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Re: [ontolog-forum] web-syllogism-and-worldview

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 2009 14:26:21 -0400
Message-id: <49EB6CCD.7090805@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azamat,    (01)

Before I comment on your last note, let me say that I am not and never
have been a logical positivist and that I blame the logical positivists
and their friends (Frege, Mach, Russell, Carnap, et al.) for distorting
many issues about the nature of language, logic, and science.    (02)

AA> Nobody can describe natural phenomena with logical syntax. Otherwise
 > science would be redundant.    (03)

The syntax of symbolic (or mathematical) logic is nothing more nor less
than a version of the syntax of mathematics.  And that syntax has been
extremely successful for describing natural phenomena.    (04)

I sympathize with the logical positivists for wanting to use symbolic
logic to state the facts and theories of science.  That is possible.
But it's *impossible* to formalize the preliminary stages of debate
and analysis *prior to* formalization.    (05)

The simple reason is that mathematics of any kind (including symbolic
logic) makes statements with sharp, absolute criteria of precision.
(Even fuzzy logic and probability theory make precise statements
about fuzziness and probabilities.)  In the initial unsettled stages
of research, such precision is impossible.  It's also impossible to
quantify the exact amount of fuzziness.  That's why ordinary language
is far better suited to the *development* of a theory than to the
final statement of the theory.    (06)

For more discussion of these issues, I strongly recommend the papers
by the chemist Roald Hoffmann about the nature of science in general
and chemistry in particular.    (07)

Following is an excerpt from the note I sent yesterday.    (08)

___________________________________________________________________    (09)

[Hoffmann] talks about "What really goes on in a chemical paper":    (010)

http://www.roaldhoffmann.com/pn/modules/Downloads/docs/Under_the_Surface_of_the_Chemical_Article.pdf    (011)

Following is a quotation:    (012)

 > The irrational seems to be effectively suppressed in the
 > written scientific word. But of course scientists are human,
 > no matter how much they might pretend in their articles
 > that they are not. Their inner illogical forces push out.
 > Where? If you donít allow them in the light of day, on the
 > printed page, then they will creep out or explode in the
 > night, where things are hidden, and no one can see how
 > nasty you are. I refer, of course, to the anonymous refereeing
 > process, and the incredible irrational responses unleashed
 > in it by perfectly good and otherwise rational
 > scientists. You have to let go sometime . .    (013)

In another article, he comments on his experience in attending
a conference of biologists talking about molecular biology:    (014)

 > The more molecular they were, the less I understood.  The
 > reason is that I have been bypassed by several generations
 > of biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetic engineering.
 > And what jargon!  It was my fault to let it happen, but also
 > there were a couple of people there who could not conceive
 > that someone could not know what 16S rRNA was.    (015)

http://www.roaldhoffmann.com/pn/modules/Downloads/docs/Thermophiles_in_Kamchatka.pdf    (016)

Note the implications of that comment:  a chemist who won a
Nobel prize in organic chemistry cannot understand the jargon
of biologists who are talking about chemistry.    (017)

This phenomenon is true of every field, not just chemistry.
Imagine an expert on operating systems for Windows, Unix,
Mac, or IBM mainframes going to a conference for one of
the other systems.    (018)

Following is Hoffman's web site:    (019)

    http://www.roaldhoffmann.com/pn/    (020)

There are 383 articles in his list of publications.  To find the
more general ones, click on "sort by popularity".    (021)

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