At one level we have a debate about what the continuant-occurrent
distinction is. I would like to suggest that it may be useful to step back. (01)
When I do this I see that there are a series of choices such as how to treat
the continuant-occurrent distinction (e.g. as bicategorical as Barry does or
as within a single category as John/Mizoguchi/Whitehead outlines below). (02)
It seems to me that these choices are metaphysical, in the sense that no
amount of empirical data can decide the issue. (I realise this is not a new
point - it was raised at the beginning of the SUO discussions - see the
paper I produced for the SUO
http://www.boroprogram.org/bp_pipex/ladsebreports/ladseb_t_r_06-02.pdf ) (03)
This has suggested to me for a long time that it is useful to know what
these choices are and be clear about whether one has made them. I think what
items are on the list is reasonably well understood (within metaphysics?). (04)
My experience from re-engineering legacy systems is that typically they are
heterogeneous with respect to these choices (as far as one can tell from
trying to reconstruct the ontology) - and that this heterogeneity had a cost
in making the system more complicated that it needed to be. (05)
What this suggests to me is that when constructing systems, it may well be
better to have an ontology that is homogeneous wrt these choices (whatever
the choices), than one that is heterogeneous, particularly one that is
heterogeneous without realising it. (06)
It seems to me that one of the roles of the top ontology is to clarify what
choices have been made. Deciding on what choices to make (and on what basis
to make the choices) is probably the first step in building the top
I suspect this may relate to why Pat (in one of the earlier emails) regards
before and after as in the middle ontology - as how it is framed depends,
for example, on metaphysical choices between 3D and 4D. (08)
AP> Try doing without saying that one event happens
>before another, for example. That's upper level content (09)
PH> Then we are at cross purposes. I'd call that middle level; in fact, its
part of a temporal ontology describing relations between time-intervals.
Yes, that is about real things (events) and says something nontrivial about
them. But go up from 'event'. If something tells you that events are
occurrents, what use is that?
A good rule of thumb is, if the terminology being used to make the
distinctions is arcane or obscure, then the distinction is likely to be
worth making only for formal reasons, to satisfy a philosophical prejudice
or in order to provide a scaffolding for a more useful distinction. (010)
To me at least, Pat's 'scaffolding' is useful (well, I find it essential) in
providing a framework for his "more useful" (empirical?) distinctions. (011)
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
>bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
>Sent: 16 June 2007 03:43
>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Two ontologies that areinconsistent but
>Thank you for citing that paper by Riichiro Mizoguchi:
>Following is his definition of continuant:
> > My personal solution to this long-lasting debate would be
> > a revolutionary idea that
> > Continuant is a role in the context of process.
>My only comment is that I wouldn't consider it revolutionary.
>Whitehead made that proposal over 75 years ago, and it is the
>best definition from the point of view of modern physics.
>There are, however, people who take the opposite view that
>continuants are primitive, and processes are made up of
>At the level of human sense organs, either view would lead
>to largely indistinguishable equivalent descriptions. But
>in order to have a consistent view of everything from the
>microscopic level to the cosmos, physics tips the balance.
>As Whitehead observed, what we call objects are stable
>patterns in the flux.
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