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Re: [ontolog-forum] Defining Concept

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Mike Brenner <mikeb@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2007 15:46:41 -0500
Message-id: <45B27FB1.2080804@xxxxxxxxx>
Pat Hayes wrote:
> ... a universal, non-divisible idea ...
> Wha?? First, what distinguishes "universal" ideas 
> from (I presume) non-universal ones? Second, what 
> does it mean for an idea to be "divisible"? 
> Third, what kind of combination are we talking 
> about? I would suggest (following Fodor) that the 
> key idea here is not the things you are calling 
> 'concepts', which in almost every detailed 
> account that has ever been put forward turn out 
> to be little more than nodes in a graph or points 
> in a space, but rather the 'combinations' that 
> they take part in, or rather still the 
> *structure* of these combinations. It is the 
> space (or maybe, the network, or the relational 
> structure, or whatever one wants to call it) 
> which matters and which gives the 
> points/nodes/names/identifiers in it the 
> "conceptual" structure that they have.    (01)

I would like to answer your three questions
in reverse order.    (02)


The kind that our tools do not currently handle,
which I will symbolize by "phrases".    (04)

The combination (of concepts)
ultimately refers to things like phrases,
denoted by combinations of references
within ontologies, with respect to their
contexts. I agree that words alone have
insufficient meaning (because they
have insufficient relationship
with their contexts).    (05)

Divisible means that the combined
structures (call them hyper-ontologies,
or, simply phrase-ontologies) have
certain predictable circumstances in
which the phrase can be distributed out
(factored) into smaller phrases or words,
or in which the context can be factored out.
Sometimes that factoring will result
in retaining almost all the meaning,
and sometimes you can factor the
ontologies across the phrase only
for the purpose of sub-lookups,
sub-processing, and partially
relating the smaller phrases to
portions of the context or
to somewhat related concepts.
This does not seem to derive or
to project from Fodor's
generative grammars. Rather it
comes from Wittgenstein's
theory of levels of quotation
Wittgenstein actually warns against
assigning any meaning to individual
words or names, and further warns
against the many problems of
making causal inferences from
partially or unrelated facts.    (06)


Universal infers universal applicability,
by means of uniqueness of designation
(the problem of naming things uniquely).
A system of uniquely accessible keys
gives a database universality.    (08)

Someday, a system of uniquely accessible
data structures (of which ontologies
will be one "face" or "projection"),
will allow us to reach deep into the
complexities of phrases and their
multidimensional relationships with
their contexts. The "heads" and "tails"
of the arrows in these hyper-ontologies
will serve as the atoms of "identity"
that make them universal.    (09)

Mike Brenner    (010)

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