Hi Jehu, given the time since my last post here, I had thought the thread was dead. It is nice to know that someone is still thinking about it.
Regarding your defining an explanation as “a method of obtaining expectations from given known information”. I would argue first that you have not made the case that there is indeed any need to deviate from the conventional prescribed definition: “the act of making (something) clear or intelligible with detailed information”.
My purpose was to shift the essence of the definition from the unclear concepts, "clear", "intelligible" and "detailed information". With that definition, the question arises, exactly how does one know that an explanation is clear or intelligible and exactly what does that "detailed information" consist of. Let me point out an interesting characteristic of communications and the syntactic components of used to enable communication in general. There are three major components to any communication.
There are symbols (words, letters, pictures, sounds, gestures, ascII code, Chinese characters, Egyptian hieroglyphs etc.) all are intermediaries in communications and, if they are to be understood, they must first be learned
. Learning these symbols is exactly the same problem as is learning anything else. It should be recognized that the idea that one understands these symbols can no more be proved than one can prove any other theory. The assumption that the symbols are understood is only supported by the fact that, once we understand them, our interchanges via them make sense to us. That is, we no longer have to make adjustments to our understanding of them as we are no longer surprised
by their usage.
There are concepts (mental images together with the connections associated with those ideas). Concepts are totally internal to each of us. They are private in the sense that we can not directly deliver a concept in our head to another mind. We can name them via symbols and, if we have a sufficiently large collection of concepts already named via symbols and reasonably well understood, we can perhaps communicate the concept we have in mind to another. However, this other is required to learn
that concept. But it must be recognized that the fact that a concept has been communicated is an assumption. Again, this assumption is supported only by the fact that, once the concept is understood, usage of the symbol we have attached to that concept no longer surprises
us in our communications.
Finally, semantics generally includes a referent (real world object). This is supposed to be the actual thing being referred to. However, it must be recognized that it also is assumed. It is an element of our experiences and needs to be learned
. If a particular experience is repeated often enough, we will mentally develop a concept of that experience (we will learn it). That concept will include relationships with other experiences and, if the concept continues to be consistent with our experiences we will assume it is a referent to a real thing and not an illusion. Once again, the only support is the fact that we are no longer surprised
by the experiences associated with that referent. We “know” that experience and can recognize it.Lack of surprise
is the thread through all these learned
components. It is exactly that lack of surprise which is the key to our assumption that a specific thing is "clear". Likewise, it is "intelligible" if our expectations are in alignment with the information available to us. Finally, the "detailed information" is more accurately covered by the phrase "given known information" as that phrase includes both the detailed information ordinarily seen as necessary to the explanation and all other information ordinarily presumed to be known by the person learning the explanation.
I say this because, no one has as yet put forward any example that is not adequately accounted for within the scope of the commonly held definition, nor have you demonstrated why this definition is, in your opinion, inadequate, while it is found to be quite sufficient for the vast majority of English speakers.
As you must realize at this point, the only real difference between my definition and yours is a question of exactness.
Furthermore, I would argue that to diverge so far from the common meaning of a term would undermine the fundamental nature of language, for the meaning of any useful term is determined by its common usage.
If you hold that my definition is not in perfect alignment with the common usage, you must either give me an example of an explanation which yields no expectations or you must give me a chain of thought which yields expectations which cannot (under the common usage of the term) be thought of as an explanation.
Let me offer the following explanation. ... However, the only expectation that I can discern from the process, is the listener’s expectation that they will be supplied with the appropriate set of subsidiary concepts (or rather their designations) that are needed to create a comprehensive and coherent mental structure of their own.
I am afraid this section of your post is unclear. In particular, I do not understand your statement "'explanation' do not convey information" or, "for as you say, 'all the information is [already] known'". I do not remember saying any such thing.
Now, if I understand the intent of your paper, what you want to know is if the amalgamation of these subsidiary concepts into a single concept of a higher complexity, follows some “exact relationship”, that is to say, some law or first-principle. ... Or have I perhaps missed the point entirely?
My guess would be that you have missed the point entirely. The only conclusion I can currently reach with regard to your analysis is that you do not understand what I am deducing in that paper. Might I suggest that we go through the deduction step by step, pointing out, step by step, exactly what is meant by each statement as they arise. Perhaps, if we were to follow that approach, you might get a better idea of exactly what is being developed there. In other words, I think the only way to comprehend what is being deduced is to follow the deduction.
Looking to hear from you -- Dick