SUO: RE: Re: Missing Ingredient
I'm sure you'll be glad to know that Geertz is one of Rorty's favorite
anthropologists too! (Citations available on request).
[mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of
John F. Sowa
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2003 10:55 AM
To: SUO; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: SUO: Re: Missing Ingredient
I just wanted to comment on the point about common sense.
JA> I believe that we need to think very carefully about what we mean by
> a "common sense ontology" or a "sensus communis ontology" (SCO), and
> we might well begin by going all the way back to Aristotle, who made
> common sense what it is today...
The term "common sense" has been so overused that it is dangerous
to expect any two people to have a common interpretation of what
it implies for any ontology, database, knowledge base, or software
of any kind.
The major problem is that common sense differs with every culture,
and culture does not stand still: every scientific discovery,
every new invention, and every political or economic shift
changes our perceptions of ourselves and everything around us.
The common sense of 1950 is hopelessly outmoded today, and
today's common sense will undergo many more revolutions
in the next 50 years.
I like to quote the anthropologist Clifford Geertz whenever
anybody talks about common sense:
CG> The problem of how a Copernican understands a Ptolemaian,
> a fifth republic Frenchman an ancien regime one, or a poet
> a painter is seen to be on all fours with the problem of
> how a Christian understands a Muslim, a European an Asian,
> an anthropologist an aborigine, or vice versa. We are all
> natives now, and everybody else not immediately one of us
> is an exotic. What looked once to be a matter of finding out
> whether savages could distinguish fact from fancy now looks
> to be a matter of finding out how others, across the sea or
> down the corridor, organize their significative world.
As an example, just look at the immense cultural difference
between the two parts of Germany, which have been politically
reunited for over a decade. Some observers of the situation
have said that Germany won't really have a single culture
until the current generation dies.
Bottom line: We need a collection of ontologies, not just one.
And we also need ways of organizing them and moving from one to
another as the topic changes -- and it can change even within
the scope of a single sentence.