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

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Matthew West" <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 21 Mar 2015 18:57:53 -0000
Message-id: <02fc01d06408$f00dda20$d0298e60$@gmail.com>

Dear Roberto


Two good points:
1a) Questioning the mutual exclusivity of the object-process endurant-perdurant distinction.

There is, at least to me, something odd about conceptualizing a process as distinct from the participant, at least in any objective or metaphysical sense. In reality whatever we call 'process' and their 'participant' (or 'object') are mutually interrelated. The distinction, the separation, may at most be an artificial one. The question is, what are symbolisms or representations that better capture that?

[MW>] The way that I do it is that an activity/process consists of its participants, where a participant is the state of a particular whilst it participates in the activity/process. This works both for things like a banana ripening, where there is only one participant, and for things like meetings, or a game of football, where there are multiple participants.

1b) And opening the door to other conceptualizations of these categories.

We also read: "I see no strong or principled difference between things undergoing change and processes of change in things"
This intuition is shared by others and should be explored and formalized. But it need not mean that things are processes in the traditional perdurantist sense.

[MW>] I think it is more useful to think of being a process or a physical object are different views on things, rather than being entirely different things or just eliminating the physical object view.

Some have held that processes (but not events) endure.

[MW>] I’m not sure what you mean by this last statement.

2) Questioning and preventing the formalization (or the symbolism/logic) from distorting or misrepresenting the world (or the conceptualization of it we want to formalize)

- "axiom-bloat"
- "I meant decisions such as whether to treat a concept as a relation or a function or an individual, where to locate the temporal parameters, whether or not one uses a discipline to keep differently typed parameters distinct, and if so what it is, and so on. There are many alternative ways to express a given set of facts in a given formal language"

A question to ask is how much do philosophical theories/views affect the treatment of the concepts and the symbolism.
For example, the concern about forcing the distinction or requiring a specific syntax--a concern I've expressed elsewhere--is important. The obo foundry and other similar projects should not have as a rule/requirement a particular upper-level ontology. This might seem contrary to the goal of interoperability in the domain, but it is simply to ensure that the forcing does not take place, that monopolies are avoided, and that alternative representations that might better serve the biomedical community are sought and available/open to be sought and created.

[MW>] No, I disagree here. I (and I think Pat) would consider that having an upper level ontology like that of OBO is better than no upper level at all, even though neither of us would want to use it ourselves. It is important that different parts of an ontology are consistent, or you just end up in all kinds of mess.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. The problems arise in the constraints that an ontology imposes. You need to be very critical of any constraint that is proposed. Leave it out unless you are certain it is one that always applies, no exceptions ever.

The goal is (should be) *the solving of real-world problems*, and health, biomedicine, privacy, etc. are most certainly domains where we should keep that in mind. The particular upper-level (or otherwise) views and symbolisms should not hinder that goal. The point about the limits of owl is also worth repeating.

Finally, I find what Avril S. said interesting. But there may be mistake in: "a particular at one time is called an occurrent; a sequence of two or more particulars at two or more consecutive times is called a continuant."
In the traditional endur-perd/contin-occur sense, a partiular *at a time* would be a continuant, i.e., a wholly-present persisting entity. If parts of occurrents are particulars, then it could be a temporal part (slice) of an occurrent, but not the whole occurrent. And I think a particular over a time interval would be an occurrent.

[MW>] Traditional occurrents don’t have temporal parts of course, and at each time it exists you have all of it. Probably better to use another name if you mean something different.




Matthew West


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