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Re: [ontolog-forum] Is Philosophy Useful in Software Engineering Ontolog

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:18:09 -0400
Message-id: <5596A7B1.9060408@xxxxxxxxxxx>
I have been tied up with some work that has prevented me from
responding to the many complex issues in this thread.    (01)

I'd just like to comment on the two following points and include an
offline note (copy below) to three people I'll call X1, X2, and X3.    (02)

> It is my personal philosophy that “objective reality” is unknowable
> and therefore cannot be modeled.  It is possible to model theories of
> reality, but we have to accept that they are theories. What most of us
> model is “commonly perceived reality”, and the only question is which
> stakeholders are involved in determining what is “common perception”.    (03)

> Yet if we don't all "see the same world", then we're locked in our
> solipsistic private universes.    (04)

I sympathize with both Ed and Tom.  My preferred way of reconciling
them (and many other views proposed in this thread) is based on
Peirce's pragmatism and fallibilism.  Summary:    (05)

  1. All animals, including humans, that are able to perceive, act
     upon, survive, and thrive in the world do so because they have
     a fairly accurate understanding of those aspects of the world
     that are important for their daily lives.    (06)

  2. Science has enabled humans to get far more detailed and accurate
     control over a much broader range of experience than informal
     methods of observation and description.    (07)

  3. But all scientific theories are fallible.  They are reliable
     on those aspects of the world for which they have consistently
     made predictions that have been tested and verified.    (08)

  4. Nothing in the universe that has any causal interactions that can
     be detected by any of our instruments is inherently unknowable.
     Examples:  black holes, neutrinos, and dark matter were considered
     inherently unknowable at one time or another.  There is still a
     lot that's unknown, but scientists are gradually getting better
     evidence for them and about them.    (09)

In the following note, I replied to an offline discussion about
fuzzy logic and fuzzy set theory.  X1 is a very strong proponent.
X2 and I are sympathetic about the general subject, but recognize
that much more work needs to be done.  X3 has published a great
deal on the subject.    (010)

John    (011)

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: Is X2 really brainwashed by science?
From: John F Sowa
To: X1, X2, X3    (012)

Before commenting on the points by X1 and X2, I'd like to summarize
my own views on these issues and add a couple of URLs of articles
by Joseph Goguen and me.    (013)

The three philosophers who have had the strongest influence on my
way of thinking are Charles Sanders Peirce, Ludwig Wittgenstein,
and Alfred North Whitehead.    (014)

All three of them had a solid background in physics, mathematics,
and logic.  And they also understood the complex issues of relating
natural language to logic and relating science to everyday life.    (015)

I have also studied eastern philosophies, especially Zen Buddhism,
I've done some Zen-style meditation, I visited some Zen temples
in Japan, and I bought a bronze Buddha in Kyoto.  I realize that
some people see contradictions among those views.  But I believe
that it's essential to integrate *all* of them -- *not* reject any
of them.  Instead of post science, I prefer to search for a version
of *post fragmentation*.    (016)

Joseph Goguen was an excellent mathematician and logician who was
more deeply involved with Zen that I have been.  He also wrote his
PhD dissertation on fuzzy set theory with Lotfi as his thesis adviser.
I strongly recommend his personal reflections on how all those views
are related to each other and to his career in computer science.    (017)

See "Tossing algebraic flowers down the great divide" in which Goguen
also talks about fragmentation as one of the most serious problems:
http://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~goguen/pps/tcs97.pdf    (018)

I stated my views about fuzzy logic and fuzzy systems in my article
for the book _On Fuzziness. An Homage to Lotfi A. Zadeh_:
http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/fuzzy.pdf    (019)

In that article I quote remarks by Peirce and Wittgenstein about
vagueness and the issues of relating natural language to logic.
In particular, Peirce said "Logicians have too much neglected the
study of vagueness, not suspecting the important part it plays in
mathematical thought."    (020)

> Very few people can judge the post-science claim that reason,
> logic, and mathematics cannot change anything, except providing
> different perspectives on the same problem.  Reading over your
> articles, I believe that you [John] are on the verge of switching
> to our side, which believes that reason, logic, and mathematics
> are really useless, except that mathematics is social science and
> logic is life science.    (021)

First of all, I believe that science, logic, and mathematics
are fundamental to a deep analysis of any subject of any kind.    (022)

But I agree that many scientists, logicians, and mathematicians
have been blinded by their own success in analyzing narrow topics.
The result is that they have failed to integrate their views on
the details with the broader issues of life.    (023)

The following article, which I wrote in 2001, summarizes my views
about how the three scientists, mathematicians, and logicians
Peirce, Whitehead, and Wittgenstein were able to integrate the
narrow subjects with the issues of relating language and life:
http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/signproc.pdf    (024)

As for post-science, I don't believe that there will ever be
or should ever be an era of post-science.  But I hope that we
might get to an era of post-fragmentation by emphasizing the
continuum among the infinitely many possible ways of thinking.    (025)

> Some detail in John's postings may not be shared by everybody,
> as I am sure a portion of detail appearing in my postings are
> not embraced by everybody, but the same goes basically for
> all postings to any mailing list.    (026)

I agree.  I don't believe that X2 has been brainwashed by science.
I think his work is solid, but I also think that it's important
to put more emphasis on the continuum.    (027)

John    (028)

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