Dot Objects: Don’t Judge a [____] by its [____]

There’s an obscure concept (from an obscure field called semantics) that I find really fun to think with: Dot Objects. This post is an attempt to pull it out of that technical field and into, well, the community of people who read my blog. I think that semantics tools are fundamental for rationality and quality thinking in general—Alfred Korzybski, coiner of the phrase “the map is not the territory” and founder of the field general semantics, would probably agree with me. Note that I extrapolate a ton here, so (disclaimer!) don’t take anything I say as being true to the technical study of the subject.

So. Consider the sentence: “The university needed renovations, so it emailed its alumni to raise funds.” The university that has the alumni isn’t the one that needs the repairs. One is an organization, the other is a physical structure.

Dot objects are

entities that subsist simultaneously in multiple semantic domains.[1]

The name “dot objects” (also sometimes “dot types”) comes from the notation used in academic papers on the subject, which is X • Y where X and Y are the two domains. So the above example might be OrgPhy.

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