I think someone else on the forum originally brought up the school district example, and I did try to be clear about what I meant by “social reality” in last year’s dialog, but your point is well taken. While the focus in that discussion was on the geospatial extent aspect of the school district conceptual reality, the discussion did touch on other conceptual reality aspects of a school district, including possible district types that had no obvious geospatial extent. And we did point out that school districts can and do overlap, for the reasons you cite. Different school types and membership sets can co-exist in the same geospatial extent, for example, public schools, charter schools, parochial schools, on-line schools, corporate schools, and, of course, home-schooled students. Other countries might have additional different school types which may or may not have the concept of “school district” associated with them to determine which students go to which schools. The point remains that such a district typically has no overt physically detectable boundary or membership attribute. A district exists only due to society and the institutions it creates. You can’t run a UAV over a neighborhood and “sense” school district boundaries. Nor can the UAV “sense” whether a child (or adult) playing in the street belongs to a particular school district. By the way, this doesn’t stop intelligence agencies (or, perhaps, Google) from trying to do that by applying various context cues and inferencing algorithms, But an educated guess is still a guess, and not the same as knowing. On the other hand, a high probability inference can be “just as good” as knowing in some contexts and for some purposes.
Another example of conceptual reality is the Prime Meridian and the system of latitude and longitude created by society to facilitate navigation and sundry other social purposes. Ditto for calendars and time zones- what is today’s date and the current time? Why are there 7 days in a week in the Gregorian Calendar? Why are there weeks (months are at least loosely associated with the Earth’s Moon’s orbital period)? An alien sitting in a UFO visiting our planet would be hard-pressed to detect these realities that we use every day without a thought as to their (non-existent) physical reality. That’s one reason I get a kick out of all these “end of the world” manias such as the recent “Mayan Calendar” expiration, grounded in numerology related to attributes and starting points that are human generated and totally arbitrary, as if a particular numeric year or date had some special significance in physical reality. TGIF is real enough for many of us and has real physical consequences – like sleeping in late on Saturday. So we tend to forget that that there is no big scrolling set of sun spots that tell us it’s Friday, or even that it’s not Friday everywhere on the planet (or in all societies/cultures). Much of our reality is created by ourselves, both individually and collectively – and most of the latter is institutionalized via governments, corporations, associations and the like.
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Richard H. McCullough
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 7:38 PM
Subject: [ontolog-forum] FW: metaphysical context
I just saw your email, so I am forwarding my reply to Pat.
You talked about concepts like "school district" and "social reality".
I would simply warn you to think very carefully about what you want
those terms to mean, and make your definitions clear to other people
that you communicate with. And try not to change the "usual"
meaning of words too much. [If you look at the Ontolog Forum
archives, you'll find I have trouble in that respect. And so did
Ayn Rand (selfishness), but she did it on purpose.]
Your discussion of "school district" seemed to be concerned
with "space" -- the geographic location of the district.
On the other hand, my first thought was "person" -- the children
who attend the schools, the parents of the PTA, the teachers,
the principal. That's because my step-daughter is a school teacher.
And I could go on, my mother was a teacher, I was a teaching
assistant, ... My context is definitely school district.person.
Context Knowledge Systems
mKE and the mKR language
Subject: RE: metaphysical context
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:49:41 -0700
&&&&& comments below
P.S. I'm logging some of these things to my KR-language email group
just to make sure I have a record to look up later if I want to.
It's my equivalent of the Ontolog Forum archives.
Context Knowledge Systems
mKE and the mKR language
> Subject: Re: metaphysical context
> From: phayes@xxxxxxx
> Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:46:10 -0500
> CC: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; kr-language@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; rslatimer@xxxxxxx
> To: rhm@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; rhmccullough@xxxxxxxxx
> On Apr 10, 2014, at 2:01 AM, Richard H. McCullough <rhmccullough@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > I'm using "physical context" to denote all the propositions which describe the
> > external world, independent of man. The propositions include the relations
> > which define the entity-characteristc-proposition hierarchy which is very
> > helpful in organizing our knowledge about the external world. In my definitions,
> > "characteristic" and "property" are synonyms.
> OK, then with this understanding, classes are in the physical context also, since they are used to describe the external world. In fact, they are what are often called categories. So for example, the category of being a plant is a class.
&&&&& yes. in the physical context, the units/elements of classes are real things
&&&&& in the mental context, the classes are the units/elements of Class.
> > I take physical context propositions to be "real things" because they denote facts
> > about the real world.
> Careful. There is an important distinction between being real (being in the world) on the one hand, and being used to denote something real (being ABOUT the world) on the other. These do not mean the same thing. (This is related to the two-universes distinction in Common Logic semantics, by the way.) Which sense do you mean here?
&&&&& I mean real -- they are true facts; they are ultimately denoted by propositions identified by man
&&&&& I should have said "are" instead of "denote"
&&&&& I'd like to talk to you some more about this; I'd like to understand CL semantics.
> > "entity", "characteristic" and "proposition" are three different
> > kinds of real things. Objects in the ordinary sense of the word are entities.
> > The more acceptable synonym of "real thing" is "existent".
> > I take mental/epistemology context to mean looking inside your mind. In that context, you
> > have mental objects which are your view of entity, characteristic, proposition.
> I am tempted to ask whether our mental thoughts are also part of the real world. I sure think that mine are :-)
&&&&& yes. I agree, but they are part of the mental/epistemology context, not the physical context
> > It's hard to avoid getting completely confused thinking about physical
> > vs. mental things. You have to remember that it is "your responsibility"
> > to identify the physical context propositions by observing what happens in
> > the real world.
> > Dick McCullough
> > Context Knowledge Systems
> > mKE and the mKR language
> > mKR/mKE tutorial
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