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Re: [ontolog-forum] electric sheep

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "\"John F. Sowa\""@mappi.helsinki.fi
From: Avril Styrman <Avril.Styrman@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2007 16:43:17 +0200
Message-id: <1194187397.472dda8585fc1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
John,     (01)

what do you exactly mean with this large, consistent, universal 
theory of everything?    (02)

> Summary:  Don't expect a large, consistent, universal theory
> of everything during this or the next few centuries, if ever.
> But we can expect to have systematic ways of working with,
> coordinating, and relating multiple approximate theories.
> Engineers do that all the time, and the systems of ontology
> we are building are primarily *engineering* artifacts, not
> science or philosophy -- although science and philosophy
> can make useful contributions.
>     (03)

The problem with this ''we will never have the perfect theory
of everything'' -attitude is that it is bunches up things in
a bit misleading way. There are two different things, a) the perfect
philosophical ontology, and b) the perfect physical theory. We 
can very well reach a perfect philosophical ontology, even
though it may be so that we'll never reach a perfect physical theory 
of everything. We may get a perfect grip of this: if we take some 
stand on one thing, this stand constrains or partly determines 
our stands towards other things: we cannot be idealists and realists 
at the same time, but can build a perfect axiomatic ontology that 
specifies the relations of realism and idealism. Then again, we never 
can know everything, like the position of all atoms in the universe, 
because it takes a bigger amount of space to store the positions, 
than the universe is. But we can in principle reach a perfect 
physical theory in the sense that we may come to know that if there 
is any sort of a universe with size X, then it is governed by certain 
laws. Our perfect universal physical theory gives an account of what 
these laws are, given the size X.    (04)

But all this talk is irrelevant in the sense that the perfect 
philosophical axiomatic ontology can affect the development of formal 
computer ontologies only indirectly. Just to be clear, I interpret 
the axioms in computer ontology as something that really give an 
account of how the things under the axioms are. In domain-independent 
cs ontologies, of course there cannot be axioms on the top, because 
these should apply to everything, which means that they are tautologies 
that actually say nothing, or then they are properties such as 
''all things can have a title''. This is just as plain as the fact that 
the more individual things there are, the more there are names for these 
things, unless different things can have the same names. The top axiom 
cannot give a fixed name for every individual; it can only say that 
''individuals have names''. Then again, in domain ontologies there can 
very well be many axioms on the top, that apply and also usefully specify 
what sorts of properties all things within the domain have. I said this
because you've repeated so many times that ''no axioms in the top''.    (05)

A.Styrman     (06)

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