One of the ways I apply POR to help me understand what people are saying and why is the abstraction paradigm. Like the idea of a "primary common referent", the abstraction paradigm can be thought of as a way of dealing with words and their meaning without directly referencing dictionaries. A 'PCR' is what a dictionary entry would be, if POR used dictionaries; a textual paraphrasing used as a definition which will work in most cases despite the varying contexts. An abstraction paradigm is the opposite: what we use instead of dictionary entries, when the 'true meaning' of the word rather than the 'primary common referent' is the subject of our examination.
Socrates' Erred, according to POR, when he tried to pin down the meaning of words like 'justice' and 'virtue'. He erred because he started with an assumption that deducing the meaning of a word is possible, and he erred because he didn't realize all the other words he was using to consider the abstract ideas he examined, 'justice' and 'virtue', were just as non-deductive in their precision and accuracy. He illustrated with this Error that all such epistemological arguments eventually reduce to the ontological argument. In Socrates' case, this was government mandated suicide, and in our daily lives it is Godwin's Law, that all arguments inevitably and effectively end when one side likens the other to Hitler.
So we can't really define words with words, no single definition (or set of multiple definitions) can deductively indicate the substance of the meaning of the word. This is the fundamental premise of all POR, this declaration that semiotics is theism not science. The way that words work in the real world can be modeled as dictionary entries, it isn't impossible in practice. But it is impossible in theory, Socrates' Error is inherent in any attempt to paraphrase the meaning of a word in some specific context in a dictionary "definition". So how are we to consider or understand anything at all about words? The answer is the abstraction paradigm.
A paradigm is an intellectual framework which organizes theories and perspectives. A lot has been made in the last few decades of the usefulness of the term 'paradigm' in business-speak, but as in similar cases, the word wasn't necessarily being misused, just overused. It isn't right to say "you can't just invent a thing and call it a paradigm", but that isn't to say that paradigms aren't invented. As intellectual frameworks, they are abstract by nature but can be regarded as having more or less explanatory or communicative power.
In terms of language and POR, the paradigm being referred to is the breakdown of 'meaning' in a word into two dimensions of consideration. An abstraction paradigm is a diagram, a box made up of nine boxes like a tic-tac-toe board. The center square is the word being described. The vertical axis of the diagram is the level of language. All words are normally considered to be used on a rhetorical level of language: it has no deductive resolution because it needs no deductive resolution, a word means whatever it could mean without any controversy among those participating in the discussion. Once any uncertainty about the meaning of the word (controversy) is accepted, there are two contrary presumptions that should be accepted. The first is that the word is being used analytically, to reference something more deductively certain than the word itself, but some specific thing in the empirically evident real world. When the word can be seen as being used more exactly than the general meaning of the word (often as jargon or borrowed from some application) it can be considered as being analytically correct, and how properly it is used analytically regards how consistently it is used for that hypothetical, but logically consistent, thing.
Alternatively, it could be that the word is being used metaphorically rather than rhetorically (the default) or analytically. In this case, given the 'laws of language' (or the lack thereof, more accurately) it could mean anything. How recognizable or convincing the metaphor might be is not a mathematically deducible fact, and so no precise judgement can be rendered on the propriety of its use. Any person capable of recognizing that a metaphor is being used is equally capable of passing accurate judgement, for their purposes, on the metaphor itself, allowing the word to remain communicative despite the lack of constraints on its possible meaning.
Observation of natural language in use, both oral and textual, provides a constant and reassuringly productive demonstration of the value of this approach to understanding words without the Socratic assumption that they have, can have, or should have deductive definitions rather than inductive meaning. The sentential (sequential) presentation of words in language to form whole thoughts seems to defy any other approach to comprehension. As each word is provided to the recipient, a consideration must be possible and must be made how to extract from its usage some apparent significance within the context. This is done, automatically in language and consciously in POR, (and could be accomplished only with omniscience in semiotics) to learn about the factual truths the mind which generated it is capable of conveying to the recipients senses.
As each word in a sentence is heard or read, our brains consider it rhetorical, having an obvious and uncontentious meaning. In keeping with the constant influence of Socrates' Error and the resulting Information Processing Theory of Mind, this is interpreted as the word having an unambiguous and deductive meaning, as calculated by the brains of every human who ever used the word. A singular dictionary definition, is the common perception of the meaning of a word, which is replaced by the completed abstraction paradigm, once we assemble it.
The words in a thought, as they are presented, can either maintain this rhetorical presumption, or for some (inductive rather than deductive) reason our brains can recognize the failure of that presumption. In order to be true in context, our brains designate, some particular word (that word which was just uttered/read) must be reduced to a more analytical meaning, as if it could be a deductive symbol in a mathematics beyond our conscious awareness but not beyond our neural activity. The semiotic or post-modern approach to language is the obvious result, in many cases, although it should be noted here that reducing a word to an analytical expression, approximating Socratic logic (despite the fact that Socrates himself proved the fruitlessness of such an approach) is not itself incorrect or improper. It is an expression of reasoning, and as long as the analytical reference used as a meaning for the word is applied consistently and with some effective precision, it isn't an indication of any defect or insufficiency in the language.
Words always and often 'wander' in their applied usage from rhetorical to analytical, and then in turn to rhetorical or beyond, to metaphoric usage. The perception of this action can be attributed as much to the recipient as to the speaker, although the physical knowledge of the intention and context of both the speaker and the recipient in the two ends of the communication provides a rational limit to the effect; however 'subjective' such a judgement might be, it is as subjective for the speaker as the recipient, leaving an inherently objective effect to account for any physical results.
As any communication is interpreted by the recipient as the transmission of it through whatever means continues, it is not any inherent offensiveness of using analytical or metaphorical rather than rhetorical meaning for all your terms that makes analysis of paradigmatic wandering worthwhile. The goal is not to 'catch' people doing it, because all communication naturally does it, to some instructive extent. In fact it is often the opposite: trying to strip away all expressiveness except rhetorical perfection leads to "cover your ass" language that simply makes any lie possible. This kind of 'agressively inoffensive rhetoric' is ideally suited for using so-called "critical thinking skills" to make any proposition unquestionable. It can be recognized by its liberal use of quasi-deductive terms such as "seems to" and "tends to".
So militant refusal to move away from the rhetorical middle ground is not the way to produce or recognize truthful language. In fact it is evidence of a refusal to do so. But rejecting the value or meaning of some piece of language or words because they don't wander enough, or perhaps wander too much, isn't the ultimate goal of the rhetorical exercise. Still, if we were to put that goal into words it would be a quest for truth, and that necessarily means a purpose for and method of rejecting some language as false.
The standard philosophy of today makes clear the absolute pretension of this 'truth or lie' approach to language. However much the sum total of science and religion can make clear that such a thing is impossible, they are both dependent on the assumption that such a thing is necessary. And in our daily lives, we have to admit this is true: the purpose of my use of language (outside the most domestic communications) is to explain why certain opinions are mistaken and wrong, and these are political, religious, and even supposedly scientific opinions. Plus which, many of the declarations made or regarded as "facts" by people who hold those mistaken opinions are untrue, because they fail to correspond sufficiently well with empirically demonstrable ontological reality.
So regardless of the impropriety of using a descriptivist approach to language, the abstraction paradigm we're still forming, as a prescriptivist mechanism, a way to find fault with language rather than detect only truth, that is a very real and tangible result of this approach. When people talk or you read words, pay attention to how often and how frequently you need to interpret some word as if it must be a deductive certainty, or a vague metaphor, and how often that changes. Regular true speech or writing will use some analytical terms, and some analogical expressions, and you'll find that the ability to do this confidently and reliably helps explain what makes good writing easy to read. (The obvious contrast to the writing I'm doing right now does not escape me.)
But if you notice that some 'violence' needs to be done to some term, some mathematical certainty that seems incongruous, or routine reliance on a purposefully unexplained metaphor, this kind of 'flopping' can be objectively distinguished from the typical wandering that honest language reveals. Particularly problematic terms that can be regarded as red flags include 'respect' and 'life' and 'freedom'.
This seeming creation of a vertical scale by which to judge opinions other than my own as inconsistent is the first dimension of the abstraction paradigm. In the end it is just a way of explaining how words can be used to mislead or mask uncertainties in a less than honest fashion; by hinting that they have analytical precision or have metaphoric truth which they must lack. Granted, if they were a system of signs, as we've been taught to assume, they could achieve both the scientific accuracy of numbers and the metaphysical integrity of numbers, but this would also require either a complete and consistent math or a dictionary written by God. These things are not true, yet language works, and so assuming a mechanism that requires the absolute certainty that the physics of the universe itself lacks is not a reliable method for understanding how language works. The abstraction paradigm is our attempt to confront the relative and uncertain nature of reality without abandoning all of our words in an effort to submerse ourselves in that reality.
The horizontal axis of the abstraction paradigm is more conventional, though no less philosophically poignent. The level of language on the vertical dimension corresponds to tautology; the meaning of a word as an ontological object and what it identifies in the real world. The corresponding scale on the horizontal dimension equates to teleology; the meaning of a word as an epistemological category and what it describes about the real world. The horizontal axis relates to the dialectic in the same way the vertical relates to rhetoric.
The abstraction paradigm is technically complete with the two dimensions, rhetoric and dialectic. The rhetorical function identifies whether a word is controversial in meaning, whether an analytic or metaphoric abstraction rather than the literal rhetoric "definition" of the the word is meant by some particular usage. The dialectic function describes the controversy inherent in the meaning of any word. The word itself is called the dialectic, and it establishes the tension between a related dichotomy. A dichotomy is essentially any pair of words. Using them as a dichotomy presents them as two terms which both mean the same thing (they are synonyms) and which mean opposite things (they are antonyms). This dichotomous relationship is not apparent in all pairs of words, but is inevitably present because of their ineffable nature. Words such as "good" and "bad" can be dichotomies, and so can "good" and "nice", and truly any two words in any particular language, as well. To express this dichotomous nature, the ability of a word to be in some ways identical (interchangeable) with some (any) other word and to be its polar opposite by being contrast-able with that other word, they are placed at opposite ends of the rhetorical layer of language in our abstraction paradigm, and the dialectic is the word by which we represent the dichotomy between them.
So an abstraction paradigm, or rather any instance of an abstraction paradigm (the abstraction paradigm itself being the use of the thing we're calling an abstraction paradigm,) is a tic-tac-toe board of boxes. The middle box is the word we're 'defining'. The dichotomy we use to define the word in the middle box fill in the left and right box on the middle, rhetorical, layer of the paradigm. The word we're defining is the dialectic, the meaning of which can be understood by any reasoning creature, to at least some basic level of precision and accuracy, by considering the philosophical disparity and tension which exists between the two things named by the dichotomy. The 'rhetorical' layer of language, with a dichotomy defined by a dialectic, is reflected on the bottom row of the diagram, the analytical layer of language. Here, three different words, cognitively but not grammatically related to the rhetorical terms, help define those terms by comparison and contrast. The top row does the same by enlisting three other words, more metaphorical equivalents in some comprehensible (though not necessarily explicable) way to the rhetorical dichotomy/dialectic.
The relationships and similarities between the ideas brought to mind by each word within the abstraction paradigm can be used to identify, describe, and express the meaning of the rhetorical dialectic term. While it is true that any set of nine words can be arranged entirely arbitrarily in such a diagram without being objectively wrong, it is also true that there are no absolute rules preventing any potential "dictionary definition" from appearing for any word in a language, and so this does not seem to be a diagnostic distinction. The fact that use of abstraction paradigms rather than dictionary definitions to express and describe the meaning of a word leads to a more mathematically accessible mechanism may one day prove instrumental in making it a productive method of research into the humanities and humanology.