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Re: [ontolog-forum] Universal Basic Semantic Structures

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "doug foxvog" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2012 00:13:12 -0400
Message-id: <aa34707be63d2b74a49062e60ffd89eb.squirrel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Wed, September 26, 2012 17:03, John F Sowa wrote:
> ...
> AS
>> Rom Harre:Behind the mereological
>> fallacy. Philosophy, 87(341):329–352, 2012.
>> According to Harre p 351-2, mereology’s lack of the ability to model
>> contexts has led to mereological fallacies, where contexts are
>> confusingly mixed:
> RM
>> “the brain is not a part of a person in the way that a grain of sand
>> is part of a beach. It is part of a person’s body and a person’s body
>> is not a part of that person in the relevant sense.    (01)

I would consider this philosophical game playing.  I'm guessing that RM
is discussing a person as a "soul", a "life force" or event. I'm not sure
if he considers a person not to be an animal, or an animal not to have
a body as a part.    (02)

A physical animal that lives and has a body as its complete physical
part is a useful concept.  Once the animal is dead, the body may still
remain, but it ceases its functions. [Since not all cells die simultaneously
(normally), some of the functions continue after the animal's death.]
Such an animal would have its various organs, including its brain (for
those animals that have brains) as physical parts.  It does not have
the organs as parts "in the way that" a beach has each grain of sand
as a part.  The beach can have numerous grains of sand removed and
still be "the same" beach.  If an animal had various organs removed,
it would cease to exist as an animal, i.e., it would die.  Perhaps an
animal could be said to have cells as parts more "in the way that"
a beach has grains of sand as parts, in that numerous cells can be
removed yet the animal remains "the same" animal.    (03)

Modeling the animal subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens is reasonable.
Instances of this subspecies have various organs (including brains) as
parts.    (04)

If Rom wants to use the word "Person" to mean something else, then
his usage is different from that most commonly used.  Instead of
arguing, "a person’s body is not a part of that person", which seems to
me to be a claim about the "real world", he should say, "i am using the
word 'person' to mean an intangible ..., which means that it can have
no physical parts; such a person would 'have' a body, but not as a
physical part."    (05)

Such a concept for "person" is useful when discussing religious,
spiritual, or otherwise supernatural subjects.  This kind of "person"
is the kind that is referred to when considering a person going to
heaven, hell, or purgatory after they die or "coming back" as another
entity.    (06)

If "person" is taken to be a sentience (an event) then people can
discuss whether such people cease to exist when they die.  If they
consider a similar concept for "animal", the question of it continuing
after death could also arise.    (07)

In most contexts, however, the concepts of physical animals and
people are useful.    (08)

> Rom was a frequent visitor at Binghamton University in the program
> on Philosophy and Computers and Cognitive Science (PACCS).  I was
> also lecturing in that program, and we had some good conversations.
> Unlike many Oxford philosophers, Rom has a well-balanced view of how
> logic relates to reality.  For the record, two Oxfordians who have
> misguided views about the way logic is related to reality are
> Peter Strawson and Michael Dummet.
> Following is an abstract of another talk by Rom H.
> John
> _____________________________________________________________________
> Why Brains Can't Think: Exposing the Mereological Fallacy
> Rom Harré, Emeritus Fellow of Linacre College
> Monday 16th July, 7pm: Rewley House
> As the 21st Century opened, the discipline of 'academic psychology'
> seemed to be separating into two radically distinct and perhaps
> irreconcilable domains. Cultural/Discursive psychology focused on the
> discursive means for the management of meaning in a world of norms,
> while Neuropsychology focused on the investigation of brain processes
> loosely correlated with intuitively identified cognitive processes.
> These two domains can be reconciled in a hybrid science that brings them
> together into a synthesis more powerful than anything psychologists have
> achieved before.    (09)

> The marriage of Neuroscience and Cultural/Discursive psychology is based
> on the insights of many critics of the causal framework for psychology,
> but the most insightful has been one philosopher in particular, Ludwig
> Wittgenstein. Hybrid psychology depends on the intuition that while
> brains can be assimilated into the world of persons, as among the
> instruments people use for carrying out many of their projects, people
> cannot be assimilated into the world of cell structures and molecular
> processes. To suppose that they can be has been called the 'mereological
> fallacy' “ ascribing attributes of wholes to some of their parts."    (010)

This seems a fancy way to say, "the whole is more than the sum of the
parts."  Systems are made up of components:  they have components
as parts.  However, the interconnections among the components and
the roles they play in the system is of a different order than that of the
individual components.    (011)

Some attributes of wholes can certainly be ascribed to some of their
parts.  A person lifts a book => the person's hand lifts the book.    (012)

> People think. Brains, parts of people's bodies, do not.    (013)

I find this a strange claim.  The given snippet does not support this.
He just jumped from cell structures and molecular processes to a
whole organ.    (014)

I suppose it might depend upon Rom's definition of "think".    (015)

Lots of people distinguish "mind" (some of what a brain does) from
"brain".  Does Rom recognize such a "mind" as part of a human?
Does he consider that a "mind" thinks?    (016)

-- doug foxvog    (017)

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