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Re: [ontolog-forum] Is there a universal ontology?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2007 10:58:19 -0400
Message-id: <46A3708B.7080900@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Folks,    (01)

I strongly agree with the following point that Kathy made:    (02)

KBL> One can believe there is a single reality without believing
 > there is a single universal ontology.    (03)

For example, modern theories of physics and other "hard sciences"
have developed notations and formalisms that go far beyond ordinary
language.  Some of them, such as quantum mechanics, make detailed
predictions that have proved to be very accurate, yet even the
physicists find it difficult to explain what they mean to ordinary
people, to other physicists, and even to themselves.  We already
know that current theories of quantum mechanics are not absolutely
true, and we have no assurance that an absolutely true theory can
ever be found or that anyone could understand it even if it were
found.    (04)

As a realist, I believe that there is a reality that is independent
of how we may think about it.  But as a fallibilist, I also believe    (05)

  1. It is very difficult to get a precise characterization of that
     reality.    (06)

  2. Many theories, formal and informal, that people have discovered
     have a great deal of truth in them.  They are sufficiently good
     that people are willing to stake their lives on their predictions.    (07)

  3. But it is impossible to determine whether any theory that anybody
     has ever proposed is exactly true to the extent that no further
     correction is necessary.    (08)

  4. Science and engineering have abundantly demonstrated that theories
     that are known to be false, but also known to be approximately
     true to a very high degree (such as Newtonian mechanics) can be
     extremely useful for practical applications.    (09)

  5. Finally, I also emphasize Peirce's "first rule of reason":    (010)

         Do not block the way of inquiry.    (011)

     Whitehead made a similar point in slightly different words:    (012)

         We must be systematic, but we must keep our systems open.    (013)

John Sowa    (014)

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