Jon A and Edwina T,
I strongly agree with both you that processes are more fundamental than objects. In fundamental physics, everything is a process. In semiotic, all perceptions, actions, and communications are processes. The concept of stable things is at best a rough approximation about slowly changing processes.
Even the words we use are based on verbal roots: 'objectum' in Latin is something thrown against, and 'Gegenstand' in German is something standing against. For the top of an ontology, the word 'Entity' is better than 'Thing' because it does not make any commitments about the nature of what exists.
There is much more to say about this topic. Following is an article I wrote on a closely related topic: "Signs, processes, and language games", http://jfsowa.com/pubs/signproc.pdf .
> ET: I particularly like your (JA's) comment that "signhood is a role
> in a triadic relation, a role that a thing bears or plays
> in a given context of relationships" it is not an absolute,
> non-relative property of a thing-in-itself, one that it
> possesses independently of all relationships to other thingsâ€ .
> ET: I myself emphasize that this context of the role is made up
> of relationships (plural) -- which gives the triad its capacity
> for complexity. Therefore, as we see in Robert Marty's lattice,
> a thing is never a thing-in-itself but is an action, a process,
> composed of complex relations.
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It's important to distinguish the intension and the extension of a function or relation. The *intension* is its definition by a rule or set of axioms. The *extension* is the set of instances in some domain or universe of discourse:
JA> We can now define a “relation” L as a subset of a cartesian product.
That is a purely extensional definition. If we're talking about a database, for example, the extension may be constantly changing, but the intension may be the same for all the variations in extension
For the distinction between extensions and intensions, see the discussion by Alonzo Church: http://jfsowa.com/logic/alonzo.htm .