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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 12:05:58 -0400
Message-id: <4E172AE6.8050601@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Chris,    (01)

I was not trying to dismiss the serious issues.  I was trying to state
them in a precise form that distinguishes what can be stated clearly
from the endless confusion that typically plagues them.    (02)

> Pat's questions are perfectly good ones that help to characterise
> an underlying issue.    (03)

I agree.  But you can't discuss them clearly without a suitable
vocabulary -- preferably with a suitable ontology for that vocabulary.    (04)

> Doug's proposal on intangible (presumably unperceivable) objects raises
> all sorts of questions about what these could be - and Pat, to my mind
> raised a perfectly good question.    (05)

I agree.  But using words like 'intangible' and 'unperceivable' states
the issues in ways that make them unsolvable.  The word 'sign', by
itself, doesn't help much.  What does help is the classification and
analysis of how signs relate to the physical world, to mathematical
and logical representations of the world, to the mechanisms of
perception and action, and to languages, both natural and artificial.    (06)

> It would be interesting to know how we manage to know about these
> unperceivable objects, and how they manage to have such an effect
> on our lives - despite have no spatial (and no temporal?) dimensions.
> If one wants intangible objects in one's ontology, then one should
> at least have some idea about how one might answer this.    (07)

Exactly!  And in order to answer such questions, you need to find
somebody who has done fundamental research in science, mathematics,
engineering, linguistics, psychology, logic, and philosophy -- and
who has integrated all those issues into a coherent ontology.    (08)

Fortunately, Charles Sanders Peirce did that.    (09)

His first peer-reviewed publication was in chemistry.  His first
published book was on astronomy -- in which he presented the method
that is still used today for estimating the distance of stars:
classify them by their spectra, and within each class relate their
brightness to the brightness of nearby stars whose distances can
be measured by parallax.    (010)

In the late 19th century, Peirce had an international scientific
reputation in two fields simultaneously:  a pioneer in logic and
the inventor of the most precise instruments then available for
measuring gravity.  He was the first person to recommend the use
of a wavelength of light for measuring length -- and he designed
the tools to use that method to measure the length of the pendulums
in his instruments for measuring gravity.    (011)

In language, he was an associate editor of the _Century Dictionary_,
for which he wrote, revised, or edited over 16,000 definitions --
the most of any editor of that dictionary and far more than most
philosophers have ever attempted.    (012)

Peirce also recommended the use of electrical switching circuits
for representing Boolean operators instead of the mechanical
computing machines by Babbage, Jevons, and Marquand.  In 1887,
he published the first article that compared the logic machines
of that time with human intelligence.  That was in volume 1 of
the _American Journal of Psychology_:    (013)

    http://www.history-computer.com/Library/Peirce.pdf    (014)

The opening paragraph of that article and the concluding pages are
more accurate and cogent than most of the verbiage written today.    (015)

> What is interesting about Pat's question is that if all records (including
> memories) of the promise are destroyed, then, one can argue that because of
> its intentional nature, it is impossible to keep the promise.    (016)

I agree.  But Peirce not only considered such questions, he developed
a systematic ontology for analyzing and answering them.  For a brief
intro, see section 2 (pp. 3-9) of the following article:    (017)

    http://jfsowa.com/pubs/rolelog.pdf    (018)

John    (019)

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