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Re: [ontolog-forum] Data Models v. Ontologies (again)

To: edbark@xxxxxxxx
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 17:57:12 -0400
Message-id: <483C83B8.5000804@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed,    (01)

I believe that you are assuming too narrow a definition
of the word 'theory' and too sharp a distinction between
engineers and scientists.    (02)

According to the Merriam-Webster 10th Collegiate dictionary,
the first citation for the word 'theory' in English was 1597,
and 'theoria' was used in Latin and Greek for many centuries
before that.  Your definition would exclude most of chemistry
before the 1930s, and almost all of biology before the 1980s.    (03)

It would also exclude empirical laws that related pressure,
volume, and temperature of a gas, because nobody before Boltzmann
could give any explanation for those laws.    (04)

In fact, even Newton's theory of gravitation would be excluded
because he had no understanding of what caused lumps of matter
to attract one another.  And many 19th century physicists
(Ernst Mach was the most notorious) called Boltzmann's theories
unscientific because nobody had ever observed an atom.  Even
Max Planck was skeptical of Boltzmann's theories until he found
that the mathematics could be applied to radiation as well.    (05)

According to your definition, even after the observation of
atoms, Boltzmann's work and even Planck's wouldn't qualify
as theories because they didn't know why atoms would bounce
against one another or why light would occur in quanta.    (06)

I was recently watching a PBS special about the technology
underlying the Samurai swords.  Through painstaking trial
and error methods, they had discovered principles for the
metallurgy and forging that produced steel that was superior
to anything in the west before the 20th century.  They had
a vocabulary and methods for observing, recording, analyzing
the process, and determining what went wrong when mistakes
were made.  They recorded their methods in writing and taught
them in ways that their apprentices could master and reproduce.    (07)

Today, metallurgists have analyzed the swords and the methods
for forging them and have found the methods to be nearly optimal.
Their methods of discovery and testing are as good or better
than today's methods for discovering and testing new drugs.
The chemists who synthesize molecules are using "science" by
your definition, but nobody knows why the drugs the chemists
synthesize work, even when they have been tested with according
to "scientific" standards.    (08)

> I personally do not believe that philosophy is the "science"
> of knowledge engineering...    (09)

I didn't use the word 'philosophy', I used the name of Aristotle,
whom I called one of the great knowledge engineers (along with
Leibniz, Kant, Peirce, and Whitehead).  Peirce, by the way,
called Aristotle a "great naturalist".    (010)

John    (011)

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