The Model as Mediator


In Model is the Message, (Berlin: &&&), 2023. Link

A model may be a message,[1] yet it can only attain such semantic status because of its function as an intermediary for cognition. Messages (or semantic inferences) are enabled by models because they provide a practical opportunity for the interaction of representation and reasoning.[2] The meta-message of modelling is that concept-making is facilitated through the displacement of thought from an individual human mind, while simultaneously disentangling the activity of reasoning from a strictly classical logical scheme (following deductive or inductive axioms).[3] In this way, models can be described as vehicles for transporting cognizing agents into other spaces of reason, from which to draw inferential commitments and consequences according to those alter-frameworks. In shifting the discursive focus of models from the belabored relation between representation/formalization and reality, to procedures of reasoning, not only are practice-based accounts of concept-making opened, the process of discovery gets dislodged from narrations of utter ineffability. The meta-message of the model is that its artificial status may furnish us with realist proxies with regards to thought in the mode of discovery itself; that is, on how thought from without canonically sanctioned frameworks is, and can be practiced in nontrivial ways. While not all models yield discovery and the parameters for adjudicating novelty are disciplinarily distinct, a significant meta-message of modeling points to an indisciplinary ways of constructing conceptual transits from entrenched over-determinations governing habits of thought, the repetition of which ingrains “epistemological obstacles”.[4]

[1] Benjamin Bratton and Blaise Agüera Y Arcas, “The Model is the Message,” in Noema Magazine, 2022.
[2] Nancy J. Nersessian, Creating Scientific Concepts, (Cambridge MA, MIT Press, 2008), 10.
[3] Ibid., 11.
[4] Gaston Bachelard, The Formation of the Scientific Mind, trans. M. McAllester Jones, (Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2002), 24.

Patricia Reed, "The Model as Mediator", in Model is the Message, (Berlin: &&&), 2023. Link