Lacking concepts to make unknown ideas visible (prior abstractions for grasping data)

The problem of hypocognition

EXCERPT: . . . Hypocognition, a term introduced to modern behavioral science by anthropologist Robert Levy, means the lack of a linguistic or cognitive representation for an object, category, or idea. The Martinique islanders were hypocognitive because they lacked a cognitive representation of refrigeration. But so are we hypocognitive of the numerous concepts that elude our awareness. We wander about the unknown terrains of life as novices more often than experts, complacent of what we know and oblivious to what we miss.

[...] Hypocognition is about the absence of things. It is hard to recognize precisely because it is invisible. To recognize hypocognition requires a departure from the reassuring familiarity of our own culture to gain a grasp of the unknown and the missing. After all, it is difficult to see the culture we inhabit from only within.

Consider this: how well can you discern different shades of blue? If you speak Russian, Greek, Turkish, Korean or Japanese, your chances are much better than if you speak English. [...] The deprivation of finer-grained color concepts poses a great perceptual disadvantage. English speakers more easily confuse blue shades, not because we have poorer vision, but because we lack the more granular distinctions in the language we speak.

Hypocognition also lies in the muddle of emotional experiences that we encounter but fail to explicate. [...] But no single emotional repertoire can encapsulate the multitudes of emotional experiences humanity has developed. Picture this scene:

A man acts clueless and clingy to get his wife to cook breakfast for him, even though he knows she is in a hurry. She cooks for him anyway. What is the man feeling? The wife reciprocates by arranging a private social outing, making her hubby obligated to come along. The man comes along anyway. What is the wife feeling?

The emotion in play is amae, which you, like us, might have a difficult time parsing, unless you were brought up in Japanese culture. [...] Amae, an emotion with no equivalent counterpart in English, may feel befuddling and Machiavellian to a Western mind. But it makes perfect sense to the Japanese. [...] It is the cement of social relationships in Japan.

Perhaps herein lies the greatest peril of hypocognition. It is facing a concept that captures something we cannot fathom, an exotic emotion we cannot grasp, a certain idea that arouses in others fervor and enthusiasm but strikes us as nothing but foreign and bizarre, a certain principle that must, against our own reason, be unreasonable.

Amid pitched political battles, partisans see only the concepts associated with their own side, hypocognitive of the principles that support the judgments of their ideological opponents.

[...] If hypocognition impoverishes our knowledge and understanding, how do we become free of it? The attempt to reduce hypocognition should be a delicate pursuit, because going too far against hypocognition makes us vulnerable to its opposite—hypercognition. To suffer from hypercognition is to over-apply a familiar concept to circumstances where it does not belong. [...] And who are most likely to fall prey to hypercognition? Experts. Experts who are confined by their own expertise. [...]

(Aug 16, 2018 06:56 PM)C C Wrote: Amid pitched political battles, partisans see only the concepts associated with their own side, hypocognitive of the principles that support the judgments of their ideological opponents.

Only a problem for leftists, who over-prioritize care and fairness in the five moral foundations, while conservatives are sensitive to all five.

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