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Re: [ontolog-forum] Inventor of the Web Gets Backing to Build Web of Dat

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2010 14:51:02 -0500
Message-id: <4BAE61A6.4080606@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Chris,    (01)

CP> The point is not that they [the Mesopotamians] had no notion
 > of counting in sense of the Pirahã - rather that they did not
 > start off with our current abstract notion of numbers.    (02)

The Indo-Europeans certainly said "three sheep" in their language,
and I'm sure that the Sumerians (or their ancestors) said something
similar.  You can't expect the earliest notation to say everything
that was in their spoken language (or their thoughts).    (03)

CP> One can make a similar history for the development of the numeral
 > zero.    (04)

That was a very late innovation -- much, much later than writing.    (05)

CP> Writing, developed first by people in Sumer, is considered
 > a hallmark of civilization and "appears to accompany the rise
 > of complex administrative bureaucracies or the conquest state.").    (06)

Writing is certainly helpful. but civilization doesn't begin with
writing.  I found the following little book useful for a time line:    (07)

The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Civilizations_,
John Haywood, Penguin Books.
http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141014487,00.html    (08)

In the Near East, civilization began with farming communities that
settled in villages around 9,000 BC.   Pottery came in around 7,000 BC.
Copper at 6,200 BC.  Irrigation at 5,500 BC. Plow, 4,500 BC.  Bronze,
3,380 BC.  Writing, 3,400 BC in Sumeria.    (09)

In the Americas, the Mayans had a very sophisticated system of
writing (on stone and a kind of paper) and a complex calendar.    (010)

But the Incas had a very large empire without the usual kind
of writing.  However, they did have a kind of string-and-knot
system called khipu for some kind of record keeping:    (011)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/12/science/12INCA.html    (012)

They had d a very large bureaucracy with a hierarchical structure
that enabled a single monarch at the top to control a vast
territory.  They seemed to have about 1331 officials for every
10,000 people.    (013)

In summary, the main point I was trying to make is that meaning
is primarily based on the mechanisms of speech.  Other innovations,
including writing, may be significant, but they affect meaning
through their influence on the same mechanisms used for speech.    (014)

John    (015)

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