A Process Ontology

Abstract

The paper assumes that to be of practical interest process must be understood as physical action that takes place in the world rather than being an idea in the mind. It argues that if an ontology of process is to accommodate actuality, it must be represented in terms of relative probabilities. Folk physics cannot accommodate this, and so the paper appeals to scientific culture because it is an emergent knowledge of the world derived from action in it. Process is represented as a contradictory probability distribution that does not depend on a spatio-temporal frame. An actuality is a probability density that grounds the values of probabilities to constitute their distributions. Because probability is a conserved value, probability distributions are subject to the constraint of symmetry and must be zero-sum. An actuality is locked-in by other actualities to become a zero-sum symmetry of probability values. It is shown that the locking-in of actualities constructs spatio-temporal locality, lends actualities specificity, and makes them a contradiction. Localization is the basis for understanding empirical observation. Because becoming depends on its construction of being, processes exist as trajectories. The historical trajectories of evolution and revolution as well as the non-historical trajectory of strong emergence are how processes are observed to exist.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Anderson PW (1972) More is different: broken symmetry and the nature of the hierarchical structure of science. Science N.S. 177(4047):393–396

    Google Scholar 

  2. Archer MS (1982) Morphogenesis versus structuration: on combining structure and action. Br J Sociol 33(4):455–483

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Audi P (2012) A clarification and defense of the notion of grounding (preprint). In: Correia F, Schnieder B (eds) Grounding and explanation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. URL:http://www.paulaudi.net/Audi_Clarification_of_Grounding.pdf

  4. Baddeley A (2000) Short-term and working memory. In: Tulving E, FIM Craik (eds) The Oxford handbook of memory, Chap. 5. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 77–92

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bambach CR (1995) Heidegger, Dilthey, and the crisis of historicism. Cornell University Press, Ithaca

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bergson H (1998) Creative evolution. Dover, Mineola

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bohm D (1980) Wholeness and the implicate order. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bower B (1986) Who’s the boss? Sci News 129(17):266–267

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bruner J (1990) Acts of meaning. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  10. Butterfield J (2010) Against Pointillisme: a call to arms (preprint). In: Dieks D et al (ed) Explanation, prediction and confirmation: new trends and old ones reconsidered. Springer, Berlin. URL:http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/5550/1/APCA1.pdf

  11. Cat J (2006) Fuzzy empiricism and fuzzy-set causality: what is all the fuzz about? Philos Sci 73(1):26–41

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Ceusters W (2011) Biomedical Ontologies: Toward Sound Debate. Tech. rep. URL:http://www.referent-tracking.com/RTU/sendfile/?file=CeustersCommentaryOnMaojoLongVersion.pdf

  13. Chalmers DJ (2006) Strong and weak emergence (preprint). In: Clayton P, Davies P (eds) The re-emergence of emergence: the emergentist hypothesis from science to religion, Chap. 11. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 244–256. URL:http://consc.net/papers/emergence.pdf

  14. Churchland PM (1988) Perceptual plasticity and theoretical neutrality: a reply to Jerry Fodor. Philos Sci 55(2):167–187

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Churchland PM (2005) Functionalism at forty: a critical retrospective. J Philos 102(1):33–50

    Google Scholar 

  16. Cleland CE (2002) Methodological and epistemic differences between historical science and experimental science. Philos Sci 69(3):447–451

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Cohen-Cory S (2002) The developing synapse: construction and modulation of synaptic structures and circuits. Science N.S. 298(5594):770–776

    Google Scholar 

  18. Demerath NJ (1996) Who now debates functionalism? From ‘system, change and conflict’ to ′culture, choice, and praxis’. Sociol Forum 11(2):333–345

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Demos R (1926) Possibility and becoming. J Philos 23(9):234–240

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Dries M (2008) Towards adualism: becoming and nihilism in Nietzsche’s philosophy. In: Dries M (ed) Nietzsche on time and history. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, pp 113–145

    Google Scholar 

  21. Engels F (1940) Dialectics of nature. International Publishers, New York

    Google Scholar 

  22. Feyerabend PK (1966) Dialectical materialism and the quantum theory. Slav Rev 25(3):414–417

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Fiske MA (1965) Paradisus Homo Amicus. Speculum 40(3):436–459

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Fitelson B, Hájek A, Hall N (2013) Probability (preprint). In: Pfeiffer J, Rausch S, Sarkar S (ed) The Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy of science. Routledge, New York. http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu/faculty/ccallender/Papers/Probability.pdf

  25. Goldstein J (1999) Emergence as a construct: history and issues. Emergence Complex Organ 1(1):49–72

    Google Scholar 

  26. Guarino N, Oberle D, Staab S (2009) What is an ontology ? In: Handbook on ontologies. Springer, Berlin, pp 1–17

  27. Hauser MD, Chomsky N, Fitch WT (2002) The faculty of language: what is it, who has it, and how did it evolve? Science N.S. 298(5598):1569–1579

    Google Scholar 

  28. Hellie B (2008) Janann Ismael’s ‘probability and physics’ (unpublished). URL:http://individual.utoronto.ca/benj/jenann.pdf

  29. Hershock PD (1996) Liberating intimacy: enlightenment and social virtuosity in Ch’an buddhism. State University of New York Press, Albany

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hovda P, Cross T (2013) Grounding relation(s): introduction. Essays Philos 14(1):1–6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Kimmelman M (2013) Who rules the street in Cairo? The residents who build it. The New York Times

  32. Koyré A (1968) Metaphysics and measurement: essays in scientific revolution. Chapman and Hall, London

    Google Scholar 

  33. Krips H (1989) Propensity interpretation for quantum probabilities. Philos Q 39(156):308–333

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Krüger L (1986) Probability as a theoretical concept in physics. In: Proceedings of the biennial meeting of the philosophy of science association, pp 273–287

  35. Martin P (2007) Probability as a physical motive. Entropy 9:42–57

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Mellor DH (2005) Probability: a philosophical introduction. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  37. Motterlini M (ed) (2000) For and against method: including Lakatos’s lectures on scientific method and the Lakatos-Feyerabend correspondence. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

  38. Nāgārjuna (1987) Nāgārjuna’s “seventy stanzas": a buddhist psychology of emptiness. In: Komito DR (ed) Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca

  39. Norton JD (2003) Causation as folk science. Philos Impr 3(4):1–22

    Google Scholar 

  40. Norton JD (2007) Probability disassembled. Br J Philos Sci 58(2):141–171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Norton JD (2009) Is there an independent principle of causality in physics? Br J Philos Sci 60(3):475–486

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Pickering A (1986) Against correspondence: a constructivist view of experiment and the real. In: Proceedings of the biennial meeting of the philosophy of science association, pp 196–206

  43. Preston B (1998) Cognition and tool use. Mind Lang 13(4):513–547

    Google Scholar 

  44. Rescher N (2000) Process philosophy: a survey of basic issues. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh

    Google Scholar 

  45. Schaffer J (2009) On what grounds what. In: Chalmers D, Manley D, Wasserman R (eds) Metametaphysics, Chap. 12. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 357–383

    Google Scholar 

  46. Schultz W et al (2008) Explicit neural signals reflecting reward uncertainty. Philos Trans Biol Sci 363(1511):3801–3811

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Sellars W (1963) Science, perception and reality. Humanities Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  48. Shadmehr R, Smith MA, Krakauer JW (2010) Error correction, sensory prediction, and adaptation in motor control. Annu Rev Neurosci 33:89–108

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Simon HA (1962) The architecture of complexity. Proc Am Philos Soc 106(6):467–482

  50. Simone A (2008) Some reflections on making popular culture in Urban Africa. Afr Stud Rev 51(3):75–89

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Smith B (2008b) Ontology (science). In: Proceeding of the 2008 conference on formal ontology in information systems: proceedings of the fifth international conference (FOIS 2008) frontiers in artificial intelligence and applications, vol 183, pp 21–35

  52. Stich S (1992) What is a theory of mental representation? Mind N.S. 101(402):243–261

  53. Timpanaro S (1975) On materialism. New Left Books, London

    Google Scholar 

  54. Vervoort L (2013) Bell’s theorem: two neglected solutions (preprint). Found Phys 1–23. URL:arxiv.org/pdf/1203.6587

  55. Weatherson B (2002) Intrinsic vs. extrinsic properties. In: Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. URL:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intrinsic-extrinsic/

  56. White PA (1999) Toward a causal realist account of causal understanding. Am J Psychol 112(4):605–642

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Whyte LL (1950) The next development in man. Mentor-New American Library, New York

    Google Scholar 

  58. Wilson JM (2002) Causal powers, forces, and superdupervenience. Grazer Philosophische Studien 63:53–78

    Google Scholar 

  59. Wilson JM (2012) Fundamental determinables. Philos Impr 12(4). URL:http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/p/pod/dod-idx/fundamental-determinables.pdf?c=phimp;idno=3521354.0012.004

  60. Wilson JM (2013) No work for a theory of grounding (manuscript). UiO Colloquium. URL:http://philpapers.org/rec/WILTMO-16

  61. Wong HY (2006) Emergents from fusion. Philos Sci 73(3):345–367

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Worrall J (1982) Scientific realism and scientific change. Philos Q 32(128):201–231

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Zimmer C (2008) How smart is the octopus? Slate Magazine

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Haines Brown.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Brown, H. A Process Ontology. Axiomathes 24, 291–312 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10516-013-9219-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Process
  • Probability
  • Contradiction
  • Emergence
  • Historical science