining Information

The interpretation or explanation of information (typically a biblical text) beyond what is explicitly represented. (From the Greek to explain.)



Interpreting Information

The science and methodology of interpretation or exegesis (originally, of biblical texts). (From the Greek to interpret)



Scientific Discovery

Objective reasoning proceeding by methodical analysis of observed outcomes and potentially causal conditions, without motivation to base the rationale on pre-conceived facts. Logical inference of the general from the particular.

Difference from deductive reasoning is that induction intends to create new knowledge and challenge the old, by “discovery”. After Bacon.


Recognising Context

A methodology based on understanding the context of information, and the processes whereby information influences, and is influenced by, its context.

(See Walsham / Myers et al, and later Wittgenstein – “Philosophical Investigations”)



The study of whole-part relationships.



Fundamentals of Existence

The branch of philosophy concerned with the first principles of fundamental existence in natural science and thought.


Noumenon (ology)

Existence without Attributes

A thing in itself, an object reasoned as having existence in the complete absence of any perceivable attributes.

(Opposite of phenomenon)


Independent Reality

Studies based on the idea that what things actually are, is independent of any observation or context.

(Distinct from Noumenology, which presumes the absence of anything to observe.)


What may be known about what may exist.

An Ontology is a description according to an inventory and a Taxonomy of entities that are deemed to exist.

(As opposed to a Metaphysical theory, which might attempt to explain or reason the fundamental existence and nature of those entities.)

Phenomenon (ology)

Appearance is Everything

Studies based solely on observation of the appearance of phenomena, independent of any underlying reality.

As opposed to Noumenon.

(WYSIWYG – If it quacks like a duck, etc …)


Literary Knowledge

Study of published literature in terms of linguistic knowledge and cultural history



Logical Reasoning is everything

Studies based on the idea that complex information is synthesised only from existing simpler facts by deductive reasoning. Observations may be analysed to test such information, but are not themselves true knowledge.

(See early Wittgenstein – “Tractatus – Logico-Philosophicus”.)


Casting Abstraction in Concrete.

Considering analytic or abstract relationship as though it were a concrete entity.

From Principia Cybernetica (Young, p. l09) The process of regarding something abstract as a material entity, Whitehead's "fallacy of misplaced concreteness," e.g., the mistake of confusing a system, which is a construct, with the physical entity described in its terms (see general systems theory). In social systems reification is encouraged by the use of language and underlies many processes of constructing social reality. (Krippendorff)


Multiple Viewpoints

Studies based on the idea that multiple (subjective) viewpoints can be valid simultaneously, and that there is no absolute god’s-eye-view.

(However, not all viewpoints can be equally valid in all contexts, otherwise this is a destructively recursive line of thinking.)


Gift of the Gab

Use of language (and the associated linguistic techniques of style and content), which is effective in persuading its recipients to understand, believe or act on the intended message, independent of whether the message contains or references any formal argument (dialectical logic or otherwise) to support it.

Often used pejoratively (empty rhetoric) to imply the absence of any such argument, despite historical roots of the term as a learned branch of philosophy or linguistics. Much vilified by the logical positivists since Aristotle / Plato et al. Implicit in the effectiveness of rhetoric is that the message in some way appeals to, or connects with, common sense or received wisdom already intrinsic in the receiver (observer). “I can believe that” or “That makes sense to me” without, or more likely before, any rationalisation of why.


Rules about Meaning

The rules about, or relationships between, what is actually meant (represented or signified) by some representation, and the representation itself, encoded or symbolic.



The Science of Semantics

The form and nature of meaning, and what makes things meaningful or significant.



Diagnosis by Inference

The study of what can be inferred from what is observed (originally medical). The study of how information, sensed as an apparent effect of a real world phenomenon (in context), relates to its objective (real) characteristics.



Logical Deduction

Deductive logical reasoning, normally from the general to the specific, involving two premises (one major and one minor) leading to a third conclusion. (See Dialectic)

Humans have two legs, I am a human, and therefore I have two legs.


Language Rules of Expression

The rules for valid structure (grammar) and symbols (words) used to express information in a given language or encoding implementation.



Classification Structure

That part of an Ontology concerned with structure according to the principles of classification of entities.