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16 The power of communication

According to realists, reality ensures that people have similar concepts and can therefore communicate. Without such objective benchmarks communication would be impossible. In this chapter I show that a free floating system can be really stable under certain conditions. Just as the monetary system remained stable after leaving the gold standard thanks to constant exchange of value assessments, the human conceptual system is stable thanks to similar experiences, but especially through a continuous flow of communications. In particular, the use of language has exponentially increased the number of human concepts over the course of history.


16.1 The incomprehension of the realists

In chapter 4, it was found that Russell's vision leads to an unsolvable paradox because, according to him, a name refers to a physically existing person, while at the same time he has to admit that that particular name has a different meaning for everyone. The conceptual model solves this realistic paradox. At first glance, however, other fundamental questions seem to be introduced. How, for example, can two individuals communicate with each other if their concepts don't unambiguously correspond? How can I think about an notion if it can have a different meaning today than yesterday? Does the relativistic conceptual model not get caught up in a shanty and normless world of wandering subjects? Like Pouwel Slurink, a Dutch philosopher who is mainly occupied with the theory of evolution, in his book on the evolution "Ape seeks sentence" [1] beautifully formulated: "Ultimately, however, the world that surrounds us remains the last touchstone for the correctness of all our interpretations; if there is no common reality that connects and encompasses all perspectives, it does not make sense to discuss, then everyone is autist, trapped in his first-person loony bin."

Just like many realists, Slurink assumes that meaningful communication is only possible if concepts have the same meaning for everyone and meanings can not constantly change. In this view, the entire conceptual system of meanings in a community without fixed external reference frameworks can not be stable. In order to be able to discuss, it is necessary there is a common, external reality that connects and encompasses all perspectives, according to Pouwel Slurink and with him most realists. This also is the very essence of the aversion of many philosophers to any form of relativism. Reality and truth would then have no meaning, at any time everyone could state that his vision is the only right one, without an objective referee.

In his famous paradox, Zeno argued that Achilles can never overtake a turtle while running because he has an infinite amount of distance to bridge before he reaches the turtle. The logical problem was first solved in the seventeenth century when the infinitesimal calculus made clear how infinite sums could indeed yield a finite result. The entire paradox only appeared to be based on the incomprehension of the infinite. And just like Zeno's paradox, the realistic idea that concepts like 'truth' and 'reality' can't have a appropriate meaning in a relativistic system without material reality as a reference point, just arises from a lack of insight, in this case insight into dynamic systems.

In this chapter, I show that:

  • meaningful communication between people with individually different concepts is indeed possible under certain conditions
  • a free floating conceptual system without external, fixed reference points can be stable
  • various mechanisms ensure the necessary convergence in the human conceptual system.

Also will be shown one factor is essential to maintain a stable conceptual system, namely continuous concept development among all members of a community, which explains the psychologically powerful need for concept development, described in chapter 12.

16.2 Congruent concepts

In the conceptual model, a concept is the individual possession of one person. Yet every day people experience other people seem to have the same concepts at their disposal. If you and I talk to each other about an ice cream, the moon or a burn out, are not we talking about the same concepts? In principle not, a concept of person A is after all a connection of aspects of previous experiences in A's life and can not be exactly the same as any concept of another person, B. However, if A and B live in the same world (country, city, language, school, football club, family, marriage) they have gained much the same or very similar experiences. Thus, A's and B's concepts will correspond to a greater or lesser extent, contain similar types, thus be congruent.
Earlier I used the term congruency for related concepts of one person, which had a corresponding meaning in that context. Two concepts in my mind can be congruent, for example 'a football' and 'a basketball', if they have partly the same types. Here it's about concepts of two different persons, for example the concept that they both call 'football'. In this case the constituent types, formed from everyone's unique experiences in their past, can, although not exactly equal, show agreement too. In this case congruence does not mean two concepts contain similar types, but corresponding types. And here also applies congruence is stronger as the two concepts contain more similar types.

As said, when we talk to each other about a well-known concept, we experience our concepts as equal. That concepts of different people are nevertheless different shows the following example. A tourist, a student and an archaeologist talk to each other about the Pyramid of Cheops, what is only possible if all three possess a concept 'the Pyramid of Cheops'. The tourist visited the building during a holiday in Egypt, the student has just made a paper about it while the archaeologist is conducting scientific research into the position of corridors and spaces in its interior. In the conceptual model the meaning of a name is equal to the concept of which it is part and for which it is a complete realiser. That also applies to the name "Pyramid of Cheops", for all three persons that name is a complete realiser, which means that saying the name entails for each of them the realisation of their own concept 'pyramid of Cheops'. They can also talk about it because their concepts have sufficiently similar types. The pyramid is for all three a large stone mountain in the Egyptian desert, built as a tomb in the time of the Pharaohs.

That's why all three assume that they use the same term 'Pyramid of Cheops'. However, the concept of the tourist contains aspects of experiences and memories that the student does not have. He remembers how warm it was, how awesome the pyramid is when you stand close to it and the large number of tourists and camel drivers, leading to types such as warm, big, busy. The student, who has never been to the pyramid, does not possess these experiences, but has learned from books and the internet facts that the tourist does not know or has long since forgotten. Finally, the researcher has often been at the pyramid, which means he has both the experience of the tourist and the knowledge of the student, plus a lot of scientific knowledge about the pyramid. So you can conclude that the name "pyramid of Cheops" does realise concepts at all three, partly consisting of corresponding, partly of non-congruent types. In a Venn diagram:Diagram Cheops EN

The diagram contains three circles that indicate the types of which the concept 'Pyramid of Cheops' consists for the tourist, the student and the scientist. The grey middle section indicates the types all three have in common. So the name "Pyramid of Cheops" evoke at all three the realisation of a concept with consists partly of corresponding, partly of different types. Though, given the definition of meaning, the name in principle has a different meaning for all three, these meanings are such similar, have so many similar types in common, that they can communicate with each other, partly because of the fact they estimate what is communicable and what is not, which are common types and which are not. If the professor says to the tourist and the student: "I have to return to the Cheops pyramid for research, but I think it's too hot in the summer", they will understand it perfectly. If he says: "I want to examine the connection between 10-B and 7-S", then he speaks for them in riddles. He knows, however, who he is facing and will not reveal such a technical detail in their presence, he reserves this for conversations with colleagues. If he wants to communicate with laypeople, he must either explain his scientific knowledge or formulate it in terms of concepts congruent with the concepts they already possess. For example: "In the pyramid there are corridors that connect spaces and I want to find out if two of those rooms are connected to each other too. So far no such connection has been found, my hypothesis is it must be there".

16.3 Calibration to reality is problematic

Thus, for the possibility of communication between members of a community sufficient conceptual congruence must exist within that community. By which mechanism that convergence is been formed and maintained? For the philosophical realist it is simple, the material world is as it is and forms a conceptual benchmark for every human being. If I do not know exactly what a tree is, my understanding will automatically improve if I come across more trees or if people talk to me about trees. If I want to know very accurately, I look it up in an encyclopedia or consult professional literature. The real existence of material objects ensures the stability of the system in the realistic view, any conceptual error can eventually be corrected by the confrontation with the objects themselves.

A parallel can be seen when determining measurements and weights. In order to determine lengths, weights or time, in physics fixed standards are used as sharply defined as possible. If someone is insecure about the size he uses, in a laboratory it can be compared with the international standard size.
In ordinary life it's less easy. There is simply no standard tree his concept of 'tree' can be compared to . If there are doubts whether a certain thing is a tree or not, ultimately only the judgement of an expert or an encyclopedia can offer a solution. But how to know that this information is correct in case I do not know exactly whether it is a tree or a bush? Does exist such sharp definitions of the terms 'tree' and 'shrub' that in all cases it can be determined why? If that were the case, it would never be possible to find new intermediate forms, which has regularly been the case in biology.

The classic conceptual theory, generally accepted by philosophers, psychologists and linguists until about 1970, assumed that a concept is determined by its definition. A well-known example is the concept of a bachelor, which stands for an unmarried man. In other words, the BACHELOR concept consists of the two sub-concepts UNMARRIED and MAN. So the Pope, like all Catholic priests, would be a bachelor? What is unmarried? Can someone living in a mixed housing group who is formally not married, be called a bachelor?. And what exactly is a man? At the time one could think that there is a sharp distinction between men and women, today we know that all kinds of intermediate forms also occur.
Another known definition on which philosophers are biting teeth is the concept of KNOWING: CONFIRMED TRUE BELIEF. Here too, funny counter-examples have been devised. At five to twelve someone looks on a clock that stands still at five to twelve. He thinks it is five to twelve, for him it is a belief that is true and confirmed by the clock. But does he know that it is five to twelve? No, of course.

Here It is not the place to go deep into the conceptual theory as developed in the realistic vision since the 70's of the last century. The article Concepts by Margolis and Laurence gives a nice overview which clearly shows that within the framework of philosophical realism no variant is conclusive. The psychological approach, as described in The Big Book of Concepts[2] for example, according to writer Gregory Murphy himself, doesn't come to a conclusive solution either. It is assumed in these circles that, within the set frameworks, the right approach has not yet been found. What one does not see is that the realistic approach, in which concepts refer to things in reality, is itself fundamentally wrong. Within that framework no conceptual theory will ever be successful.

Maybe the idea of ​​calibration to reality for not human made material objects, such as trees, is problematic, it becomes even more difficult with objects made by people with a certain purpose, such as the definition of a chair in chapter 4. The dictionary completely misses out because ambiguity and a of a lack of clarity and can only be understood with the aid of a large number of subjective choices and interpretations. Even then literal substitution produces utter nonsense. This problem arises partly from circular references, but mainly because the meaning of an object in the case of objects made by people can't be described neutrally because of elements such as the intention of the maker and the function for the user. For example, one sees the problem with an ashtray. We know a lot of ashtrays, but if I smoke a cigarette and fold a piece of paper in such a way that I can dip my ash into it, then fold it up and throw it away, was it an ashtray too? Or if someone in nature makes a dimple in the ground with his heel in which he puts his ashes?

A large part of the human concepts, however, has no relation whatsoever to purely material objects, therefore can't be calibrated to any material reality at all. To what should notions as 'mother love', 'antisemitism', 'hope' or 'god' be calibrated? Or which objective definitions could be drawn up for such metaphysical concepts? And how to accurately define a complex notion such as 'the Second World War'? Of course, it concerns war acts between 1939 and 1945, but what exactly belongs and what does not belong to it? Should everything that happened in the countries involved in that period be counted to the war or only the military actions? Such concepts are such complex their limits can't be determined.
Though the realistic idea of ​​calibration of notions to reality seems obvious, it's ultimately a dead end.

16.4 Stability in a free floating system

In the conceptual model, the question to which concepts do refer is not meaningful, there is no external criterion for any concept whatsoever and moreover every concept is dynamic. Then the question arises, how the great convergence that is necessary to be able to communicate can be explained. Prior to this question it's worth considering how a system of dynamic concepts in a community can be stable at all if it lacks fixed criteria.

A corresponding situation occurs in the monetary world. Money originated historically to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. Within administrative units, coins, later also paper and nowadays digital money were released, which the members of those communities could use to determine the worth of goods and services. Initially the value of coins was related to the amount of gold or silver processed in the coin. Even with the introduction of paper money, it has long been attempted to maintain a more or less fixed reference for the value by linking the money to a quantity of gold, stored in the vaults of the central banks. In principle, everyone could exchange their paper money at the bank against a quantity of gold with the same value. However, this reference was not completely stable, in times when a lot of gold was supplied, for example after Portugal and Spain had discovered America, the value of gold and silver decreased considerably compared to other goods.

However, after in 1971 most Western countries have decided to abandon the gold standard, the value of a currency, both within countries and between countries, is free floating and only is determined by the trade between people. Someone has something for sale and asks a price for it. If he gets that amount easily, next time he will ask more for it. So he continues until it becomes difficult to sell his product, then he will lower his price. The opposite applies to the buyer, who will try to get his stuff for the lowest possible price. If he pays too much he loses unnecessary money, if he offers too little there is no seller who's willing to deliver. So when the price rises, turnover falls, and vice versa, a mechanism that is called negative feedback and has a powerful stabilising effect on the on relative values based system.

Another mechanism is possible too. Well known is the Tulpenmania who flowered in Holland from 1634 to 1637. Tulips were cultivated more and more exotic and became very popular in well-to-do circles. Traders bought tulip bulbs for ever higher prices because they could sell them at even higher prices. At the peak, one tulip bulb made as much money as the price of a fancy Amsterdam canal house. However, on April 3, 1637, the price suddenly began to drop, after which the entire trade collapsed completely in a matter of weeks and even the most beautiful tulips were virtually worthless. Such a situation in which increasing prices does not reduce turnover, but rather increases it, causes instability and sooner or later the collapse of the system, in which gigantic losses are suffered. One would think nowadays, thanks to many historical examples, people have become wise and no longer create such bubbles, though the reality is different.

Despite this, the financial system in general is fairly stable worldwide, not thanks to fixed benchmarks but due to a continuous stream of buying and selling actions that together have a stabilising effect on the valuation.
One can conclude from this that - relative - stability in a free-floating dynamic system is possible indeed.

16.5 The dynamics of the conceptual system

The question now is which mechanisms cause the conceptual stability, or what ensures the congruence between corresponding concepts of different people to be and remains sufficient to enable effective communication.
To answer that question, one has to consider how and when concepts change. As long as an individual concept is not realised, it remains more or less equal, i.e. consisting of the same types. Not quite, however. Without realisation, weakening of the types will occur over time, a process which will not proceed at the same speed for each type. Weaker types will have a shorter lifespan and thus disappear from a concept after a period of time, as a result of which the concept itself to some extend will change too. The most important types of the concept, however, the most powerful ones with the longest lifespan, will not disappear quickly, so while less important aspects weaken and may disappear completely, the concept will broadly remain the same thanks to the powerful types.

The most important changes of concepts, however, take place at the moments when they are realised. A number of constituent types will then be strengthened and new types can be added to a concept. A concept is realised by actualising a number of its constituent types. This can happen through sensory impressions, but also through the actualisation of non-sensory impressions, when one thinks of something, remembers something and the like. In the case of linguistic communication, the realisation of concepts already takes place when the name of the concept is mentioned or just thought, since the name is a complete realiser.

As described in Chapter 12, man has a strong tendency to behave in such a way that his concept development is sufficiently strong, for which he seeks out situations that can provide him with alternating, interesting impressions. He wants to continually gain and process impressions. And vice versa, if such impressions are lacking, he starts to dysfunction.
Chapter 9 identified five characteristics of concepts: discretion, strength, lifespan, sharpness and complexity. What does the human need for concept development mean in terms of these characteristics?

16.5.1 Discretion

If someone possess two congruent concepts, they will besides congruent types, contain a number of different types, thus be discrete. For congruent concepts of different people it applies the more because those concepts are built up from different life experiences. This is reflected, for example, in typing as nice and dirty. While two people may know the term 'apple', it's quite possible one person likes an apple and the other hates it. Yet people often strive to minimise this form of discretion, people usually want to join the opinion of others and people often try to convince others.

16.5.2 Lifespan and power

People create on the conveyor belt new concepts which usually disappear almost immediately. I see a couple of boys playing soccer on the street with an orange-coloured football. I notice and I look at it for a moment. An hour later I have forgotten the whole occurrence. If all concepts were to end in this way, I would hardly have any concepts, my mind would be empty. Long-lived concepts are essential for a stable conceptual system. I have defined the lifespan as the time that elapses between the creation of a concept and the extinction of it, if it has virtually no power anymore, if it no longer can be realised. So for a long life it is necessary the concept maintains sufficient strength. Its power depends, among other things, on psychological factors, such as traumatic experiences as mortal fear or the loss of a child, experiences which arrive so hard that the corresponding concepts life-long retain sufficient power.

But also a concept as little evocative as 'peanut butter' may have a long life for many people, even if they don't eat it themselves: the strength of the concept does not decrease thanks to regular realisation. Housemates who eat peanut butter every day, the supermarket the jars are seen and advertisements for peanut butter ensure frequent realisation of the concept. If you like it and eat it yourself every day, the effect is even stronger. But even only thinking about it may maintain the power of a concept for a long time. It is known that Dutch emigrants in the United States often feel a huge desire for syrup waffles, sprinkles and liquorice, a desire that becomes stronger the longer they have to miss it; visitors from the motherland is invariably asked to take this stuff with them.

For the stability of the conceptual system, powerful concepts with a long lifespan are necessary. These can only be maintained through concept development, either with the help of sensory experiences or with non-sensory thoughts, above all however thanks to a awful lot of communication.

16.5.3 Sharpness

A concept is sharper as it has fewer types in common with other concepts. Either, at an concept has to be clear what it is, but certainly also what it is not. For thinking and communicating, the occurrence of enough discrete, sharp concepts is essential, so it must be clear which types do and which do not belong to a particular concept. Take again the term 'hamburger'. One has the tendency to add everything experienced in connection with that, to his concept. So the name, the taste, the shape, the flesh character and so on. However, if the burgers are always baked in a pan, the pan itself must not become part of the concept. Although both have common types as the sound of frying, but otherwise the two concepts have to remain separate.

In this example it's is not very difficult, you can not eat a pan and a hamburger is not suitable for baking an egg, the concepts will have no tendency to flow into each other. Otherwise it's with concepts such as 'house' and 'villa'. Usually a villa is detached and luxurious and larger than a house. In any case, it is not a two-under-one-roof or terraced house. However, when I read advertisements from estate agents, there are a lot of villas, detached houses that are seen by ordinary people as homes. The corresponding conversations are well known. "Well, does he call that a villa? That way he can ask that price ". "It is something more than just an ordinary house, garden around and pretty luxurious". "Okay, but I would not call it a villa". Such conversations occur frequently in daily life, even small children are constantly trying to determine what a concept does and does not represent. They also correct adults: "No grandpa, that is not red, that is orange". Although in cases such as the hamburger it is possible to make and maintain the distinction between the burger and the frying pan exclusively by means of sensory experiences, in general communication is essential for achieving sufficiently sharp concepts, which sharpness is, as said, necessary for functioning of the conceptual system.

The conclusion is therefore:

16.5.4 For the functioning of the human conceptual system, a large collection of discrete, long-alive, powerful and sufficiently sharp concepts is a prerequisite.


16.5.5 This collection is created and maintained by a constant stream of both sensory and non-sensory experiences, and especially by communication.


16.6 Origin and retention of congruence

In order to communicate meaningfully with each other, the concepts of different members of a community has to be sufficiently convergent. The question is which experiences will ensure this. There are several:

  • Experiences of biological origin
  • Experiences with the material environment
  • Common experiences through life in groups
  • Communication-shared experiences

Experiences of biological origin
Experiences and emotions such as pain, hunger, thirst, fear, chest tightness and sexual attraction are inherited in the human being and lead to concepts that are frequently reinforced in everyone's life, thus leading to the corresponding concepts. For example the concept of 'hunger'. Mind you, there is the primary feeling of hunger that everyone knows, but that is not a concept in itself. In the mind, however, that feeling is connected with all kinds of types such as food, earlier hunger experiences as well the word "hunger", leading to the concept of 'hunger'. Because at experiencing a feeling of hunger everyone tries to eat and food is necessary to remain alive, the concept of 'eating' will necessarily contain a number of types common for everyone, apart of anorexic patients. Such biological laws apply to everyone and thus lead to similar concepts for all members of the species of homo sapiens, wherever they live in the world or under no matter what conditions.

Experiences with the material environment
Man receives impressions through sensory experience of what is called the material world[3], experiences that return again and again. Such sensory impressions of the environment are constantly being experienced in overwhelming quantities. Visual impressions are by far dominant, but auditory and touch impressions also form permanent flows.

Living in groups
Man has always lived in groups, which behavior, according to evolution biologists, is inherited from the ape people from whom the homo sapiens originated. The pure fact that people live in groups leads to common experiences. Initially those groups were small: families, families and tribes, in which many daily experiences were shared. Within groups they worked together in hunting, growing and preparing food, they ate together, experienced religious rituals, celebrated parties, conducted innovation rituals and defended themselves against enemies.
Thanks to modern means of communication, nowadays the groups within which one shares experiences are much larger.

Chapter 14 describes the impact of communication on the types of concepts we can create, varying from non-verbal communication to modern language use. Thanks to the use of developed language, the many complex concepts modern mankind uses can arise. Convergence is due to the three factors mentioned up here. But for the development of the enormous amount of contemporary concepts, experiences of biological or material origin or life in groups were far from sufficient. For the creation of it the development of communication, and in particular linguistic communication, was necessary. However, linguistic communication doesn't only generates new concepts, it also creates the necessary congruence within communities by constant communication by which concepts are adapted with other people's concepts. Just as the financial system obtains its stability through a continuous flow of financial interactions, people keep their concepts mutually congruent thanks to their constant drive for concept development and communication.

16.7 Does communication always lead to more convergence?

Suppose two people, A and B, speak to each other. If A mentions a name, for example "Cheops pyramid", there are various possibilities.

1. A mentions the name, while B has never heard of the pyramid.
What A says or could mean is completely unclear to him. B may respond with a question as: "What do you mean?" Maybe this doesn't work out, maybe both try to create the notion at B, for example with sign language, by pointing out things or by description using concepts known to B. When people speak different languages, they often go the same way, although the discussion partners possess corresponding concepts, they use different words. Learning a language according to the natural method is entirely based on this technique.
So, even if a name or indication is completely unknown to one of the discussion partners, communication can lead to convergence of their concepts.

2. A and B's concepts are somewhat congruent, so, in addition to many different, have a number of types in common. A mentions a name, B knows the name too and reacts on the basis of his own associations. A can place part of B's reactions, but not all. If A can't place some of B's associations and yet wants to communicate, then he tries other associations, with a different description. As soon as B's reaction seems familiar to him, A concludes that they understand each other. The more types they share, the greater the chance that they can recognise each other's responses and thus the communication succeeds. And, due to the conceptual dynamics, both A and B will add the types of the unrecognised associations partly to their own concept, causing their concepts become more congruent. The more they talk about it, the greater the congruence.
However, differences can also be strengthened. Suppose A and B both have a concept with the same name and with many similar types, except one type that differs considerably: TA and TB are opposite. If they communicate about the concept, A concept CA can be realised at A by actualisation of TA. But at B CA is not realised at all, he does not recognise it or does recognise it, but does not find it applicable in this context because his association is opposed. Then the concepts of both are strengthened, including those opposing types. "Do you remember that holiday in Sicily?" "It was really hot, wasn't it?" "Yes, delicious, better than the English cold". "How the hell can you say that, I nearly fainted from the heat, I will never go there on holiday again". "Well I do, I like a bit of warmth, it makes me be as good as new".

3. It can also go different. "Nice green is that baby stroller?" "What do you say, green? It's clearly blue. Astonishing you do not see that! " "Well, you are not looking closely, it's clearly blue! Maybe it's because of the light ". "Now that you say so, I have to admit that it is a bit between green and blue, but I still see it more as blue". Such a conversation can continue for a long time without speakers agreeing, or lead to doubt or even to agreement the colour really is between green and blue.

16.7.1 Thus communication has different effects. First, it meets the need for concept development. Secondly it generally increases the congruence between the concepts of those who communicate and lastly it's the cause of a considerable increase in the number of concepts with a strongly increasing complexity.

Today the concept of communication must be broadly understood. Apart from the fact that people still talk a lot with each other, first the written word and later all modern means of communication, through which image and sound go directly all over the world, have given a boost to the concept development and thus to the number of human concepts. Concepts that are created or strengthened as a result are only partly necessary to live physically and socially, the need for concept development goes much further. The number of contemporary cookbooks and cookery journals in magazines and on television with a constant stream of fashionable dishes and styles is not exactly necessary to get enough healthy food. Nor is it necessary to see many soap operas and films in order to function socially. Nevertheless, huge quantities of it are daily consumed.

In principle, man could focus on the consumption of as little energy as possible, in which case he would choose the easiest way to obtain food and otherwise rest and sleep as much as possible, just as cows. But the reality is contrary, people are constantly actively engaged in concept development: strengthening, renewing and expanding their available quantity of concepts. The result is an incredibly powerful conceptual dynamic that, especially in modern times with all mass communication tools, leads to unlikely many complex concepts shared in very large communities. Life in groups promotes the congruence of concepts and, thanks to modern means of communication, concepts are exchanged very quickly around the world. When in 2014 an Indian woman was raped and murdered by a group of men, the next day there was great outrage in the entire Western world.

16.8 Communication within and between groups

Meanings of concepts can differ in groups. Take the concept of 'homophilia' as an example. The phenomenon is, apart from small communities in gay bars in a few large world cities, not accepted society until the middle of the twentieth century. Love for one's own gender was known, but homosexuals often keeped their nature quiet and expressed their form of love only in a small, closed circle. Christianity and Islam strongly rejected the phenomenon, while Hindu writings ignored it by exclusively describing the love between men and women.
Roughly speaking, in the mid-twentieth century four groups can be distinguished:

  1. people with homophilic feelings who did not come forward them in any way
  2. homophiles who practiced homosexuality
  3. heterophiles who knew the phenomenon
  4. heterophiles who had never heard of homophilia.

The members of group a. were probably the most lonely, they could not communicate about their emotions with anyone. In that case they knew the feelings, but not the concept of 'homophilia'. Members of group b. practiced homophilic love and were only able to communicate about this with fellow species, so the associated concepts could only have a shared meaning within a small group of like-minded people.
In group c. the concept of 'homophilia' was known and, with regard to some aspects, it corresponded with the concept within group b. However, while for members of b. the concept was connected with types such as pleasure, delight and satisfaction of needs, such a connection was missing in group c. Their concept, on the other hand, sometimes contained types such as sinful, bad or dirty. At last, In group d. the whole concept was unknown.
Members of a. and d. did not possess the concept and could not communicate with anyone, while the concept within the groups b. and c. was known and congruent, through which communication within the group was possible, while there was an unbridgeable gap between the two groups that made mutual communication very difficult. If it did take place, it generally led to reinforcement of agreements, but often not to a reduction of the differences.

In the course of the twentieth century, a turnaround occurred in a number of western countries, possibly in connection with the reduced role of religions. The concept of homophilia was gradually more discussed, with the result that people moved from group a. to group b. Members of b. openly came out of their nature, came out of the closet, as it was called. Members of c. became more open to the human and emotional aspects of the concept and members of d. moved to group c. because the phenomenon was discussed more. A development that, despite objections from the church, continued and strengthened communication both between and within groups, thus increasing the congruence between the different concepts. The division into four groups is of course schematic, the proportions were and are much more complex, but in general the outlined movements are characteristic.
It makes clear that the congruence of concepts, and therefore the possibility of meaningful communication, is strongly group dependent. The - sometimes dramatic - consequences are seen daily in the world news.

16.9 Conclusion

A stable and convergent conceptual system is necessary for effective communication within groups. For this, experiences of biological and material origin carry care while also life in groups increases the congruence within these groups. Without mutual communication, however, the concepts would be limited to the most primitive and many of the current human concepts could not exist. Even primitive non-verbal communication already creates a number of conceptual possibilities, but it wasn't until the homo sapiens developed modern verbal communication with the help of language, the number and complexity of its concepts could grow exponentially. However, the huge collection of complex concepts on which contemporary society is based, must be maintained.

One could imagine that man uses as little energy as possible to live. As soon as he has finished his food he would be able to lie down until the next meal, much like cows do. But man is not built like that, without continual flow of alternating impressions, he soon gets bored very badly and may even fully functionally and mentally dysfunction. As a solution, he chooses to be busy all day about everything. Even if he is tired in the evening, he is still watching television.

Cows show that such behaviour is not necessary to live. Evolutionary biologists have a tendency to reduce everything we do to our origins in the African steppes, where we constantly had to be on our guard to not get captured and consumed by wild animals. And of course nowadays we are still very active when we feel threatened. But by far most of our conceptual activities have nothing to do with feelings of fear and insecurity. Also the urge to procreate can not be the cause. Like bulls, men could easily pounce and fertilise women. No, man creates, especially in the last few centuries, a huge fuss about reproduction, experiences of love and pleasure are thousandfold subject in novels, newspapers and films. The complexity of his concepts is even extended so far that psychological problems can arise that in earlier centuries, when people mainly had to deal with basic methods of survival, were not or much less known.

If intensive concept development costs energy and is not necessary for the survival of the human species in its primitive origins, why are we doing so difficult? The statement seems clear. Through communication within a group, more complex concepts arise in that group that increase the effectiveness of action by the members of the group and thus of the group itself. Subsequently, more communication is possible with the help of those more complex concepts: a self-reinforcing process, so far without end, that brought humanity to the current level of civilisation.

In almost every area, humans can do less than much higher animal species. But thanks to his ability to communicate, unlike the animals, he has developed a conceptual power that more than compensates for his other limitations. Concept development is essential for its preservation, so that the urge to do so must have been a positive hereditary selection factor. The development of language skills has given a great boost to this process, creating the possibility to develop very complex abstract concepts. This required enlarged brains and a language production and reception system. However, the fact that these biological factors have remained more or less constant for the last ten thousand years while our conceptual content has grown exponentially in the same period makes it clear that it is a constantly reinforcing process, sustained thanks to a strong drive for concept development.

Realists believe that the stability and communicability of our concepts can only exist thanks to the surrounding material world as a benchmark. It is clear, however, that communication alone is sufficient for the development of a stable and convergent conceptual apparatus and that man has built-in mechanisms for its maintenance. Even if the realists were right, their thesis would only go for the most primitive concepts. But the world of modern man does consist of by far the largest part of complex concepts created by humanity itself which in no way refer to material objects. And even around material objects, complex concepts have been developed that far exceed the significance of those objects themselves.
In response, philosophers have postulated the metaphysics with non-material objects to which these concepts would refer. That world of non-material objects, however, exists only in their minds and has no other function than the maintenance of a faulty world view.

I conclude:

16.9.1 The focus on and urge for concept development has brought man a conceptual system that has compensated for his shortcomings compared to other animals and therefore has been an evolutionary advantage


16.9.2 The development of language skills has led to a self-reinforcing process that has exponentially increased both the number of human concepts and their complexity over time.


[1] Aap zoekt zin, pg. 13, Pouwel Slurink
ISVW Uitgevers, Leusden 2014

[2] The Big Book of Concepts, Gregory L. Murphy
MIT Press, 2004

[3] It seems I still use the realistic conception of the material world. In later chapters it will become clear that 'matter' and 'reality' are concepts like all others, without reference to a underlying realistic world.