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

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2005 10:26:14 -0500
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>Fundamental principle:  For communication, what you call something
>is much more important than what it is.    (01)

For successful communication it is probably quite important that you 
are right about the latter, also.    (02)

>  For detailed reasoning,
>it is *essential* to avoid making more commitments than are
>necessary for the problem at hand.    (03)

I agree with this.    (04)

>JS>> ... I believe it is pointless to claim there can ever be a
> >> clear distinction between what things are and what we call them.
>BS> I think this is still a mistake, I'm afraid, which rests on
> > a confusion between ontology and epistemology. The fact (if it
> > is a fact) that we can never MAKE such a clear distinction
> > (epistemology) would not imply that there IS no such clear
> > distinction (ontology). And we have very good evidence that
> > there was such a distinction (trivially) for billions of years
> > on this planet before any organisms existed, when the 'what
> > we call them' term of this relation was empty.
>As we agreed above, we can assume (a) that there is a real world,
>(b) that the laws about how that reality behaves are both more
>fundamental and more readily knowable than the ultimate nature
>of anything in it, and (c) what we call those things is
>independent of what they are.
>The brilliance of Peirce's solution is that he cut through the
>distinction between ontology and epistemology by focusing on signs
>and leaving the question of fundamental ontology as an undecided,
>and perhaps undecidable, empirical issue.
>In the concluding chapter of Penrose's book _The Road to Reality_,
>he summarizes the previous 1000+ pages by saying that we are
>still very far from a final "theory of everything" and that we
>might never discover any such theory.    (05)

Again, you are making the very same mistake. The fact that we do not 
know certain things about reality (e.g. about the ultimate structure 
of matter) does not at all imply that we can know nothing about 
reality, and so we have to turn instead to a world of signs (where we 
somehow (how?) do have the ability to gain knowledge).    (06)

>We are certainly not going to solve the ultimate issues of ontology
>in the ONTAC WG, and I believe that we should not impose any partial
>solution on everyone.  The upper level, if any, should make very
>minimal commitments.  How minimal is a matter to be determined.    (07)

I agree.
BS     (08)

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