[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] "Data/digital Object" Identities

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2014 03:08:48 -0400
Message-id: <5448A980.5070803@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Hans, Jack, William, Pat,    (01)

The belief that identity conditions will magically solve issues about
ontology creates a false sense of security -- and a huge number of bugs.    (02)

> a principle called “Entity Primacy”, which basically states that
> whatever identity you might assign to an entity/object, it has
> other identities in other, usually collective, frames of reference.    (03)

> I think it is correct to argue that there are many different ways
> in which some entity is identified by different individuals    (04)

> 'identity' is a kind of a very ghostly abstraction without much mooring.    (05)

Yes.  The hope that identity conditions can clarify ontological issues
comes from the illusory simplicity of the '=' symbol in mathematics.
But the only reason why identity in math is well defined is that
mathematicians have total control over the theories they specify.    (06)

But the real world is beyond our control.  We can observe it, but
we can't dictate how it should operate.  We can observe similarities
and differences.  But identity about any physical things of any kind
is *always* an inference.  Any ontology that takes identity as a
well-defined primitive is making an unwarrented assumption.    (07)

>> Is a data object in one format the same as a data object in a different
>> format or a different one?  The bit streams can change but the original
>> identity might be considered the same."  This applies to *all* human
>> artifacts.  When is Moby Dick the 'same' book?    (08)

> It applies to everything, natural or artificial. When is Iceland the
> same island? How many lakes are there in Norway? It is endemic in the
> way we use language (and probably in how we think about the world.)    (09)

I agree.   But I would add that the reason why our languages and ways
of thinking are so flexible is that they have adapted to the very
changeable world.  If we want our ontologies to adapt to the world,
they will have to become as flexible.    (010)

> In some ways the digital/semantic technologies are making this worse.
> Ontologies impose artificial identity conditions of their own, which
> can clash both with other ontologies and with human intuitions.    (011)

I strongly agree.    (012)

> For example, the widely popular provenance ontology
> http://www.w3.org/TR/prov-primer/ views every change as producing
> a new entity, so changing a tire on a car gives you a new car.    (013)

Philosophers have a good phrase for the authors of such documents:
They are "in the grip of a theory".  They sit in their armchairs and
dream up theories without any input from reality.  Unfortunately,
they shove their theories down the throats of innocent students.    (014)

> the 'oil and gas' (now generalized) ontology ISO 15926, widely used
> in industry, treats everything as what BFO would call an occurrent.    (015)

That is the foundation for Whitehead's process ontology:  What we call
physical objects are slowly changing processes.  Whitehead developed
that ontology when he was trying to reconcile modern physics with
everyday life.  Following is an article I presented at a conference
on issues about Whitehead and Peirce:    (016)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/signproc.htm    (017)

John    (018)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J    (019)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>