Concerning your response to Barry that the possible reason for his remarks is a “lack of proper perusal and not a lack of insightinto the matter.” It is possible that this is somewhat true of you also. Or are your comments taking into account such things as Hans Burkhardt & Barry Smith (eds.) - Handbook of Metaphysics and Ontology - Philosophia Verlag, Munich, 1991 or Smith, Barry. 1982. Parts and Moments: Studies in Logic and Formal Ontology. Philosophia Verlag?
On a more specific note, your long ontological listing on SUBSTANCE, substrate, stuff which Barry commented on to which you responded:
>Very funny, you missed the whole point, this is Aristotle's >ontological lexicon, included as part of the whole systems of >definitions. Don't push me to believe that you never read of >him.
Listing these Aristotlean ideas is OK, but as Barry
and Christopher Welty discuss in Ontology:
Towards a New Synthesis, the growth of ontology in the information
science field calls for a something new, something more structured for use in
Most of us know that Aristotle viewed individual substances as
basically a twofold structure: they are composed of matter and form. Form in
its turn has a number of different meanings, the most relevant of which is the
interpretation of form as essence.
This framework was implicit in your listing but not
as clear as it could be and needs to be for a synthesis. As an example of some
structure, the table below (from Boguslaw Wolniewicz - A formal ontology of situations - Studia Logica 41: 381-413 (1982). pp.
381-382.) lists some of A’s substance vocabulary
Aristotle Substance “vocabulary”
1) primary substances (substantiae primae)
2) prime matter (materia prima)
3) form (forma)
4) self-subsistence of
primary substances (esse per se)
BTW, Wolniewicz makes an
interesting parallelism between Wittgensteinian (previously discussed by John
Sowa) and Aristotelian ontologies( In “on Wittgenstein and
Aristotle” Boston studies in the philosophy of science. Vol. IV.
Edited by Cohen Robert S. and Wartofsky Marx W. Dordrecht:
Reidel Publishing Company 1969. pp. 208-210). This seems to be part of
people’s intuitive differences on Ontology, so I include
Wolniewicz’s core comparison here.
Aristotle's ontology is an
ontology of substances, while Wittgenstein's ontology is an ontology of facts.
For Aristotle whatever exists in the basic sense of the word is a primary
substance (as mentioned in the table above). Thus an Aristotelian substance is
the denotation of an individual name, whereas for a Wittgensteinian “fact/
atomic fact” is the denotation of a true proposition. From a
Wittgensteinian point of view, Aristotle's substances are NOT things, but
hypostases of facts, and thus their names are not logically proper names, but
name-like equivalents of propositions.
My own speculation is that,
from an information processing view, relevant to our systems we need to be
concerned with propositions (for now, with current levels of processing
intelligence in our system), but that these are grounded in ontological
analysis – epistemology.
As Roberto Poli has said in his 3 thesis about ontology (from R.
Poli, "Ontology for knowledge organization", in R. Green (ed.), Knowledge organization and change, Indeks,
Frankfurt, 1996, pp. 313-319) there are some
tricky relations here – especially in thesis 2.
THESIS 1. An ontology is not a catalogue of the world, a
taxonomy, a terminology or a list of objects, things or whatever else. If
anything, an ontology is the general framework (= structure) within which
catalogues, taxonomies, terminologies may be given suitable organization. This
means that somewhere a boundary must be drawn between ontology and taxonomy.
THESIS 2. An ontology is not reducible to pure cognitive
analysis (in philosophical terms, it is not an epistemology or a theory of
knowledge). Ontology represents the ‘objective’ side (= on the side
of the object), and the theory of knowledge the subjective side (= on the side
of the knowing subject) of reality. The two sides are obviously interdependent,
but this is not to imply that they are the same (exactly like the front and
rear of a coin). In order to conduct ontological analysis, it is necessary to
‘neutralize’, so to speak, the cognitive dimension, that is, to reduce
it to the default state. I assume that the default state is the descriptive
one, where the dimensions of attention, of interest, etc., are as neutral as
possible (= ‘natural’ attitude). It is of course possible to modify
the default state and construct ontologies of the other cognitive states as
well, but this involves modifications of the central structure.
THESIS 3. There is nothing to prevent the existence of several
ontologies, in the plural. In this case too, ontological study is useful
because, at the very least, it renders the top categories explicit and
therefore enables verification of whether there are reasonable translation
strategies and of which categorization can serve best to achieve certain
objectives. (John’s point in other words?)
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