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Re: [ontolog-forum] intangibles (was RE: Why most classifications are fu

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 05 Aug 2011 21:53:23 -0400
Message-id: <4E3C9E93.3060709@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rich,    (01)

> There are some interesting and major differences in our world views,
> which show up in this latest difference in our convictions.    (02)

If you stated precise technical definitions of your terms, I don't
believe there would be any distinguishable difference between a model
and a possible world.    (03)

>> The word 'fantasy' is a value judgment.  A more neutral term
>> is 'specification'.  The term 'abstraction of reality' is
>> another term for 'specification'.    (04)

> Here we disagree on nomenclature based on world views.
> An abstraction of reality is not usually a specification,
> though a specification is often an abstraction of reality.    (05)

By "specification", I mean a sequence of statements in some version
of logic or mathematics or some very precise natural language that
could be translated directly to some version of logic.    (06)

By "abstraction from reality", I mean exactly the same kind of
specification.  Please show me any kind of "abstraction from
reality" that cannot be expressed in logic, mathematics, or
some precise NL that could be translated to math or logic.    (07)

> A model is based on past history – the reality comes first, not last.    (08)

Models can come from anywhere.  The chemist Friedrich August Kekulé
was trying to imagine how 6 carbon atoms and 6 hydrogen atoms could
be connected to form a benzene molecule.  But he had a dream:    (09)

> ...I was sitting writing on my textbook, but the work did not
> progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire
> and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time
> the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye,
> rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now
> distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows
> sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting
> in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes
> had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly
> before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke; and this
> time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the
> consequences of the hypothesis.    (010)

That was the fantasy that led him to formulate his model of the
benzene molecule.  He had a great deal of knowledge of chemistry
as a prerequisite, but the image of a snake seizing its own
tail is just as fantastic as anybody's possible world.    (011)

If you want more examples, look at Einstein's fantasy about
a train moving at the speed of light as inspiration for his
theory of relativity.  Einstein had a PhD in physics, but he
derived his model from a fantasy that was impossible to
implement in reality.    (012)

Buckminster Fuller was an engineer with a "quirky genius" and
a fantastic imagination for creating highly innovative designs.
Examples include his geodesic domes, dymaxion car, and many
other marvelous inventions of varying degrees of practicality.    (013)

> while design, if properly performed and validated, takes about
> 30% and testing takes about 50%.  The other 12% is chewed up
> in document production for the various developmental stages.    (014)

Talk about fantasy -- that characterization of engineering is
based on numbers pulled out of thin air.  Different engineers,
scientists, and poets have different mixes of discipline and
fantasy in their ways of thinking and working.  Some poets are
a lot more down to earth than some engineers and scientists.    (015)

> I think a lot of our disagreements are based on these differences
> in world view, which acknowledges the subjectivity of our separate
> world views.    (016)

I spent 30 years working at IBM, where I had to justify my paycheck
with something that had some relevance to IBM's bottom line.  I also
had to provide business cases that would sound reasonable to hard-
nosed accountants.  And I am now a partner in a business where we
are not taking any research funds.  Instead, we are developing our
technology by working on contracts for customers whose primary
criterion is whether we solve their problems within a given budget
and deadline.    (017)

So I am very familiar with what an engineer has to do.  I also
know something about what a scientist or a philosopher does.
And there is no sharp boundary line.  Models and possible worlds
are specified in exactly the same way, and there is a continuum
in range of practicality and closeness to hard-edged reality.    (018)

John    (019)

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