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

To: edbark@xxxxxxxx
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Steve Newcomb <srn@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: 23 Apr 2007 13:26:21 -0400
Message-id: <871wibq9xe.fsf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx> writes:    (01)

> I am amused by this ramble, but my "ontological sense" prefers to sort out 
> ideas that Steve happily jumbles.
> Steve Newcomb wrote:
> >  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.
> 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 
> to do with "reality".    (02)

Yes.    (03)

> And I, for one, am grateful to the "Great Greeks" for 
> having divided "Logic" and "Metaphysics" into two separable branches of 
> philosophy.    (04)

  (1) both are knowledge,     (05)

  (2) they have innumerable connections to each other,    (06)

  (3) and the connections are knowledge, too.    (07)

> > 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.
> Every logic is an attempt by man to understand the phenomenon of reasoning, 
> that he may evaluate the likelihood of any particular bit of reasoning 
> to "correct" or "useful" conclusions (in the sense of not having immediate 
> 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.
> 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.    (08)

I agree.  I simply pointed out that Logic is man-made.    (09)

> > The very character of knowledge itself is highly variable.  ...
> >   Give me a rule, and I'll show you an exception.
> I offer you the rule you just gave us.  (With apologies to Bertand Russell.)    (010)

And if the rule you offered back to me is its own exception, then I am
free to understand that it is therefore *completely* consistent with
itself, right?    (011)

Logic does have its limits.    (012)

> > 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.
> 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.    (013)

How does the fact that many cultures may come up with similar (or even
identical) inventions falsify my assertion?  I can see how you might
argue that there's no Culture, and there's no Invention, because
really there is only Utility, and Culture is merely a reaction to the
usefulnesses that God in His wisdom created long ago.    (014)

But I don't think so.  Maybe it's because my field is music.  I know
the physics and math of music, and yet these things explain almost
nothing about music.  True, many (but not all) cultures have similar
tonal sensibilities (see Yasser's _A Theory of Evolving Tonality_),
but their musics are all quite distinctive, with a healthy admixture
of *diverse* sensibilities.  From all I can tell, there is an
unbounded number of frameworks -- logics, if you will -- within which
the phenomenon of music can thrive.  In music, the analog of Logic is
12-tone equal temperament.  Today, it's absolutely dominant,
worldwide.  It's based on a deep mathematical understanding that
12-tone-per-octave tunings that are based on the 12th root of 2 yield
uniform results in all keys.  But there's plenty of music that doesn't
use 12-tone equal temperament, there always has been, and I think
there always will be.  Indeed, I can make a reasoned argument that
12-tone equal temperament is merely a technological kludge that most
of humanity will eventually abandon, on account of its limited and
suboptimal expressivity, as more subtle and flexible musical
instruments become commonplace.    (015)

> And while the last sentence above is 
> quite true, it has absolutely nothing to do with the first.    (016)

Well, you're entitled to your opinion!  (:^)    (017)

> > 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.  
> Well, no, the variations that don't survive clearly aren't.    (018)

You misunderstand me.  I meant that variations occur whose utility is
only revealed when they are the only ones that do survive.  In the
meantime, they are just variations, nothing more.  Since we can't know
their value in advance, we should not prevent them, either by act or
omission.    (019)

> 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.    (020)

Yes.  (Hard to argue with that!)    (021)

> > 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. 
> Of course, but now we are off into a third branch of philosophy, which we 
> shall take the liberty of calling "social science".    (022)

Is that a bad thing?  How are these "branches of philosophy"
distinctions helpful, here?    (023)

> > Science cannot explain
> > everything, and when we think it will, we engage in naive idolatry.    (024)

> 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.  ;-)    (025)

Ed, you seem to think that I'm somehow against Logic.  On the
contrary.  I'm just trying to take my blinders off.      (026)

Truth to be told, I suspect I'm at *least* as much of a Platonist as
you are.  I do catch myself believing -- quite often -- that Logic
really exists, and, moreover, that there really is a world where
Platonic Forms really exist.  What I'm trying to do is to be cognizant
of the limitations of my belief system, and to maintain a certain
humility with respect to it, and to myself.  I do believe (at least
partly on a Logical basis, by the way), that other people's belief
systems have real value, even if I can't work with them myself.  I
believe that scientists try conscientiously to be prepared to absorb
paradigm shifts that emanate from things that they never paid
attention to, because of the blinders they were unwittingly wearing.    (027)

And, yes, there are limits.  If we're too open-minded, our brains fall
out.  Yikes.  Maybe my brains have fallen out!  If so, I apologize
for this note.  Sorry about that!    (028)

-- Steve    (029)

Steven R. Newcomb, Consultant
Coolheads Consulting    (030)

Co-editor, Topic Maps International Standard (ISO/IEC 13250)
Co-editor, draft Topic Maps -- Reference Model (ISO/IEC 13250-5)    (031)

http://www.coolheads.com    (032)

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208 Highview Drive
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060 USA    (034)

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irresponsible actions of the pusillanimous and corrupt 109th Congress,
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