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Re: [ontolog-forum] {Disarmed} Reality and Truth

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 01 May 2007 23:03:32 -0400
Message-id: <4637FF84.2070408@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Debbie,    (01)

We know that many useful representations have been found
for many purposes.  They're not ideal, but they're useful.
For example, the Dewey Decimal Classification system has
been criticized for many reasons, but it's been in use
for over a century, and it's still the most widely used
system for libraries around the world.    (02)

 > Why couldn't a best form of representation work for a LONG
 > time, many generations, while discoveries continue to be
 > made...assuming there will never be an ultimate state of
 > completion?    (03)

I was simply pointing out that nobody knows whether
an ideal system is possible, and even if one ever were
discovered, nobody knows what tests could be used to
prove that it was indeed ideal.    (04)

Example of unbalanced distribution:  the DDC allocates
category 200 to Religion.  The range from 201 to 289 is
reserved for Christianity, and all other religions are
squeezed into the range 290 to 299.    (05)

Another example:  the DDC reserves the range from 480 to
485 for Classical Greek, but puts all East Indo-European
languages with all Celtic languages in category 491.    (06)

Yet no matter how unbalanced the DDC may seem, it works
because any category at any level can be expanded as far
as necessary just by adding more digits.  Category 297
for Islam, for example, could be subdivided as finely as
Christianity just by adding two more digits per entry.    (07)

An ontology requires more than just classification, and
it must satisfy more stringent logical constraints.  Yet
many of the ontologies that people have proposed are at
least as wildly unbalanced as the DDC.  Whether any of
them can survive as long as the DDC without becoming more
of a nuisance than a help is not clear.    (08)

John    (09)

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