Knowability and No Ability in the Earth and Climate Sciences

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Miscellaneous Notes

Traits – Honesty, No ego, Skepticism, Simplicity, Lucidity


(hjrstk) [irreg. f. Gr. - (stem -) to find, app. after words in -istic from vbs. in -, -IZE; cf. Ger. heuristik, -isch.]
A. adj. a. Serving to find out or discover.

1821 COLERIDGE Let. 8 Jan. (1971) V. 133, I am..getting regularly on with my LOGICin 3 parts..3. Organic or Heuristic (). 1853 N. & Q. I. Ser. VII. 320 Heuristic, an English scholar would write it, or Heuristisch, as it would be written by a German. 1860 WHEWELL in Todhunter's Acc. W.'s Wks. (1876) II. 418 If you will not let me treat the Art of Discovery as a kind of Logic, I must take a new name for it, Heuristic, for example. 1877 E. CAIRD Philos. Kant II. xix. 662 The ideas of reason are heuristic not ostensive: they enable us to ask a question, not to give the answer. 1890 J. F. SMITH tr. Pfleiderer's Devel. Theol. IV. i. 321 Its proper place as an heuristic principle in practical sociology. 1955 Sci. Amer. July 72/3 Einstein's 1905 paper, for which (nominally) he had been awarded the Nobel prize, did not contain the word ‘theory’ in the title, but referred instead to considerations from a ‘heuristic viewpoint’. 1967 Listener 28 Sept. 386/2 His [sc. M. McLuhan's] style is jargon-riddenall this talk of ‘heuristic probes’, as if a probe could be anything but heuristic. 1973 N.Y. Times 2 May 36/2 The kind of criticism being written now is looser, more fluid, more ad hoc and heuristic.

b. Educ. (See quot. 1898.)

1848 [implied in HEURISTICAL a. below]. 1884 in Spec. Rep. Educ. II. 390 in Parl. Papers 1898 (C. 8943) XXIV. 1 The heuristic method is the only method to be applied in the pure sciences; it is the best method in the teaching of the applied sciences. 1898 H. E. ARMSTRONG Ibid., Heuristic methods of teaching are methods which involve our placing students as far as possible in the attitude of the discoverer methods which involve their finding out, instead of merely being told about things. 1959 Chambers's Encycl. VII. 80/2 Science-teaching should always be permeated by a heuristic bias (i.e. methods of investigation must be used whenever possible).

B. n.
1. a. = HEURETIC.

1860 ABP. THOMSON Laws Th. §35 (ed. 5) 56 Logic may be regarded as Heuristic, or the Art of Discovering truth. 1945 G. POLYA How to solve It p. vii, The subject of heuristic has manifold connections; mathematicians, logicians, psychologists, educationalists, even philosophers may claim various parts of it. Ibid. 102 The aim of heuristic is to study the methods and rules of discovery and invention. 1957 Proc. Western Joint Computer Conf. XV. 218 (heading) Empirical explorations of the logic theory machine. A case study of heuristic.

b. A heuristic process or method for attempting the solution of a problem; a rule or item of information used in such a process.

1957 A. NEWELL et al. in Proc. Western Joint Computer Conf. XV. 223 A process that may solve a given problem, but offers no guarantees of doing so, is called a heuristic for that problem. Ibid,. For conciseness, we will use ‘heuristic’ as a noun synonymous with ‘heuristic process’. 1958 IBM Jrnl. Res. & Devel. II. 337/1 For the moment..we shall consider that a heuristic method (or a heuristic, to use the noun form) is a procedure that may lead us by a short cut to the goal we seek or it may lead us down a blind alley. 1962 LEDLEY & WILSON Programming & utilizing Digital Computers viii. 349 Such criteria are called the heuristics of the problem. The field of heuristic programming is concerned with the investigation and understanding of various aspects of heuristics, such as how they are discovered, what kinds there are. 1967 A. BATTERSBY Network Analysis (ed. 2) xii. 192 It would..seem more reasonable to recalculate the float next time (6, 14) was a candidate for limited resources. Some heuristics do this.

    1. Ontology

Brit. /ntldi/, U.S. /ntldi/ [< post-classical Latin ontologia (1613 in Greek characters in R. Goclenius Lexicon Philosophicum 16) < onto- ONTO- + -logia -LOGY. Cf. French ontologie (1692), German Ontologie (1764 or earlier). Cf. earlier ONTOLOGIC a., ONTOLOGICAL a.

J. Clauberg (Metaphysica, 1646) suggests post-classical Latin ontologia as an alternative to metaphysica, citing Aristotle's definition of the science at Metaphysics 1005a3, where he describes it as the science or study of being, that which exists, ancient Greek (see ONTO-).]

1. a. Philos. The science or study of being; that branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature or essence of being or existence.

1721 N. BAILEY Universal Etymol. Eng. Dict., Ontology, an Account of being in the Abstract. 1776 A. SMITH Inq. Wealth of Nations II. V. i. 354 Subtleties and sophisms..composed the whole of this cobweb science of Ontology, which was likewise sometimes called Metaphysics. a1832 J. BENTHAM Fragment on Ontology in Wks. (1843) VIII. 195 The field of ontology, or as it may otherwise be termed, the field of supremely abstract entities, is a yet untrodden labyrinth. 1865 Reader 8 July 30 We cordially approve and admire,..not least, the signal demolition of Ontology, in the form of the noumenon, or unknowable substratum of matter and mind. 1884 B. BOSANQUET tr. H. Lotze Metaphysic 22 a doctrine of the being and relations of all reality, had precedence given to it over Cosmology and Psychology, the two branches of enquiry which follow the reality into its opposite distinctive forms. 1903 F. C. S. SCHILLER Humanism i. 9 The effect of what Kant called the Copernican revolution in philosophy is that ontology, the theory of Reality, comes to be conditioned by epistemology, the theory of our knowledge. 1960 C. C. GILLISPIE Edge of Objectivity xi. 496 Comte had to..repudiate not only metaphysics but also ontology. Thus would he deprive science of any and every claim to deal with objective reality. 1988 Mind 97 537 To admit that in some sense events exist is not to admit that events as arbitrary objects have any significance for the ontology of causality.

b. As a count noun: a theory or conception relating to the nature of being. Also in extended use.

1855 A. POTTER Lect. on Evid. Christianity 197 [Rationalism] might do but little harm in..disporting itself with its own fanciful creations..respecting necessity and spontaneity.., quiddities and ontologies. 1888 Mind 13 64 We are ready to admit all the hard things the Comte has said of the old Ontologies. 1909 Philos. Rev. 18 490 Even in the most nihilistic of ontologies the eternal is meant to be functional, not be merely the blank and irrelevant negation of temporality. 1950 Sci. Monthly May 346/2 Today we need new ontologies constructed in the light of what science now tells us about man. 1995 Church Times 3 Nov. 13/4 In trying together prayer and ethics, Barth explores a moral ontology and a moral anthropology in which dependence is not diminishment and resolute action is not self-assertion.

2. Logic. Chiefly with reference to the work of Stanislaw Leniewski (1886-1939): a system similar in scope to modern predicate logic, which attempts to interpret quantifiers without assuming that anything exists beyond written expressions.

S. Leniewski first developed this system of ontology in conjunction with the logical systems of mereology and protothetic. Cf. MEREOLOGY n., PROTOTHETIC n.

1938 Jrnl. Symbolic Logic 3 169 There is also included a sketch of Leniewski's ontology or theory of classes. 1955 A. N. PRIOR Formal Logic III. iii. 293 The basis of Leniewski's logic is the ‘protothetic’..and on this he builds two further disciplines called ‘ontology’ and ‘mereology’. 1983 Jrnl. Symbolic Logic 48 522 The proposed Lesniewskian-type ontology for natural language is related via a translation to the Montague grammar of a traditional type.

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