Thursday, June 2, 2011

The State of Ontological Systems and Systems Ontology

Google comes up with 0 hits for ["philosophy of science" "ontology of state-space"]. So I searched ontology of systems (since state space is the mathematical classification of systems), and it seems that the ontology of systems IS the state space. That is utter circularity. That is the perverse effects of metrics at the heart of human cognition. Taxonomy does not equal reality. Our habits are deeply wired.

4 comments:

  1. Ontology means the study of being. The ontology "of" something, it seems to me, can't mean much more than the mere study of it. Wouldn't the ontology of biology just be biology? Do you see my point?

    Many people just reject ontology, and metaphysics in general, as meaningless or futile; but if you're going to actually weigh in on an ontological question (What exists? What does it mean to exist?) then you can't do it through mathematics, which entirely sidesteps such questions (as does any science; there is no such thing as scientific ontology).

    Is it your view that we should reject ontological thinking or dogma in general (as Pragmatists do, e.g.)? Or are you taking up a position with respect to what the legitimate scope of ontology is? Or have I misunderstood entirely?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with you about mathematics.

    The ontology of something is the question concerning the existence of the "something". I'm not thinking we should reject ontology as dogma, but my curiosity is more specific and down to earth.

    The reason I think the question is important follows from the previous post on initial conditions. I'm having trouble expressing the idea, but it's something like this: When we investigate a dynamic system in nature, what defines the boundaries of that system? I'm intrigued by Kauffman's account of Darwinian pre-adaptations and his hypothesis that the state space cannot be specified for things like the evolution from jaw bones to ear bones. I'm also very interested in the idea that for machine systems, we place the conditions "by hand". My instinct is that there's some sleight going on in that. My hypothesis would be that prediction and control are in principle only possible for those things that we already can control (conditions we can place by hand...not everything is like that), and the idea of the universe as some big predicatable machine (in principle) is a figment of our philosophical hubris.

    I'm still working this out, thinking out loud as it were. Your questions help.

    ReplyDelete
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_ontology

    In Being and Time, Martin Heidegger made the distinction between ontical and ontological. Ontical refers to a particular area of Being, whereas ontological ought to refer to Being as such. The history of ontology in Western Philosophy is, in Heidegger's terms, properly speaking ontical, and ontology ought to designate fundamental ontology. He says "Ontological inquiry is indeed more primordial, as over against the ontical inquiry of the positive sciences"

    This is a useful distinction and probably a lot tidier if we ditched the "ontical" and just said 'taxonomy'. Still it doesn't seem that we can get away that easily. When I think about A = A, I still wonder in what sense A is at all and to help that along I think maybe it's one of these or maybe one of these other things.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Boldly going with a metaphor drawn from physics where non-physicists should never go: Assume that every actuality is a "collapse" of avenues of potentiality, occasioned by a critical mass of "interactivity". What then becomes of A=A? And then,how are the system's parameters arrived at?

    ReplyDelete