making-sense - Making Sense Tom Carter...

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Unformatted text preview: Making Sense Tom Carter http://astarte.csustan.edu/ tom/SFI-CSSS April 2, 2009 1 Making Sense Introduction / theme / structure 3 Language and meaning 6 Language and meaning (ex) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Theories, models and simulation 8 Theories, models and simulation (ex) . . . . . . . . . . 28 References 29 2 Introduction / theme / structure This is a brief introduction to some thoughts about making sense of the world. We all make sense of the world in many ways all the time, but we dont always do it consciously, nor do we necessarily have rigorous / structured approaches to the project . . . My goal here is to talk some about how I go about building theories, models and simulations that I can use to make the world make more sense to me and also that I can use as parts of explanations to help others see the world in potentially more useful ways. As a teacher/researcher, Im always looking for more illumination, and better ways to reveal that illumination. 3 One important point for me is that in general in these sorts of projects, I am much more interested in epistemology than in ontology. Just briefly, what are ontology and epistemology? I tend to think about them this way: Ontology: What is there? (i.e., questions of being) Epistemology: How do we know? (i.e., questions of knowledge) In many respects, I see these as two of the main (or the main two) branches of philosophy, and especially of philosophy of science. They tend to have convergences and divergences, but they drive much philosphizing (and much argumentation over angels and heads of pins . . . :-) 4 Ontological questions tend to litter the fields of science: What are the fundamental elements? Are there just four of them? What is the Fifth Element? Is it the quintessence, or just a so-so sci-fi movie? Does caloric exist? Does phlogiston exist? Are there atoms, or not? Do electrons exist? Does the force of gravity exist? What is a gene? What is a species? What is life? Does Truth exist? For the most part, I think these questions are largely irrelevant. In many respects, I think they are very often the wrong kinds of questions for scientists to ask . . . Epistemological questions also abound: What can we know? How can we best go a trying to learn (gain knowledge) about the world? What role does evidence play in understanding systems? How meaningful is deduction within axiomatic contexts? 5 Language and meaning Hmmm . . . This is a placeholder for some things I want to write about, but havent yet. Reference and Platonism Use and Wittgenstein What is meaning, and how does it happen? 6 Language and meaning - exercises 1. Explain why meaning is use is meaningful....
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making-sense - Making Sense Tom Carter...

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