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Re: [ontolog-forum] Hermeneutics and semiotics

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 03 Apr 2014 22:08:04 -0400
Message-id: <533E1404.6010705@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed,    (01)

Those examples you cite are indeed good examples, but they're
one of a kind items that don't reinforce one another.  What is
revolutionary about 12th to 14th c Europe is an intense intellectual
ferment that brought together theory, practice, and technology.    (02)

Aristotle, by the way, was a huge part of the revolution. Neoplatonism,
reinforced by Christian, Jewish, and Islamic theology dominated Europe,
North Africa, and the near East for a thousand years.  St. Augustine
was a Neoplatonist, and what little was known about Aristotle was
forced into a Platonic mold.    (03)

The ferment began in Spain, where the Greek, Hindu, Islamic, and Jewish
mathematics, science, technology, medicine, and philosophy were brought
together and translated to Latin.  Moses Maimonides studied Aristotle
in Arabic and wrote his Aristotelian-Jewish synthesis in Arabic. The
translations to Latin had a strong influence on Thomas Aquinas, who
established an Aristotelian instead of Platonic basis for theology.    (04)

The Aristotelian emphasis on observation and experiment together with
Arabic technology inspired Roger Bacon and other scientists. By 1250,
a century and a half of European universities built the foundation.
The sudden influx of new ideas from Spain triggered a revolution.    (05)

> These are fascinating subjects, but it is not clear that they have
> anything much to do with knowledge engineering.    (06)

Au contraire!  I blame Bertrand Russell for the downfall of logic
education in the 20th century.  From the 13th c to the early 20th c,
every university freshman took a course in logic.  But Bertie viewed
Aristotle as a competitor.  He tried to get the universities to stop
teaching Aristotle's syllogisms and switch to symbolic logic.    (07)

He got half his wish.  They stopped teaching logic of any kind.
But the Catholic schools continued to teach Aristotelian logic for
a few more decades.  I have recommended (and Pat Hayes seconded my
suggestion) the following book that Sister Miriam Joseph taught to
freshman English majors at St. Mary's College from the 1930s to the
1960s -- as an introduction to knowledge engineering:    (08)

    Joseph, Sister Miriam (1937) The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic,
    Grammar, and Rhetoric, Third edition 1948, reprinted by Paul Dry
    Books, 2002.    (09)

The reprint of that book is a best seller for technical books at Amazon.
Sister Miriam's PhD dissertation at Columbia -- Shakespeare's Use of
the Arts of Language -- is also a best seller among PhD dissertations.
The customer reviews give it 5 stars.    (010)

John    (011)

PS:  For anybody who likes Ayn Rand:  when asked who she considered the
world's greatest philosophers, she replied "The three A's -- Aristotle,
Aquinas, and Ayn."  I think Sister Miriam would be better as the third.    (012)

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