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Re: [ontolog-forum] History of the Atomic Hypothesis

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2008 02:08:23 -0400
Message-id: <488C10D7.1010107@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Gary,    (01)

John Dewey was an intelligent observer, but that is not one of his
more cogent observations:    (02)

 > Among other things he contrasted  the modern, relatively open world
 > of science stretching beyond any assignable external bounds with
 > an older natural philosophy in which  "the world which men once
 > saw with their eyes, portrayed in their imaginations, and repeated
 > in their plans of conduct, was a world of a limited number of
 > classes, kinds, forms, distinct in quality and arranged in a
 > graded order of superiority and inferiority."    (03)

Serious criticism addresses specifics with direct quotations
by the authors who are being criticized.  Statements like that
are attacks on strawmen that have little or no relationship
to anyone in particular.    (04)

Look at Plato's dialogs with the open ended variety of points of
view presented by the visitors.  The presocratics, such as Heraclitus
and Pythagoras, had very widely divergent views.  By the middle ages,
Aristotle had been almost completely forgotten.  In the 12th century,
the new translations of Aristotle from Arabic created a revolution.    (05)

The first reaction of the church leaders was to condemn the teaching
of Aristotle, because his writings had been adopted by the Moslems.
But Thomas Aquinas made Aristotle safe for Christianity.  Yet as soon
as Aristotle's works had been assimilated, there was an immediate
divergence into a multiplicity of different ways of accepting them,
rejecting them, building on them, and diverging from them.    (06)

When Francis Bacon criticized the pedantic style of teaching Aristotle
a few centuries later, he was not looking at ongoing research, but at
the pedantic style of introductory teaching.  If you look at how science
is being taught today, you will find some brilliant teachers who show
their students the "open world of science stretching beyond..."  But
you will also find an enormous number of mediocre teachers who plod
their way pedantically through the assigned curriculum.    (07)

One of Dewey's major contributions was to educational reform, but
when he was a graduate student at Johns Hopkins, he made a blunder
about his own education that he regretted for the rest of his life.
He had signed up for Peirce's course on logic, but he dropped it
after the first semester because it was "too mathematical."  Ever
after, he was very sorry that he had done so.    (08)

John    (09)

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