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Re: [ontolog-forum] Endurantism and Perdurantism - Re: Some Comments on

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2015 10:11:45 -0400
Message-id: <550AD921.4070405@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew,    (01)

I agree with your analysis, except for the value judgment 'blame'.    (02)

> I think it is our language and the most efficient ways of talking
> about things that are to blame. A lot of the time our practical
> speech is about how things are now, so a lot of our speech is
> presentist in nature, simply because this is the most efficient
> (fewest words to convey) ...    (03)

All life forms from bacteria to humans are intimately connected
with the world in the present.  All our senses tell us about the
present, and all our actions respond to and exert their effects
upon the present.  The past exists only in memory, and the future
exists only in our imagination.    (04)

Language reflects what we're thinking at the moment we speak.
It's inevitable that talk in the present tense about the immediate
context will dominate what anybody says.    (05)

> but this is OK because we understand the presentist context
> (which computers don't necessarily).    (06)

Computation by a computer is executed in time, but the connection
of the present bits to anything in the world depends on what some
programmer decided to encode.  Any encoding is chosen for some
purpose or goal.  And there is no limit to the variety of goals
and useful ways of reaching them.    (07)

> I do think the philosophers are responsible for endurantism.
> They analysed the way we speak about the world, rather than
> how the world is, and formalised that.  I despair.    (08)

Most people ignore philosophers.  What programmers encode
in their software is based on what people were doing for
centuries before computers became available:    (09)

  1. Scientific programming in FORTRAN automated the methods
     that scientists and engineers had always used.    (010)

  2. Business programming in COBOL automated what bankers and
     accountants had encoded in punched cards, which automated
     the methods that had evolved since the Renaissance bankers
     and accountants with counting tables and ledgers.    (011)

  3. AI programming in LISP automated the methods proposed by
     logicians, linguists, and mathematicians.  The word 'ontology'
     crept into the comp. sci. literature very late, and it has had
     very little influence -- even today.    (012)

> We switch between these different ways of speaking about things
> without worrying about the inconsistency of these different
> expressions because we don't appreciate the commitments that are
> implicit in these different modes of speech and we don't have
> to check what we are saying with a reasoner.    (013)

Inconsistencies arise only when you attempt to do deep, detailed,
extended chains of reasoning.  Such reasoning is only possible
within a single, highly specialized microtheory for a very
specific purpose.    (014)

> No one ... is arguing that you cannot have both physical objects
> and activities in your ontology, the question is whether they
> are mutually exclusive or not.    (015)

That question is only relevant within a single microtheory.    (016)

Any system that depends on whether some independently developed
system makes one assumption or the other is doomed to be extremely
fragile, unreliable, and unusable.    (017)

John    (018)

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