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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology of Art

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Azamat" <abdoul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2007 22:59:05 +0300
Message-id: <003201c7eff7$3719d970$010aa8c0@homepc>

I see some misunderstanding with the structure and compass of semiotics and 
the role of the context in meaning.    (01)

As for the elements of semiotics and their relationships, I concur with John 
that no syntax, no semantics; no semantics, no pragmatics. Or, syntax 
generates meanings as much as meanings determine pragmatical things.
Let's take a provocative example of music proposed by Jerry. According to 
the new domain of cognitive neuroscience, the neurocognition of music, its 
processing (perception and production) by the human brain is done by the 
cognitive mechanisms in overlapping cerebral structures as involved in 
language (speech) perception and generation. There is nothing specific in 
processing musical syntax (regularities of tones) and musical semantics 
(sound patterns). For music, as a form of art, is auditory representation of 
reality by its special means and medium, or a system of signs (sounds, 
tones, notes, symbols) with assigned meanings, as any form of art.
Shortly, syntax (regularities of musical tones with their duration, melodic, 
rhythmic and metric and harmony) forms meaningful musical phrases 
(compositions), i.e. musical semantics. Now, as far as pragmatics consists 
in the way by which an agent assigns a significance to a sign (tone), its 
idiosyncratic interpretation or reading of musical meanings by the 
performer, creating a certain effect upon the audience, constitutes the 
pragmatic aspect. To adjust the topic to the subject of the forum, it would 
be good to discuss that issue in the wider context of the Ontology of Art, 
the reason why i allowed myself to change the name of the thread.    (02)

Re. Context, its role in semantics is undervalued by Pat. Since there is no 
meaning (intension or extension) without context, or universe of discourse, 
possible worlds, circumstances, formally presented as the linguistic context 
of use, or closed context (Boolean algebra), theory, or consistent theory, 
formal (mathematical or logical) or factual (historical, social, physical, 
etc).  We say the historical context, logical context, biological context, 
or ontological context. So, the full meaning (intension or extension) of any 
construct, or the significance of the symbolism of the construct, is always 
defined within a context. For the meaning of a construct is uncovered by 
examining its reference class (the totality of individuals) and the 
theoretical context (the totality of logical relatives of the construct in 
the context, a set of conceptions within the theory implying and implied by 
the construct).
Only one entity seems to be out of the context, the world itself, thus 
making the maximum context, covered by the universal ontology.    (03)

Azamat Abdoullaev    (04)

 > No.  You cannot do pragmatics without having syntax and semantics.
 > It's impossible to say anything without syntax.  It's impossible
 > to refer to anything without semantics.  And it's impossible to
 > do anything pragmatically without being able to make statements
 > (syntax) that refer to something (semantics).    (05)

Syntax is about how symbols combine, so atomic symbols can have
semantics without syntax.  For example, a red flag with a white
diagonal means there's a scuba diver below.  That's its semantics.
But neither the red background nor the white diagonal mean anything by
itself (just as the d, o, and g of "dog" mean nothing by
themselves); so there's no syntax.  There can also be pragmatics; the
symbol is often used, e.g., as bumper stickers, to announce oneself as
a scuba diver.    (06)

A more elaborate example is protolanguage, where there is simply a
sequence of symbols and it's up to the hearer to figure out what the
relations between their meanings are.  An example is the language of
panic: "Help!  Collapsed!  Alex!  911!  Quick!"  There's no syntax;
any order would convey the same thing.    (07)

Is music an example of syntax and pragmatics without semantics?    (08)

-- Jerry    (09)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
To: "Duane Nickull" <dnickull@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 6:17 PM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Current Semantic Web Layer pizza (was ckae)    (010)

>On 9/4/07 4:49 PM, "Jerry Hobbs" <hobbs@xxxxxxx> wrote:
>>  For example, a red flag with a white
>>  diagonal means there's a scuba diver below.
>Semantics is always contextual.    (011)

Nonsense. Fortunately; because if it were true, semantics would be 
This assertion is like the idea that all
assertions are contexual. It sounds plausible,
but that 'all' makes it (literally) incoherent.    (012)

>  To you, who probably have diving or marine
>experience, the statement is true. To me such a sign brings immediate
>memories    (013)

Not to be ad hominem, but your memories are
irrelevant to this discussion. Evidently, you
don't know this language (of colored flags). That
is why you are unable to understand what the
actual meaning is. If someone were to address me
in Russian I would probably be reminded of a
mistuned AM radio, but that is irrelevant to the
semantics of Russian. In each case, the semantics
is what it is, regardless of whether or not we
understand it.    (014)

>of the fifth Van Halen Album (entitled "Diver Down") which sold
>over 4 million copies in the US alone as well as helping me refine my style
>of guitar playing while learning the lead parts of "Where have all the good
>times gone".
>Semantics cannot exist without including the aspect of context.    (015)

That is simply obviously false, since it does so
exist and has done for maybe 70 years now.    (016)

>  For that
>reason alone, I am highly suspecting that everything lower than high level
>ontologies needs some form of contextual aspect to modify it.    (017)

This word "context" has been the cause of more
wasted time in KR than almost any other. It is a
deep tar-pit, not the least reason being that it
is itself thoroughly contextual, ie it can be
used to mean almost anything. There are many,
many problems with the idea that ontology
meanings are contextual. There are extremely good
reasons why any encoding of meaning in a
formalism *intended to be used and archived on a
network* should NOT be contextual (see
). Moreover, we have found in the IKRIS work that
any formalism which incorporates contexts can be
mapped without loss of meaning into the
context-free IKL formalism (by treating contexts
as entities in the ontology itself, if necessary.
But even that is usually more trouble than it is
worth.)    (018)

>  We have
>syntax (check), semantic declarations (check), pragmatics (check) but are
>still short of some form of reconciliation of instances to the semantic
>Many attempts at this have failed.  Probably the largest of them is the
>UN/CEFACT CCTS format which is unique in its' inclusion of context as part
>of the core semantics.  It hasn't benefited from completion and wide
>implementation but I suspect there are a lot of good lessons to learn.    (019)

KR work has been grappling with contextuality and
contextual representations for over a decade now.
The results are in, IMO, and they are negative.    (020)

Pat    (021)

Jerry,    (022)

As you know, I was trying to summarize a very large amount of
semiotics in one sentence, and quibbles are bound to come up.    (023)

 > Syntax is about how symbols combine, so atomic symbols can
 > have semantics without syntax...    (024)

That example could be analyzed and reinterpreted in any number
of ways.  One way is to say that syntax is about the form of the
sign without considering anything external to it.  In that case,
recognizing the absence of related signs is part of the form.    (025)

 > A more elaborate example is protolanguage, where there is
 > simply a sequence of symbols and it's up to the hearer to
 > figure out what the relations between their meanings are.    (026)

It still has a syntax:    (027)

   Sequence -> Sign Sign*    (028)

And the semantics is very informal -- in the sense that context
is essential to determining the full semantics.  That makes it
an extreme case of an NL.  In fact, you might claim that it
represents the "natural language" of a child at 18 months.
(Of course, you could also quibble about that.)    (029)

 > Is music an example of syntax and pragmatics without semantics?    (030)

Good question.  I'd start by saying that it certainly has syntax,
and the question of whether and what kind of semantics or pragmatics
it might have is still an open research problem.    (031)

John    (032)

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