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Re: [ontolog-forum] {Disarmed} Re: OWL and lack of identifiers

To: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Steve Newcomb <srn@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: 29 Apr 2007 10:36:11 -0400
Message-id: <87y7kbjlic.fsf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx> writes:    (01)

> >Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx> writes:
> >
> >>  I think you are reading more into that word [objective] than
> >>  I do. Objective does not mean final, absolute, or
> >>  permanent. It means concerned with facts rather
> >>  than opinions.
> >
> >Please give an example of a statement of a fact that cannot be
> >regarded as a statement of an opinion.
> There are so many its hard to know where to start. Arithmetic affords
> an infinity of them, including for example
> 3.(4-1)=9
> and other branches of mathematics afford a much richer and more exotic
> set of examples, such as the Jordan Curve theorem (one of my
> favorites).    (02)

If this is your example of a "fact", then I remain unsatisfied.
Mathematics is grounded in itself.  So what?     (03)

> If you find mathematical truths a bit wonky, I would suggest any
> reasonably thoroughly verified scientific truth, such as the theory of
> continental drift, say. Of course, any strictly scientific truth is
> ultimately subject to disconformation - in which case we discover that
> it wasn't true after all - but that doesn't make it into a mere
> *opinion*. Opinions are cheap; truths are harder to find, and require
> a certain mental discipline, attention to detail, and a willingness to
> be careful about what one says.    (04)

Opinion is not cheap.  Opinion is the lifeblood of reality.  We invest
our lives in our opinions.  Right or wrong.    (05)

Different people believe different things.  You seem to be claiming
that the beliefs of people who believe differently than you, or who
haven't achieved your own well-informed status, should *not* have
access to the mainstream.  As you said:    (06)

  > Then we disagree fundamentally. I do want to exclude them; or at
  > least, I want their authors to acquire enough of an education to
  > be able to understand what we are talking about.    (07)

I've been trying to put a question before this group.  My own belief
is that a mainstream that is ontologically neutral is required, and
that nothing is more important to ontological endeavors -- or to
knowledge management in general -- than to have an arena in which
knowledge emanating from entirely different communities can be
aggregated, subject by subject.  Aggregated by human beings, for human
beings, using technology wherever it can help.    (08)

Perhaps I was wrong to put this problem before this group.  Perhaps I
understood the interests of this group to be broader than they are.    (09)

(I do not see how a group that professes interest in ontological
endeavor can fail to respond to the profound needs so compellingly
demonstrated by the fractured and ignorant state of the human family.
I also fail to see how the members of such an intellectually honest
group can fail to see themselves as members of the human family, with
all the same rights, privileges, frailties, and vulnerabilities as
every other member of that family.  Even as ontologists, we should
always be prepared to eat our own dog food.  I cannot imagine myself
developing an ontology that I would be prepared to live in thereafter.
I'm not that smart, and I seriously doubt that any human being is.  I
also have well-founded hope that the aggregate of humanity will
ultimately survive its own weaknesses and ignorance, exhibiting a
level of emergent collective intelligence that is proportional to the
ease with which people can know and evaluate each others' opinions.
This means, among other things, that the badnesses of bad opinions,
and the brokennesses of the cultures from which they emanate, must be
allowed to play themselves out in information space, with the *same*
honors and privileges of cultures that we may feel are less broken,
and opinions we feel are less bad.  It is far better for the necessary
battles for hearts and minds to take place in information space than
in military space.  Or in the ecosphere.)    (010)

I want every member of the human family to constantly discover, more
and more, that they know less than they thought they knew.  For
myself, and for everyone, I wish the common knowledge space of the
future to have many portals to many worlds, social and religious as
well as scientific.  And for every human being to feel welcome there,
and to find at least one portal that feels like home.  Even if that
home is stupid.  If we cannot have stupid homes in the common
knowledge space, we will have no common knowledge space.    (011)

The question in my mind is whether Ontolog should focus its efforts
*entirely* on *one* of those portals (or one *family* of portals that
excludes all others), or whether it can *also* be concerned about the
accessibility of *all* portals to *all* *other* portals.      (012)

Pat, I think your position on this question is pretty clear.  You "see
no particular compulsion to be consistent with nonsense."  (I'm not
advocating consistency with nonsense, but... oh, hell, whatever.)    (013)

  > Well, as I say, you go ahead. I have no idea what you plan to do,
  > and I don't expect you to be able to make very much progress, but
  > I'd be delighted to be proved wrong. In the meantime, the rest of
  > us will try to get some actual ontological work done.    (014)

I'd be interested to know what others think.  I had hoped to intrigue
at least one Ontologian.  I think I'd best stop troubling you now.    (015)

-- Steve    (016)

Steven R. Newcomb, Consultant
Coolheads Consulting    (017)

Co-editor, Topic Maps International Standard (ISO/IEC 13250)
Co-editor, draft Topic Maps -- Reference Model (ISO/IEC 13250-5)    (018)

http://www.coolheads.com    (019)

direct: +1 540 951 9773
main:   +1 540 951 9774
fax:    +1 540 951 9775    (020)

208 Highview Drive
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060 USA    (021)

(Confidential to all US government personnel to whom this private
letter is not addressed and who are reading it in the absence of a
specific search warrant: In keeping with the publicly-confessed
criminal conduct of the Bush administration, and with the
irresponsible actions of the pusillanimous and corrupt 109th Congress,
you are co-conspiring to subvert the Constitution that you are sworn
to defend.  You can either refuse to commit this crime, or you can
expect to suffer criminal sanctions in the future, when the Executive
Branch of the government of the United States of America once again
demonstrates respect for the rule of law.  I do not envy you for
having to make this difficult choice, but I urge you to make it
wisely.)    (022)

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