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Re: [ontolog-forum] notes and rumours

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 13:44:43 -0400
Message-id: <4689398B.4080700@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sean, Pat, and Wacek,    (01)

A few more distinctions and quibbles:    (02)

SB> ... the Greek
 > term Logos, from which the work logic derives, referred to something
 > written and was contrasted to Mythos, something spoken, from which.
 > I can't track down the reference, but around the 5th century the
 > traditional Mythos lost status as compared to Logos, and hence the
 > negative connotations to the truth value of myths.    (03)

The Greeks had many words for 'word', 'speech', etc.  The word 'mythos'
meant 'story', not 'speech'.  And the word 'logos', which is derived
from the verb 'to say', had many meanings, depending on the context.
Aristotle, for example, related "written logos" to "spoken logos" and
"logos in the psyche" while making the point that all three represent
the same "affections in the psyche" (pathemata en tes psyches).    (04)

The sharp distinction between mythos and logos is an unfortunate
distortion that was popularized by Karen Armstrong (a former nun
who calls herself a "freelance monotheist").  She made some good
points, but the distinction she was trying to state could be more 
accurately described as "narrative vs. theoretical".  The latter
term is derived from the verb 'theoreo', which means 'to look at
or inspect' -- and thereby distinguish or formalize.    (05)

Plato was a very strong advocate of theoretical methods, based
on precise distinctions (as in the so-called "Socratic method").
But when he needed to make a subtle point for which no common
words were available, Plato also used stories (which, of course,
he called *myths*).  Stories or narratives are a way of expressing
a vague or pretheoretical notion, which might require a lengthy
dialog to analyze (cf. Plato's _Replublic_, which takes an entire
book to analyze the concept of 'justice').    (06)

PH> The lack of a common NL vocabulary does not mean that there is
 > a similar spread of *concepts*. In fact there is considerable
 > evidence that all human beings share a basic set of color perceptions
 > organized around prototypical colors. Different linguistic cultures
 > have built different vocabularies on top of this biological skeleton,
 > but its value is a common organizing framework should not be obscured
 > by mere linguistics.    (07)

The critical term here is 'culture'.  The vocabulary reflects the
concepts used in the culture, any of which could be represented
in a formal ontology.  Formal logic, from Aristotle to the present,
is a disciplined way of using language in a way that highlights
whatever conscious distinctions the writer or speaker wishes to make.
Both natural languages and formal logics can express any concepts
anyone is capable of distinguishing explicitly.    (08)

For example, the Japanese have two completely different sets of color
terms.  The older terms are based on the pale vegetable-based dyes used
for traditional Japanese artifacts, and they don't have any one-to-one
correspondence with western terminology.  The more recent terms were
introduced to match the vivid colors of coal-tar dyes, and they do
have a one-to-one correspondence with western terms.  All Japanese,
male and female, use both sets of terms as appropriate.    (09)

vQ> http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06256/721190-114.stm
 > I can't find serious scientific publications on this...
 > [the alleged tetrachromatic ability of some females].    (010)

You can check Google for color perception in reptiles and birds
(which have 4 color receptors).  Mammals evolved from reptiles,
but they lost two out of the four receptors because they became
nocturnal to avoid getting eaten by dinosaurs.  That meant they
needed more rods, which are more sensitive to low light levels
than cones, which distinguish colors.  Therefore, most mammals
are green-red color blind.    (011)

Since the primates took to the trees, they became diurnal, and they
needed good vision to see which branch to grab.  They evolved a
third receptor, which is encoded on the X chromosome.  Since males
only have one X chromosome, they are more likely to be green-red
color blind.  If any people have more acute color sensitivity,
they're likely to be female (or interior decorators).    (012)

John    (013)

PS:  This subject line, like the earlier subject line "two", is
addressing subjects for which there is no explicit terminology in
most of the languages we use.  Formal logic can only be used *after*
the appropriate theorizing (i.e., looking and inspecting).    (014)

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