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Re: [ontolog-forum] Why most classifications are fuzzy

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2011 18:00:07 -0400
Message-id: <4E162C67.6030206@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Mike, Doug, and Gary,    (01)

Contracts are a special case of signs, for which there is a long
history of analysis and classification.  Peirce noted the triad
of Mark, Token, and Type, which applies to signs of every kind:    (02)

  1. A mark is a observable physical manifestation prior to any kind
     of interpretation.  For example, a pattern of green and yellow.
     (By the way, just calling it a "pattern of green and yellow"
     is already an interpretation, so you should think of it as
     the initial sensory impression *before* any interpretation.)    (03)

  2. A token is an interpretation and classification of a mark
     as an instance of some type.  Example:  a dandelion in
     the lawn.    (04)

  3. A type is a description or specification, which, if true of
     a mark, can be used to classify it as a token of the given type.
     Example:  a picture or written description that has sufficient
     detail to classify a mark as a token of a dandelion.    (05)

The same mark, for different intents and purposes, can be classified
as a token of many different types.  For example, the same pattern
could be interpreted as a token of a weed, a flower, a salad green,
or composting material.    (06)

> All financial products are contracts, and contracts are a real
> thing regardless of whether they consist of paper in a vault
> (as a few still do) or are maintained electronically.    (07)

> English usually uses the same word for the work and for physical
> instantiations of that work.  A contract, book, poem, or law
> maintains its existence whether or not written forms of them
> are maintained or destroyed.    (08)

This is a discussion that can be clarified by Peirce's triad.
Every mark is a perceptible physical object (but the means of
perception might require some instrument such as a microscope,
telescope, DVD player, or computer).    (09)

The same mark can be interpreted in many different ways (for example,
paper for starting a fire, records to be preserved, or trash to be
discarded).  Furthermore, many different tokens of the same type
can be created (e.g., copies for all interested parties).    (010)

> So i would maintain that the financial product is intangible.    (011)

The type is abstract information.  But it must be instantiated
in one or more tokens for use in a court of law or other legal
process.    (012)

> I think that we largely agree that in the examples, we are
> talking about models of reality and not reality itself.    (013)

Both models and whatever reality they model are perceptible.
Therefore, they are marks that can be interpreted as tokens
of various types.    (014)

When we say that one mark is a model of another mark, we mean
that there is some type of which they are both tokens.  That is
a more general way of saying that the two marks, as physical
manifestations, are distinct, but that they both conform to
some particular type (i.e., description or specification).    (015)

There's a lot more to Peirce's semiotics, but this first of many
triads shows how it provides a way of thinking and a vocabulary
that can clarify and resolve many debates.    (016)

John    (017)

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