Primitive terms and the limits of conceptual understanding

07 March 2016

Ignoring primitive terms leads to an infinite regress. The alternative is to account for an intuitive understanding (immediate insight) into the meaning of such terms. The current investigation proceeds on the basis of an idea of the structure of the various modes of being (modi/modalities) within which concrete (natural and social) entities function. Examples of primtive terms are given from disciplines such as mathematics, physics and logic and they are related to the general idea of a modal aspect. It is argued that primitive terms are not isolated but reveal their meaning only through their interconnections with other primitive terms that are embedded in other modal aspects. However, although primitive terms are found within the various aspects, the meaning of an aspect only comes to expression through its coherence with other aspects, evinced in modal analogies that are qualified by the core meaning of an aspect. There appears to be two options, either reduce what is irreducible or merely provide (partial) synonymous terms for given primitives. The former happens when other unique (primitive) terms are used to define a specific one and the latter when the attempted ‘definitions’ revert to terms with which the original terms could be meaningfully replaced. It is been pointed out that the coherence between primitives invites every academic discipline to account for the meaning attached to the analogies of primitive terms it is employing, without exploring this additional theme any further