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How to Create a Map of Concepts

There's no need to think too hard

When thinking about how to explore a new continent, it's sometimes worthwhile examining the neighborhood one block over : There's great data already at your fingertips. One of the reasons that New York City is a fascinating place is that it is a (rather condensed) microcosm of the entire globe.

In digging deeper into the structure of the brain, it is often tempting to throw up ones hands in despair : How can one understand all the complexity hidden inside, when there is no map? And even if there were a map, surely the map would consist largely of links between special 'internal concepts' that have no direct correspondence to what humans understand in the outside world?

But let's not be too quick to resign ourselves to only superficially understanding how the brain is organized internally. We already have a map of suitable concepts at hand : The map created by the set of words in our own language.

Language affects the way you think

Words already map the correct chunks of the world to focus on:

  • Lines, curves, surfaces
  • Bodies, arms, hair
  • Face, expression, attitude
  • Point-of-view, opinion, idea

The simplest possible hypothesis is that there are precisely zero 'internal concepts' that are inaccessible to ordinary linguistic description.

The building blocks of the brain correspond to things that we can express directly. We already have the right elements for the map : our own language(s).