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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 08:19:00 -0400
Message-id: <467283B4.8080308@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Folks,    (01)

I was out of town for the past week, and I had a chance to make
a couple of minor comments on other threads.  I saw this thread,
but my reaction was very similar to the following comments by
Barry S. and Alan R.:    (02)

BS> Houston, we have a problem here.    (03)

AR> You're all having so much fun, it's hard not to jump in.    (04)

But Alan's next question is very easy to answer:    (05)

AR> I'm all for not confusing what reality is about.
 > But what are misunderstandings made of?    (06)

Very simply, the words that people use when they're talking
about what reality is about.    (07)

In my 1984 book, _Conceptual Structures_, I adopted a very
simple solution to the issues that have been discussed in
this thread:    (08)

  1. A very clear formal definition of the word 'concept':    (09)

     A node in a conceptual graph.    (010)

  2. A very clear formal definition of 'conceptual graph':    (011)

     A bipartite graph with two kinds of nodes, which are
     called _concepts_ and _conceptual relations_.    (012)

Then I developed those graphs as a formal logic, which I
related to other versions of logic, to natural languages,
to computer applications, and to various publications in
linguistics, philosophy, psychology, and computer science.    (013)

But I never said anything about what a concept "really" is.    (014)

As for the title phrase 'conceptual structures', that occurs
only 8 times in the entire body of the book.  And in every case,
it is used in an informal sense to summarize a discussion.    (015)

Following is an excerpt from Ch. 2 of the book, in which the
phrase 'conceptual structures' occurs twice.  Note that it
occurs informally in *conclusions*, not in the premises
from which any conclusions are drawn.  The material from
which those conclusions are drawn contain concrete examples,
citations, and quotations from people who have actually done
some hard research with hard data.    (016)

I suggest that we focus our email discussions on (a) formal
manipulations and explanations of logic, probability, and
programming constructs, or (b) citations, quotations, and
commentary about hard data and/or well reasoned publications.    (017)

Some speculation is OK, but it should be preceded by data,
quotations, and citations that ground the discussion in
-- dare we say? -- reality.    (018)

John    (019)

----------------------------------------------------------------    (020)

The two-word sentence is the next stage in a child's linguistic
development.  It expresses two prominent concepts, but the
listener has to guess the intervening conceptual relation.  To say
_Pamela has a kitten_, a child might say _Pammy kitty_.  As with
one-word utterances, limitations in the utterances do not imply
limitations in children's conceptual structures, but limitations
in their schemata for mapping structures to sentences.  Bloom (1968)
reported the following series of utterances by a two-year-old girl:    (021)

    raisin there / buy more grocery store / raisins /
    buy more grocery store / grocery store / raisin a grocery store    (022)

In this case, the child apparently wanted to say "Buy more raisins
at the grocery store", but she could not relate more than two or
three concepts in a single utterance.  Slobin (1970) mentioned a
Samoan child who "could express all the following semantic relations:
verb-agent, verb-object, verb-directive, possession, labeling, benefit,
and location.  Yet he could generally not express more than one such
relation in a single utterance."  Such evidence shows that the child
does have complex conceptual structures, but lacks the linguistic
schemata for mapping them to full sentences.    (023)

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