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Re: [ontolog-forum] Axiomatic ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 16:28:02 -0400
Message-id: <48D016D2.5010706@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rick and Rob,    (01)

RF>> 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)

My only quarrel with that statement is over the word 'birth'.
Some logicians I admire (among them, Peirce, Whitehead, and the
later Wittgenstein) have said or implied something similar.  In
fact they would agree that the number of possible theories and
even theories that are reasonably accurate for useful applications
is either infinite or far beyond our practical ability to count.    (03)

At the end of this note are some of my favorite quotations from
Whitehead, Peirce, and Robert Frost.  If you do a global change
of Frost's word 'poem' to 'theory', you would get a statement
that Peirce, Whitehead, and Wittgenstein would have agreed with.    (04)

Actually, they would have agreed with Robert Frost's original
with the word 'poetry' in it.  That attitude should be contrasted
with Rudolf Carnap, whose favorite phrase for denouncing some
idea was "That's poetry!"    (05)

___________________________________________________________________    (06)

Alfred North Whitehead:    (07)

    Human knowledge is a process of approximation.  In the focus of
    experience, there is comparative clarity.  But the discrimination
    of this clarity leads into the penumbral background.  There are
    always questions left over.  The problem is to discriminate exactly
    what we know vaguely.    (08)

Charles Sanders Peirce:    (09)

    It is easy to speak with precision upon a general theme.  Only,
    one must commonly surrender all ambition to be certain.  It is
    equally easy to be certain.  One has only to be sufficiently vague.
    It is not so difficult to be pretty precise and fairly certain at
    once about a very narrow subject.    (010)

Robert Frost:    (011)

    I've often said that every poem solves something for me in life.
    I go so far as to say that every poem is a momentary stay against
    the confusion of the world....  We rise out of disorder into order.
    And the poems I make are little bits of order.    (012)

Alfred North Whitehead:    (013)

    We must be systematic, but we should keep our systems open.    (014)

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