Surface structure

Within NLP we make a distinction between the surface structure and the deep structure. The surface structure are all symbols and signs that we can perceive. Basically this boils down to our language. The deep structure is what the symbols refer to. Normally we would call this reality.

Only as Creators ! — It has caused me the greatest  trouble, and for ever causes me the greatest trouble, to perceive that unspeakably more depends upon what things are called, than on what they are. The reputation, the name and appearance, the importance, the usual measure and weight of things — each being in origin most frequently an error and arbitrariness thrown over the things like a garment, and quite alien to their essence and even to their exterior — have gradually, by the belief therein and its continuous growth from generation to generation, grown as it were on-and-into things and become their very body; the appearance at the very beginning becomes almost always the essence in the end, and operates as the essence! What a fool he would be who would think it enough to refer here to this origin and this nebulous veil of illusion, in order to annihilate that which virtually passes for the world— namely, so-called “reality”! It is only as creators that we can annihilate! — But let us not forget this: it suffices to create new names and valuations and probabilities, in order in the long run to create new “things”.

Gay Science paragraph 58

Scientific precision is achievable first in the case of the most superficial phenomena, in other words where things can be counted, calculated, touched, seen, where quantities can be ascertained. Thus, the most impoverished fields of existence were the first to be fruitfully cultivated. The demand that everything must be explained in mechanistic terms is the instinctive idea that it’s precisely there that the most valuable and fundamental insights are first reached: which is a piece of naivety. In fact, nothing that can be counted and grasped is worth much to us: what we cannot reach with our ‘grasp’ is what we consider ‘higher’. Logic and mechanics can only be applied to what is most superficial, and are really only an art of schematizing and abbreviating, a coping with multiplicity through an art of expression – not an ‘understanding’, but a designating in order to make oneself understood. Thinking the world as reduced to its surface means above all making it ‘graspable’. Logic and mechanics never touch on causality.

Notebook 5, summer 1886 – autumn 1887 paragraph 16

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