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Re: [ontac-forum] Theories, Models, Reasoning, Language, and Truth

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2005 02:43:16 -0500
Message-id: <43A66494.3050606@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Barry,    (01)

I already apologized for my overly brief summary at the
end of the earlier note, but I would claim that the
following point is syntactically and semantically correct:    (02)

JS> As soon as those environmental features are detected
 > by the nerves or instruments, they may be called "marks",
 > which are the most basic signs.  A mark does not become
 > a token until it is interpreted as an instance of some type.    (03)

BS> I think there is a confusion here between what things
 > are called, and what things are.  Sentence 1 is about the
 > former; sentence 2 involves an unfortunate shift to the latter.    (04)

The best answer anyone has ever given to the question of what
things *are* is Whitehead's process ontology:  Everything is
in flux, and what we typically call "objects" are slow-moving
processes that may be characterized by "forms of definiteness".
Those forms are the patterns that enable us to characterize
aspects of processes that we can recognize at repeated encounters.
Whitehead developed this ontology during the early years of
relativity and quantum mechanics, and it is still an ontology
that is highly compatible with both modern science and common sense.    (05)

In the ontologies of both Peirce and Whitehead, what is most
"real" are the laws that govern the development of the processes.
When we say something *is* X, that means the process we perceive
can be characterized by the pattern named X.  When something
becomes X, that means the pattern named X has started to be
true of it.    (06)

This is not a version of nominalism that treats physical laws
as merely summaries of observed data.  Instead, I agree with
both Peirce and Whitehead that laws are closer to reality
than any familiar "things".  In other words, there is a reality,
it is possible to learn more and more about it, but we can never
be sure that any view we currently hold is the ultimate truth.    (07)

For reasons such as these, I believe it is pointless to claim
there can ever be a clear distinction between what things are
and what we call them.    (08)

John    (09)

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