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Re: [ontolog-forum] language ambiguity

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Schiffel, Jeffrey A" <jeffrey.a.schiffel@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2008 09:42:19 -0600
Message-id: <ECF42862FCA16D41BFA98F8C45F0955402E27258@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> From: John F. Sowa    (01)

<brief snippage>    (02)

> A mismatch between a model and the system being modeled is 
> not the same as vagueness.  For example, I might have a very 
> precise mathematical model of a perfect circle.  But there is 
> no circle in the world that is ever perfect.  That is a 
> simple mismatch of model and reality.
> Suppose a teacher tells a student "Go to the blackboard, and 
> draw a circle."  That's a vague statement because it doesn't 
> specify a precise point on the blackboard for the center of 
> the circle or a precise radius around that point.    (03)

That is a pretty precise statement, not a vague one. The teacher states
"the blackboard," the one right there. The teacher wants "a circle," of
which there are many, as long as the student draws a round locus of
points having the same radius (allowing for manual sketching error). To
be precise as to where on the blackboard, the radius, etc., the
explanation would take all morning, and the student wouldn't have time
to demonstrate understanding. (Besides, a circle is invisible, since the
points that make it up have no dimension.) For the purpose at hand, the
teacher is quite precise.    (04)

> The vagueness is in the statement, not in the world.  It is 
> also possible to have vagueness in thought, even without language.
> An example would be a vague craving for some kind of food, 
> but without a clear idea of any particular food.    (05)

This example is very much to the point of language ambiguity. The mental
process of a vague craving bubbles up to the consciousness as a thought
-- a more or less primitive statement. Language allows notions to be
exchanged with others. What is going on is the speaker's attempt to
plant her mental state into the mind of the listener.    (06)

<remainder snipped>    (07)

Regards,    (08)

-- Jeffrey Schiffel    (09)

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