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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontological Assumptions of FOL

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 11:20:58 -0500
Message-id: <45FD66EA.6020203@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Paola,    (01)

Thanks for the pointer to the paper on "Language and Logic
in Ancient China".  That's an interesting analysis of some
classical Chinese texts, but Hansen makes points that are
similar to what I said:    (02)

  1. The Chinese language does not have the option of making
     subjunctive ("would have") statements.    (03)

  2. It also lacks the option of using word endings (e.g., -ness
     in English or -itas in Latin) to create abstractions such
     as whiteness from white or humanitas from humanus.    (04)

Those two differences make ordinary Chinese speech more concrete
(less abstract) than ordinary English.  But that actually makes
Chinese closer to first-order logic than English.    (05)

Hansen also said "Chinese philosophy, because of this special
emphasis upon analogy, is rarely written in the form of logically
developed essays, but usually consists of a series of picturesque
metaphors, parables, and anecdotes strung together to illustrate
certain main ideas."    (06)

That's an excellent point, and it emphasizes my point that analogy
is the *foundation* for logic.  Every version of reasoning by
induction, deduction, or abduction is a special case of reasoning
by analogy.  I explain that in more detail in the following paper:    (07)

    Analogical Reasoning    (08)

I strongly endorse Hansen's conclusion:  "There is no factual
basis for any associated "Chinese logic" hypothesis.  The features
of Chinese thought usually associated with the antirational slogans
just cannot prove that a radically different (inconsistency-
justifying) implicit logic is at work.  And for similar reasons,
the attempts by modern formally sophisticated philosophers to
prove the opposite also fail."    (09)

I realize that both Buddhism and Taoism make many statements that
seem difficult to reconcile with ordinary logic.  But what the
authors were trying to do is to get the ordinary people (in India
or China) to break out of the common ways of thinking. They made
statements that sound illogical in order to break the common
habit of thinking "logically" within a rigid conceptual scheme.    (010)

If anything, modern Chinese students are better able to deal with
logic, mathematics, and computer science than typical students
in English-speaking countries.  Their language is certainly not
a limitation on their ability to reason logically.    (011)

John    (012)

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