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Re: [ontolog-forum] Cause and chemical reactions

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 22:41:11 -0400
Message-id: <9817EA8D-61A9-4008-9D3C-80C557BA9271@xxxxxxxxx>
OK, insofar as the Aristotelian view of causality is analyzed as a  
product of human cognition - how messages from people to people are  
understood (thematic roles form part of such a theory) I don't see it  
as necessarily true to the world - people talk about a lot of stuff  
that isn't there. This would bolster my claim that cause has no place  
in a realist ontology such as BFO, and that it is of limited use if  
we want to understand nature (as opposed to the practice of the  
natural scientists).    (01)

As far as the second reference goes, thanks. I need to read that more  
carefully.    (02)

I'll note that your response to Patrick needs to be interpreted in a  
much different light than what I initially did, which was as  
asserting something about the world. In fact it is a funny kind of  
sentence since it mixes three kinds of structure - the references to  
things in the world,  their placement in a sentence in such a way as  
to invoke the thematic roles, and in the same sentence, the names of  
those roles labeling the other parts.    (03)

Alan    (04)

On Jun 19, 2007, at 10:08 PM, John F. Sowa wrote:    (05)

> Alan,
> I'm sorry I mentioned that, because I didn't want to get into
> a tutorial on Aristotle.  Following is a quotation by a 19th-
> century physicist, who also happened to be a logician and
> a philosopher:
>    Those who make causality one of the original uralt elements
>    in the universe or one of the fundamental categories of
>    thought -- of whom you will find that I am not one -- have
>    one very awkward fact to explain away.  It is that men's
>    conceptions of a cause are in different stages of scientific
>    culture entirely different and inconsistent. The great principle
>    of causation which, we are told, it is absolutely impossible not
>    to believe, has been one proposition at one period in history and
>    an entirely disparate one at another is still a third one for the
>    modern physicist. The only thing about it which has stood... is
>    the name of it.
>    Charles Sanders Peirce, _Reasoning and the Logic of Things_
> As Peirce said, there have been several theories of causality
> at different historical periods:
>  1. Aristotle's modes of explanation (aitia), which correspond
>     very roughly to the Indo-European case roles.  To try to
>     relate those roles to a more modern notion of cause is
>     more confusing than helpful.  It's better to relate them
>     to the thematic roles in linguistics.  For a quick summary,
>     see the following web page:
>     http://www.jfsowa.com/ontology/thematic.htm
>  2. An intermediate stage around the time of Hume, which
>     identified the so-called "efficient cause" as the
>     basic cause.  This created a chimera, which still had
>     a role-like relationship to events, but it did not
>     map smoothly to Newtonian mechanics with multiple
>     objects fields exerting forces on one another.
>  3. Modern physics, with continuous fields and moving
>     masses, discrete and/or continuous, interacting
>     with one another according to "laws" expressed as
>     partial differential equations.
> I have an (unfinished) paper on that third topic:
>     http://www.jfsowa.com/ontology/causal.htm
>     Processes and Causality
> John
>    (06)

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