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

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 04 Apr 2015 16:29:03 -0400
Message-id: <5520498F.6030607@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Oh, I think that we are entering deep water here. And we have discussed the problem with "bank" before.

Now I don't want to make light of these discussions with a lite-weight topic but we should shed some light on the word "light". Exactly why is it a noun? Oh, because photons are particles. We can sorta agree on that. But the word probably has origins predating that theory.

Is light an event, or how should we consider it. Is it temporal or spatial. Does it exist for a finite time that must be terminated and do we consider that light that has not run into something maybe just doesn't even matter or exist for our purposes?

I know that some consider light a property as something that had light falling on it. If someone is working on a table, they may ask another to "turn that light this way". In which case they may assume that the stream can be turned also. I'm confused on this matter. Is it probabilistic or not so much? Interestingly, the Oxford dictionary considers it an agent: "The natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible: the light of the sunThis would solve many problems because it is not difficult to imagine an agent as having a degree of endurance.

-John Bottoms
 Concord, MA USA

On 4/4/2015 2:10 PM, Thomas Johnston wrote:
I concur with John's trichotomy, but with the following thoughts. (1) I'm uncomfortable with lumping ordinary language and formal languages into a single category. Formal languages, individually or collectively, are still formalizations of only part of the way we reason in ordinary language, and are judged by comparisons with those patterns of reasoning. (2) And those shared opinions of A folks are just what are expressed in the ways that B folks talk, so the cleavage between A and B is less absolute than it might otherwise seem. 

I like Leo's description of A folks and B folks. It seems to me accurate and non-trivial. In that, it brought to mind Eliot's beautiful characterization of how language should be used:

The end is where we start from. And every phrase 
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home, 
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity, 
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning, 

As for C folks, that's us,right? So what is the relationship between C and B? I would call a "formal ontology" a making explicit of some set of ontological commitments in ordinary language, and the _expression_ of those explicit commitments in a formal language. So what about the way people talk in a formal language? If it's talk, it's not just a set of strings of symbols, conforming to some wff rules. It's interpreted talk, e.g. a FOPL system with a Tarskian model. In that case, a formal ontology is the _expression_ of that model in its own formal system.

Just some random thoughts, possibly a little off-target.


What about this? 

On Friday, April 3, 2015 5:12 PM, "Obrst, Leo J." <lobrst@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:


I think my third point about ontological engineers points to your third point (C):

Mine: "For ontological engineers, of course, it could be moot [interjection: i.e., the A and B sides], since we have application fish to fry. But to be better ontological engineers, I think it is not moot. Especially if the best engineering ontologies approximate (or intend to) the best scientific theories."

However, I think the real fight is between A and B in your trichotomy. The A-direct folks are generally ontologists/metaphysicians/some semanticists, The B-direct folks are generally logicians/some semanticists.  B folks describe/represent what the A-folks say.

Without B, A folks wander in an ambiguous morass, talking past each other for generations, e.g., as we do here. Without A, B folks generate better ways to says things unambiguously and more expressively without (worrying about) grounding in reality.

By the way, this is why I've always objected to the definition of: ontology df= a logical theory. Why? Because it takes no consideration of reality (or approaches to reality). Anything can be a logical theory.  In a separate discussion, this is why I object to particular neo-scholastic Chomskyan mainstream linguistic theories, beyond considerations of imprimatur: they are not sufficiently grounded. Sorry: my intent is not to open up the ontology definition wars once again! I'd like to keep it focused on A and B.

This is why I don't post here often (beyond vast lack of time): I don't want to muddy the already muddy waters, but every step in does that, alas.


>-----Original Message-----
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
>bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F Sowa
>Sent: Friday, April 03, 2015 4:24 PM
>To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Endurantism and Perdurantism - Re: Some
>Comments on Descriptive vs. Prescriptive Ontologies
>On 4/3/2015 3:19 PM, Obrst, Leo J. wrote:
>> This is a point of disagreement, I think, between logicians and
>> ontologists (qua metaphysicians). The former think that expressing
>> / representing something is equivalent to it being so, and that
>> the "being so" doesn't matter that much. The latter think not.
>But there are three things to distinguish, not just two.  Following
>is an excerpt from a previous note I wrote on this thread:
>> We have to distinguish
>>    A) The way the world (or universe) actually happens to be
>>      -- about which all of us have some shared opinions and
>>      scientists have more detailed analyses and theories.
>>    B) The way people talk in everyday language or in any
>>      artificial notation, such as formal logic.
>>    C) An ontology about the world that happens to be useful
>>      for some particular task or group of related tasks.
>Category B includes any kind of language or logic.  Category C
>includes any theory about the world by ontologists, by scientists,
>or by engineers who apply ontology or science to a particular task.
>But we have to recognize that the world A is not identical to
>the way B we talk about it or the way C that some scientists,
>engineers, or ontologists characterize it.
>Every mapping to the world A from any language B or any theory C
>is an *approximation* whose usefulness depends on the application.
>When the application changes, we may need to use a different
>approximation -- i.e., different theory of ontology or science.

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