In a recent comment, BruceS suggested that I do an OP on categorization and measurement, so here it is. I’ll try to keep this short, but later extend it with posts in the thread. If my post in the thread begins with a bold title, then it is intended to extend the OP. And I may then add a link, if I can figure out this blocks editor.
I’ll start with a link to a paper by Stevan Harnad (this blocks editor is annoying).
Harnad’s paper is not quite how I am looking at it, but it gives a good introduction to the idea.
Red, blue or green? That’s a question about categorizing by color. We also categorize by size. Measurement is just a mathematical way of categorizing by length or by voltage or by pressure — by whatever we are measuring.
We categorize as a way of getting information. Within science, information is often acquired by measuring, which is a type of categorizing. I can get information with a digital camera. The digital camera, in effect, categorizes the world into pixel sized chunks and provides data for each of those.
What is categorization?
Categorization just means dividing up into parts. We divide up in accordance with features. Harnad discusses this in an appendix near the end of the linked paper.
There’s an alternative view of categorization, suggested by Eleanor Rosch, where categorization amounts to grouping things in accordance with their similarity to some sort of prototype or family resemblance. Harnad looks at that in the appendix, and he does not agree with Rosch. I concur with Harnad on that.Continue reading