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

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 08 Jul 2011 09:23:40 -0400
Message-id: <4E1704DC.2050700@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat and Doug,    (01)

Philosophers have discovered, created, and occasionally solved
huge numbers of problems over the centuries.  On the whole, I
would say that their influence has been positive.  We wouldn't
have modern science and technology if the philosophers hadn't
thoroughly analyzed the many thorny issues.    (02)

But philosophers often create problems that nobody but a philosopher
would ever worry about.  Some amount of worrying can guard against
disaster.  But too much worrying can cause depression and despair.    (03)

I have recommended Peirce's philosophy for one very important
reason:  it can cure an enormous amount of philosophical disease.
Peirce created a lot of terminology of his own, but in general
he eliminated more useless terminology and worrying than he created.
Furthermore, all his terms can be mapped directly to logic -- that's
not true of all philosophy.    (04)

>> When do contracts exist?
>> Pardon for the tangential post:  There is one point in this discussion
>> that I am curious about -
>> do contracts (or other conceptual works) exist even if
>> all tangible record of them (including the record in the creator's brain)
>> disappear?  This was mentioned in Doug F's post (below)    (05)

> This is a few steps past what i referred to.  It really becomes a meta-
> physical issue: "if all evidence of a non-tangible ceases to exist, does
> the non-tangible cease to exist as well?"    (06)

This is a symptom of a philosophical disease.  Please remember the basic
triad of Mark, Token, and Type.  Every contract is a type, which can be
embodied in one or more tokens.    (07)

Every type is of the same nature as any mathematical structure.  An
example is the mathematical definition of a dodecahedron.  That defines
a type.  Every physical object that looks like a dodecahedron is a more
or less perfect token of that type.  Asking whether a mathematical
entity exists if there are no embodiments or no mathematicians who
learned or remember the definition is a symptom that somebody needs
an aspirin to avoid an incipient philosophical headache.    (08)

> How would one ever know that an identical conceptual work was created
> if all knowledge and records of the previous work ceased to exist?    (09)

That question could cause a migraine.    (010)

> I try to make my classes as unfuzzy as possible.    (011)

> This is useful for most purposes.  Cyc generally does the same.
> But it does find fuzzy classes useful for NLP stages.    (012)

This is another issue that Peirce addressed.  He used the word 'vague'
instead of 'fuzzy', but the issues are the same.    (013)

Peirce insisted that vagueness is *not* a degenerate stage from some
original Platonic realm where everything is precise.  Instead, he
noted that continuity is all pervasive.  No discrete set of words,
types, or classes can precisely describe the physical world.    (014)

For mathematical analysis, we often need precision in order to
prove theorems.  Just think of a dodecahedron.  We couldn't prove
theorems about them if we had to worry about the rough edges.
But we have to remember that every physical token will be an
imperfect embodiment for which many of those theorems will be
approximations.  Sometimes they'll be completely false.    (015)

John    (016)

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