Possibility and actuality: What does a variable refer to?

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John F Sowa

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Aug 9, 2018, 9:34:17 AM8/9/18
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In various discussions of ontology, some people have claimed
that existentially quantified variables can only refer to things
that actually exist in the physical universe.

But mathematicians happily use existentially quantified variables
to represent elements of infinite sets, even uncountably infinite
sets high up in Cantor's hierarchy. Theoretical physicists use
variables to represent hypothetical entities that have never been
observed. Even "down to earth" engineers refer to things in plans
that might never be funded.

But some ontologists deprecate things that are "imaginary".
They claim that an ontology can only refer to physical actualities.
If so, their ontologies are worthless for engineering -- because
*every* engineering design is purely imaginary until the plan is
finally implemented in a finished product.

C. S. Peirce discussed, analyzed, and clarified these issues.
I'll summarize the discussion and suggest useful distinctions.
The basic issue is the question of "real possibilities", which
Peirce discussed in many writings. For example, CP 2.385:

> To the old distinction between logical and real possibility and
> necessity, [Kant] applied two new pairs of terms, analytic and
> synthetic, and subjective and objective...

Pure mathematics is the study of logical possibility. Numerals,
for example, are marks on paper or sounds in the air that exist
physically. But the numbers they represent cannot exist physically
because there are too many of them. However, we can apply some
finite subset of the numbers to the world when we count things.
That subset of the possibles exists in that application to reality.

Theoretical physics is the study of real possibility. Engineering
is the field that turns real possibles (practical plans) into
actualities. A plan for a bridge or an airplane, if well designed,
represents a real possibility. While they're designing and building
the thing, engineers talk about it as if it were real. But it is
just a real possibility until it is finished. As soon as it's
finished, that possibility becomes an actuality.

Some ontologists make a sharp distinction between the real
and the imaginary. They deprecate imaginary things, as if
they were beneath contempt. If so, their ontology is beneath
contempt: it cannot be used for any practical application,
because every engineering design is purely imaginary.

Summary: Pure mathematics is the study of logical possibility.
Theoretical physics is the study of real possibility. And
engineering turns possibility into reality. Ontology defines
what's possible, and a database catalogs what's actual.

John

Jean Vieille

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Aug 10, 2018, 3:50:50 AM8/10/18
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How one could decide what is imaginary, real?

- An idea is can have as much attributes as anything that exist. Any representation of reality is as much of interest than the reality itself. For example, ontologies are not real, but we use them, Ontologies need to care about themselves.

- Reality as we perceive it is subjective, it is not objectively "real". To convince everyone, think about political/war "facts" narratives around Syria, Palestine, Russia. You will find totally opposed "realities" depending on the observer, commenter.

- Yes, engineering starts from bubbling ideas that sometimes become reified. If we remove imagination from the World, not much will be left.

 

"Reality is an illusion created by lack of alcohol" (a seemingly Irish quote, actually from N.F. Simpson)

John F Sowa

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Aug 11, 2018, 9:00:04 AM8/11/18
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On 8/10/2018 3:50 AM, Jean Vieille wrote:
> How one could decide what is imaginary, real?

Anything you imagine is, by definition, imaginary.

To determine whether or not it is real is an empirical issue.
For example, a plan for a bridge is imaginary until it is
built. The empirical test is easy: go to the site and
check whether it exists at all or in some unfinished state.

For that reason, the issue of imaginary or real is *not*
a matter or logic or of ontology. Any good ontology will
apply equally well to a historical book, a historical novel
that is partly imaginary, or to a realistic novel that is
completely imaginary.

Another issue is mathematics. Every theory of pure
mathematics is purely imaginary. Only those theories that
are applied to the real world refer to something real.

Even then, many mathematical theories have aspects that
will never refer to anything real. For example, Peano's
axioms for the integers specify an infinite set. But only
a finite subset can ever be used in any application.

That is why the issue of imaginary or real is a question
of what belongs in the *database*. An ontology is a theory
about what can exist, not a catalog of what does exist.

John

Joel Luís Carbonera

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Aug 11, 2018, 10:21:25 AM8/11/18
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I had to deal with imaginary objects (actually, objects designed by engineers and that do not exist yet) in an ontology some years ago. In that opportunity we decided to define a new ontological class for this kind of object. Because, altough they have a lot of the properties of physical objects, they only have these properties within the realm of mental worlds, and due to this, they also seem to have other kinds of properties and participate in some mental processes (what is not possible for physical objects).

Another way of dealing with these mental objects, in my opinion, is to consider them as propositional contents that are manipulated by minds. But in this approach it's hard to stablish relationships between the physical properties of actual objects and the properties of the imaginary, ideal, version of it.

We also have though about using some kind of possibilism to deal with this subjects. But we haven't made progress with this plan.



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John F Sowa

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Aug 11, 2018, 11:43:35 AM8/11/18
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On 8/11/2018 10:21 AM, Joel Luís Carbonera wrote:
> Another way of dealing with these mental objects... is to consider
> them as propositional contents that are manipulated by minds. But
> in this approach it's hard to establish relationships between the
> physical properties of actual objects and the properties of the
> imaginary, ideal, version of it.

Those are important issues that are also true of historical
objects, scientific hypotheses, and documentation of any kind
about anything that is not immediately present.

It's the distinction between signs and reality. What we can
say about anything of any kind is independent of whether that
thing did exist, exists now, or will exist.

Suppose you have photographs and documentation about a
building, and you don't yet realize it has been destroyed
(for example, by a fire, flood, or tornado).

The absence of the building does not affect anything that
was said about it -- in the ontology or in the database.

The same point is true about the same kind of documentation
about a building that is in plan, just funded, currently
being built, almost completed, and finally finished.

In all these cases, the ontology does not change. But the way
you can get more data about it does change.

> We also have thought about using some kind of possibilism to deal
> with this subjects. But we haven't made progress with this plan.

That's fine. You're talking about some version of modal logic.
But it's important to distinguish three things:

1. Ontology: A specification and classification of the types
of entities that exist now, in the past, or in the future

2. Database: A catalog of instances that are classified according
to the types in the ontology. A temporal DB will include time
stamps for all for all events. A DB for development will
include the status of all planned objects and with cross-
references to events in the temporal DB.

3. Logics, reasoning, and computation: There is an open-ended
variety of ways of reasoning, querying, simulating, and
talking about anything and everything in #1 and #2.

For generality, flexibility, and ease of maintenance, these three
should be clearly distinguished. The third is or should be open-
ended. #1 and #2 should support any kind of computation or reasoning.
That means #1 and #2 should be not be constrained by changes in #3.

General principle: The distinction between signs and reality must
be at the very top level: Everything we think or do, reason or
compute, depends on the difference between representation and the
physical people, places, things, and events that are represented.

See http://jfsowa.com/pubs/signs.pdf

John

Ravi Sharma

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Aug 11, 2018, 4:14:11 PM8/11/18
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Joel
If it is a design, it is based on logic, known principles, past similar models (visual - mental depictions) and science/math (physics-fluid dynamics, standard model, relativity etc.). Thus such items when used with current imaginary but proposed real object can have some confidence in use of ontology for design. Actually engineering projects succeed this way whether Aircraft, Space probes or Systems / chemical engineering based (mostly imaginary designs). Using ontologies for such imaginary (yet non-real before prototype is made) things should be still useful, valid as well as successful when real objects or processes are created provided proven or accepted items under assumptions are used for imaginary design? If this does not succeed then theory or proposal needs modification of above attributes or sub-parameters. Physicists many times wait for decades before imaginary theories become proven, such as quarks and Bosons as examples!
Regards.


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Joel Luís Carbonera

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Aug 11, 2018, 4:26:13 PM8/11/18
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Ravi,
The point is that in some cases we need to represent in the same model the actual objects, and the objects when they are conceptualized in the mind of someone. For example, we need to represent an specific chair that was created according to some design  (conceptualized in some mind and represented in some blueprint) and the designed object itself (the imaginary objects). For example, imagine that we need to implement an application where chairs are produced according to some design and the application should be able to evaluate if the chair matches the design. Such application involves an ontology that should represent both kinds of objects and should be able to distinguishing both kinds of objects as well.

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Pat Hayes

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Aug 11, 2018, 9:37:15 PM8/11/18
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On 8/11/18 1:25 PM, Joel Luís Carbonera wrote:
> Ravi,
> The point is that in some cases we need to represent in the same
> model the actual objects, and the objects when they are
> conceptualized in the mind of someone. For example, we need to
> represent an specific chair that was created according to some
> design  (conceptualized in some mind and represented in some
> blueprint) and the designed object itself (the imaginary
> objects). For example, imagine that we need to implement an
> application where chairs are produced according to some design
> and the application should be able to evaluate if the chair
> matches the design.

OK so far, but...

Such application involves an ontology that
> should represent both kinds of objects and should be able to
> distinguishing both kinds of objects as well.

Here I disagree. Until then you had been speaking of objects -
the chair or chairs - and specifications or representations or
descriptions or blueprints; but none of these are possible or
imaginary chairs. The specifications - let us use that term to
encompass all the other notions - are of course real, and what
they specify might or might not be; but either way, to paraphrase
Korzybski, the specification is not the product.

Now, one way to describe a specification is in terms of the
things it specifies, as we do when we talk of a blueprint FOR A
BUILDING, but while this way of talking is natural, it is not
actually necessary and it can be misleading, as I think it is
being in this discussion. Your example is surely one in which
there is a chair-specification and an actual chair - both real -
such that the specification fails in some way to specify the
chair - a certain important relation (of satisfaction?) between
them fails to hold. But one can say all this without invoking
possible-but-not-actual chairs.

Pat Hayes



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John F Sowa

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Aug 11, 2018, 10:11:38 PM8/11/18
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On 8/11/2018 4:25 PM, Joel Luís Carbonera wrote:
> we need to represent in the same model the actual objects, and the
> objects when they are conceptualized in the mind of someone.

I agree with Pat, but I'd like to simplify the example.

An ontology is like a dictionary that happens to be stated
in a formal logic instead of a natural language.

People who are building a chair, sitting on a chair,
talking about a chair, or thinking about a chair can
all use exactly the same dictionary to define a chair.
For that, you don't need to go beyond first-order logic.

The only case in which you might use modal logic in your
dictionary is to define words like 'possible' or 'necessary'.

But those are words that belong to logic. They are not
words that define anything you might see, hear, touch,
eat, or sit on.

John

Paola Di Maio

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Aug 12, 2018, 12:28:14 AM8/12/18
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 glad to see  many assumptions of aspects of 'reality' representatIon being discussed


On Sun, Aug 12, 2018 at 7:41 AM, John F Sowa <so...@bestweb.net> wrote:

People who are building a chair, sitting on a chair,
talking about a chair, or thinking about a chair can
all use exactly the same dictionary to define a chair.

yes, sure

but lets not forget that people can also not use any dictionary - in the sense that we can build/sit on/think of a chair without the use of formal language nor any kind of representation whatsoever

we can also sit on a rock, or anything else 
that is not labelled as 'chair'
 
For that, you don't need to go beyond first-order logic.

I never though about FOL  to sit a chair to be honest :-)

PDM

Matthew West

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Aug 12, 2018, 5:05:19 AM8/12/18
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Dear Joel,

ISO 15926 uses possible individuals for imaginary particulars, and in particular plans (a key part of the Oil and Gas business). It has worked very well for us, enabling e.g. plan vs outcome and alternative plans to be compared.

Regards

Matthew West

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Jon Awbrey

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Aug 12, 2018, 8:36:43 AM8/12/18
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Matthew, Ontologists:

In the systems approach to inquiry I’ve been pursuing, all values of variables, specifications, or state descriptions come in three modalities:  expected, intended, and actually observed.

A difference between expectation and observation is accounted as a “surprise” and calls for an explanation.

A difference between intention and observation is accounted as a “problem” and calls for a plan of action. 

Here’s a link to more discussion:

Prospects for Inquiry Driven Systems • Architecture Of Inquiry


Regards,
Jon

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bruces...@cox.net

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Aug 12, 2018, 4:34:44 PM8/12/18
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I like to see this argument as a sub-set of a broader point of view, which asserts that ALL "objects" in the "real" world are essentially known in terms of concepts -- which are abstract symbolic mental constructions defined in some kind of code, and which "represent" the object for purposes of communication. Is "abstract and symbolic" the same thing as "imaginary"?

This is a slightly confrontational point of view, because it suggests that so-called "real objects" are all (and perhaps only) known by their abstract properties -- even if they are highly touchy-feely (sensory-motor, "empirical", "concrete", "actual"). As soon as we say or think one thing about them, they are represented by coded/symbolic abstractions -- which we can if we wish correlate and validate against our empirical/sensory experience or testing/validation.

This perspective creates a kind of spectrum along which we might define attributes like "imaginary" -- and along this spectrum we might find different kinds of mathematics -- like the mathematics of bridges that describe "real" projects that were soundly engineered because the mathematics was correct. Engineering math is tightly mapped to empirical experience -- because it must be. Get fuzzy and the bridge falls down.

Philosophers will no doubt debate things like this forever -- but if this instinct for integral universality ends up a prevailing meme ("paradigm"), these different points of view will find themselves defined in a broad inclusive spectrum.

- Bruce Schuman
http://origin.org/one/book.cfm?ont=1


-----Original Message-----
From: ontolo...@googlegroups.com <ontolo...@googlegroups.com> On Behalf Of John F Sowa
Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2018 6:00 AM
To: ontolo...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Re: Possibility and actuality: What does a variable refer to?

On 8/10/2018 3:50 AM, Jean Vieille wrote:
> How one could decide what is imaginary, real?

Anything you imagine is, by definition, imaginary.

To determine whether or not it is real is an empirical issue.
For example, a plan for a bridge is imaginary until it is built. The empirical test is easy: go to the site and check whether it exists at all or in some unfinished state.

For that reason, the issue of imaginary or real is *not* a matter or logic or of ontology. Any good ontology will apply equally well to a historical book, a historical novel that is partly imaginary, or to a realistic novel that is completely imaginary.

Another issue is mathematics. Every theory of pure mathematics is purely imaginary. Only those theories that are applied to the real world refer to something real.

Even then, many mathematical theories have aspects that will never refer to anything real. For example, Peano's axioms for the integers specify an infinite set. But only a finite subset can ever be used in any application.

That is why the issue of imaginary or real is a question of what belongs in the *database*. An ontology is a theory about what can exist, not a catalog of what does exist.

John

Jon Awbrey

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Aug 12, 2018, 5:10:13 PM8/12/18
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Bruce,

I would call that the pragmatic-semiotic point of view and not see anything shocking about it so far as what you say below.

Regards,
Jon

http://inquiryintoinquiry.com

Ravi Sharma

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Aug 12, 2018, 9:15:28 PM8/12/18
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The NC machine can read a blueprint (still imaginary and representing a mental model) to create a real product.
Leonardo the Vinci's drawings were used recently for the first time to create a massive metal horse where no such object existed since Leonardo drew it, as far as we know and not on scale as large.
This is an example of a drawn model becoming touchable real statue!
human mind, machines, software models made it real.

My point is that more complex mental models (imaginary but use and stand on proven theories) not yet real e.g. higher energy LHC that confirmed Quarks,  become real and ontology and logic and math can be used in imaginary as well as real cases!


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John F Sowa

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Aug 12, 2018, 10:35:46 PM8/12/18
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Bruce and Jon,

Bruce
> ALL "objects" in the "real" world are essentially known in terms
> of concepts -- which are abstract symbolic mental constructions
> defined in some kind of code, and which "represent" the object
> for purposes of communication. Is "abstract and symbolic" the
> same thing as "imaginary"?

Jon
> I would call that the pragmatic-semiotic point of view
> and not see anything shocking about it

Yes. For anybody who is shocked, please read or reread my article
"Signs and Reality": http://jfsowa.com/pubs/signs.pdf

In terms of Peirce's semiotic, I would rephrase that paragraph
by replacing some of the key terms:

> ALL "objects" in the "real" world are perceived, conceived,
> and recognized in terms of signs -- which are the iconic,
> indexical, and symbolic mental constructions which "represent"
> the objects for purposes of communication, reasoning, and action.
> The terms "abstract", "symbolic", and "imaginary" refer to
> various ways of using signs.

And by the way, everybody who uses computers to process data
observes that distinction without thinking about it.

In ancient times, one of my colleagues at IBM submitted a tongue-
in-cheek suggestion for saving money in recycling punched cards:
Load the cards to tape, ship the tapes, and punch out the cards
at the recycling plant.

John

bruces...@cox.net

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Aug 14, 2018, 6:47:26 PM8/14/18
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On the mathematics of robust bridge engineering

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUu0FWlMpgk

64 million page views....

Is this convergent iteration??




-----Original Message-----
From: ontolo...@googlegroups.com <ontolo...@googlegroups.com> On Behalf Of John F Sowa
Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2018 7:36 PM
To: ontolo...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Re: Possibility and actuality: What does a variable refer to?

Bruce and Jon,

Bruce
> ALL "objects" in the "real" world are essentially known in terms of
> concepts -- which are abstract symbolic mental constructions defined
> in some kind of code, and which "represent" the object for purposes of
> communication. Is "abstract and symbolic" the same thing as
> "imaginary"?

Jon
> I would call that the pragmatic-semiotic point of view and not see
> anything shocking about it

Yes. For anybody who is shocked, please read or reread my article "Signs and Reality": http://jfsowa.com/pubs/signs.pdf

In terms of Peirce's semiotic, I would rephrase that paragraph by replacing some of the key terms:

> ALL "objects" in the "real" world are perceived, conceived, and
> recognized in terms of signs -- which are the iconic, indexical, and
> symbolic mental constructions which "represent"
> the objects for purposes of communication, reasoning, and action.
> The terms "abstract", "symbolic", and "imaginary" refer to various
> ways of using signs.

And by the way, everybody who uses computers to process data observes that distinction without thinking about it.

In ancient times, one of my colleagues at IBM submitted a tongue- in-cheek suggestion for saving money in recycling punched cards:
Load the cards to tape, ship the tapes, and punch out the cards at the recycling plant.

Azamat Abdoullaev

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Aug 16, 2018, 1:10:16 PM8/16/18
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 John wrote: "In various discussions of ontology, some people have claimed that existentially quantified variables can only refer to things that actually exist in the physical universe".

It is a big issue little discussed before. 

In the link below a general typology of all possible variables is presented. 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/artificial-intelligence-science-technology-next-get-ready-abdoullaev/?published=t




John

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John F Sowa

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Aug 16, 2018, 7:01:41 PM8/16/18
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On 8/16/2018 1:10 PM, Azamat Abdoullaev wrote:
> John wrote: "In various discussions of ontology, some people have
> claimed that existentially quantified variables can only refer to
> things that actually exist in the physical universe".
>
> It is a big issue little discussed before.
>
> In the link [Azamat's classification] a general typology of all
> possible variables is presented.

That's a useful typology.

But there is exactly *one* fundamental distinction that is necessary
and sufficient to support all of science. It has been called by
various names. But to use the terminology that scientists find
convenient, I'll use just two terms: 'physical' and 'mathematical'.

1. Some x exists in the physical universe iff x has space-time
coordinates. This includes regions or shapes of space-time
that don't include any matter or energy (AKA holes). They may
also be zero volume points, lines, or surfaces (AKA boundaries).

To accommodate quantum mechanics and experimental error, the
coordinates can be approximate. And the coordinates could be
relative to something whose existence is considered beyond doubt.
For example, I believe we can agree that the earth exists.

2. Some x exists in a mathematical sense, if there is a consistent
theory T, stated in some version of logic, such that the following
English sentence (or its equivalent in the logic notation) is true:
"The theory T implies that there exists an x with property p(x)."

The only requirement is that the theory T must be consistent.
It can be about numbers, circles, and triangles. But it could
be about things with any names you prefer: unicorns, angels,
vampires, or little green men from outer space.

For this purpose, the terms 'mathematical', 'imaginary' and
'logically possible' are equivalent: They imply that the
entity x might not exist in space-time, but they leave open
the possibility that some physical thing that resembles x
might be discovered.

This distinction does not exist in BFO. But I believe that it is
necessary and sufficient to support mathematics and every branch
of physical and social science.

John

Joel Luís Carbonera

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Aug 16, 2018, 8:30:13 PM8/16/18
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2018-08-11 22:36 GMT-03:00 Pat Hayes <pha...@ihmc.us>:
On 8/11/18 1:25 PM, Joel Luís Carbonera wrote:
Ravi,
The point is that in some cases we need to represent in the same model the actual objects, and the objects when they are conceptualized in the mind of someone. For example, we need to represent an specific chair that was created according to some design  (conceptualized in some mind and represented in some blueprint) and the designed object itself (the imaginary objects). For example, imagine that we need to implement an application where chairs are produced according to some design and the application should be able to evaluate if the chair matches the design.

OK so far, but...

 Such application involves an ontology that
> should represent both kinds of objects and should be able to
> distinguishing both kinds of objects as well.

Here I disagree. Until then you had been speaking of objects - the chair or chairs - and specifications or representations or descriptions or blueprints; but none of these are possible or imaginary chairs. The specifications - let us use that term to encompass all the other notions - are of course real, and what they specify might or might not be; but either way, to paraphrase Korzybski, the specification is not the product.

I think that we don't disagree about this...If I understood correctly your point of view, we have two kinds of entities: the objects and the specifications of the objects and both are real entities. Probably, the specifications are some kind of informational entity or a proposition, or something like this. Right?
   

Now, one way to describe a specification is in terms of the things it specifies, as we do when we talk of a blueprint FOR A BUILDING, but while this way of talking is natural, it is not actually necessary and it can be misleading, as I think it is being in this discussion. Your example is surely one in which there is a chair-specification and an actual chair - both real - such that the specification fails in some way to specify the chair - a certain important relation (of satisfaction?) between them fails to hold. But one can say all this without invoking possible-but-not-actual chairs.

However, for most of the applications it is not enough to just consider that the specification is a proposition or an informational object. Because these notions are "black boxes" that don't allow us to deal with the internal details. We would like to say that a given specification is a specification of some object, let's say, a Chair. And we would like to say that the weight of every actual chair built according the specification should macth the weight of the specified chair. That is, we would like to represent that there is a relationship (of some kind) between the object specified and the objects that are built according to the specification, and that there is a relationship between the properties of both objects. So, in general, for doing this, people think about the specified object as an entity in itself and not just information.

For example, let us imagine that we have a small room with several objects within it and a virtual representation of this scenario. The room has some chairs and a table, and the virtual 3D representation of it has also representations of the same chairs and table. People talk about these virtual objects as virtual objects and not as pieces of information (bits in some hardware). People talk about virtual objects and, in order to keep the relationship between the actual objects and the virutal ones, it is hard to avoid the notion of virutal/fictional/imaginary objects. 

A similar case, in my point of view, is when we need to deal with fictional characters. For example, in what kind of ontological category you would classify Sherlock Holmes? It it a person? Is it a fictional entity? Is it a content of a thought that is generically dependent on some mind?

Maybe we could avoid talking about imaginary entities in the ontology, but I think that we sould fail in capturing the distinctions that people would like to preserve. 
 

Pat Hayes




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Joel Luís Carbonera

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Aug 16, 2018, 8:32:43 PM8/16/18
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2018-08-12 6:04 GMT-03:00 Matthew West <dr.matt...@gmail.com>:

Dear Joel,

ISO 15926 uses possible individuals for imaginary particulars, and in particular plans (a key part of the Oil and Gas business). It has worked very well for us, enabling e.g. plan vs outcome and alternative plans to be compared.


That's nice!
I was thinking about a similar approach for dealing with a similar problem in the same domain.
I'll take a look.

Thank you for the pointer.

Best regards.
 

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Azamat Abdoullaev

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Aug 17, 2018, 10:04:48 AM8/17/18
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John wrote: 
[The only requirement is that the theory T must be consistent.

    It can be about numbers, circles, and triangles.  But it could
    be about things with any names you prefer:  unicorns, angels,
    vampires, or little green men from outer space.
For this purpose, the terms 'mathematical', 'imaginary' and
    'logically possible' are equivalent:  They imply that the
    entity x might not exist in space-time, but they leave open
    the possibility that some physical thing that resembles x
    might be discovered].

It is all strong points, which could be discussed in terms of the ontological distinction of Abstracta (Universals) and Concreta (Particulars), where the reality boundary is always shifting from the abstract to concrete things. 
I prefer the language of worlds, or realities, like as:
physical worlds of material entities:
mental worlds of cognitive entities, including logical and mathematical objects, and all fictitious things, "unicorns, angels, vampires, or little green men from outer space",
social worlds of social entities and relations,
actual worlds of real entities,
digital worlds of information things, etc.

'Mathematical',' logically possible', 'imaginary' realities are equivalent, but within the mental world context.
There are possible and impossible imaginary universes.  
The latter as fictional, imagined, constructed, fictitious worlds appear in novels, comics, films, television shows, video games, and other creative works.

Sometimes it is hard to differ the science fiction concepts from theoretical physics concepts, as dark energy and dark matter.


And lists of fictional universes are just shocking:

List of fictional shared universes in film and television

List of fictional universes in animation and comics

List of fictional universes in literature

List of science fiction universes

Add up here a multitude of virtual worlds, mixing with the physical world, and our standard metaphysical distinctions of mathematical and physical, necessary and possible, in need of full reviewing.  

The ontological modality of entities (being necessary or impossible, possible or contingent, actual and physical) is modifying as to new knowledge and technological advancement.

What presently utopia or dystopia, fictional cities, countries, planets, or universes, tomorrow new realities.

Thanks





John

John F Sowa

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Aug 18, 2018, 4:21:58 PM8/18/18
to ontolog-forum, ontolog...@googlegroups.com, Doug Skuce
On 8/17/2018 10:04 AM, Azamat Abdoullaev wrote:
> strong points, which could be discussed in terms of the ontological
> distinction of Abstracta (Universals) and Concreta (Particulars),

There is no fundamental difference between ontology and science.

They are both derived from exactly the same data: physical
observations and mathematical imagination. That is why the most
fundamental distinction is between mathematics and physics:

1. All abstracta, universals, and imaginary possibilities belong
to pure mathematics. This includes games like bridge, chess,
poker, computer games, etc. It also includes all consistent
fantasies or hypotheses of any kind. Every consistent theory,
considered by itself, is a branch (or twig) of pure mathematics.

2. The concrete particulars include all patterns of matter, energy,
space, and time -- living or nonliving. Any mathematical theory
that is consistent with observation may be applied to that aspect
of reality.

In short, pure mathematics is purely imaginary. And applied math
is a hypothesis about reality. And by the way, the distinction
mathematical/physical is very closely related, if not identical, to
the terms logos/physis by Heraclitus, Dharma/Maya by Gautama Buddha,
and Dao/Ten-Thousand-Things by Lao Zi.

In my article "Signs and Reality", I discussed the distinction
between Peirce's semeiotic and the physical world. But Barry
claimed that I was just proposing one philosopher's choice.

To answer Barry, I'll replace the terms signs/reality with an
equivalent pair that all scientists accept: mathematical/physical.
But I identify that distinction with the closely related insights
of those three near contemporaries along the Silk Road, circa 500 BC.

Although scientists might like the pair mathematicas/physics,
textbooks on those subjects tend to ignore the human level of
perception, action, feelings, and needs. That is why I recommend
the three gurus from 500 BC to provide a broader perspective.

As humans who work with and depend on the latest and greatest
modern technology, we have to reconcile both levels. That is why
I recommend the following four philosophers for guidance on methods
for integrating the human perspective and the scientific perspective.

1. Charles Sanders Peirce, a scientist, mathematician, logician,
philosopher, and engineer. See "Peirce's contributions to the
21st century", http://jfsowa.com/pubs/csp21st.pdf

2. Alfred North Whitehead, a mathematician, logician, and
philosopher who developed a highly innovative process theory
that bridges the gap between Heraclitus and modern physics,
especially quantum mechanics and 4-dimensional space-time.

3. Ludwig Wittgenstein, an engineer, logician, and philosopher
whose first book can serve as the foundation for any ontology
that may be implemented in a digital computer, and whose second
book covers all the complexities of language and life.

4. Edmund Husserl, a mathematician who attended Brentano's
lectures on psychology and made important contributions to
formal ontology. Husserl based his 6th Logical Investigation
on Brentano's theory on intentions, but analytic philosophers
criticized it. I agree with some of their criticism, but they
missed the essential point: An adequate theory of intentionality
requires a solid foundation in Peirce's semiotic.

Summary: Ontology must accommodate all the levels. The top-level
distinction of mathematical/physical, logos/physis, or signs/reality
is a universal foundation that has inspired philosophy for over two
and a half millennia.

John

Obrst, Leo J.

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Aug 18, 2018, 7:51:31 PM8/18/18
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One way to differentiate common, realist fiction from fabulist (fantasy, science fiction, magic realism) is that the former contrives new instances, while the latter modifies axioms at the class (universal) level. Shakespeare’s King Lear, Joyce’s Ulysses do not modify existing class axioms; but Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Borges’s The Library of Babel, and Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude do. Among the latter, some tweak, some do radical revisions. Asimov’s Foundation series is fairly realistic, except for psychohistory, faster than light travel. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythology is bizarre because he radically modifies class axioms. Tolkien is somewhere in-between.

 

Thanks,

Leo

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John F Sowa

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Aug 18, 2018, 10:31:58 PM8/18/18
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Azamat and Leo,

Summary: The topmost level should make one fundamental distinction
that has an open-ended range of implications:

1. Physics is the science of actuality. It includes everything
observable by any means as well as the space-time that contains
everybody and everything. Its quantified variables refer to
patterns of actually existing things and processes and the
space-time that includes them.

2. Pure mathematics is the science of open-ended possibility.
Its quantified variables range over unbounded infinities
of patterns that may or may not exist in actuality. The
infinities of mathematics include all actual patterns that
have existed, do exist, or will exist plus infinitely more
that may never exist.

Azamat
>>[JFS] Summary: Ontology must accommodate all the levels. The
>>top-level distinction of mathematical/physical, logos/physis,
>>or signs/reality is a universal foundation that has inspired
>>philosophy for over two and a half millennia.
>>
> [AA] Agree with the premise and conclusion.

Thanks for the note of support.

Eugene Wigner talked about the "unreasonable" effectiveness
of mathematics for describing reality. But the reason why
math is so effective is that its possibilities are infinitely
more numerous than anything that can ever be actual.

Re ISO standard: I believe that the terminology of Possible/Actual
and Mathematical/Physical is more acceptable for modern programmers
and computer scientists than the philosophers' terminology of
universals/particulars. I would put the philosophers' terms in
footnotes, not in the main text of an ISO standard.

Azamat
> Reality varies as zillion worldviews or conceptual frameworks.

We all share the same actuality. But the number of options
for describing or interpreting that actuality is infinitely
greater than the actuality.

But the reasoning methods enforce a discipline on the way those
patterns develop. Some interpretations and reasoning methods
will be successful -- and others will get you into trouble.

Azamat
> On other side, a philosophical physicalism insists that a physical
> TOE is the same as a philosophical (ontological) theory of everything.

But there are infinitely more possibilities than actualities.
There is no guarantee that we will ever find an absolutely
perfect TOE. We have to make do with what we can find and test.

Leo
> One way to differentiate common, realist fiction from fabulist
> (fantasy, science fiction, magic realism) is that the former
> contrives new instances, while the latter modifies axioms at
> the class (universal) level.

My only change is to replace "class (universal)" with "mathematical".

John

Jon Awbrey

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Aug 19, 2018, 5:30:13 PM8/19/18
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Bruce, John, Ontologists,

Apologies for the clipped response. I meant to elaborate
but I'm working through constant disruption these days.

One can find earlier foreshadowings — Plato's “Cratylus” and the
Stoic “lekton” are often mentioned in this connection — but the
clearest precursor of the pragmatic-semiotic perspective occurs
in Aristotle's recognition of the triadic sign relation, most
succinctly in his treatise “On Interpretation”.

Here's the little essay Susan Awbrey and I wrote on that, tracing
the continuities of pragmatic semiotics from Aristotle up through
Peirce and Dewey and teasing out the intimate relationship between
the theory of signs and the theory of inquiry.

Interpretation as Action : The Risk of Inquiry
https://www.academia.edu/1266493/Interpretation_as_Action_The_Risk_of_Inquiry

More as I get time ...

Jon
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Azamat Abdoullaev

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Aug 20, 2018, 3:51:34 PM8/20/18
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John wrote: 

[I believe that the terminology of Possible/Actual


and Mathematical/Physical is more acceptable for modern programmers
and computer scientists than the philosophers' terminology of
universals/particulars.  I would put the philosophers' terms in

footnotes, not in the main text of an ISO standard].


Generally agree, with some reservations. 

Some key physical  entities are unobservable theoretical constructs. The distinction Mathematical/Physical looks rather fuzzy.

For modern programmers and computer scientists, as well as video gamers and all internet-addicted, a real reality is becoming a digital world of hyperreality, because of failing to distinguish (physical) reality from a simulation of reality, its representations, models, lines of codes or formal description.

What is real and what is fiction are blending as the physical reality and the virtual reality, or as real intelligence and artificial intelligence before soon.

It all looks, we need one big science of reality, systematically studying its nature, kinds and all possible worlds.  

REALITY SCIENCE equals Reality cum Science and Technology

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/reality-science-equals-cum-technology-azamat-abdoullaev/?published=t

John F Sowa

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Aug 20, 2018, 4:56:44 PM8/20/18
to Azamat Abdoullaev, ontolog-forum
On 8/20/2018 3:51 PM, Azamat Abdoullaev wrote:
> Some key physical  entities are unobservable theoretical constructs.
> The distinction Mathematical/Physical looks rather fuzzy.

No. The distinction between pure mathematics and physics is precise.
Any mathematical entity is a possibility (an abstract type). Any
instances of that type that are represented by marks on paper, in
magnetic spots, in electronic currents, or as light on a screen
are physical tokens.

> For modern programmers and computer scientists, as well as video
> gamers and all internet-addicted, a real reality is becoming a
> digital world of hyperreality, because of failing to distinguish
> (physical) reality from a simulation of reality,

The word 'hyperreality' is a meaningless buzzword. I realize
that some people may confuse physical representations on a screen
with physical objects in the world. But any representation on
any physical medium is a physical token of some mathematical type.

If you represent something in computer storage or on a computer
screen, it's physical (an actual token). If it is a *possible*
output of some program, it's a purely mathematical type. But at
the instant it is computed (represented) in some computer storage
or output device, it is physical (an actual token of that type).

Challenge: I claim that it's impossible to find or describe
anything that is somewhere in between possible/actual or
mathematical/physical -- according to the way I defined it.

John

John F Sowa

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Aug 21, 2018, 10:24:15 AM8/21/18
to ontolog-forum
I sent a copy of my note on this thread to the email list
about Peirce, since it was inspired by many of his ideas.
That stimulated some discussion, and following is a revised
version of some excerpts.

John

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Possibility and actuality: What does a variable refer to?
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2018
From: John F Sowa
To: peir...@list.iupui.edu

Comment 1
> I agree with your outline and suggestions to replace 'universal'
> with 'mathematical'. That change also inserts a notion of Mind,
> an active Mind, into the process, since mathematics suggests
> an act of reasoning. But the term 'universal' suggests a more
> static categorical definition.

Yes. In Peirce's classification of the sciences (see the attached
cspsci.gif) pure mathematics has no input about what exists, and It
can't classify what exists. It can only reason about possibilities.
But any physical classification could apply the mathematical reasoning
methods to actuality.

Comment 2
> From a Peircean standpoint, if mathematics is the science of
> possibility (Firstness) and physics is the science of actuality
> (Secondness), what is the science of law or habit (Thirdness)?
> Or is law perhaps implicit in any notion of science that includes
> the study of patterns and processes?

In his classification of modality, Peirce discussed the three
"universes": Possibility, Actuality, and Necessity. Pure
mathematics does necessary reasoning about possibilities, and
applied mathematics adapts that reasoning to actualities.

In cspsci.gif, philosophy gets input from phenomenology, and the
empirical sciences get input from organized experience. The
dependence of philosophy and empirical science on mathematics
enables them to adopt any methods of mathematical reasoning.
With sensory input, they can apply that reasoning to what is actual.

Peirce also said that all necessary reasoning is diagrammatic.
Pure mathematics "experiments" with diagrams about possibilities,
and draws necessary conclusions about anything that corresponds to
(resembles) those diagrams.

Applied mathematics (including informal common sense) can do the
same kind of reasoning with diagrams. For everyday common sense,
reasoning may involve approximate "experiments" on mental models.

The highly disciplined sciences may begin with common sense for
their initial insights (heuristics), but they can use the same
methods of formal reasoning as mathematics. There is a continuum
from mental models and mathematical diagrams to physical experiments
based on those diagrams.

John
cspsci.GIF

Azamat Abdoullaev

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Aug 21, 2018, 2:00:35 PM8/21/18
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John wrote:
Challenge:  I claim that it's impossible to find or describe
anything that is somewhere in between possible/actual or
mathematical/physical -- according to the way I defined it.

It was shown by Aristotle that the method of dichotomy is not good in making an exhaustive division into two and ONLY two classes. 
And exact science is avoiding to use such the contradictory principle while defining its objects via genus-differentia.  
Let me remind his classical modes of opposition:
correlative opposites, like parent/children or double and half
possession/privation opposites, wealth and poverty
affirmation/negation opposites, physical and non-physical, positive and negative, exhaust the infinite. 
contrary opposites, like white and black; life and death

Contrariety is the most interesting opposition, and it has a further classification of two sorts.
When things differ in kind, and no middle is possible OR things differ in degrees, when there is an infinity of intermediaries between two extremes, like as black and white and 50 hues of gray.. 

This implies some critical conclusions.
Everything in the universe (or a class of things) could be divided by contraries without intermediaries, as possible/actual, or the class of two subclasses (animal: men/brutes).
Everything in the universe (or a class of things) could be divided by contraries with intermediary types, like chromatic colors or division of vertebrates into mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds.

Contradictory things are mutually excluding each other, like, life and death, truth and falsity, good and evil, war and peace, one and many, necessary and contingency, universal and particular, etc.
Contrary things, as wisdom and folly, allow the possibility of intermediaries, like points in a continuous series. 
So the universe, everything, or the infinite world or reality could be divided EITHER as just positive and negative opposites, non-real/real, mathematical/non-mathematical, mental/non-mental OR always positive contraries, real, possible, actual,contingent, imaginary, digital, social,....
The dichotomy of mathematical/physical could be extended as empirical physical, mental, pure mathematical, applied mathematical, digital, theoretical-physical, ...
As for the possible/actual dichotomy, it is best presented as Reality Spectrum or Universal Continuum of positive contraries, real, possible, actual,contingent, imaginary, digital, social,....entities.

Reality is so rich and diverse that hardly any formal science or logical scheme could meet its infinite complexity.
By the way, in your additional note, you notice that there is a continuum from mental models to physical experiments.  
Thanks  

John F Sowa

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Aug 22, 2018, 1:31:41 AM8/22/18
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Azamat,

When we use the words 'possible' and 'actual', we must distinguish
pure mathematics and applied mathematics:

1. Pure mathematics is pure possibility. It can never make any
claims about what is or is not actual.

2. But *applied* mathematics must determine which of the infinitely
many theories are the best approximations to some actuality

> [JFS] Challenge: I claim that it's impossible to find or
> describe anything that is somewhere in between possible/actual
> or mathematical/physical -- according to the way I defined it.
>
> [AA] It was shown by Aristotle that the method of dichotomy is
> not good in making an exhaustive division into two and ONLY two
> classes.
But that statement is about applied mathematics, where we have to
choose among all the possibilities. That is the gray area where
there is no certainty. We can never do an exhaustive analysis.

AA
> Reality is so rich and diverse that hardly any formal science
> or logical scheme could meet its infinite complexity.

Yes. But I would prefer to emphasize the choice:

JFS
> Reality is so rich and diverse and the possibilities are infinite.
> We can never be certain which formal science or logical scheme is best.

John

David Poole

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Aug 22, 2018, 1:46:58 AM8/22/18
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What about "the first cake that I bake in 2020". Is it an actual entity? It is not (currently) observable. It might not even exist (because I might not bake a cake in 2020). I would claim that it is of the same type as "the first cake I baked in 2018" (which did exist until we ate it).

I am not sure that the possible/actual distinction makes sense for examples like this (and certainly isn't the mathematics/physics distinction). And (as pointed out earlier in this thread, I think) all of engineering is about possible entities, but these are not of different types than actual entities. I might want to quantify over all of the cakes I bake in 2020; logic lets me do this. I am not sure if they are "actually existing things" or not.

David


> On Aug 18, 2018, at 7:31 PM, John F Sowa <so...@bestweb.net> wrote:
>
> Azamat and Leo,
>
> Summary: The topmost level should make one fundamental distinction
> that has an open-ended range of implications:
>
> 1. Physics is the science of actuality. It includes everything
> observable by any means as well as the space-time that contains
> everybody and everything. Its quantified variables refer to
> patterns of actually existing things and processes and the
> space-time that includes them.
>
> 2. Pure mathematics is the science of open-ended possibility.
> Its quantified variables range over unbounded infinities
> of patterns that may or may not exist in actuality. The
> infinities of mathematics include all actual patterns that
> have existed, do exist, or will exist plus infinitely more
> that may never exist.
>
>

David Poole,
Department of Computer Science,
University of British Columbia,
http://cs.ubc.ca/~poole
po...@cs.ubc.ca

John F Sowa

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Aug 22, 2018, 10:25:56 AM8/22/18
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David and James,

DP
> What about "the first cake that I bake in 2020". Is it an actual
> entity? It is not (currently) observable. It might not even exist
> (because I might not bake a cake in 2020). I would claim that it
> is of the same type as "the first cake I baked in 2018" (which did
> exist until we ate it).

JHD
> But the truth value of "the first cake I baked in 2018 is gluten-free"
> is determinate (I happen not to know it, but you presumably do). The
> same is not true of 2020.

I defined actuality as anything that ever was, is, or will be
anywhere in the universe. Most of us know more about the past
and present than we do about the future, but our knowledge is
irrelevant to its existence.

In fact, all of us know a great deal about the near future and
most of us do a lot of planning for the longer term. For example,
every time I drive a car, I predict that no cars in the opposite
lane will serve over and collide with mine.

So far, that prediction has been absolutely true, and I hope
that it will always be true in the future. I'm sure that
most of us have the same knowledge and hopes, and that our
hopes will be true for the overwhelming majority of us.

DP
> I am not sure that the possible/actual distinction makes sense
> for examples like this [baking a cake in 2020]

Just note the examples by James and me. For the gluten-free cake
in 2020, the knowledge is uncertain. But most people who bake
cakes can make a very accurate prediction about the likelihood
that they will bake a gluten-free cake in 2020.

In fact, I'll make a prediction about people I have never met:
For anyone who frequently bakes a cake and has never previously
baked a gluten-free cake, the probability that they will not
bake a gluten-free cake in 2020 is greater than 50%.

DP
> (and it certainly isn't the mathematics/physics distinction).

The definition I stated is absolutely precise. To emphasize
the precision, I'll restate it in 4-D coordinates -- but it
remains just as precise when you translate it to 3-D plus time:

1. Pure mathematics is the study of possibilities. Every
possible structure or process can be described by some
theory of pure mathematics, but no structure or process
of pure mathematics exists in actuality.

2. Everything in the universe that is actual is either a
4-dimensional region of space-time or it is wholly
contained within some 4-D region of space-time.

3. Applied mathematics is the practice of selecting structures
specified by one or more theories of pure mathematics and
using them to describe something contained within some 4-D
region of space-time. The descriptions of applied mathematics
are rarely, if ever, absolutely true. But it's often possible
to estimate the expected errors in measurement or prediction.

The distinction between #1 and #2 is precise. All the errors
and vague intermediate cases result from difficulties in #3.

John

John F Sowa

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Aug 22, 2018, 2:11:30 PM8/22/18
to Stephen Curtiss Rose, ontolog...@googlegroups.com, ontolog-forum, Peirce-L, Doug Skuce, ar...@kyndi.com
On 8/22/2018 10:55 AM, Stephen Curtiss Rose wrote:
> Reality is anything, all, totality, the sum of semiotic existence.
> Thus if I say Mello Rolls (something from my long ago childhood) in
> the year 2099, it is real, Reality does not depend on the faculties
> of the body or mind.

That is one possible way of using the word 'reality'. And it is
one of the main reasons why I did not use the word 'reality'.

For modal logic, Peirce adopted the words possibility,
actuality, and necessity and defined them as three distinct
universes.

I adopted his definitions and related them to a puzzle that has
plagued the philosophy of mathematics for centuries: When
you say "there exists an x" about some x in a mathematical
theory, where does that x exist?

Since many mathematical structures, including the integers,
form an infinite set, They can't exist in a finite universe.
One could say that they exist in a Platonic heaven, but then
you have to explain how that heaven relates to our ordinary
universe.

My proposal is the one I stated in my previous note to Ontolog
Forum (copy below). That universe of possibilities is big
enough to contain all semiotic types. Any marks and tokens
of those types would exist in our physical universe.

John
______________________________________________________________

From a previous note in this thread:

John Bottoms

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Aug 23, 2018, 2:29:21 PM8/23/18
to ontolo...@googlegroups.com
All,

Graphic image ontologies are interesting for AI applications because they can be used in ways that are similar to how humans think. When we consider a concept we can access it through sounds, text or images. Graphic images can also be tagged to allow several access methods. Besides color another image could be created that shows reflection types and also textures. This is done in some programs but usually in Cartesian coordinates.

This image caught my attention because it resembles an ontology that begins with <entity> and ends with <null>. It is also tagged with text that are properties. This could serve as an access method for use in fashion design.  As Meryl Streep's character in "The Devil Wears Prada" says,

   ""OK, I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select that lumpy, loose sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back, but what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue. It's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean."




-John Bottoms
 FirstStar Systems

David Eddy

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Aug 23, 2018, 5:11:00 PM8/23/18
to ontolo...@googlegroups.com
John -


On Aug 23, 2018, at 2:29 PM, John Bottoms <jo...@firststarsystems.com> wrote:

Graphic image ontologies are interesting for AI applications because they can be used in ways that are similar to how humans think. When we consider a concept we can access it through sounds, text or images. Graphic images can also be tagged to allow several access methods. Besides color 

Oh, Lordy… where do you find this stuff?

What about color blind?


Just off a 2 1/2 hour demo from “my” IBMer… aiming to bring Legacy systems data into the Watson tent.


Now I MUST crank out a presentation proposal… complete with zippy bullet points.  UGH!    Do not resurface until Saturday afternoon.


Did a SIKM—KM Forum successor—this morning.  Document management is still an unresolved issue.

____________________________
David Eddy
Babson Park, MA

W: 781-455-0949


avril.styrman

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Aug 24, 2018, 11:04:47 AM8/24/18
to ontolo...@googlegroups.com
Dear all,

just a note to anyone who is planning a comprehensive color ontology: it must interrelate the perceiving agent, the perceived mind-independent object, and the environment of perception. 

Cheers,

Avril



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

-------- Original message --------
From: David Eddy <de...@davideddy.com>
Date: 24/08/2018 00:10 (GMT+02:00)

avril.styrman

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Aug 24, 2018, 11:37:18 AM8/24/18
to ontolo...@googlegroups.com
Dear all,

just a note to anyone who is planning a comprehensive color ontology: it must interrelate the perceiving agent, the perceived mind-independent object, and the environment of perception. 

Cheers,

Avril



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

-------- Original message --------
From: David Eddy <de...@davideddy.com>
Date: 24/08/2018 00:10 (GMT+02:00)
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Is this a Color Ontology?

bruces...@cox.net

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Aug 24, 2018, 4:09:17 PM8/24/18
to ontolo...@googlegroups.com

I was fascinated by the 3-dimensional mathematics of the Munsell color system

 

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