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Posted by Harvey on June 19, 2002 14:38:43 UTC

Hi Luis,

I got tired of searching for our discussion down there and hope you don't mind if I post it near the top:

***"You start with ontology."

Either I am misunderstanding the term "ontology", or you're building your argument from a position less elementary than mine. "You start from ontology" leads me to believe the latter is indeed the case. I perceive "ontology" as the assumption that reality is deeper than anything which, no matter how advanced we might ever become, our senses will ever fully be able to detect. To me, "ontology" is the assumption that everything already makes sense, but we must wade through our sensory restrictions in order to approximate it. I see "ontology" as the basic assumption that meaning is independent of our interpretation of it. I also see folks who make these assumptions constructing their criticisms from the foregone conclusion that we all must work from an ontological context. If my definition of "ontology" is off-base, then I apologize for not being more educated. If I am defining it in a similar way to how you define it, then I must insist that you are starting from a shallower position than I am, and cannot manage to get to the point from which I begin. I do think that the subconscious acceptance of these very assumptions is a point above the level from which I'm trying to launch into our discussion. It's apparent you repeatedly begin your thought preocesses from a position that blindly accepts the validity of ontology.***

Ontology is simply a discussion of 'what is'. For example, if we say there are 'objects' and only objects (no real processes), then we have an object ontology. If we think that everything is just processes, then we have a process ontology. Language commits us to an ontology. For example, by the mere fact I am using the English language suggests that I am utilizing symbols to reference something that I consider 'out there'. The words have meaning because they reference something that we consider to be meaningful, and hence we are automatically committed to an ontology.

***H: "Notice that concepts are not material..." etc... That's my point, meaning is not real according to the materialist, it is reducible to material things." L: This is a superb example of what I'm talking about. The assumptions of yours run so deep that you cannot see the necessity to explain the logic by which you have ruled out, with absolute certainty, how "meaning" can not be a purely material thing.***

I am not saying that 'meaning' cannot be something other than a purely material thing (quite the contrary), I am saying that a materialist account equates to 'meaning' being reducible to a material thing. This is the distinguishing attribute of materialism. The consequence of accepting the existence of 'meaning' is, from what I can tell, an admission of some form of theism (i.e., meaning requires some form of Sentience which you said so yourself).

Warm regards, Harv

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