Karl Maton speaking to BALEAP in 2017 isn’t satisfied with the term “abstract“. Semantic Gravity goes from weak at the top – for things that depend less on context for their meaning (the process of photosynthesis), down through general groups of things (flowering plants without woody stems) to strong gravity at the bottom where the meaning is highly linked to a particular context (Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion). The other dimension on the semantic plane is density. Semantic Density is the complexity of the practice related to the knowledge. The meaning of “gold” for a chemist is denser as a knowledge practice, than “gold” for an everyday person who hopes to be given a “gold watch”.
Some abstract knowledge practices are very simple. (He gives the example of management discourse = “rarefied code” to contrast with LCT = “rhizomatic code”).
“There are real issues at stake here….one difference between jargon and theory is their semantic density they’re often lumped together and then bullshit masquerades as meaningful, and theory is dismissed as unnecessary. We see this in public discourse. We see it with the dismissal of experts and major economic and political decisions based on totally empty rhetoric. Nothing springs to mind immediately visiting Britain right now, but I’m sure that you can fill in an example…“