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Re: [ontolog-forum] What is the role of an upper level ontology?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "doug foxvog" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 17 May 2013 12:28:43 -0400
Message-id: <ad5640d9b4eb0b2245e711e129dccda2.squirrel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Fri, May 17, 2013 00:14, John F Sowa wrote:
>> Examples are Semantic Theories of:    (01)

>>   parts & wholes,
>>   essence & identity,
>>   composition and constituency.    (02)

> I agree that many people who propose an upper ontology like to include
> such things.  Unfortunately, those are among the most complex issues
> that have been debated in philosophy for millennia -- with no consensus.    (03)

Identity is the crux of all of the above.   And the problem is that identity
for some spatio-temporal entity is human defined and human created.    (04)

What is out "there" are a bunch of quarks, leptons, and photons that
interact in various ways.  Patterns of groups of them have "interesting"
properties and various of the properties last for those patterns (which
are continually gaining and losing members) for macroscopic periods of
time.    (05)

The meaning of "identity" seems clear.  As one Supreme Court justice said
about pornography: "I know what it is when i see it."    (06)

However, identity turns out to be extremely context and viewer
dependent.  Even identity of subatomic particles can be assured
only by following them (i.e., constantly interacting with each
thereby changing its properties).    (07)

Unless one can define "identity" in a reasonable way, one can't
define non-instantaneous types of parthood, essence, composition,
and constituency reasonably.    (08)

> For parts & wholes, the following is a classic:...
> But look at the following list of 16 more recent books on mereology:
> ...    (09)

> For essence, the situation is even more hopeless.  Plato and Aristotle
> couldn't agree on how to define essence, how to recognize it, or how
> to reason about it.  Today, all the debates between P & A are just as
> hot as ever.  There's much more detail, much more debate, and even
> less agreement.  There are also skeptics from Sextus Empiricus to
> Quine who debunk the very idea.    (010)

> Identity is another swamp.  The = sign in logic and mathematics looks
> very clear and simple, but outside of mathematics identity is *never*
> fundamental.  You can observe similarity, but identity is *always*
> a context-dependent inference for a particular purpose.    (011)

Exactly.    (012)

> ... And how can you recognize identity?  By a continuous
> trajectory in space-time?  Perhaps in theory, but certainly not
> in practice.  ...    (013)

> Fundamental principle:  All the options are important and can be useful
> for various applications.  But they belong in an open-ended family of
> *microtheories*.  None of them belong in an upper level ontology.    (014)

Here i beg to disagree.  Since the options are important and can be
useful, it *is* useful to define them in an upper level ontology.
HOWEVER, such properties should not belong to classes of spatio-
temporal things in a mid level ontology.  [I suggest only the broadest s-t
classes belong in an upper level ontology.]  So i agree with John
that relating such properties
>>   parts & wholes,
>>   essence & identity,
>>   composition and constituency
to spatio-temporal things belong in specific theory microtheories.    (015)

-- doug f    (016)

> ...    (017)

> John    (018)

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