REPRESENTING CONCEPTUAL STRUCTURE
Theodor H. Nelson
Why represent conceptual structure? For different reasons - to persuade; to teach; to represent shared understandings (today's ontologies); to improve thought processes (once an objective of logic); or simply to understand particular systems of ideas. These different needs may take us in different directions.
Standard logic allows us to represent only consistent and well-formed structure; but we must also consider how to represent uncertainties, ambiguities, vagueness, unresolved states, layering. It may be that new soft logics will be required.
We can represent conceptual structure with diagrams, formalisms, and of course writing itself; as well as with new forms of screen visualization. But there are no neutral representations. Every form of representation acts as a polarized viewer which reinforces and hides particular connections, generalizations and insights. However rigorous-seeming, all formalizations share this problem.
As in many areas, there may be no one answer - except sophisticated understanding of the breadth of the problem.