Monday, November 08, 2004



As a part of my current essay on the philosophy of mind, I have found myself exploring the nature of categories. Ontology is a technical word, roughly meaning "the classification of what is". This post is taken from a work-in-progress on on the nature of categories.

On the false paradox of nominalism, realism and ontology

It is false that there is any contradiction between an ontological description of the world, and the way it really is. This is a question of Metaphysics . Traditionally, people have broken the world down as being either nominal or real. Is our understanding of the world through naming a way to come to grips with the fact we have only an imperfect way of understanding how things change over time and are presented to use through our senses, or rather are the definitions of things made according to true and objective properties of those objects?

This question can be helped by a simple thought-experiment claim "We can never step into the same river twice".

The nominalist claims that in our naming of the river's apparent nature as river, we can indeed step into the same river twice, as it keeps the same name. The realist claims that the river has changed, and thus can no longer be considered the same object.

The claim of the realist is false, unfortunately, because he lacks the ability to describe what a river is - he cannot accurately describe a river at any point of time. He points to a named river, and says "this is changing", however by naming the river as "this", he is already committing himself to the fundamental describability of the river.

The spatial description of a river is no less a nominalisation than the temporal description of a river. How wide are its banks? How shall we correctly identify the difference between the river and its tributaries? Quickly, we find there is no realist way to describe the river as being an independant entity.


What is identity? Anything which has a name has an identity in someone's eyes. Philosophically speaking, two things are actually the same thing if logical statements about them are reflective, transitive and symmetrical.\\\\\ "the mind" a cluster concept?
*The Cluster-concept Theory: the referent of a proper name is determined by a cluster or family of descriptions. The referent is whatever satisfies enough of these descriptions. (p. 31) --Wittgenstein, Searle, & Strawson

Actually, a cluster concept (after reading a little more) appears to be something like this : two distinct sets previously thought of as being the same set, differentiated according to some set of properties that has not hitherto been noticed.

Is the mind a family resemblance?
This is a Wittgensteinian idea. If a category has no sound and complete set of properties, then the classification must be done on close resemblances rather than on a set of predicates. W' uses the example of games.


Blogger I'm Patrick!! said...


11/09/2004 07:36:00 AM  

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