Chapter: natural order overview
Ontologies of other orders: techno order, social order

Definition & Chapter Scope

Used as a noun, the natural order is the physical universe considered as an orderly ecosystem subject to natural (not human or supernatural) laws.

In this chapter the focus is on those aspects of the natural order that interfere with human interactions day-to-day. Several of these natural-order elements are now represented by specific constructions, such as those for coordinatizing time, space and chemical substances. The focus in this chapter is on those language instruments for dealing with five natural-order elements: land, time, climate, biotope, humans, genome.

These elements form the basis for the social order and the techno order. In these orders, more complex "socio-technical " actor networks emerge and evolve.

In the multi-stratum onto-epistemic structure that is elaborated in the ontology for the social order, the natural order is present via the Material Stratum which is explained here.

Ontology: The Material Stratum

This “first” stratum coincides with Bunge’s physical world and is called the Material Stratum (MS). It consists of the spatio-temporal world and the material entities existing in it1.

Conceptual View

In the Logical View, the classes Entity (thing), Activity and Surface31 (a surface in a three dimensional space-time variety) are most universal. Activity captures the notion of a transformation to a thing or change, as Bunge defines it. Entity corresponds to Bunge’s thing. The main feature of an Entity instance is its continuous existence from its birth to its end-of-life. A Door of a car, drilling machine, software, database, computer, the persons named Carl and Julie, are all examples of entities.

In the Interaction View, several activity patterns are expressed. Such patterns describe possible occurrences of activities and entities at surfaces. A model consists of a set of activity patterns. Each pattern must be expressed in such a way that it does not exclude possible interactions of the domain for which it is defined. It has four connectors: actor, input, output and stage.

An activity pattern is generic for a certain domain if any interaction instantiation in the domain can be generated from it, by generation rules such as Instantiation, Blocking, Configuration,…

Physical View

The meaning of the conceptual models is fully contained in the Material Stratum. Entity instances exist in MS, where they have a unique location at each point of time. No two entities are identical. Within space-time, entities that exist at the same time have a (variable) distance among them. An activity is (a unit of) motion or transformation to one or more entities, as performed by zero or more other entities. The relation between entity and activity (occurrences) is one of “involvement”. The involvement of an entity in an activity is part of the entity’s existence.

At this point we don’t care about “How” an activity is performed, the MS and the entity's entelechy take care of these “details”.

Certain laws could be expressed. For instance “Lifetrajectory”: between its birth and death, an entity instance must always be at a surface instance, and do something (including resting), and at successive points in time, the entity should be at neighbouring places.