Re: D1. Summary: Separate computer science ontology from philosophical ontology
As I've said many times, I believe that a large part of ontology
is empirical, and there is no way to have a completed ontology
until we have a complete science -- and we are very far from
"the end of science".
But I have never denied that it might be possible to have a
completed science and ontology at some point in the indefinite
future. And I won't deny that at least a significant part of
such an ideal science and ontology might be found somewhere
in your extremely large, but finite list of books:
AS> Take e.g. all 500-page books: all the 500-page long
> combinations of unicode symbols. One of these books must be
> a pretty good candidate for the PPO, since the set of these
> book contains about all that can be written.
A really good ontology with all the justifications and proofs would
probably require many more than 500 pages. However, I would agree
that a good summary of the top levels of the world's best ontology
could probably be written in about 500 pages. Unfortunately, there
are several problems with that idea:
1. Enumerating all possible Unicode character strings of 500 pages
in length would take far longer than the age of the universe
to generate and perform the most rudimentary gibberish-removing
exercises. (See "The Library of Babel" by Borges for some of
2. Even for strings of characters that are not gibberish, there is
no guarantee that they would be written in any language humans
today could read. There are over 6,000 existing languages today,
and many more thousands or perhaps millions of languages that had
been spoken on earth and untold numbers of conceivable languages
that might be spoken in the future or in some far away galaxy.
The likelihood that anyone on earth today could read a book
that was generated is extremely small.
3. Even if some excellent ontology happened to turn up very early
in the enumeration in a recognizable language, there would be no
way to determine whether it was indeed the best of all possible
ontologies -- especially since the justification would probably
take much, much more than 500 pages.
4. Even if, by some rarest of rare possibilities, there was a solid
proof that the ontology was the best possible and it could be
included in that 500 pages, that proof might depend on some
extremely advanced mathematics and science that would be far
beyond the capabilities of our present scientists to understand.
For example, suppose somebody went back in a time machine and gave
Aristotle a copy of Penrose's book _The Road to Reality_, which is
a good summary of today's physics (but in more than a thousand pages).
Since nobody in ancient Greece could read English, nobody would know
what it said. Even if they could decipher it, that book is a very
terse summary that is hard to read even by college graduates today
who have studied math & physics. Furthermore, that book does not
specify how to carry out all the experiments with equipment that
would be inconceivable in ancient Greece.
When you multiply all the extremely small probabilities above,
the implication is that there is no way to avoid the hard work
of doing the dirty work in the laboratories.