[crm-sig] Scope note for E77 Existence

Nicholas Crofts nickcrofts at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 18 14:43:01 EET 2002

Hello all,
Below, after much deliberation, my revised scope note
for E77 existence. The attached rtf file contains the
same text in a slightly prettier format.

Best wishes


E77 Existence

E77 Existence encompasses (and thereby isolates)
entities which share two attributes: having the
potential to exist over a period of time, and having
persistent identity during this period of existence.
These attributes are intended to apply to both
concrete objects, whether animate or inanimate and to
ideas or concepts. Hypothetical or imaginary objects
fall within this category insofar as they can be
considered as conceptual objects i.e. E77 Existence is
not intended to be restricted to physical existence.

The conditions under which an object can be deemed to
maintain its identity are often difficult to establish
- the decision depends largely on the judgement of the
observer. Most people would agree, for example, that a
building ceases to exist if it is dismantled and the
materials reused in a different configuration. Human
beings, on the other hand, in common with many other
organisms, go through radical and profound changes
during their life-span, affecting both material
composition and form, yet preserve their identity.
Identity in these cases would seem to depend more on
continuity rather than the presence of any particular
physical state or component.

The main classes of objects which fall outside the
scope E77 Existence are temporal objects such as
periods, events and acts, and descriptive properties,
(such as materials) which function as adjectives and
adverbs. The former may have persistent identity but
are excluded primarily to avoid the possibility of a
meaningless regression of beginning and ending periods
of periods , the later because they have no real
identity, or, to be more precise, their identity is of
no interest in the present context.


The name *Existence" is confusing and may be need to
be changed. It contravenes the general requirement of
the ISA hierarchy that sub classes may be described by
the form "X is a Y". "Stuff is an Existence", for
example, stretches comprehension into the realms of
speculative metaphysics. Placing the accent on
persistent identity rather on existence may provide an
acceptable alternative: "Persistent Item", for
example, or possibly just "Thing". However, this would
appear to create some overlap with the E70 Stuff (cf
scope note). I would suggest renaming E70 Stuff to
emphasise the notion of potential use, (which is the
only attribute introduced by this entity) "Useable
Thing", perhaps. Apart from being disarmingly
colloquial the term 'stuff' is arguably inappropriate
since the scope note clearly indicates that the entity
is intended to encompass 'items' - the word "stuff"
suggests (at least to me) undifferentiated material
rather than persistent, identifiable and useable

NC 18 January 2002

Incidentally, my copy of version 3.2 contains the
erroneous label "The entity is not referenced:"
followed by the references!

Nicholas Crofts
rue David-Dufour 5
Case postale 22
CH - 1211 Genève 8
tél +41 22 327 5271
fax +41 22 328 4382

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