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Re: [ontolog-forum] George Lakoff - Women, Fire, Dangerous Things - Embo

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ravi Sharma <drravisharma@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2014 16:14:11 -0700
Message-id: <CAAN3-5f0QRU04mVaU3Ow7r6TRJXY2_1uBY56zQMO4H85-uYznw@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>


Appreciate your thoughtful comments.

Non-Duality and Similarity are only a few of the great aspects covered in your excellent response.
How do we get beyond word-language acrobatics and complexities to understand and experience reality, by thinking about topics in your enclosed links of when it becomes one, great comments and writings as quoted by you.

Now - often the reasons for one to many or latent to expressed or differentiated "things" often elaborated as real objects or reality expressions, require some inner force or driver, that is what is causing spread of species, life forms, mutations etc., as some elaborate.

However, if we could understand reality related transformation processes at least in physical and experiential-nature and not just stop as convex-concave, dark and light, duality, we might get another dimensional projection to look at reality from one more perspective, encompassing reality as you point out and as I agree as good goal, quoting you "In a world society moving with great evolutionary urgency towards globalization, we need this absolute map, defined in universal (and “potentially continuously variable”) terms, that reflects all possible ways to parse the space of reality into labels and names and categories and distinctions, in a form that “interprets all natural languages” – and guides a correct (because balanced, comprehensively inclusive, and un-biased) interpretation."

On Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:15 PM, Bruce Schuman <bruceschuman@xxxxxxx> wrote:

Dear Dr. Sharma – thanks for your comment and questions –


Yesterday, after I posted my message, I composed another brief message taking a rather radical view, expressed in a rather impudent way…


Following George Lakoff’s description of linguistic categories as involving the question “what kind of a thing is this?” (and that therefore the subject of “kinds” becomes a critical issue) – I wrote the sentence


“There are no kinds”


The rest of my little meditation-note elaborated on that idea – and what I perceive to be the often-ruinous consequences of presuming that categories have some absolute ontological status. “That there IS such a thing as that kind…..”


From my point of view – every “distinguishable object”  in reality (and determining the boundaries of that object might not be so simple – so as to say “this is the object, this is not the object”) is absolutely unique.


Yes , there are “features of similarity” (to cite the title of a famous article in cognitive science) – but are any two “things” absolutely identical – absolutely identical in absolutely all discernible dimensions of measurement?  Or do we settle for some variation, and still call them identical -- ?


Objects are described in terms of attributes, and values in those attributes.  Any object can be described in an infinite number of attributes – or as many as our level of analysis or perception enables us to distinguish.   Those attributes are often value ranges, that can be described in decimal places of measurement.  The more decimal places, the more accurate the description.


We might be able to derive this entire doctrine from John Sowa’s “reality is continuous, concepts are discrete” postulate.  I like the idea of “bounded ranges” – that objects are defined by an n-dimensional envelope of their attributes.  Objects measured within those bounded ranges are “that kind” of object.  If some attribute exceeds the bounded range, that object is no longer “that kind…”


This is all simple, of course – but it points to a gaping source of potential error in human understanding. The higher the level of abstraction – and therefore, the higher the degree of implicit (undefined/non-explicit) dimensionality inherent in the abstraction – the greater the potential for disagreeing on whether the object is “that kind”.


This is the battle of civilization in a nutshell.  We have blood all over our collective windshield directly due to this chasm in our ontology of language.


We have to stop presuming “kinds” – and get into exact high-dimensional particulars.  If we need to construct a theory of kinds (and no doubt we do), that model should be constructed with algebraic determinism and an explicit awareness of “acceptable error tolerance”. 


Reality is continuous, concepts are discrete (with substantial error ranges inherent in their definition), and “you can’t step into the same river twice”.


We need an ontology of language that clarifies this issue.  We need explicit definition of the cascade of interpretation across levels of abstraction, from broad generalizations and “kinds” to the particular instances we believe we have categorized.


All of our civil law takes this form.  “Guilt” and “innocence” are bounded ranges in a system of categories.  Is “Hamas” a “terrorist organization”?




Yes, it is true that “most animals agree on the danger of a forest fire” and run away.   Maybe it is the concrete particular aspects of fire and not its abstract category that motivates this common response.


(It took Helen Keller many particular experiences of “water” before she was able to discern and cognize the common abstract category w-a-t-e-r – a huge break-through discovery for her)


I think what I would like to see – would be the emergence of a general model of categorical structure that mapped the relationship of “the one” (the “container of all possible categories”) to the endless diversity of special cases and particular instances.  This connection would take the form of centered (or “accurate”) interpretation across levels of abstraction – so that particular cases and instances could always be categorized entirely on the basis of absolutely local particular data – and not on broad generalizations that presume “kinds” – unless it is absolutely clear that the generalization holds in all cases.


This would be a universal guideline for collective human understanding.  It would provide correction of all interpretive distortion across levels, of all “bias”, of all “stereotype” (inaccurately presuming that generalizations hold in particular cases).


In a world society moving with great evolutionary urgency towards globalization, we need this absolute map, defined in universal (and “potentially continuously variable”) terms, that reflects all possible ways to parse the space of reality into labels and names and categories and distinctions, in a form that “interprets all natural languages” – and guides a correct (because balanced, comprehensively inclusive, and un-biased) interpretation.




And yes, of course, obviously – this is a huge and audacious and entirely “revolutionary” call, and no doubt controversial in a thousand ways – and without proving its possibility, its feasibility very much in question.


The Lakoff book from 30 years ago does provide a rich review of these issues – perhaps a little messy, perhaps blurring the boundaries between a philosophy of pure mathematics and a psychology of human aberrance – but he cites the issues and gets the questions on the table.


Relative to this discussion, I think – is another little text from another angle, this one deeply intuitive and popularizing – the second chapter of integral philosopher Ken Wilber’s 1979 book “No Boundary”.  Chapter 2 is entitled “Half of It”, and deals with duality and the nature of “opposites” – and how bounded categories came into being – and why, wherever those boundaries are drawn, the human battle begins….





And there’s this – the dimensionality of similarity




Bruce Schuman

(805) 966-9515, PO Box 23346, Santa Barbara CA 93101


From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Ravi Sharma
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:45 AM
To: [ontolog-forum]

Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] George Lakoff - Women, Fire, Dangerous Things - Embodied Reason




Wishing you the best in your journey, we will provide constructive inputs, it seems you welcome them.


My "primitives" related Q is on 'reality' my understanding and knowledge is very limited in physics and meta-science or philosophy -


·         Reality requires a cognitive entity (such as person) and another entity (subject of reality) - and yes reality is continuous as John Sowa mentions it. It is also relative as dogs perceive sounds differently than humans and extent of cognition depends on senses.

  • Reality is more universal - many or most would agree or concur as basically acceptable - does that imply collective cognition of the species - for example most physicists might agree on Newton and Einstein's description of gravity as example of reality. Most animals agree on danger of forest fire and run away.

·         Reality is not definable as what we perceive is always dependent on extent of tuning of senses and sense-mind connectivity at the time of contemplation of the subject of reality – example from physics is any telescope’s image is not real as the light from objects originated at different times and many objects would be no more if observed at today’s earth clock time.




'''Dr. Ravi Sharma'''

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