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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology of Self Interest

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2011 14:27:44 -0400
Message-id: <4E46C220.30009@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rich, Richard, Avril, and Azamat,    (01)

I'll start with the following point by Azamat:    (02)

> I believe these human issues are more actual than the talks about
> the microorganisms self-interests...    (03)

Aristotle definitely considered politics, which he discussed in his
books on ethics and in his treatise on the constitution of Athens.
In addition to Athens, he and his students compiled studies of the
legal and political systems of all the cities and states in the
ancient world.    (04)

But in his analysis of psychology and motivation, he treated the
human psyche as one end of a continuum from the vegetative psyche
of plants up to the rational (human) psyche.  If he had been aware
of bacteria, he would be been delighted to add another level.  He
very well understood the importance of recognizing and analyzing
the differences at each level.    (05)

> One bacterium, Strepta, senses a chemical gradient she associates
> with problems to come.  So Strepta sends a chemical message M to
> the film at large.
> Further away in the film, Chlamy identifies the message...    (06)

An important reason for going all the way down to bacteria is that
we need to consider messages and message interpretation as processes
performed by living things without having to consider consciousness
and other complications.  That enables us to develop a definition of
purpose that can be generalized to robots as well as living things.    (07)

But adding personality to the bacteria creates complications that
we should avoid in the definitions at the lowest levels.    (08)

> I do not necessarily think an “ontology of self-interest” is what has
> the most utility. I find it more useful to think about an “ontology
> of knowledge” itself, where knowledge is an emergent property of
> an evolutionary system.    (09)

I agree.  That is a reason why Aristotle started with the vegetative
psyche at the bottom and asked what more was needed at each level
to support added functionality.    (010)

> The hierarchy of levels is central to e.g. David
> Bohm's ontology and a good intro to that can be found e.g. from Paavo
> Pylkkänen's Mind, Matter and the Implicate Order.    (011)

I think Aristotle would agree.    (012)

There's much more to be said, and I'll write more later.    (013)

John    (014)

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