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Re: [ontolog-forum] Dennett on the Darwinism of Memes

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 01 May 2013 03:09:01 -0400
Message-id: <5180BF8D.4030701@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Peter and Maxwell,    (01)

> Before making a post, please check to see if it is
> contributing to this community's mission    (02)

Any discussion of the existence or nonexistence of God is almost
certainly irrelevant.  But the central issue in this thread is the
concept of memes and whether they or similar concepts are useful
to consider in ontology or some applications of ontology.    (03)

The issues that MRG raises illustrate some points about how questions
of ontology should be addressed.    (04)

> god is
>  (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and
>   ruler of the universe; the supreme being
>  A superhuman being or spirit worshipped as having  power over
>   nature or human fortunes
> A concept is...
> Assertion...    (05)

This is an example of how *not* to proceed.  It states definitions
and makes assertions with no explanation or citation of sources
that might help explain the issues.    (06)

The online Merriam Webster, for example, gives the following options:
> 1. capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as
>    a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped
>      as creator and ruler of the universe
>    b Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over
>      all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind
> 2. : a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes
>    and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling
>    a particular aspect or part of reality
> 3. : a person or thing of supreme value
> 4. : a powerful ruler    (07)

I won't claim that the Merriam-Webster is an ideal source for ontology,
but it is better than pulling definitions out of thin air.  The people
who wrote those definitions are professional lexicographers, who write
definitions that fit a large collection of citations of actual use.
Their definitions are also reviewed and edited by other professional
lexicographers.    (08)

Any such source should not be considered definitive, but it is usually
helpful as a first step in outlining the range of options.    (09)

The definition by MRG is similar to 1a, which is just one option under
"the supreme or ultimate reality."  As another option under 1a,
Spinoza identified God with Nature as the supreme reality.    (010)

Einstein, for example, said on some occasions that he was an atheist.
But on other occasions, he said that he believed in Spinoza's God.    (011)

Both of those answers are consistent.  when Albert E. said that
he was an atheist, he was denying a definition of a personal God
that resembled the divinity in the Judeo-Christian tradition.    (012)

But when he said that he believed in Spinoza's God, he expressed
sympathy with Spinoza's equation of God with Nature.  That view
is sometimes called pantheism.  But some people call it atheism.    (013)

I could continue this kind of criticism of every point in MRG's note.
But this analysis is sufficient to show that the topic is very complex,
the number of options is immense, and one should not expect to find
or to create a definitive position in this forum.    (014)

John    (015)

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