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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: Sat, 18 Apr 2009 02:20:49 -0400
Message-id: <49E97141.9030004@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat and Azamat,    (01)

The crucial distinction is not whether they studied a lot,
but whether they tested their ideas through observation and
experiment as well as extended discussion, collaboration,
and debate with their peers.    (02)

PH> The obvious response, however, is that not all autodidacts
 > are great minds. The number of uninformed, cranky, self-
 > opinionated and just plain crazy autodidacts overwhelms the
 > very few who have been geniuses.    (03)

That is very true.  Sartre's autodidact was reading an entire
library in alphabetical order.  He picked up a lot of miscellaneous
information, which he half digested in his own half-baked way.
He was typical of the great majority of cranks and kooks.    (04)

PH> Myself, I love most the ones on the edge, who were both geniuses
 > AND cranky, crazy people, such as CS Pierce and Nikola Tesla;
 > but those are even less common than the great minds.    (05)

Both Peirce and Tesla had unusual backgrounds, and they did a lot
of self study, but they weren't autodidacts in the same sense as
Sartre's example or most of the typical cranks and kooks.    (06)

Peirce's father Benjamin was the most famous American mathematician
of the mid 19th century.  Besides mathematics, Benjamin taught
Charles Latin and Greek, and the two of them worked their way
through Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (in the original German).    (07)

When Charles was a child, Benjamin had all the notables in the
Boston area over for dinner many times.  During the 1860s, Charles
founded a monthly discussion group with his best friend William
James, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and other notables.    (08)

During the 1870s, Charles did a lot of traveling in Europe, where
he met (and continued a correspondence with) De Morgan, Schröder,
and others.  His most productive period in logic was when he had
a teaching job at Johns Hopkins from 1880 to 1885 -- that was the
time when he developed and published his algebraic notation for
predicate calculus.    (09)

During the 1890s, Charles was an associate editor for the
_Century Dictionary_, for which he wrote, revised, or edited
over 16,000 definitions.  The last 20 years of his life were
highly creative periods when his combination of mathematics,
logic, and lexicography led to highly innovative ideas.    (010)

So Peirce was hardly an autodidact who worked out his ideas
in isolation by reading his way through a library.    (011)

Tesla also had a highly varied background.  He had an excellent
mathematical training (far better than Edison), and he also had
a superb visual ability that enabled him to visualize the
electromagnetic fields in a rotating AC motor or dynamo.    (012)

Tesla invented and designed the AC motors, dynamos, and
transformers that enabled George Westinghouse to build a
power station at Niagara Falls and transmit the electricity
to Pittsburgh.    (013)

Although Tesla, like Peirce, developed many ideas by himself,
he was deeply involved in testing his ideas in practice and
working with colleagues in implementing them.    (014)

Descartes and Leibniz certainly did a lot of self study, but
they had traditional educations for their time, and they
carried on extensive correspondence with their peers.    (015)

Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and others on that list also
had extensive experience in which they worked with and
learned a great deal from their peers.    (016)

Bottom line:  It is extremely misleading to lump that list
of geniuses with the typical cranks and kooks who do their
study in isolation.    (017)

John    (018)

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