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The Modern Generalist
 
  Procedural Techniques
 

 

Terms and Notes
 

Spreading out the Stages of Development
Naming Factors
Defining

 

 
Spreading out the Stages of Development

 
 

It usually happens that when initially looking at a developmental situation it is a condensed version that is first considered. For instance, with repeating cell division there is the initial view at the level of the cell itself. It grows, and divides, and grows and divides. Through a microscope additional developmental staging can be seen. The growth stage, interphase, shows little cellular activity other than growth. The division stage, though, can be seen to have two parts, mitosis, in which the nucleus of the cell divides, and cytokinesis, the actual division of the one cell into two cells. These two parts are the M phase. The interphase and the M phase can be seen directly, as can the series of changes to the nuclear constituents during mitosis.

 
 

Closer analysis, at the molecular level, reveals that the interphase has three parts. The cell’s DNA must be replicated prior to the division of the nucleus in M phase, and this takes place during a part of interphase called S phase. The other two parts of interphase occur before and after the replication of the DNA, and are called G 1 phase and G 2 phase. During both there is a great deal of cell-division sequence activity taking place. More detailed molecular analysis reveals what is called the cell-cycle control system. The cell division sequence has two parallel, interacting, biochemical existential-pathway-developments, that of the DNA and the associated molecules that manipulate it, and that of the cell-cycle control system. The control system is a separate sequence of molecular interactions that control the molecular processes that are actually involved with the cell division sequence such as DNA replication and mitosis. Each of these developmental pathways has its own sequences of molecular reactions, with various stages of the one controlling the stages of the other.

 
 

Even closer analysis shows that the development involved with the cell division sequence consists of many biochemical reaction sequences. If these are flow charted, the result is a complex braid of interrelating developmental pathways. Every reaction, every interaction between molecules along these pathways, is a stage of the development of the situation, and it is here at each of these transitions from stage to stage that structural logic plays its roles.

 
 

When a modern generalist comes across a condensed view of a developmental situation, there is a sense of unease—the structural logic is not evident. Immediately the generalist begins the process of spreading out the stages of development, looking for the structural logic, the why of the development. With a modern generalist, spreading out the stages is automatic, a habit of mind.

 
 

Spreading out a development generally maps many stages that have not previously been labeled or named. Because every stage is a factor in that it plays a role in a larger context or in further development, and is thus significant in the process of following the structural logic of development, every stage requires a label or a name of some sort. In alignment with the generalist goals of accuracy and practical utility, the names given to these stages should be descriptive in nature. The name should point the mind in one way or another toward the reality referent of the name, to the specific stage to which it refers. The name, then, should be derived from some intrinsic quality of the stage.

 

Naming Factors

 
 

Because generalists tend to look at everything, and because they look at each individual thing in relation to everything else, whatever can serve to identify the intrinsic nature, location, or relations of a factor is of great practical utility. Labels and names serve this purpose in analysis, description, and communication. When generalists spread out the stages of development, they find that many of the stages have not been previously labeled. Something similar occurs when a generalist maps out the stages of the development of a general factor. Each stage is distinct, with intrinsic qualities it does not share with the other stages. This means a generalist has to expect that the roles of each stage will also be distinct in one way or another. In description and discussion it is necessary to differentiate the stages to clarify which roles are occurring in a particular situation. But it often happens that not all the individual stages have received names. A generalist, then, is faced with the necessity of providing names for a lot of factors.

 
 

When naming a factor it is best to use the term that applies to the simplest form of the factor, the form it has in its first development-of-origin in the general development of reality. In this way the term always applies to the factor no matter what its stage or level of development because all developed forms are based on the pattern of organization of the basic form. The name can be different at developed stages based on additional factors intrinsic to those stages, but the meaning must still contain that of the original term. It is inappropriate to label an earlier stage or lower level with a term that refers to a later development when the prior stage does not have as components of its intrinsic nature the components of the later stage that the term refers to.

 
 

It is important that these names direct the mind to some aspect of their reality referents. They are more useful and easier to remember that way. Arbitrary names or labels, such as alpha, 23k6P, or Hansen’s disease, require rote memorization and are hard to keep track of when numerous—and the number of names a generalist must keep track of is much worse than numerous. The very nature of the name must tell the generalist something. At least disease indicates that it is an illness related factor. The word Hansen, however, is wasted in that it indicates neither what kind of disease it is nor what part of the body it affects, or even whether it is an illness of horses or armadillos.

 
 

Simple enumeration always becomes a quagmire of renumbering as missed stages are discovered. Abbreviation is useful and often necessary. Some names are quite long, consisting of many words. It is best to shorten them to two or three words when they are repeated in description and discussion, as long as it remains clear what the reality referent is. Sometimes long names can be reduced to letters and numbers, for example CDK4, cyclin-dependent kinase, a molecule involved in the cell division processes. There are not very many known CDK’s, and they have been given numbers to differentiate them. In this case the numbers do not mean anything about the molecules, and serve only to distinguish them. Numbers or codes can also be attached to names and abbreviations as tags to be looked up in data bases, in which case they are serving a locator function.

 
 

Defining

 
 

There are two basic types of defining. One is creative in that to varying degree the definition results from decision, for example, deciding on the rules for a game, or deciding what a term will mean in some special context, such as law. This form of defining plays an important role in the social and cultural context. The other is defining by description. This is both a process describing something that exits, and of differentiation between that something and other things that exist. It is a matter of recognition rather than decision.

 
 

As used by a modern generalist, the second type of defining follows the prime imperative of the accurate analysis of the intrinsic nature of reality. Look to reality itself. Let the nature of reality dictate the nature the understanding of reality. Let the nature of what is being defined by way of description dictate the content of its description and the manner in which it is differentiated from other things. A term and its definition then serve as arrows directing the mind to the reality referent of the term.

 

 

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©2004 Vincent Vesterby