[Humanist] 29.426 ontologizing?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Oct 27 07:46:17 CET 2015

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 426.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2015 06:30:02 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: ontologizing

In pursuit of wisdom about wisdom literature (proverbs, parables and the 
like) I ran into Gary Saul Morson's The Long and Short of It: From 
Aphorism to Novel (Stanford, 2012). It itself offers two sorts of wisdom 
to the computationally fascinated: an antidote, if you will, to one 
current obsession and a booster to another. The first is demonstration 
of the rewards from studying Small Data; second is its encouragement to 
play seriously with schemes of what might be. Morson's Introduction, in 
which he discusses the many ways of sorting the forms of aphoristic 
literature, implies that the second made the first possible. Anyhow 
here's the paragraph which urged me to write this note:

> Like arguments over terminology, classification debates may seem
> pointless, and yet, as thinkers from Aristotle to Linnaeus and Darwin
> have understood, one can often best understand a range of phenomena
> by first examining its types. If nomenclature proves less than
> helpful in doing so and the phenomena lend themselves to different
> groupings, one needs to reflect on why one is interested in the
> phenomena in the first place. Articulating the questions one hopes to
> answer also helps. Only by deciding on the sort of thing one is
> looking for can one hope to find it. There is no single correct way
> of classifying genres. Rather, principles of classification properly
> depend on the reasons for classifying. Different purposes demand
> different classifications. (pp. 4-5)

Perhaps as "ontology" has among us given way to "ontologies" so it in 
turn should be given the means to metamorphose into "ontologizing"?


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney

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