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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: Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:35:53 -0400
Message-id: <551BE629.8090206@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew, William, Pat, and Ravi,    (01)

That's the point Pat was making:    (02)

> I would be very interested to know how you eliminate the boundaries
> between these categories.    (03)

> Eliminating the boundary can only really be done in one way: abandon
> the distinction that makes it necessary, and treat physical objects
> as something that overlap with processes (a physical object may also
> be a process).    (04)

But there are many different kinds of distinctions.  Some are about
the world, some are about the way we talk about the world, and some
are about convenient ways of storing and reasoning with and about
the data we gather and generate.    (05)

> The distinctions between continuant and occurrent, or object and
> process and event, or between 3+1-d versus 4-d, are not ontological
> distinctions between kinds of entity in the world. They are
> distinctions between different ways of talking about the world.
> It is the same world in all these cases, with the same things in it,
> however they are described.    (06)

I strongly agree.    (07)

> This means that you have to abandon the idea that a physical object
> is wholly present at each point in time, and accept that it is
> extended in time, and what you see at each point in time is the
> intersection of the whole life of the physical object with the
> point in time.    (08)

Nobody but a philosopher would talk that way.  And there are many
philosophers who are highly skeptical about that kind of talk.    (09)

> the lines between things we might choose to classify one way or
> the other, as with most things, is fuzzy.    (010)

Whenever you try to cut up a continuum into discrete categories,
there is a mismatch.  The very precise formulations in mathematics
are only precise because mathematics (including everything stored
in a digital computer) is artificial:  it starts with precise
hypotheses and develops them with precise methods.  But there is
no guarantee that those hypotheses correspond to anything in reality.    (011)

Conclusion:  fuzziness is the norm, not the exception.    (012)

> In the paper Leo gave the reference to, the main basis for this
> distinction is dissectivity: is a part of the whole of the same
> type as the whole.    (013)

That is an extremely artificial distinction that would not occur
to anyone except a philosopher who is trying to force an artificial
type system upon the world.    (014)

> The question for the engineer is, is it *useful* to make these distinctions?    (015)

Indeed.  Scientists and engineers, who are very careful observers
of the world, don't talk that way.    (016)

> seeing that laws work is more relevant than queries about causality.
> I recall topics such as action at a distance and Feynman's work made
> causality less mentioned in physics,    (017)

Yes.  The 18th century notion of causality is based on David Hume's
misreading of Aristotle and Newton.    (018)

In modern physics, mathematics relates everything in complex ways.
It's not possible to point to any specific thing as "the cause"
or "the effect".    (019)

As the two quotations by Peirce and Kim (copies below) indicate,
the simple word 'cause' is a confusing oversimplification of many
complex issues.    (020)

_______________________________________________________________________    (021)

Quotations at the head of http://www.jfsowa.com/ontology/causal.htm    (022)

Charles Sanders Peirce, Reasoning and the Logic of Things:
> Those who make causality one of the original uralt elements in the
> universe or one of the fundamental categories of thought  of whom
> you will find that I am not one  have one very awkward fact to
> explain away. It is that men's conceptions of a cause are in different
> stages of scientific culture entirely different and inconsistent.
> The great principle of causation which, we are told, it is absolutely
> impossible not to believe, has been one proposition at one period in
> history and an entirely disparate one at another is still a third one
> for the modern physicist. The only thing about it which has stood...
> is the name of it.    (023)

Jaegwon Kim, "Causation"
> The attempt to "analyze" causation seems to have reached an impasse;
> the proposals on hand seem so widely divergent that one wonders
> whether they are all analyses of one and the same concept.    (024)

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