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

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Rex Brooks <rexb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 11:16:26 -0700
Message-id: <a0624080ec2988352426d@[]>
Hi Folks,    (01)

I've been very busy recently, so I haven't been following discussions 
as much as usual. I think I've read most of this thread now and I 
have to admit that I was not aware that the word "concept" was such a 
problem. I also have to admit that my own preference is the second 
defintion cited in my ancient Merriam-Webster Ninth New Collegiate 
Dictionary: an abstract or generic idea generalized from a particular 
instances.    (02)

I have no problem citing that definition to make it clear when I use 
the term what exactly I mean. I suspect I must also cite the 
definition I use for the word "idea" in this context, the fourth 
definition from the same source: a formulated thought or opinion.    (03)

The only distinction I would add is that my use of idea specifically 
embodies a formulation, or model, expressed in some tangible way, 
usually in language and/or graphical notation in a diagram.    (04)

It would be very inconvenient for me to give up this term, so I guess 
I'm stuck with reiterating what I mean by my use of it at least once, 
the first time (like an acronym) whenever I use it in a paper or 
presentation.    (05)

Rex    (06)

At 1:40 PM -0400 6/15/07, Smith, Barry wrote:
>At 10:40 PM 6/14/2007, you wrote:
>>HI Pat
>>concept are mental constructs, not sure how to distinguish them from
>>ideas, but I think
>>there are different stages of thinking, still largerly not
>>/observed/understood, and pertaining to
>>the domain of brain and mind studies.  Maybe that's why they look mysterious
>>Something to do with abstract knowledge representation I think,
>>which is the formation of mental models generated by the core of our
>>central processing system and not yet formalized/expressed in
>>procedural logical form.  One of the stages of logical thinking perhaps.
>>words are the next stage, where concept are 'expressed' and
>>'communicated' in linguistic form
>>   while concepts can exist without words, words cannot exist without
>>  the conepts they convey
>>I respect if someone prefers not to use c  class words, for whatever
>>reason, but I think
>>concepts and derived words are a very precise name for a 'class of
>>abstract knowledge, that we cannot do without in ontology.
>>You may also prefer to use other words, for your own reasons, which
>>is fine. but I must defend the proper use of the c words conveys
>>exactly a very important meaning which is fundamental to discourse,
>>and that there is no reason to become obsessesed (and spreading this
>>obsession to others!).  When we avoid using the right words for
>>things, we end up
>>going an awful lot in circles, while a simple right word will do the
>>trick just fine
>People are currently going around in circles with the term 'concept'
>because there are entrenched distinct meanings (and these often rest
>on entrenched, distinct confusions). Several groups are now arguing
>that the word 'concept' be used with a precise definition. The
>problem is that these different groups are advocating incompatible
>precise definitions.
>>I agree with you that sometimes we could make an effort and try to
>>be more precise with our language
>I can think of no simpler solution to this problem than to abandon a
>word that has become tainted in this way. People who mean 'idea'
>should use the word 'idea'. People who mean 'term' should use the
>word 'term'. People who mean 'meaning' should use the word 'meaning'.
>And so forth.
>People who wish to continue using the word 'concept' in their several
>merry ways will then in any case (if they are to produce something
>that is coherent) need to articulate in an explicit way in which
>sense they are using it. They will then, ipso facto, be associating
>with the corresponding group of non-'concept' users, who will perhaps
>be eyeing them sceptically when they persist in using such a
>notoriously ambiguous word in their communications.
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>    (07)

Rex Brooks
President, CEO
Starbourne Communications Design
GeoAddress: 1361-A Addison
Berkeley, CA 94702
Tel: 510-898-0670    (08)

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