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Re: [ontolog-forum] The Relation Between Logic and Ontology in Metaphysi

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 21:20:47 -0500
Message-id: <3B07F8B3-3B6E-42C1-9B0A-674A7372667F@xxxxxxxx>
> Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx> writes:
>>> The most recent issue of "the review of Metaphysics" (March 2007,  
>>> Vol.
>>> LX, No. 3, Issue No. 239) arrived yesterday and has the following
>>> article by Charlotta Weigelt: "The Relation Between Logic and  
>>> Ontology
>>> in Metaphyics."
>> Well, far be it from me to play metaphysics cop here and presume to
>> dictate what folks ought to study vis-a-vis the subject matter of
>> this forum, but Weigelt is a Heidegger scholar, and Heidegger's
>> (frequent) use of both "logic" and "ontology" have about as much to
>> do with formal reasoning and formal ontology as they do with, say,
>> making a fluffy soufflé.  (Come to think of it, they probably have
>> less to do with the former than the latter.)
>> Chris Menzel
> I'm impressed by your erudition,    (01)

Then you're easily impressed. :-)    (02)

> but I question the wisdom of any
> prejudice regarding the distinction between the study of formalisms
> and the study of being.    (03)

It's hardly a prejudice to believe that there is a distinction  
between two things that are, in fact, entirely distinct (unless what  
you mean by "formalism" differs quite a lot from what most people  
mean).  Even if it were the case that one somehow had to study  
"being" in order to construct a formalism, the two are surely not one  
and the same.  (In what sense, for example, is the study of OWL DL  
*identical to* the study of being?)  That said, I'm not entirely sure  
what this observation has to do with my post.    (04)

> Seems to me that there have been times when
> students of formalisms have been surprised to discover their practical
> applications, and in the other direction, the study of nature has
> yielded quite a harvest of formal expressions famous for their
> practical usefulness.    (05)

Insofar as I understand you, I don't think I would disagree.    (06)

> Or maybe your point is that we, here, constitute a community that
> should not use the term "ontology" in the normal English sense, but
> only in the specialized computer sense.    (07)

While there is of course a great tradition of philosophical ontology  
dating back to Plato and Aristotle that is quite relevant to formal  
ontology (though the philosophical dabbling one typically finds among  
people working in industry and government does ontological  
engineering a lot more harm than good), I am indeed suggesting that  
there is a particular sense of "ontology" around which discussion in  
this forum should revolve, and which should be clearly distinguished  
from philosophical ontology.    (08)

> If that's your agenda,    (09)

I have no *agenda*, only some strong views that I think are well  
warranted, but which I'd be most willing to abandon in the face of  
good arguments.  (Thus my denial of an agenda.)  Here's one of my  
views:  Heidegger's work on "logic" and "ontology" is mostly  
incomprehensible nonsense, and what isn't incomprehensible is of no  
relevance whatever to the notion(s) of logic and ontology that (IMO)  
*should* be at issue in this forum.    (010)

> OK, but what term shall we use for "the metaphysical study of the  
> nature of being and existence",    (011)

Well, I'm not at all sure what you mean by the metaphysical study of  
the nature of being and existence, and I'm confused that you seem to  
think that being and existence are distinct things, and I wonder why  
you think, for purposes here, it is important to study their nature  
(not that I want to know -- no offense).  What I'd *suggest* is that  
everyone adopt as a focal point for discussion the Grüninger/Uschold  
definition of ontology suggested here:  http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ 
ontology-summit/2007-03/msg00024.html .  From that msg:    (012)

   An ontology includes a vocabulary together with a specification of  
   meanings of the terms in the vocabulary. Furthermore, this  
   is definable in a language with a model theory and a machine- 
   syntax.    (013)

> or for its twin and handmaiden, the study of identity and the art  
> of its representation?    (014)

I'm not sure what you mean by the study of identity -- personal  
identity?  The identity of material objects over time?  The theory of  
identity in mathematical logic?  Something Deeper and More Profound?  
-- let alone the twin and handmaiden metaphors, and I'm curious as to  
what the *art* of representation is as opposed to formal  
representation, which, in the only sense relevant to the notion of  
ontology that I *thought* was at issue in this forum, is  
extraordinarily well-understood.  But call what you mean by the study  
of being/existence/identity whatever you want; I'm just claiming that  
it probably doesn't have much to do with ontology in the above sense,  
and hence that discussing it here, and referring to it as "ontology",  
will likely lead to confusion (not to mention a flood of irrelevant  
posts).    (015)

> I can't believe that your agenda is to deprive us of a way to talk  
> about these things, thereby to limit the scope of our discussions!    (016)

Well, it's good that you can't believe that, since I have no such  
agenda.  What I'm suggesting is that everything relevant to ontology  
in the sense above is relevant here and that everything else is not.   
I have no desire whatever to deprive you of talking about anything  
you want the way you want, but if it deviates significantly from the  
definition above and its implications, I think, once again, it  
shouldn't be discussed *here*.  By my admittedly dim lights, this  
forum is already in serious danger of going the way of the SUMO list  
and degenerating into a philosophical free-for-all that is largely  
irrelevant to the task of moving ontological engineering toward the  
genuine scientific discipline it must become if it is to have any  
useful impact in the real world.    (017)

But I'm no more list cop than metaphysics cop, and far be it from me  
to try to dictate what can and can't be posted here.  My suggestion  
that discussion remain focused on the notion of ontology above is  
just that, a suggestion.  It's a good one, I think, but that's for  
the list members to decide.    (018)

Chris Menzel    (019)

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