Do Mountains Exist?

The deep question with which the paper starts delves into the definitions of existence and comprehension of geographic features around us. The coming of predicate logic was the first attempt to consolidate questions about existence in a scientific framework, thus binding existence to a variable. However, to answer questions about categories and objects, predicate logic faces a challenge as these definitions are by nature recursive. As rightly pointed out by Barry Smith and David M. Mark the question then becomes two folds: “do token entities of a given kind or category K exist?”  and “does the kind or category K itself exist? ”. Predicate logic in itself is good at explaining logical entailment but fails to take into account the how humans perceive things. Thus, it may be right to say that mountains exist as they are part of the perceived environment.

Information Systems on the other hand adopted a different definition of ontologies. It considers ontologies as a set of syntax and semantics to unambiguously describe concepts in a domain. The objects are hence classified by information Systems in to categories and the categories are in turn arranged into a hierarchical structure. However, such an arrangement was futile in describing things like mountains, soils or phenomenon such as gravity. One central goal of ontological regimentation is the resolution of the incompatibilities which result in such circumstances. Hence the concept of fields was developed to efficiently categorize these “things”.

However, there are still doubts with naming of such “things” like mountains. Obviously, Mt. Everest exists because all the particles making Mt. Everest exist but exactly what particles are called Mt. Everest. This is the inherent problem in dealing with fields which are by nature continuous, lacking discrete boundaries.

Ideally the entire field of Ontology should be able to explain the entire set of things which are conceptualized and perceived with no ambiguity. This requires tremendous insight and reflection about why do the things exist in the first place.

- Dipto Sarkar

 

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