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Re: [ontolog-forum] {Disarmed} Re: OWL and lack of identifiers

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 11:42:50 -0400
Message-id: <462CD3FA.609@xxxxxxxx>
I am amused by this ramble, but my "ontological sense" prefers to sort out 
ideas that Steve happily jumbles.    (01)

Steve Newcomb wrote:    (02)

>  The only thing I object
> to about your position is its apparent implication that there is some
> higher Truth or Absoluteness (note capital letters indicating numinous
> significance) in any logic or logical system -- even if it's Logic.    (03)

Ah, but there is an Absoluteness there.  There is a certain set of 
"fundamental reasoning principles" which will produce a certain class of 
"provable" results when applied to any set of postulates.  That, and only 
that, is the foundation of Mathematics, and it is what most of us call 
"Logic".  The question Steve *means* is whether that absoluteness has anything 
to do with "reality".  And I, for one, am grateful to the "Great Greeks" for 
having divided "Logic" and "Metaphysics" into two separable branches of 
philosophy.    (04)

> Knowledge management is primarily a *humanistic* endeavor.  Every
> logic is man-made, period.  As a model, it works exactly as well as it
> works, and it fails exactly where it fails.    (05)

Every logic is an attempt by man to understand the phenomenon of reasoning, so 
that he may evaluate the likelihood of any particular bit of reasoning leading 
to "correct" or "useful" conclusions (in the sense of not having immediate and 
destructive counterexamples).  In the same wise, every science is an attempt 
by man to understand the phenomena of the "real world" in which he finds 
himself, for many of the same reasons.    (06)

So yes, all philosophy and science is inherently man-made.  But that doesn't 
mean that the subject of those branches of thought is man-mande.    (07)

> The very character of knowledge itself is highly variable.  ...
>   Give me a rule, and I'll show you an exception.    (08)

I offer you the rule you just gave us.  (With apologies to Bertand Russell.)    (09)

> I think it's better to recognize that there's no Logic; there's only
> Culture.  True, some cultures are more sophisticated and powerful than
> others, and no culture is more sophisticated or powerful than the
> worldwide one that pursues scientific advancement.  But it would be
> the very height of hubris to assume that nothing else has any value.    (010)

With all due respect, the first sentence is demonstrably false, in that the 
foundational principles of reasoning have been independently discovered and 
reaffirmed in a dozen diverse cultures.  And while the last sentence above is 
quite true, it has absolutely nothing to do with the first.    (011)

> Ironically, Darwin's scientific insights have led Science itself to
> the opposite conclusion: that all kinds of variability, including
> variations with no immediate or obvious utility, are in fact essential
> to survival.      (012)

Well, no, the variations that don't survive clearly aren't.  In fact, I think 
the idea currently in vogue is that a certain amount of variation is good -- 
too little variation and too much variation are both fatal to organisms and 
societies.    (013)

> In my own gut, at least, I feel quite confident that cultural
> diversity has enormous survival value.  The stones that the builders
> cast aside will, at least occasionally, turn out to be the
> cornerstones, or maybe even the keystones.     (014)

Of course, but now we are off into a third branch of philosophy, which we 
shall take the liberty of calling "social science".    (015)

> Science cannot explain
> everything, and when we think it will, we engage in naive idolatry.    (016)

As I said recently on some other exploder, Thomas Aquinas would have taken 
Goedel's demonstration that not every tautology can be a theorem as evidence 
that there are (Divine) truths that man cannot understand/explain.  Which only 
goes to show that Logic also contributes to Theology.  ;-)    (017)

-Ed    (018)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (019)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (020)

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