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Re: [ontolog-forum] to concept or not to concept, is this a question?

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Azamat Abdoullaev" <abdoul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 14:06:47 +0300
Message-id: <003001c7af3d$44363ea0$030aa8c0@az00evbfog6nhh>
Paola,    (01)

Try to explain your concerns in a more systematic way. Knowledge systems, as 
semantic web applications, thinking machines, etc., are all designed to be 
using ''sensible'' signs (physical signals, codes, or words) in order to 
process and communicate information about things, processes, facts, rules, 
laws, feelings, ideas, thoughts, or concepts.    (02)

Unlike the human brain, in the intelligent machines the symbolic codes 
signify things directly without the agency of concepts, constructs, notions, 
categories or abstractions. This means that the nature of mechanical meaning 
is dependent on the types of symbols and the kinds of things these symbols 
denote (symbolize, stand for or name) or represent. And that knowledge 
machines are devoid of mental experience or meaningful mental constructs.    (03)

The symbols processed by the mechanical intelligence are the signs of 
entities and hence they get their significance  without the mediation of the 
conceptions of human intellect ( note, the signification, not meaning; for 
the symbol signifies, via denotation and representation, while the construct 
means, via sense and reference). That is why the significance of symbols is 
rather to come directly from the real objects denoted and their 
relationships connoted, thus leaving off all the conceptual troubles 
discommoding human beings.    (04)

With best regards,    (05)

Azamat    (06)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
To: <paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:15 PM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] to concept or not to concept, is this a 
question?    (07)

I agree with Pat C (below), but here's my special
worry and why I'm going to try to do without the
c-word. Take an example. Right now at weekends Im
restoring an old house. My first Saturday task is
to cut some furring strips: long thin pieces of
wood nailed to the studs, used to make a wall a
bit thicker (to give room for a drainpipe.) So,
here's my question: is "furring strip" a concept?
Hmm, I don't know. I certainly think about
furring strips, and so if thinking involves
concepts then there must be a furring strip
concept, I guess. But I don't think I need to
refer to it or talk about it. Concepts aren't the
kind of thing that one can drive a nail through,
and furring strips are. So apparently furring
strips themselves are not concepts. And 'furring
strip' is an English noun phrase, which I guess
isn't a concept either; and the phrase means the
wooden thing (or maybe the class of such things,
or the property of being such a thing, or
whatever: but not a concept, anyway). So concepts
don't seem to come into the language story or the
house-building story. Suppose I set out to make a
house-restoration ontology and I have an OWL
class called oldHouse:FurringStrip (which is a
subclass of oldHouse:SmallWoodPart, etc.); then
the class name is a URI and the class itself is a
OWL class, and I don't need to speak of concepts
to make sense of this. The OWL semantics doesn't
mention concepts anywhere. So where do the
concepts come into the story? What I certainly
want to avoid is saying or implying that either
the English 'furring strip' or the OWL
oldHouse:FurringStrip *mean* or *denote* a
concept. They both refer to something physical,
or a class of physical things. I don't get houses
built with concepts: I have to buy real, heavy
stuff from Home Depot and drive it there in my
truck. The safest way to avoid this mistake, I
think, is to just not mention the concepts at
all. I don't seem to need to mention them.    (08)

Pat    (09)

>Deborah, Patrick
>thanks -
>I have scanned Barry's  (intringuing) paper, but
>do not have time to study in detail - being o
>and c
>not central to my problems right now - I also
>did  a keyword search in the paper for
>concept,conceptual and  and conceptualization,
>with zero results (bug in my world? - or have
>they manged to make the c world disappear
>without trace and still discuss the notions
>attached to  it in the paper? - please indicate
>what page/line is the argument if you could)
>Will  study in more detail when I have time.
>You mean there is no actual concrete proposal to
>ban the term 'concept' from the discourse,
>rather an informal suggestion or just avoid it -
>I would agree that we need to objectivize what
>is in our mind, and that ontology building is
>part of that effort. But the mind (individual)
>is the only organ that we have capable of
>producing abstraction
>and not sure if we should detach ourselves from
>the only generic term that we have to refer to
>the representation of that abstraction (the
>conceptualization) that we are capable of.
>I need to project the product of my mind (a
>concept) into the physical world, and need an
>umbrella term for it (apologies for the
>circularity).  Linguistic fuzziness has a role,
>although I agree it is not always the best
>I remember when I went to school teachers asked
>us to avoid using the term 'thing' and asked us
>to make an effort to use a more appropriate word
>, for example, instead of saying I feel
>something (undefined) we should look for a more
>appropriate vocabulary (I feel an emotion, or I
>feel this and feel that), thus helping us to
>develop our linguisti skills by learning how to
>use more precise words
>I am not sure that our languages are adequately
>developed to be able to support and express all
>the abstract generalizations/ concepts that the
>mind can conceive, maybe thats why we use a
>generalization of something abstract that we do
>not have words for as 'concept'. Generalizations
>are necessary because they allow anyone to
>visualize their own thing,
>But if it is a choice of words that you are
>after (avoiding to use a term which is
>potentially confusing to some) then I respect
>the choice, except that I wont be able to find
>relevant paragraph where the notion of 'concept'
>is discussed if you avoid it.
>I still think if we avoid 'concept' and derived
>words, we need to find a set of valid
>substitutes, lest we find ourselves lost for
>words - representation of the abstraction
>perhaps is an equivalent expression, or should
>we avoid that too, and the entire class of terms
>that refer to generic abstract representations?
>I think 'notion' is a word I use as a synonym of
>concept, (rather than umbrella?), but somehow it
>is not so 'expressive' , and maybe would end up
>with the same issue later on?
>Or maybe, just maybe, the word concept is a
>little abused, a cover word for when we dont
>know what to say really. The rather than avoid
>it, we should learn how to use it only when
>boh -  what a  problem eh?
>((ignore me))    (010)

Sorry, I won't ignore you, you raise such nice issues.    (011)

>On 6/14/07, Cassidy, Patrick J.
>    I feel your pain.
>   I believe that "concept" in most communities
>is used as a  vague non-technical term that
>means "any mental structure used in thinking",
>and is useful for talking about things (mental
>structures in the brain - the result of
>neurological processes) whose exact structure we
>do not presently have the technology to
>discover, and in that sense is perfectly useful
>in general and technical discussions as well,
>provided that we do not try to actually fix on
>some rigid definition as the only possible
>meaning.  Here are dictionary definitions from
>The Random House Webster:
>a general notion or idea; conception.
>an idea of something formed by mentally
>combining all its characteristics or
>particulars; a construct.
>a directly conceived or intuited object of thought.
>      The issue that Barry Smith is particularly
>concerned about is whether the
>mathematical/logical structures we put into our
>ontologies should represent some mental
>structure in our brain, or represent the
>physical objects and processes in the real
>world.  Whether there is a "real world" of
>abstract things like numbers that can be
>represented independently of how we think about
>them is another issue..  The way I have viewed
>the issue is that it is indeed my intention,
>like Barry's, to represent things in the real
>world as the "referent" for the structures in my
>ontologies.  But I am acutely aware that in fact
>I am representing my own understanding of those
>things in the real world - and so is everyone
>else, which is why our ontologies differ and we
>have these wonderful stimulating discussions.
>  If I understand him, Barry's point of
>avoiding "concept" is to focus on the things
>that are significant in the physical systems we
>deal with, and avoid excessive, experimentally
>unverifiable, and potentially
>confusing abstractions.  That's reasonable.  I
>myself personally don't think it is necessary to
>avoid using the term "concept" in technical
>matters, provided that we are clear that it is a
>vague general term not intended to have any
>precise technical meaning.
>On Behalf Of
>Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:17 AM
>To: [ontolog-forum]
>Subject: [ontolog-forum] to concept or not to concept, is this a question?
>I am writing up against a deadline and suddenly
>I realise that one of the foundational artifacts
>in ontology is being questioned on this list
>'the concept'. and 'the conceptualization'
>  If I take out the word concept from all the
>papers that I am referencing, ontology as a
>science end ups like a colander, full of holes
>If I take out concepts from my mind, my brain
>stops thinking. I cannot see anything anymore. I
>go blind Everything in my mind is a concept, as
>far as I can tell.
>Yet I now feel that, given these discussion,
>maybe I should justify the word 'concept each
>time I use it (by concept I mean....)
>somehow this is slowing me down This question has started to bug me
>I personally think that 'concept' is a rather
>elementary and necessary expression of thinking
>and a artifact of knowledge representation
>Have you,  guys who don't think with concepts,
>written a paper, are you serious, or just
>joking? What are you going to substitute concept
>Thanks a lot
>Paola Di Maio *****(slightly disturbed)
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>School of Information Technology
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>    (012)

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