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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Gary Berg-Cross <gbergcross@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:39:51 -0400
Message-id: <CAMhe4f10EnGAG2c69a6tgcMro8naSdKgWV5JjnF1B4aM=GHmXw@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Paul's succinct quotation from Jacques Maritain's "Introduction to Logic" reminds me of some of the
ideas in Pat Hayes and Harry Halpin's  "In Defense of Ambiguity" which discusses the access and reference relations between names and things in the context of URIs etc.


Gary Berg-Cross, Ph.D.  
SOCoP Executive Secretary
Independent Consultant
Potomac, MD

On Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 11:05 PM, Paul Tyson <phtyson@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On Thu, 2014-10-23 at 08:46 -0700, Bruce Schuman wrote:
> One of these days, I'll take another crack at the core thesis for a
> general ontology, which is that all these interconnected structures
> can be 100% linearly assembled using ONE primitive mathematical
> element -- which is: distinction.  Telling two things apart, by making
> a "cut" in some dimension of similarity we discern (this is
> essentially a modern take on Linnaeus).   So, the thesis is: every
> concept in reality is a hierarchical assembly of motivated cuts
> organized in a kind of fractal cascade across levels of abstraction,
> from broad generalizations to specific boundary values in specific
> dimensions.  This works, and is true, because the most authentic
> empirical foundation for word meaning is not some huge shared database
> of "6 million word senses" (though we may need such things for machine
> translation of natural language, and we need a common pool of shared
> if approximate word meanings), but the principle of context-specific
> stipulative definition in the actual/empirical context of usage --
> intentionally parsing reality in some specific act of communication,
> such that “the words" used in that act of communication most
> authentically have "the meaning" intended by the speaker -- and it is
> up to the speaker to defend that meaning by "dimensioning" the
> specific values within the implicit undefined abstractions of the
> statement.   This is how human beings actually communicate – and when
> the “dialog” or drill-down Q and A does not narrow the bounded ranges
> of possible interpretive confusions, we have failure of communication
> and fights.

For another--perhaps quite divergent--view, emphasizing the importance
to communication of distinctions of a different sort, here is a
paragraph from Jacques Maritain's Introduction to Logic, p. 75-76.
(Italics in the original delimited by underscores in the quote.)

[Concluding a review of the classical rules for determining the
substitutive value of a term in a proposition:] "This brief survey of
the diverse properties of the term in the proposition is instructive in
several respects. For if we have really understood that a single term
may stand for different things in discourse, even while it keeps the
same signification (corresponds to the same concept, and to the same
word in the dictionary)--if we have really understood this--then we
shall also understand why the necessity of "distinguishing,", i.e.,
making distinctions, dominates all human discussions. We shall
comprehend also why this necessity arises from the specific character of
our intelligence: not only because the same word may signify different
concepts, but also because words being the material tools, and concepts
the immaterial tools, of rational activity the reason may _put the same
concept_ and _the same word_ with its signification unchanged _to
different uses_. We shall also understand how useless it would be to
attempt to substitute for the _Logic of ideas_ or of _concepts_, which
always supposes the activity of the mind using concepts and words as
tools, a logic of written or oral _signs_, so perfect as to dispense
with thought and be sufficient unto itself (the _universal
characteristic_ of Leibnitz--modern _Logistics_). Of course, a system of
signs more perfect and more rigid than ordinary language may be
conceived; but, with the exception of certain limited domains, such as
that of algebra, we shall never succeed in completely suppressing the
margin of indetermination that subsists around the oral or written sign,
and attests to the transcendence of thought over its material symbols."

(Online scanned PDF version available at


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