Talk:Mistaking the map for the territory

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"Mistaking the map for the territory is a logical fallacy that occurs when someone confuses the semantics of a term with what it represents. A similar term is "reification", where abstractions are taken to be a real thing."

Both the definition cited at the end of this sentence and the general definition of 'reification' as far as I am aware make specific reference to the idea of producing external realities on the basis of initially or generallly false beliefs. (ie: A widespread faith in the intrinsic value of a ticket of generalized exchange value 'reifies' it into a desired commodity that can then be exchanged for other materials as if it had the kind of intrinsic value those observing it are attributing to it.) This is notably different from the relevant concept of mistaking semantic labels for actual instances of what they refer to, not to mention rather misrepresented by the summarizing sentence above. I'm thinking it should be removed?

--King Curtis Kong (talk) 18:05, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

Formal systems and interpretation[edit]

I am hesitant to approve this section as it is, primarily because it presents its subject as overly complicated. Below is an attempt to improve the section. It makes better sense to me, but, you know...UncleKrampus (talk) 19:46, 17 August 2021 (UTC)

Formal systems and interpretation[edit]

One very formal example can be shown in the system L or "pq-system", a model formal system introduced by Douglas HofstaderWikipedia as an introduction to formal systems and the requirement of form — indeed, the requirement of form is one way of expressing that "mistaking the map for the territory" is a fallacy. The set L is composed of strings of characters p, q and - in a prescribed order. Valid strings, or formulas contain one each of "p" followed by "q" with zero or more hyphens before, between and after p and q. The axioms of the system look like . Algebraically the formulas, or theorems, look like where , and are each a finite series of hyphens. There is only one rule for constructing formulas from given ones: if is a formula of L, then is also a formula of L. Demonstrations.wolfram - PQ System Explorer It is important to note that L remains undefined until we stipulate at least one initial member m = with defined hyphen sequences which may then by used to generate an infinite number of formulas in L.

Starting with any combination that is an axiom and applying the rule, a collection of valid strings can be generated. The simplest axiom is pq, and applying the transformation rule generates p-q-, p--q--, p---q---, etc. Another simple axiom would be where x and y are single hyphens, and z comprises two hyphens e.g., -p-q--, resulting in the sequence -p--q---, -p---q----, and -p----q-----, etc. Thus, presuming we are operating in a system isomorphic to one that describes the simple addition of natural numbers N we may conclude, for example, --p--q---- is valid, and ---p-qp--p is not. Similarly p-q- is valid, --p--q-- is not. In the context of the fallacy, both the valid strings and the rules comprise the actual "territory" we are exploring.

What can be seen from looking at valid strings is that they all contain a "p", a "q" and three sets of hyphens that seem related. An interpretation (in the context of the fallacy, the "map") can be built from these observations. Hofstadter intentionally designed the pq-system to mimic the addition rule of mathematics: simply by substituting p for "plus" and q for "equals" and it becomes clear that the strings that have good form and satisfy the conditions of the system (the theorems) generate true mathematical statements. --p---q----- is valid (generated from the axiom --p-q--- through two transformations), and it forms the equation when translated by this interpretation. It must be noted that L may not be presumed to be a complete isomorphic description of natural addition, though the previous argument appears to do so, in the sense that every formula is a member of L when the number of hyphens in x and y add up to the number of hyphens in z.

Consider the statement "--p--q-- is not a valid theorem because running the transformation rule backwards produces --pq, which does not satisfy the axiom condition, and results in the translations, and which are not true statements for natural numbers" (but would be true in arithmetic modulo 2). Once this interpretation becomes a map, it's easy to forget about the rules and axioms of the formal system and depend upon the interpretation, which because L may be incomplete, is already a mistake. one might conclude, using our map to work backwards, that "the expression is a true statement, therefore the formula --p---q----p- must be a valid string of the pq-system". This would be true if the product L X L were contained in L. But it isn't. This may seem obvious in such a contrived and designed system, but it is there to specifically illustrate that the interpretations cannot be used in this way; a map corresponds to a territory, but the inverse doesn't hold in all situations. Nevertheless, on the bright side, the mental process of interpretation as shown here suggests a modification of language forms from pigeon (L) to a kind of creole (LXL). That is to say, the formulas extrapolated make sense even though they do not belong to the original language L.

God example is not accurate[edit]

To quote the page "Although he used "God" (the map) this doesn't represent a personal, religious figure, but merely a poetic metaphor for physical laws of the Universe (the territory) — thus, conflating the two is mistaking the map for the territory"

This is not right, he is claiming that conflating two things is the same thing as map and territory fallacy, that's not true. Map and territory fallacy is not just about conflating anything. It is when you mistake a representation of something to be that thing. This example is in error.

I think when people misunderstand Einstein's use the word God, that it is just a semantic mistake, specifically equivocating Einstein's use of the word "god" to mean exactly what the theistic Judaeo-Christian word "god" means. But no religious person thinks that God is the "map" or a representation of the universe. So the example here doesn't make sense, the religious person who misuses Einstein's quotes isn't making a map and territory fallacy, they are just conflating terms. A map and territory fallacy would be like a person thinking that the bible (the book itself) is god. The bible is a representation of God's nature, but it is not god himself. No theology I am aware of says that God is a map for the universe. That doesn't make sense in general, because if God is the thing that created the universe (in their belief system), then it certainly isn't a representation of the universe. Right? For example, a mountain doesn't create a map of itself.


Is this really an example of mistaking the map for the territory? I would have thought it just indicated that some people don't understand the definition of "peer". Nevertheless if it is an example, then the same argument could be made for "theory", or, indeed, any example of equivocation.Bob"Life is short and (insert adjective)" 08:34, 8 June 2023 (UTC)

If nobody cares then I'll just delete it later.Bob"Life is short and (insert adjective)" 09:07, 9 June 2023 (UTC)

Constructs are real[edit]

And like in many other pages, they should be a positive example of when this is mistakenly assumed to be a fallacy (ie. the map actually can help to reveal still-inaccessible features of the territory).
Marxists in particular talk big shit about "reification" (a word itself with an atrocious history that should be banned) from their high ground where psychology and unobservables only exist selectively with their mucho "materialism". --Mirh (talk) 23:05, 31 March 2024 (UTC)

What do you mean by "atrocious history"? Ioe bidome (talk) 00:38, 1 April 2024 (UTC)
I mean that whoever decided to translate the original german term in the 19th century, somehow (rather than using the modern day equivalents of the words) decided to go with an OG latin root. And perhaps for english speakers *all* words descendant from it sound just as equally exotic and pompous, but I'll tell you it takes some skilful rascal to come up with something that can puzzle even an italian. Like, I'm sure that realification, thingification and even objectification (which back then wouldn't have had the meaning it has now) weren't already taken?
And while I was writing this, I came to an even greater blow: last time I checked, among commoners that don't care to appear posh, "pretending something is real even though it isn't" (abstraction or not, whatever that even means) was called making it the fuck up. Reification is a reification. --Mirh (talk) 20:27, 2 April 2024 (UTC)
The fact that a word is pompous doesn't mean it should be banned. Ioe bidome (talk) 21:21, 2 April 2024 (UTC)
I thought "atrocious history" meant it originally had racist implications or something, not that it was derived from latin.Ioe bidome (talk) 21:26, 2 April 2024 (UTC)
(EC)I think of abstraction as translating to the general, to remove particulars, to speak of as hypothetical. To talk of an abstract system is to talk of something like math or logic. The only way that entails unreality is if you reject the existence of abstract entities like some sort of nominalist. - Only Sort of Dumb (talk) 21:31, 2 April 2024 (UTC)
Not sure if that was supposed to agree with me or not, but obviously? this monicker has never been historically applied to mathematics. The only other possible interpretation (still in the realm of the physical world, yet not concerned with the ontological status of the treated objects) is if it was just a synonym for "mislabelling".. but of course it was never sold this way. --Mirh (talk) 21:47, 8 April 2024 (UTC)
No, but needless complexity is always a red flag. And in this case I think I was onto something about its overall legitimacy. These are some good examples of mistaking the map for the territory, but attacking an abstraction just "as such" (as opposed to being more or less useful/coherent/valid to begin with) sounds like the dumbest of category mistakes. --Mirh (talk) 21:47, 8 April 2024 (UTC)