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Re: [ontolog-forum] semantics of the mKR language

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2009 12:36:15 -0400
Message-id: <49E8AFFF.9080904@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azamat,    (01)

Studying and learning by oneself is extremely important.  But it
is essential to test that learning against reality and with the
discipline of peer review, open discussion, and interaction with
experts in the field.    (02)

The term 'autodidact' literally means 'self taught', but it has
the connotations of being self taught in isolation from any testing
against reality and the discipline of defending the ideas in
open discussion and analysis.    (03)

For those connotations, I suggest Sartre's story _La Nausée_, which
has a character called the autodidact, who is engaged in a project
of reading all the books in the library in alphabetical order.    (04)

There are also many other people that have done a lot of reading
without the opportunity to test their ideas by discussion and
analysis with experts and their peers.  Those are the autodidacts
that give the word a very bad connotation.    (05)

 > M. Twain noted: "I have never let my schooling interfere with
 > my education."    (06)

Mark Twain was the opposite of an autodidact.  He learned from the
proverbial "school of hard knocks" -- directly from reality and
by being tested with interactions (often painful) with his peers.    (07)

 > Socrates, Descartes, Avicenna, Leibniz, Herbert Spencer, Nietzsche,
 > Karl Popper; Michael Faraday, Wallace, Thomas Henry Huxley,
 > Thomas Alva Edison; Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln.    (08)

Every one of them had the discipline of very solid study, a firm
grounding in reality, and free and open discussion and analysis
of ideas with peers.  They were most definitely *not* autodidacts.    (09)

Socrates is the premier example of learning and teaching through
open discussion and analysis.    (010)

Michael Faraday had very little formal education, but he was
apprenticed to a bookbinder at the age of 14, where he did a lot
of reading.  By itself, that would make him an autodidact, but he
later attended four lectures by the famous chemist, Humphrey Davy.
After the lectures, he asked for a job as an assistant, and he
spent many years in Davy's laboratory learning how to do careful
experiments.  Faraday never learned much mathematics, but he worked
with Maxwell when the two of them collaborated on the translation
of Faraday's intuitions into Maxwell's famous equations.    (011)

The chief negative characteristic of an autodidact is a closed
mind that has been developed by isolated reading without the
discipline of open discussion and testing.    (012)

And by the way, that is one of my concerns about the movement
for "home schooling".  It's extremely important for parents
to teach their children as much as they can, but it's just
as important for the children to have open interaction with
other adults and children with a very broad range of ideas.    (013)

In my own case, I learned an enormous amount of science and
math from my father, but he was a terrible teacher.  Whenever
he tried to teach me, he did it in the most excruciatingly
boring way imaginable.  On the other hand, he was always
willing to answer any questions I had.  So my most important
learning was by doing my own reading and asking him questions.    (014)

None of those famous people you cited above acquired their
expertise just by reading.  They had all tested their learning
through interactions with other people and the world.    (015)

John    (016)

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