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Re: [ontolog-forum] Tighter control of ontolog forum?

To: <paoladimaio10@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2010 17:13:04 +0200
Message-id: <29F336F640CE414E91949E69FC82F70E@klaptop>
Dear Paola,    (01)

You are of course fully entitled to this point of view:    (02)

> (I know some people would like to rescrict the conversation on 
> this list to a single point of view)    (03)

But I am sure the more productive lists on the Internet are those 
that successfully concentrate on their core themes and objectives, 
even if at the cost of sometimes appearing to apply some friendly 
censorship.    (04)

It also appears that too many who are interested in those core 
themes are voting with their feet by choosing not to take part or 
even listen further.    (05)

But what characterizes those core themes?  From the statements at 
http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?OntologCharter, and at risk 
of their dismissal as merely my own point of view, I venture to 
abstract and project some of their features:    (06)

1.  The common ontological background is the extreme complexity of 
our given world that is not always amenable to being captured by 
sharable concepts.  This is the area of the soft issues you like 
raising, of infinities and and ineffabilities, and I must agree that 
they are relevant and even foundational to our work.  But I do 
believe that most members of this list are fully aware of that 
background, and of many of the myriad alternative and complementary 
points of view that so easily lead to much fruitless verbosity.  So 
they are impatient to build further from there, in practical ways. 
And, speaking for myself, it is most unclear to me how further 
brainstorming on Eastern philosophies (for example) might contribute 
to such practice.  If onus there be in that matter, I do believe 
this list as a whole is happy to leave it to other lists.    (07)

2.  Thus what is presently known as "ontology", as an engineering 
exercise, sets itself the task of understanding the power of 
verbalization and its conceptual constructs, despite their frequent 
distortions of the truth and their impotence as complete tools.  But 
if they are aptly and correctly applied, we are sure, much more can 
be attained by building on the successes of our symbolic 
quasi-realities.    (08)

3.  But we're all in this together, so objectivity or sharability is 
primary.  The scientific worldview, and everyday commonsense in 
general, of all kinds, represent the most promising bases of that 
sharable kind that are available to us.  And mysticisms and 
infinities etc the least promising ones from that point of view. 
(That's my pov, at least...)    (09)

4.  Practicality, given the urgency of the many problems confronting 
humanity as well as the enormous scale of the still unexploited 
opportunities doubtlessly still only implicit in complex reality, 
demands collaborativeness.  But collaboration in the extremely 
distributed and varied world of the Internet is not a simple affair. 
So a major task is to design and build conceptual edifices to enable 
scalable teamwork and interoperability of social systems, the better 
to optimize communication, promote the participation of everyone and 
maximize humanity's constructive resources.    (010)

5.  It is surely true that present AI, logic and mathematical 
methods are not necessarily up to all the information system 
challenges, but they will not be transcended by a total disregarding 
of their respective strengths.  So let us rejoice in the amazing 
resources along those lines that are available to us all on this 
list!    (011)

One of my favourite sayings is from Peter Medawar, Nobel prizewinner 
and biologist:    (012)

    Theories are not displaced by facts, they are replaced by better 
theories.    (013)

So let's try to stick with practically-constructive theorizing 
rather than indulging in already-familiar wistfulnesses with little 
proven record of socially-enriching achievement above a certain 
basic and rather obvious level.    (014)

All my own crude and heavy pov still, but I suspect also largely 
that of the majority on this list...    (015)

Paola, you have much more experience of Eastern traditions and 
cultures than I do, but where I live it is also easy to be very 
aware of how those in other cultures are so readily infuriated by 
what so often seems to be (and is...) Western ignorance, arrogance 
and condescension.  Undaunted however, I prefer to see our common 
cultural melting-pot as yet another facet of globalization.  And it 
does indeed seem to me and many others, trying to look objectively, 
that the non-chattering classes world-wide are very busy with 
lustily embracing it as such too, with at least glimmers of 
recognition of the multiple sources of our shared intellectual 
heritage.    (016)

Christopher     (017)

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