Re: On "Canonical Definitions"A Self-critique

Robert Owen (
Thu, 02 Dec 1999 16:55:30 -0500

Robert Owen wrote:

> Unless a "definition" is a postulate of a conceptual system,
> it must be rigorously derived (i.e. follow of strict logical
> necessity) from one or more axioms of a coherent axiomatic
> system such as a "philosophy" in order to be "canonical". I
> am aware no such system.
> Otherwise, we will continue to observe a dreary procession of
> "argumentum ad populum's" and "argumentum ad verecundiam's".

Upon rereading this post, I didn't like my tone -- much too doctrinaire -- although of course I am right.

Thought this from the Zen Basho would express my aversion to "argumentum ad verecundiam" (proof by appeal to authority) in a gentler manner:

                  Do not seek to follow in the footsteps
                  of the wise.  Seek what they sought.

Excuse my discourtesy,


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA