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Re: [ontac-forum] Semantics and Ontology

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 21:12:54 -0400
Message-id: <44726196.8040108@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azamat,    (01)

I have a great deal of sympathy with the broad outlines
of the so-called Philosophia Perennis -- the philosophy
for the ages vaguely based on a neo-Aristotelian approach.
But I also sympathize with the following criticism:    (02)

KL> What you're advocating verges on mysticism.  Pythagorean
 > mysticism, perhaps, but you are nevertheless urging participants
 > in the ONTAC working group to grasp these idiosyncratic
 > formulations as though there was some kind of cannon or liturgy
 > or scripture from which all your formulations emerge ready-to-hand.    (03)

When I say "vaguely", I don't mean bad -- since I have said
that vagueness is a necessary feature of natural languages,
which enables us to sketch out the broad outlines of an
approach without committing ourselves to any particular
collection of detailed axioms.    (04)

But I still consider it more of a set of guidelines, and I
feel uneasy about talk of a "knowledge trinity" as if it were
some kind of religion.  I agree with the following:    (05)

KL> I don't want an encoded ontology of the Great Books of the
 > Western World as if such literature contained 'the truth'
 > monolithic and uncontested.
 > The "knowledge trinity" as well implies that we have all joined
 > some holy quest for the one true ontology.  Even the most
 > dogmatic scientists recognize that knowledge doesn't work like
 > that.    (06)

I believe that Aristotle had some very important insights,
and I especially like Hilary Putnam's comment:    (07)

    Whenever I become clearer about some subject,
    I find that Aristotle has become clearer about it too.    (08)

Whenever I find my thought running in parallel with something
Aristotle said 2300 years ago, it gives me some confidence that
I'm on the right track.  I have similar feelings about Peirce,
Whitehead, and Wittgenstein.  I treat their statements with
respect, but I would never take any of them as dogma.    (09)

John    (010)

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