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Re: [ontolog-forum] Two

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2007 14:24:38 -0400
Message-id: <467D6566.1030208@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat, Chris, Paola, Gary, et al.,    (01)

I'm merging some points from this thread and the cause thread,
but I chose to add the comments to this thread because the
subject line is more appropriate.    (02)

CM> And I am not aware of any developments in modern physics
 > that involve anyone tracing back to the ancients for guidance.    (03)

There is a difference between guidance and inspiration (or whatever
you might want to call the source of ideas used in abduction).    (04)

 > Contemporary physicists on the whole don't know a thing about...    (05)

Precisely!  That is why anyone hoping for a major breakthrough in
any subject should look where most practitioners aren't looking.    (06)

Consider geometric algebras (by Grassmann and Clifford) from the
late 19th century.  They were almost completely ignored by the
physicists until David Hestenes resurrected them.  See, for
example, Hestenes' lecture upon receiving the Oersted medal:    (07)

    Reforming the Mathematical Language of Physics    (08)

 From the point of view of modern physics, anything over a
hundred years old is "ancient".  But today, geometric algebras
are a hot topic for simulations of physical phenomena, especially
in virtual reality and in performing compute-intensive simulations
of experiments that would be too costly or dangerous to carry out.    (09)

Physics is probably an area where one might not expect to find
much new in Aristotle, since his writings on that topic have been
well known.  But medicine is an area where many modern discoveries
have come and are still coming from ancient remedies.    (010)

PH> Should they feel that they need to study (or consult someone
 > who has studied) metaphysics or philosophy before starting on this
 > enterprise, or should they rather focus on making the ontology
 > reflect the needs of their organization or community, and make up
 > the 'metaphysics' as they go along, as much as seems necessary?
 > ... I meant only to try to counteract what I often perceive
 > as a kind of ritual genuflexion to academic philosophy among
 > ontological engineers.    (011)

Although I have a high regard for some philosophy, I certainly
do not genuflect to most of 20th century analytic philosophy,
about which I would apply Mark Twain's remark about economics:
"A philosopher's guess is liable to be as good as anybody else's."    (012)

I did, however, learn a lot from those philosophers -- not their
conclusions, but how to do the analysis from more appropriate
assumptions.    (013)

PDM> It is easy to see why people are reluctant to consider ancient
 > scripts as valid sources of scientific knowledge...    (014)

I would consider any source as a place to look for ideas, but any
ideas, new or old, must be tested against observation and experiment.
The new medicines derived from ancient Chinese practice are good
examples:  They're worth testing.  Many of them fail the test, but
some of them prove to be very effective.    (015)

John    (016)

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