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Re: [ontolog-forum] Axiomatic ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Rick Murphy <rick@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 11:23:51 -0400
Message-id: <48CFCF87.7050409@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Rob, many thanks for your thoughts. See below ...    (01)

Rob Freeman wrote:
> Rick,
> I agree Anderson is wide of the mark characterizing this as an end to
> scientific method.
> I even think he is wrong calling it an "End of Theory".
> If the core of scientific method is experiment, what you might say we
> have in the context of the Web is just the success of the indexed
> search experiment over the categorized search experiment. As I say, I
> don't think this indicates an "End of Theory" so much as "the birth of
> the theory that there can be lots more theories buried in a set of
> data than we've ever imagined we needed to look for before."    (02)

If experiment as the core of the scientific method implies Kuhn's 
critique of normal science, then I think it's fair to call it a success. 
But this seems to be Carr's complaint: that he's never done surveying 
and his lack of an underlying theory provides him no sense of closure.    (03)

> What we might have to abandon is not "theory", but the idea of a
> single comprehensive "Theory of Everything" (in a narrow,
> reductionist, sense.)    (04)

I've always thought this was a bad idea. It's my Taoist background, but 
a reductionist and its associated mechanistic approach to a theory of 
everything has always seemed absurd to me. Better to differentiate the 
purpose and assumptions of mechanism from the nature of organism. And be 
ready to let go.    (05)

I think it was Allan Watts who described "mind nets" as a metaphor for 
mechanisms describing the world. But, Taoism recognizes man's eternal 
struggle not to mistake the mind nets for the real. When we assign more 
significance to models than reality, we follow Baudriallard's precession 
of the simulacra.    (06)

In Baudriallard's Simulacra and Simulation, when describing the world 
through an image, theory or model:    (07)

1 It is the reflection of a basic reality.    (08)

2 It masks and perverts a basic reality.    (09)

3 It masks the absence of a basic reality.    (010)

4 It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure 
simulacrum.    (011)

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Baudrillard/Baudrillard_Simulacra.html    (012)

> But "scientific method" and "theory" at the end of the day are just
> words again, and open to dispute. Rather than arguing about what they
> mean let me point to a couple more recent publications which highlight
> what I think is good about Anderson's article:
> E.g. Greg Chaitin's "Omega and why maths has no TOEs"
> http://plus.maths.org/issue37/features/omega/    (013)

I liked this and will read it a few more times.    (014)

> R. B. Laughlin and David Pines, "The Theory of Everything":
> "For better or worse we are now witnessing a transition from the
> science of the past, so intimately linked to reductionism, to the
> study of complex adaptive matter, firmly based in experiment, with its
> hope for providing a jumping-off point for new discoveries, new
> concepts, and new wisdom."
> http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/cmp-workshop/Forms/laughlinpines.pdf    (015)

I enjoyed this paper. I spent some time this summer at the New England 
Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), a poor man's SantaFe. Don't get me 
wrong, I'm a complexity theory fan, but I'm not as optimistic as most 
folks that complexity theory is more than a better mind net that can 
just as easily lead us down the precession of the simulacra.    (016)

> These guys are surely more technically accurate, but Anderson's
> article is still good. It shows such ideas are moving into the
> mainstream.    (017)

I'm glad to see complexity theory moving into the mainstream. It's 
mentioned quite frequently on the Edge and Longnow where I'm a member, 
but as you might imagine, the popularization of complexity theory in 
these venues didn't hold up well against the rigorous discipline at NCESI.    (018)

> -Rob
> On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 9:43 AM, Rick Murphy <rick@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> Rob & All:
>> Folks might get a chuckle out of my response to Anderson called "Signs
>> of the Singularity and Why Chris Anderson and Nicholas Carr Won't Make
>> the Next Cut" here ...
>> http://phaneron.rickmurphy.org/?p=26
>> Rick
>     (019)

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