John Wilkins has begun a series of posts on the ontology of biology, and if, as he waxes philosophic at Evolving Thoughts, it even exists given the underlying nature of biology -- change. He goes into what ontology is, how it should fundamentally (instead of practically) be used as a classification system for the "furniture of the world," and why it runs into problems when applied to the world of biology. "There is a tendency for us to try to force living things into defined kinds of a standard ranking, and to make inferences as if things in the living world were A or Not-A, when in fact they are not only distributions of traits, but changing distributions of traits, and changing distributions of changing traits -- not only do legs vary in length and size, they change in their variation over time, and sometimes they change from being legs, to being wings, for example, or flippers, or even disappearing," he writes.
In Case You Were Confused About Ontology...
Nov 10, 2008