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Re: Intension and Extension (Was RE: [ontac-forum] Type vs. Class - last

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 21:23:06 +0100
Message-id: <>
At 07:35 PM 1/22/2006, you wrote:
> >If 'rabbit' refers to a type, and if rabbit instances existed before
> >human beings, and if rabbits were able to recognize other instances
> >of like type (e.g. for dating purposes) then the type rabbit existed
> >before any definition was formulated. Talk of types should thus not
> >rely too much on talk of definitions/intensions. Indeed there are
> >many types in biomedicine for which definitions have not yet been
> >supplied, and many types in all domains for which incorrect
> >definitions have been (or were for many centuries) supplied.
>[[CBC] ] While a bunch of furry creatures may have existed long ago, the
>concept of how these individuals are related is not part of the natural
>world.    (01)

Bravo, Cory, you have recognized that there were no concepts before 
concept-using animals like ourselves came upon the scene. 
Technically, this is called "the gem".    (02)

>  That we may decide that a set of individuals is sufficiently "more
>similar" such that we classify them under a common term and concept it is a
>tool WE use that is a basis for how WE think and how WE communicate.    (03)

Indeed.    (04)

>Certainly the first classification, one common to living things is "food",
>to a lion the distinction between "food" and "rabbit" may not even exist.
>Some pre-human may have had a thought or grunt for "Rabbit food", and thus
>was born the CONCEPT.
>When we communicate such concepts we may do so by example (see, the things
>in this box are the "rabbit" I was talking about) or by definition.  Both
>are ways to communicate and clarify the concept that we have in OUR MINDS or
>OUR logical formalisms.  Classification by example appears to be how we
>learn, but isn't this discipline about being a bit more precise?
>So it would seem to me there are 5 things in play;
>* An actual thing - jumping across my lawn
>* A concept for a kind/classification/type of things - rabbit
>* A definition for the concept - Small mammal, etc.
>* Sets of things - creatures in a box
>* A set of individuals satisfying a concept - "extent".
>* Terms for the concept - EN:"Rabbit", FR:"Lapin"    (05)

Can you give me an account of how rabbits recognize other rabbits, 
for mating purposes, when they only have the above to work with. (In 
practice, of course, they only have the first, and perhaps also the fourth.)    (06)

>A concept <HAS> terms, definitions, sets and <AN> extent.
>What was proposed but seem invalid is that we can always deduce equivalence
>of concepts by equivalence of individuals.  This would not work where there
>is more than one possible aspect of the same individual or where there is
>change.  Perhaps there is a special kind of type where this kind of
>assumption can be made.  This special kind of type would have to have
>individuals completely defined by a single definition and thus not
>correspond to an individual in the real world.  One example of such types is
>the enumerated types found in programming languages.  "Color" may be an
>example of such a type, but I am not sure yet.  I am mostly sure "Rabbit" is
>NOT one of those types.  So the more general concept is the type that does
>not contain this assumption.    (07)

Biologists are not investigating concepts.
They are investigating reality. They discover that this reality 
contains natural kinds, and their instances. Many of these natural 
kinds, and their instances, existed many billions of years before 
concept-using animals came on the scene.
BS    (08)

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