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Re: [ontolog-forum] Wittgenstein and the pictures

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 07 Aug 2008 14:49:41 -0400
Message-id: <489B43C5.5000608@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Alex, Sean, Len, Ferenc, et al.,    (01)

I would like to respond to Alex in the atom thread, but the ideas
lead to the more general thread about Wittgenstein and pictures.
So I'll begin with the comments by Alex and move to the others.    (02)

AS> ... formalization of scientific concepts (well, may be - "terms")
 > is much more difficult than common sense ones...    (03)

Yes and no.  Science has developed very rich mathematical formalisms
which are difficult to understand without a great deal of study.
But the fundamental principles are much simpler and easier to define
precisely than anything that has to do with human nature, psychology,
actions, intentions, purposes, interactions, families, societies,
businesses, governments, etc.    (04)

AS> And look - how many words do we have in "common"? Let's suppose
 > 45000. Let's put 10 meanings for each - it gives us 450 000 simple
 > formulas.  I think in Science we'll get from 10 to 100 times more
 > of complex formulas.    (05)

When you get to anything related to human behavior, psychology,
and sociology, you have vastly more than 10 meanings of each word.
Although people might use common words, such as 'like', 'love',
'hate', 'hope', 'wish', 'need', etc., it's unlikely that any two
people have identical meanings for them.  In fact, the same person
usually has different meanings for the same word with regard to
different friends, relatives, and acquaintances -- and different
meanings with regard to the *same* friend at different points
in time, even at different times of the same day.    (06)

SB> The way I was taught Wittgenstein was that the Philosophical
 > Investigations were a repudiation of Tractatus...    (07)

The word 'repudiation' is too strong.  His ideas evolved over
time, and even in the PI, his last book, he said that the new
ideas "could be seen in the right light only by contrast with
and against the background of my old way of thinking."    (08)

To understand that contrast, his _Philosophical Remarks_, which
W. wrote around 1929-1930, are an important transition phase.
In the PR, W. used the term 'Satzsystem' for a system of sentences
or propositions, of which the Tractatus was only one Satzsystem.
Unlike the Tractatus, which W. intended to cover "everything that
could be said clearly", he said in the PR that the meaning of a
word is determined by the Satzsystem in which it is used.  Outside
of a Satzsystem, he said that a word is like a "wheel turning idly".    (09)

In the PR, a Satzsystem is still a system of logic, similar to
what logicians today call a "theory", namely a deductive closure
of a set of axioms.  W's later term 'Sprachspiel' (language game
or language play) can be interpreted as a generalization that
includes a Satzsystem as a specialization.  Then the system of
the Tractatus becomes just one instance of that specialization.    (010)

SB> The temptation of "pictures in the head" arises from the way
 > our brain presents patterns ready-recognised to our conscious,
 > so that when I look out of my window at an arrangement of red,
 > white and black, I see a house, with no need for further
 > deliberate investigation.    (011)

Peirce made the point that every perception is an abduction
from fragmentary evidence.  If you had seen that arrangement
of colors every day for years, you would immediately assume that
it was a repetition of some evidence that you had thoroughly
investigated over a long period.  But if you saw it on top of
a flatbed truck that was moving a house to a new location, you
would probably do a "double take" to reinterpret that unusual
pattern you saw in the middle of a familiar street.    (012)

SB> In contrast, the paradigmatic algorithm for language is
 > classification....    (013)

Classification is fundamental to all aspects of cognition,
including perception, memory, reasoning, and language.  See
the following paper about categorization and reasoning:    (014)

    Categorization in Cognitive Computer Science    (015)

SB> There remains a difficult problem of relating pattern recognition
 > to classification (i.e. I have no idea what the answer is).  If
 > there were a fixed set of distinct patterns, then there would be
 > no problem (and, for example, machine vision would have been solved
 > long ago).    (016)

The short answer is that pattern matching is fundamental to
classification and all other forms of cognition.  And learning
by induction and guessing by abduction are essential for enabling
humans and other sentient beings to learn or create new patterns
dynamically.    (017)

SB> I note in this forum a recurring argument between on one hand
 > the "one upper ontology"/"finite set of basic concepts" school and
 > the "no single ontology" school.    (018)

Little by little, we're managing to convince people of the hopelessness
of a one-size-fits-all ontology.    (019)

SB> ... the "pattern recognition" and the "classification" schools
 > of meaning. Since ontology languages seem oriented to supporting
 > classification, it seems the former are confused.    (020)

Since classification presupposes pattern recognition, it isK
impossible to have schools that that choose one over the other.
Any declarative language -- such as a formal logic or an informal
natural language can be used as "an ontology language."    (021)

LY to FK> I have no clue what you are trying to say.    (022)

I don't blame you.    (023)

FK> As far as data structures are concerned, you either have a list
 > or an array.    (024)

What!?!  Those are just two of an open-ended number of different
kinds of patterns that can be created in a digital computer.    (025)

FK> All this new technology calls for a dynamic representation
 > of ideas...
http://www.kurzweilai.net/news/frame.html?main=/news/news_single.html?id%3D9165    (026)

That URL points to a discussion of "a man interacting with holographic
images projected before him, moving them around and resizing them."
That refutes your previous point, because those holographic images are
represented by data structures that are far more complex than just
lists and arrays.    (027)

John Sowa    (028)

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