|From:||William Frank <williamf.frank@xxxxxxxxx>|
|Date:||Wed, 26 Sep 2012 11:54:19 -0400|
On Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM, John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Indeed, and as in John;s examples, every boundary we define in a continuum, and every discontituity we choose to notice, is a human abstraction, just at different levels, with different communities controlling the definitions.
To take the example of which people were speaking, " a river", a river cannot be measured, without a defintion of what constitutes the river, and of rivers in general. Why does it stop at some confluence of streams or a spring? Because we say so. The view of what the Nile river is changes more slowly that the view of what part of the river the upper nile authoritiy is concenred with. And, the latter depends on decisions of politicians, the former on decisions of geographers (who are sometimes surely influenced by politics!).
On the other hand, there is surely nothing amiss about somebody constructing a set of definitions of categories of being, in which "rivers" fall into a physical category, and school districts do not. In fact, this distinction is pretty natural to accept, and pretty easy to understand intuitively, if not so easy to define very precisely. Working on the definition, in order to explicate the way modern civilizations characterizes this, seems useful to me. Only, I am also troubled when people who have developed an ontology then say "this is the way things *really are*, instead of "this is a structure I believe we will find useful".
And of course, what an instrument measures is similarly an abstraction, only a yet lower level one, not available to most ducks I know.
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