John & All: Comments below, especially those who can provide some
perspective or the past 30 years or so, of where we've been and where
we're heading ... (01)
John F. Sowa wrote:
> When we start getting into credential fights, this discussion
> has reached a point where the best we can say is "Cool it!"
> PH> Do you know anything at all about quantum physics, or indeed
> > physics generally?
> AA> Know something, having PhD in physical and mathematical
> > sciences from Lebedev's Physical Institute [of the USSR Academy
> > of Sciences], which was stuffed by the Nobel prizes holders:
> > Cherenkov, Basov, Prohorov, Ginzburg and Sakharov, they their
> > responsible for doctorate degrees. Also, i have a book about
> > Information Physics.
> Many people on this list have impressive credentials in one or
> more fields, but all the learned discussion of the past week
> or two suggests the following observations:
> 1. This many heated email exchanges would not have occurred
> if people did not believe that ontology is important.
> 2. Yet there is a decided lack of consensus on some fundamental
> principles, assumptions, goals, and directions for the field.
> These fights are reminiscent of the debates about a hundred years
> ago on the foundations of mathematics. Very intelligent people
> like Hilbert, Frege, Peirce, Poincare, Russell, Whitehead, Brouwer,
> Lesniewski, Lukasiewicz, Wittgenstein, Ramsey, and many others
> were engaged in fighting about logicism, formalism, intuitionism,
> and other -isms as the appropriate foundation for mathematics --
> or, on the contrary, whether mathematics was in need of any
> foundation at all. And one rather shy person named Kurt Goedel
> didn't take part in the fighting. He just proved a little
> theorem that showed that many of the fights were irrelevant.
> Meanwhile, the working mathematicians -- both pure and applied --
> ignored the fighting about foundations and just used mathematics
> to solve problems. Eventually, the people who were fighting either
> died, retired, or moved on to other issues. And the mathematicians
> who worked on solving problems continued to ignore the foundations
> without finding any reason to pay attention to the fights.
> The work on foundations actually resulted in some useful ideas
> that found their way into the methodologies that the working
> mathematicians today are actually using. However, the people
> who had problems to solve were right in not wasting their time
> on fights that had no immediate application to their work.
> I think that we should learn from that experience.
Reading your comments caused me to take out Thomas Kuhn's Structure of
Scientific Revolutions (SSR) and browse the chapters on The Route to
Normal Science, Anomaly and the Emergence of Scientific Discoveries and
Crisis and and the Emergence of Scientific Theories. (03)
Brief summary for those who haven't read SSR: Kuhn describes a
pre-paradigmatic state in which members of a field are required to
continuously reexamine and re-state fundamental assumptions in order to
conduct their work. Eventually, members of the field establish consensus
around a paradigm and refine their study to normal science. Next
anomalies are observed or a crisis emerges that calls the paradigm into
question, but a paradigm shift takes place only when a competing theory
is available to dislodge the resident paradigm. Of course the transition
in an out of the tipping point is difficult. (04)
So, where are we with this ontology thing ? Seems there's just so little
agreement on even the basics we may be in a pre-paradigmatic state.
Was there ever enough traction in prior work like Common Upper Ontology
(CUO) to consider it a paradigm ? Are we in a post CUO crisis ? (05)
I think our next paradigm can be stated simply as: Languages, Logics,
Models and Theories. With emphasis on plurality and many thanks to
Robert Kent of ontologos for such an elegant abstraction that says so much ! (06)
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Best wishes, (09)
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