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Re: [ontolog-forum] What words mean

To: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2008 16:16:42 -0600
Message-id: <p06230909c3de62367162@[]>
At 7:44 PM +0200 2/17/08, Christopher Spottiswoode wrote:
Yes, you are 100% right:  I am courting trouble with many such choices of words.
Such is the cost of using existing words to communicate with.  But gradual shifts in the meanings of words, even "linguistical stereotypes" as you allude to, are the stuff of verbal and technical creativity and any resulting innovation.
So I have proceeded as if my proposed usages, in due course adjusted by people such as you on fora such as this, will eventually catch on.  I am expecting, for example (to speculate as to the kind of red-flag-words you might have had in mind), that the rest of the world will help the "Democratic Web" survive its partisan meanings in the USA, that the facilitated infrastructures foreseen will help all of us preclude any "tyranny of the majority" and will also thereby in due course render "The Mainstream" as co-opted in my story "as inclusive as the presently excluded may wish" (to quote myself from long ago).
Such confidence, more than somewhat apparently-premature though it may be, is based verifiably on the continuity of my software-architectural picture since I first published on it on the Web in 1996 (and since long before that, of course), and on the definite convergence with that picture by more recent architectural trends (okay, as I selectively focus on them...).  The end will justify the means, while even the provocation might possibly have more than countervailing benefits.
More crucially (if I may risk so loaded a word), there is nonetheless a more commonly-acceptable - or at least less widely-provocative - formulation of the greater social end, only it doesn't mean all that much to most people.  That single goal is "to help people simplify complexity together."  The rather inaccessible abstraction of that epistemological phraseology (Would you go along with that characterization?) helps explain why I am choosing to relaunch my story to an ontologist community.  You will see how the fictional "top-down construction" I present in the first post of my planned series explicitly posits that as its goal.  (The construction is fictional inasmuch as such representations are always ex post facto, as you know.)
You raise the matter of ethics.  A wider justification later of the epistemological goal will attempt to show how it is in fact "a single goal in broad and enriching support of every self-aware value-system" (as I put it elsewhere, in a piece which was well received by a significant readership I shalln't namedrop here).
And (to pop less far up the philosophical stack) if application interoperation and human collaboration - already explicitly the motivation of my own involvement with ontologies - are to become more universal, I believe addressing some such epistemological or ontological goal should help.
Certainly, however, I do believe most unwaveringly that wider philosophical perspectives, even where they cross the line into political matters, can help in usefully orienting and stabilizing our ontological endeavours.  You shall be the judge in my case.
So, many thanks, Paola, for the response!  It is efforts such as yours which explain why this planned launch is intended as interactive rather than one-way as on most web pages.
Meanwhile, I expect I would be able to give you an exhausting if not exhaustive justification as to why any one of your mooted 'politically incorrect statement parser and modifier' outputs would not be suitable here, all things taken into account.  So be warned against any such challenges too lightly laid!   :-)
If I may echo myself from my initial mooting of this series (now at http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/2008-01/msg00453.html), "such discussion will profit enormously from, and should therefore await, the detail I am suggesting I follow up with."
Nonetheless, I do look forward genuinely to any correcting suggestions from anyone on an ontology mailinglist.  So please keep them coming.

I realize that the above was not addressed to me, but I nevertheless cannot help wondering: Christopher, did you actually intend to say something? If so, what?

Pat Hayes
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