If anyone asked you about the relationship between Aristotle and analytics, your immediate response might be, "What does philosophy have to do with number crunching?" Of the times SAS CEO Jim Goodnight has spoken at analytic conferences, he's not been seen wearing a toga, after all.
However, Aristotle’s influence on analytics is represented by categorical logic, his system of subject/predicate analysis.
Categorical logic purports that there are three types of subject/predicate (or variable/value) relationships: 1)
synonyms; 2) homonyms; and 3) paronyms.
Synonyms (univocals) are relationships in which multiple variables map to a single value. Homonyms (equivocals) are relationships in which a single variable maps to multiple values. Paronyms (derivatives) are relationships in which multiple but distinct variable/value pairs represent divisions of a broader concept. In his work Categories, Aristotle expressed his thoughts on subject/predicate relationships:
Things are said to be named 'equivocally' when, though they have a common name, the definition corresponding with the name differs for each. Thus, a real man and a figure in a picture can both lay claim to the name 'animal'; yet these are equivocally so named, for, though they have a common name, the definition corresponding with the name differs for each. For should any one define in what sense each is an animal, his definition in the one case will be appropriate to that case only.
On the other hand, things are said to be named 'univocally' which have both the name and the definition answering to the name in common. A man and an ox are both 'animal', and these are univocally so named, inasmuch as not only the name, but also the definition, is the same in both cases: for if a man should state in what sense each is an animal, the statement in the one case would be identical with that in the other.
Things are said to be named 'derivatively', which derive their name from some other name, but differ from it in termination. Thus the grammarian derives his name from the word 'grammar', and the courageous man from the word 'courage'.
In short, Aristotle classified objects and their characteristics into three major groups. First, he noted that many objects share the same names but had different characteristics. Second, he noted that many objects have different names but have the same characteristics. And third, he noted that many objects have distinct names and characteristics but share a common origin.
The following table exhibits the association among these three components of categorical logic and how they are associated with analytics:
@Bryan Great point, Western Civilization owes many foundational principles to the works of Rome and Greece. I hope all students still have the opportunity and take advantage of the chance to study the various great Philosophers during their undergrad years, because it does promotion exposure to various types of critical thinking.
One of my favorites ! Just don't get too carried away, I hear the market is weak for philosophers! : )
Thanks for the feedback; glad the info was useful! Yes - nothing has changed in the last 2,500 years except the tools that we use to understand the world around us. With all of the degree programs in the natural, social and behavioral sciences, much of what is taught was birthed out of the branches of philosopy. Those folks (from the pre-socratics forward) put in some serious thinking time about every aspect of life - what it is and methods for investigation and analysis,
@Bryan - Shakespeare? Not sure I ever knew the origin (or I had forgotten it). I tend to be better at discovering and relating facts, than I am at remembering them - I'm terrible with names.
It may be that in grade school, for years, 'education' consisted of practically nothing but memorization of facts; so much so, that it's as if I've developed an allergic reaction to having to memorize anything. That means that I often have to 'reinvent the wheel': figure out, what others know because they can recall, what yet others, had figured out; but that's not always a bad thing. Quite a few facts 'stick' in my memory, though - if they interest me. It's likely that I'll be able to recall your layout of Aristotle's categorizations and corresponding ER mappings.
We all have our gifts; exact and detailed recollection of facts is not one of mine. I can recall the origin of one quote, though: 'A man has got to know his limitations' - Dirty Harry (Magnum Force).
@Bryan - Excellent piece. A fine transcription from the original phrasing to tabular form. For all the important points made (by Mr. A., and yourself); we have to keep in mind that the '...identify the...and...' bits (which we can term encoding and decoding between formal and informal systems), will never be free of all ambiguities. These categorizations, along with his syllogistic logic, do form the basis of the First-order Logic/Predicate Calculus, on which E.F. Codd drew to create the Relational Model (ask Fabian Pascal for more exact information there); and on the framework of the RM hang the most reliable data management and processing practices. Yet, as soon as people begin to make assumptions about definitions, translations and semantic correspondence, the worm in the bud emerges to spoil our plans for perfect concord.
Thank you for authoring the post (helps me explain some principles to others). It's of the quality expected of a Brian (even if you spell it funny).
@Lyndon - truth in that; yet a weakness of the Aristotelian approach is its reliance on a priori assumptions. The very self evidence of many of his views caused them (or inferences drawn from them), to become encrusted as dogma. I think Galileo would suggest we consider that, as we would apply them to analytics.
In many ways, the fundamental issues of social concern were first addressed by these ancient thinkers. What I discovered in college was that many of these folks were wealthy or had a stream of financial support (private and/or public) which gave them the time to enagage in serious observation, reflection, teaching and writing.
These folks did not have computers, but the foundation for today's analytics were dug centuries ago. They did not have our technology, but folks like Aristotle had already arrived at the ideas for which many of us still seek.
I hope this posting encourages our community to dust-off their old humantiies books - there's a lot of old gold ready to be rediscovered and reinterpreted for this era.
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