Circularity of Definitions


Definition: surprise (someone) greatly; fill with astonishment

  Definition: surprise or impress (someone) greatly

Definition: (of something unexpected) cause (someone) to feel mild astonishment or shock

Shock (noun)
Definition: a sudden upsetting or surprising event or experience

Definition: causing unhappiness, disappointment, or worry

Definition: disconcert or confuse (someone)

Definition: disturb the composure of; unsettle

The definitions don’t address the root cause – why would someone be astonished?

The alert human is running a prediction on everything around them – that is a stick on the path, not a snake.

When the predictive process breaks down – the stick turns out to be a snake after all, or a mudslide occurs nearby, or a close relative turns out to be a monster, yes the effect is disconcerting.

The predictive process is disrupted and needs to be rebuilt. The amount of disruption will depend on the importance of an accurate prediction, and whether the amazement is good or bad.

“I am amazed you can read such small print” – no big deal.

“I am amazed the flood waters rose so quickly we almost drowned” – big deal – needs major adjustment of predictive models and emergency actions.

So, what is the definition for amaze?

Definition: surprise (someone) greatly; fill with astonishment; disrupt the protective predictive process of (someone)

Is that good enough? No, but it is a start to breaking circularity of definition. And we start to include cognitive states of the human.

Orion Design Note


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