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

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 23 May 2013 08:18:57 -0400
Message-id: <519E0931.7080409@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew and Hans,    (01)

I agree with the point that Hans is trying to make, but I would
characterize it by asking the following two questions:    (02)

  1. Physical laws:  Do you believe that the laws of physics exist?
     In other words, are the laws of physics really real in the same
     sense that the things you see and touch are real?   (I don't mean
     any particular statement, such as F=ma or E=mc^2, but the laws
     that govern the universe, of which any human statement is an
     approximation.)    (03)

  2. Social laws, norms, or habits:  Do you believe that social
     or cultural laws, norms, or habits exist?  For example,  people
     in the US drive on the right side of the road, and people in
     the UK drive on the left.  That convention began as a habit that
     became a social norm long before it became a traffic law.  It is
     so real that a failure to observe it can lead to death.  Does that
     law, norm, or habit have a real existence?    (04)

> I go for strong 4D which has the 4D extent as the identity of
> any individual (not a set or relationship). So I do not even know
> what it means to exist if you have a temporal but not a spatial extent.    (05)

The laws of physics have the 4D extent of the entire universe from
about 13.8 billion years ago to whatever time (if any) when it may
disintegrate or be swallowed up in something else.    (06)

But how would that distinguish the laws of physics from the matter
and energy in it?  Each particle (quark, lepton, photon, etc.) has
a position (up to the limits of the uncertainty principle), but
the laws have no position.  They govern everything, but it is
meaningless to assign any position to the laws.    (07)

What about the laws of driving on the right or left?  Their extent
may be a country or even a continent.  Canada, Mexico, the USA,
Central and South America all have the "same" law, but each of
them has a different traffic code.  You can't point to any one
of the documents as the law, because it was common practice long
before some of those countries came into existence.    (08)

> there is almost always some physical manifestation of the
> organization, such as assets and members.    (09)

Yes.  But I agree that just pointing to the physical extent and
its contents won't tell you what laws or habits constitute the
organization.  Without getting some explanation (orally, on paper,
or in bits), the 4D extents are unintelligible.  Barring Google
glasses on everybody, they're unobservable *mental fictions* .    (010)

> For all practical purposes, I submit that most of our monetary assets
> have no discernible (or operative) spatial dimensions, aside from being
> associated with digital bits somewhere in the environs of planet Earth    (011)

Yes.  Even when those assets are in gold -- a very tangible physical
commodity -- the physical location can be independent of ownership.
Note the gold vault in the basement of the Federal Reserve Bank of
New York:  http://www.newyorkfed.org/aboutthefed/goldvault.html
When ownership is transferred, the significant change is in the bits.    (012)

> if the person who had a temporal part that was a Red Sox Player, and had a
> temporal part that was a father and the daughter was born exactly when they
> joined the Red Sox and they died whilst still a Red Sox player, then indeed,
> a part of the Red Sox would have a daughter.    (013)

All those temporal parts are *fictions* that are rarely, if ever
specified, observed, and measured.  The contract between the player
and the organization is critical.  The birth certificate for the
daughter is critical.  But without Google glasses from birth,
the 4D extent is lost for everybody for all practical purposes.    (014)

I certainly admit that *thinking* about 4D extents and their
interrelationships is helpful for many purposes -- such as organizing
a time-varying database about people and events.  But actually
observing and measuring those 4D extents is impossible for all
practical purposes.    (015)

The 4D extent for nearly everything is a *mental fiction* that is
determined by looking at paper and/or bits and/or oral testimony.    (016)

John    (017)

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