[sc34wg3] Reification or Representation?

Murray Altheim sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Fri, 20 Aug 2004 12:50:37 +0100

Ann Wrightson wrote:
> I agree 100% with what Murray said:
> <snip>
> I'm not too worried about confusing the already confused. I think we should
> focus on being accurate with our use of language.
> </snip>
> However, "accurate" can become v. loaded with righteousness, so let's be
> pragmatic & just aim to do the usual computer science thing of choosing our
> terms moderately sensibly (which IMO we have done) & making sure they work
> consistently in our field (which needs a little more work) ;-)


Certainly. This is what I meant. As I mentioned, it's somewhat difficult
not to use overloaded terms given that many are stolen from philosophy,
where the rich history of some words make them ripe for misinterpretation.
So if we are to use existing terms rather than neologisms (which are prone
to their own set of problems), we simply need to be very careful in their
use, and be sure to define them explicitly.

> (Murray: many thanks for the philosophical analysis - I found it a useful
> reminder of some alternate explanatory frameworks that I tend to forget,
> though from what I remember of my study of philosophy, it's not a field
> where current thinking can be assumed to have any more relevance or
> correctness than earlier work...)

In this case I don't think it's a cul de sac. If you were to read the
exchange between Jurgen Habermas and Robert Brandom in the European
Journal of Philosophy [8:3, 2000], considered against the entire movement
bringing language to the fore that began with Wittgenstein, I don't think
there's any question of relevance (unless the last 80 years or so are to
be scrapped). I can highly recommend Habermas' "The Philosophical
Discourse of Modernity" as a great compendium of 20th century thought.


Murray Altheim                    http://kmi.open.ac.uk/people/murray/
Knowledge Media Institute
The Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK7 6AA, UK               .

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