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Re: [ontolog-forum] What words mean

To: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 11:18:23 +0700
Message-id: <c09b00eb0802192018y3537f316v34918e0445fd50df@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
thanks for the link,
I agree with many of the things you say below, including the distinction 'of context' and 'in context', although I believe that  both should be studied
I also agree  that context may be underfined, possibly overrated in that we are not capable of measuring how much impact it has/should have on our systems, and being so elusive is potentially 'distracting' (not sure if thats what you mean by harmful).

 And that's why is an area that needs more work, and suitable methods to do such work need to be developed, etc, rather than saying something does not pertain here. (context here as a value system that motivate language and semantics as we were discussing it)

We cannot simply avoid discussing problems that we have not managed to solve, but
we may have to start at things from different angles though, and for some that seems like too much to expect


there is a whole world of context out there that needs to be
confronted by the ontology community, and you cant keep ingnoring it

You misunderstand me. I am not ignoring it. I have studied it for years, attended many meetings concerned with 'context', worked on the semantics of 'context logics' , and so on. And I have come to the conclusion that the topic is (a) underdefined (b) overrated - in the sense that many things which are hastily classified as 'context' are in fact better studied under a different heading (indexicality, tense, belief, provenance) - and (c) in some ways positively harmful for serious ontology work, in the exact sense that changing the logic to accommodate 'contexts' is, although fashionable, a retrograde and harmful step, and a very poor engineering decision. It was the third conclusion that I was referring to in the above remark. Note carefully the distinction between an ontology OF contexts, which refers to contexts and how they change meanings (I agree entirely with the importance of this) and the idea of an ontology as itself being USED IN a context, so that its own ontological meanings change with the 'time of day and what we are trying to achieve'. Confusing the former with the latter has been a continuing source of poor decisions. You seemed to be referring to the latter.

For more reasoned and careful exposition of these thoughts, see




Paola Di Maio
School of IT

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Paola Di Maio
School of IT

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