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Re: [ontolog-forum] {Disarmed} Reality and Truth

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Deborah MacPherson" <debmacp@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 08:34:10 -0400
Message-id: <48f213f30705180534l7e0cbebfj6d080f29d25e0ae4@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Yes Pat - Nailed it. Thank you.


On 5/17/07, Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx> wrote:
>Content-type: multipart/alternative;
>       boundary="Boundary_(ID_5bGOrBJ2H6orPv8J3MwZ4g)"
>Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
>When my two year old daughter decided to
>dispense with her diaper, after using it to full
>capacity, the truth was succinct, quite messy,
>very real and long to clean up
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>On Behalf Of Bill Andersen
>Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 9:41 AM
>To: [ontolog-forum]
>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] {Disarmed} Reality and Truth
>On May 17, 2007, at 08:31 , Deborah MacPherson wrote:
>Reality is messy and long, Truth is edited and coherent.
>Bill Andersen (<mailto:andersen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>andersen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
>Chief Scientist
>Ontology Works, Inc. (<http://www.ontologyworks.com>www.ontologyworks.com)
>3600 O'Donnell Street, Suite 600
>Baltimore, MD 21224
>Office: 410-675-1201
>Cell: 443-858-6444

If I may intervene here (before someone starts up
a fan) I think that everyone here in fact agrees,
but they are using the terminology in exactly
opposite senses. Let me try to state what I think
is the agreement in neutral terms.

There is a world out there. It is quite amazingly
big and complicated, however you look at it. If
you think of it as physical then every cubic cm
of it in the immediate vicinity has about 10|14
atoms in it all buzzing around in a quantum
dance, not to mention all the photons. If you
think of it as social then it has hundreds of
millions of people engaged in all sorts of
activities every few seconds, all from different
cultures and zeitgeists and so on. If
biologically, just the lichens are enough to make
you feel dizzy. However you think of it, its WAY
too big to describe fully or to even think about
without getting a headache. And anyway, in order
to think about it, we have to use some way to
describe it to ourselves. We have to think about
it using some set of ideas or concepts or
thoughts or words, or whatever these things are
that we have in our heads and use to think with.
And these - call them our ideas - are both
limited and limiting. They can only describe a
limited part of the actual world of reality:
there is just too much of it to think about it
all. Moreover, we can't think about reality
"raw", as it actually IS, without using some set
of ideas. So what we think about it - reality,
that is - is always in some sense colored, and no
doubt distorted, by the ideas that we have to
think about it with. Indeed, if there are some
aspects of reality about which we have no ideas -
and there almost certainly are, for all of us -
then we can't think about that part or aspect of
reality at all. And we may not all have the same
set of ideas, so our thoughts may be
incommensurate with one another.

(Now, one position is that since we can only
think with ideas, and cannot ever get hold of raw
reality uncolored by some mental framework, that
even to postulate the existence of a reality is
wrong or maybe unnecessary or un-Ockhamist. All
there are are the thoughts that we all have.
We've had that particular argument on this list
already: I mention it only to show how it fits
into this picture, or at any rate into the
picture frame.)

I think that what Debbie means by the above is
only this: that reality is large and messy, but
that 'truth' is always the truth of some
idea/thought/ontology/assertion, so is always at
the tidy conceptualized, thinking end of the
spectrum. And Bill and Don are puzzled, because
they are living at the tidy end and think of
truth as a relationship to reality, so the word
used alone seems to them to be more concerned
with the reality than the concept or thought. But
the only sensible way to talk about truth,
surely, is that it is a relationship BETWEEN
concepts/thoughts/ideas/assertions and reality.
If you chop off either end of this relation, the
notion of truth isn't really meaningful any more.
If there is no reality, then truth has nothing to
be true with respect to. And if we aren't talking
about some conceptualization, then all there is
is the actual world, and of course that is
'true': but that statement is vacuous.

IHMC            (850)434 8903 or (650)494 3973   home
40 South Alcaniz St.    (850)202 4416   office
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Deborah L. MacPherson
Specifier, WDG Architecture PLLC
Projects Director, Accuracy&Aesthetics


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