guess I'll take a shot at this. See below.
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been eavesdropping ontolog for a while. Now I'd like to contribute new
thoughts on an ontology-1 (in the philosophical sense). I hope they are
relevant to axioms and ambiguity, among other things.
this message is not too discourteously long.
research aimed to find a way of specifying the norms that govern organized
human behavior. The practical results are very promising but they depend
on finding a new metaphysical foundation, in particular an ontology-1
recognizing, to all intents and purposes, that
is no knowable reality without an agent; and that
MW: So that isn't
that there is no reality without agents, only that what is known must be known
by an agent, presumably because only agents can know things. Sounds to be like
you might be more interested in epistemology than
agent must discover its own reality in the flux of events and
MW: Are you
saying here that there are actually multiple realities, which are what agents
discover, or that there is one reality, that different agents have different
views on based on what different agents discover (know
builds on James Gibson's Theory of Affordances: no organism opens its sense
'windows' onto a ready-made reality but, from the flux of information
generated by activity (including its own), the organism must discover the
invariant repertoires of behavior, that the environment affords it.
These 'affordances' are the things it perceives.
call the ontology-1 "actualism".
MW: I think this
name has already been grabbed:
Bishop Berkeley's ontology is the
nearest approximation I have found. He had to explain what happened to
the tree in the quad when no one was around to perceive it. As expressed
succinctly in the well-known limerick:
was a young man who said "God
think it exceedingly odd
he finds that this tree
there's no one about in the Quad."
substitute Society for God, with excellent effect. An isolated human
organism will know little of reality without the cooperation of the rest of
MW: Again, I
notice you are talking about what agents know, not about what
philosopher, theologian or politician but an engineer looking for solutions
that works. Some have accused me of an anti-individual political bias
but this approach does not diminish the importance of the individual. Belief
in God or in any other Truth, is unaffected within this paradigm, provided you
acknowledge that these are beliefs for which you bear
practical information systems engineering, ontology-1 leads to a canonical
form of ontology-2 (sophisticated data model).
MW: OK. Data
models are one way of representing an ontology, but they are also the cross over
from ontology to epistemology, since that specify the information we want to
hold about certain things of interest.
We claim only an empirical basis for
this Semantic Normal Form. Could this have an axiomatic potential?
MW: Well, data
models generally contain relatively few axioms (the cardinality constraints
would qualify). But these can be added.
give me your comments. Is our ontology-1 really new? I'm sure you will
disabuse me soon enough if I'm mistaken.
MW: My question
would be whether it is an ontology or
a paper at the 2007 ICCS (the series that, I believe, John Sowa instigated);
sadly he was not there. But that now encourages me to introduce
the ideas to this group.
research on the formalization of social (and legal) norms, which started at
the London School of Economics, forced us to handle semantics rigorously while
never losing sight of the human connection between sign and reality.
MW: Have you read
John Searle, The construction of social reality
of meaning obliges one to start from the fact that Signs have meanings because
they stand for real things. Hence, to have a clear position on meaning,
one must make a commitment about the nature of reality.
of the conventional ontology-1s seemed to work.
MW: Which ones
did you try? Realism is the one I favour (along probably with the majority of
others here). What was it that did not work about
Finally we adopted
Gibson's Affordances and added social norms, which are invariants that
afford repertoires of behavior in the social sphere. Gibson's Theory of
perception of the material world is insufficient to explain an individual
human's perception except, perhaps, in cases of enfants sauvages. The rich
perceptions of those raised as members of society incorporate many extra
perceptions that have been supplied by other people and form the community's
shared perceptual norms. Moreover the reality of the social world also
depends on the many other behavioral, cognitive and evaluative norms that we
also derive from the community that nurtures us. Therefore we have taken
Society as the root agent in our model of perception.
explained a person's perception of a tree as the result of an idea in His
MW: Now that is
beginning to sound like conceptualism.
so that we can accept that the tree
continues to exist in the Quad when "nobody" can see it, because God is always
the mysterious intervention of God, Society provides an empirically testable
explanation for continuing to accept the tree's existence.
MW: How? I would
have thought the tree was sufficient for continuing to accept the tree's
Based the cognitive norms shared across
Society and using the reports of responsible observers, checked by critical
discourse with others, we can justify believing that the tree still stands in
MW: This sounds
like something based on our collective knowledge again, tied perhaps to
rich world we ontolog participants believe in lies beyond the perceptual reach
of any isolated human being.
MW: So here at
least you seem to acknowledge a world independent of our
Society enables us to aggregate our puny
individual experiences through the information we exchange, the norms we
share. We test them until we arrive at the familiar picture of an apparently
MW: Sounds like
represent fully something that we believe exists, we must say who perceives it
and what affordance the agent realizes for the period of its existence.
So we need sentences of the form:
root Agent must be a particular (convention: uppercase capital). During
the Agent's realization of this affordance, it is, in effect a modified kind
of Agent able to experience some other affordance.
an affordance ceases to be realized, as far as the root Agent is concerned
that thing totally ceases to exist.
MW: But only as
far as the agent is concerned, not necessarily in reality,
environment may afford the Agent two of these repertoires of behaviour
Agent (affordance while
becoming the modified agent
(Agent (affordance while
the effective existence of anything
MW: As opposed to
the actual existence of anything.
depends fundamentally on the agent who
takes responsibility for his/her/its choices.
MW: This sounds
like beliefs again.
It also depends on the coexistence of
some other, 'ontological antecedents'. Between the Agent and the affordance in
question one may draw a lattice where each affordance has one or a maximum of
two antecedents. If this lattice includes the antecedent affordances
that are necessary and sufficient for the existence of the one being analysed,
one will have a schema in Semantic Normal Form.
little example (I'll leave you to draw a graphical version) is a
marriage (person-1 (Society), person-2 (Society))
person-1 proposes such a marriage, he (usually) must use a sign that stands
for that marriage, which does not exist:
proposal (person-1 (Society), "marriage ( . . . .)")
ontology-1 only allows us to talk about things existing here and
MW: Oh, so you
are a presentist too then are you?
everything in the past or future is
available only in this semiological form.
schemas are very stable and systems built on them can accommodate changes of
requirements with remarkable economy. Looked at from another angle, the schema
in SNF has a valid generality across cultures, while able to accommodate any
differences through the variations in the authorities that determine when
things start and finish their existence. This supports the accretion of
semantic information without imposing any artificial uniformity.
Presumably, these properties are highly relevant to the semantic
schemas can be aggregated. We have built some quite large
MW: Large I
discover is a relative term. Is large for you 100 entity types, 1000 entity
types, 10000 entity types 100,000 entity types or 1,000,000 entity
but need far more experience to discover
where the limits lie.
a schema in SNForm is not a trivial task, by the way. If you wish to
try, don't fall into the trap of treating an ontological dependency as a
cause-effect relationship. Your schema can represent only what exists
here and now, as defined by the Agent and its activities.
MW: I prefer
realism and 4-dimensionalism, so I think I'll pass on
node on the schema should be accompanied by a list of attributes that includes
the identifier of the thing it stands for, the universal it instantiates, when
its starts and finishes its existence and the authorities that determine these
start and finish events/times.
MW: So when does
the number two start and finish, or the colour
Legally Orientated Language for manipulating data held under SNF-compliant
schemas allows us to represent social norms precisely and in a form that
'naïve' users find easy to understand.
have designed many and built some systems (but not yet enough) using these
concepts with marked success.
MW: Can you say
what the applications you have built do?
formal aspects need far more work
some feedback, with my regards,
has taken some time to be able to send this message and now I'll be away from
my desk for a few days. - Further
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