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Abstracting

Module 3

Coca-Cola adds life

In general we haven’t provided answers because there are no single correct answers to the exercises.  However, we feel that an example of what we have in mind is in order:

Imagine an ad for Coca-Cola.  It has a picture of a sweating bottle of Coke, a sweating model in a bikini, and the slogan “Coca-Cola adds life.”  The ad seems to be promising, or at least implying, that one will gain “life” (by this they presumably mean zest, energy, or something along these lines) and the model (or someone like her, perhaps she is a part of the added “life”).

Now let’s look at the actual process of drinking a Coke using the Structural Differential.

On the Event (Process) level:

For the purposes of this exercise we will gloss over events at the atomic and subatomic level while not forgetting that they occur.  We have a number of molecules, atoms bound to each other by covalent bonds (mostly H20, Sugars (Carbohydrates), Caffeine, CO2, and Phosphoric Acid) which constitute the Coca-Cola, encased by glass (made up mostly of silicon with various other elements and molecules possibly added in production or having been in the raw materials).  These molecules are poured into the lattice of molecules which constitutes your mouth.  Some of them interact with molecules on your tongue.  A few make their way into your nose, interacting with sensory molecules there.  A few more may interact with molecules in your cheeks, teeth, or saliva.  Eventually these molecules exit the mouth and reach the stomach, where they interact with the various molecules, including enzymes, of your stomach juices.  From there, they are mostly drawn into the bloodstream where they bond with various blood cells and are carried to various organs, including the brain.  Here, the caffeine and sugar molecules bond and interact with various molecules (cells, neurotransmitters, etc.) in the brain (and affect your brain chemistry, including of course your abstracting).  (This is Level I in the Process of Abstracting.)

On the Object Level:

You take the bottle of Coke in your hand.  You raise it to your mouth, and sip, suck, or swig an amount of Coke, swallowing it.  You perceive this via signals which travel from the tips of the nerves involved to your brain:  from your hand which grasps the bottle, from your lips and mouth which feel the Coke entering them, from your throat which feels the Coke being swallowed, from your taste buds and nose by which you smell and taste the Coke.  The mapping of this event by your nervous system corresponds to the strings from the parabola to the circle (Level II) and your immediate perception of this corresponds to the circle (Level III).  Notice how much detail has already been left out.

On the Descriptive Level:

While you would probably not verbalize it as such (at least, not too often), this would correspond to the thought or statement, “I am drinking a Coke,” as well as any other immediately descriptive statements regarding the action (e.g. “it’s nice and chilly,” “it’s not fizzy enough,” etc.)  Again, notice all the detail that is left out by these statements (lifting your arm, specific tastes and smells, etc. – this is Level IV in the process; and the first of the rectangles).

On the Inference Levels:

Now we get to our descriptions of/thoughts of this whole process.  This is the stage where inferences, impressions, and suchlike begin to take effect.  This is where you might think “I feel better,” or “I feel more vivacious,” or “this tastes good,” etc., perhaps even “I have more life in me!”  However, you have not added “life”.  You have added some chemicals (sugar, caffeine, water, carbon dioxide) to your body chemistry which may make you feel more “up” for a period of time.  If you are drinking the coke, however, for survival or to extend your lifespan (or to get the beautiful model in the ad), you are most likely to be disappointed as you won’t be getting proper nutrition, won’t be adding years to your life (and quite possibly subtracting them given the possibility of diabetes, stress on your cardiovascular system, and other such effects of too much sugar and caffeine), and if you do wind up with a beautiful model at your side, it most likely will be for reasons other than the fact that you drink Coca-Cola.

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