Every utterance is a form of behaviour. It is also a way of behaviour that attempts to prescribe (in the sense of pre-escrebere, or write before, or create a script for). The prescription attempt tries to create in the world some behaviour.
Unexpectedly, the general form of utterance is /I DO SOMETHING/. In other words, the general form of the utterance is a publicizing of one’s own behaviour. That is to say: the most basic communication level is a description attempt of the behaviour displayed by the speaker.
Communicating is a form of behaviour that abstracts behaviour. This means 2 things:
- an adequate environment is required: some form of common ground for the process must be enforced, for example a common language, the obligation to pay attention to the person speaking, a ban on random attacking each other, and so on.
- the cost of the various forms of abstracted behaviour are equivalent, and preferably lower than the behaviour itself (although the cost of the total process of maintaining the environment and speaking can be much bigger…). For example, saying /I WILL JUMP/ and /I WILL JUMP OVER THE BIGGEST TREE IN THE JUNGLE/ should be roughly the same difficulty.
Communication’s second level is fiction: a description of behaviour that is not actually displayed. The form is: /IF I DID SOMETHING/.
This is a further abstraction of the behaviour, and therefore the degree of freedom is bigger. In other words, the array of abstracted forms of behaviour is expressively enlarged. It includes, for example, talking about someone else’s behaviour, and about worlds that do not and will not exist.
The third level of communication is generalization. The form is /TO DO SOMETHING/. This way, one talks about categories of behaviour. Not only what one does or would do, but all the possible deeds. The abstraction going on is subtle. One is not directly adding to the array of speakable behaviours, but instead adding new ways to group those, and ways to speak about many behaviours at the same time.
Needless to say, language switches between all these levels at will. But it is important to notice that, as much as saying is still a form of behaviour, generalizing is still a form of fiction, and so on.
When one says: the law must be impartial, one is making a special kind of fiction — telling a story that is supposed to refer to all the possible outcomes of undisplayed behaviours, and those, in turn, refer to behaviours that are actually acted.
Pretty soon, fiction can start speaking about behaviours that will not be acted upon, just because it is speaking about seemingly infinite sets of behaviour. But the individual doesn’t dwell in infinities. That is to say, the abstraction do not need to be computable or understandable or even to make sense — it only needs an environment and a deduction of the inertia.
This taxonomy would greatly benefit from some further extending, where each of the levels would be split in sub levels, but the margin is too short.