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Re: [ontolog-forum] Terminology Question concerning WebArchitecture and

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Chris Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 03:24:04 -0500
Message-id: <20070726082404.GB10264@xxxxxxxx>
On Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 10:50:08AM +0700, paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
> 1) nothing is something that does not exist     (01)

Well, we can accept without any problem that the *concept* of nothing
exists along side other concepts, but it is a mistake to suggest that
there are *things* that don't in any sense exist, as this formulation of
the issue might suggest.  Fortunately, this ancient confusion (labeled
"Plato's Beard" by Quine in his well-known article "On What There Is",
and famously defended by the philosopher Meinong in the late 19th
century) was decisively cleared up when we finally got straight about
the logic of quantification.    (02)

> - therefore cannot be modelled    (03)

But absence, emptiness, negation, and other concepts encompassed by and
related to "nothing" can be, and regularly are, modelled (in a variety
of senses) quite clearly.    (04)

>  I have been wrestiling a lot with this notion, then decided to accept
>  that 'nothing' exists.  although that is causing me much trouble - is
>  nothing part of everything? is nothing the complementary side to
>  everything? never mind, lets consider it 'undecidable' at the moment    (05)

Let's not. :-)    (06)

> 2) nothing is something that exists in a different dimension (the
> other side of the black hole)    (07)

Something that exists in another dimension (whatever that means) is not
nothing.  It is, as you say, *something* that exists in another
dimension.    (08)

> If something exists that has a '(negative) dimension, then modelling
> its critical, in the same way that minus zero stuff exists in its own
> right,    (09)

Right.  And hence is not nothing.  -2 and -3 are distinct things.
(Exactly *what* these things are is of course another matter.)    (010)

> Eastern philosophy, places much importance in the 'void'. The void is
> the creative space where things can come into being. To paraphrase
> tao teh ching:
>   The vessel (a cup) is only useful thanks to its voidness part,
> a room is made of the space within some walls, but it could not be
> used if there weren't empty spaces such as doors and windows,    (011)

Holes and other empty spaces, as spelled out rigorously and at length
in, e.g., Casati and Varzi's fine book _Holes and Other
Superficialities_, can quite nicely be welcomed into our ontology as
fully-fledged (not to say uncontroverisal) things.  And theories that
deny their existence do so by attempting to reinterpret quantification
over holes and other empty spaces in terms of other existing things
(e.g., objects and their topological properies).  Either way, talk of
empty spaces does not involve any commitment to "things that don't
exist" and it would be a giant step backwards to try to reintroduce the
idea.    (012)

> ...
> In classical western thinking there is no place for [nothing].    (013)

To the contrary, classical western thinking has accommodated the concept
quite robustly.    (014)

-chris    (015)

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