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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology similarity and accurate communication

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2008 17:37:41 -0500
Message-id: <p06230909c3fcb712393d@[]>
At 5:18 PM -0500 3/11/08, John F. Sowa wrote:
Pat, [Cassidy]

That is an excellent question:

PC> I believe that I understood every word you said (955 of them
 > in the note, including the previous quotes) in exactly the sense
 > you intended it. And some of it was not just the basic vocabulary.
 > Is that hard to believe?  How could I do it without a mental model
 > very similar to yours?

I am sure that you understood those words in one of the senses you
might find in a good dictionary, say the OED or MW 3rd unabridged.
But I doubt that you had resolved each one down to the detailed
microsense (in Cruse's terminology) that I had intended.

If you note, those dictionary entries (OED or MW) are not stated in
a formal language, and if you translated them to any version of logic,
you would get an extremely loose axiomatization.  It would be neutral
on almost all the major issues we have been discussing in this forum,
including 3D vs. 4D representations, continuants vs. occurrents, etc.

That is a position I have been advocating for years:  a very loosely
axiomatized terminology with very few details, and all the detailed
axioms in the specialized, task-dependent modules.

Look, guys, its important to get this clear. Ontological differences like that between 4-d temporal ontologies and continuant/occurrent temporal ontologies are NOT matters of detail. One CANNOT ignore or bypass these differences by simply leaving them out and retreating to a weaker ontology which can then be specialized to give the version one prefers. They really are inherently, profoundly, INCOMPATIBLE. Each of them makes assertions at the very basic level which are simple necessary truths in one view of the world and are, at the same time, nonsensical and incoherent in the other view. And each of them is held with some degree of passion to be OBVIOUSLY true (and the other OBVIOUSLY false or incoherent) by many people.

I can only conclude, from your apparent failure to understand this, that you have simply not had enough experience trying to persuade people to agree about ontological matters. You are living in a dream world in which all reasonable people will eventually agree, since they must all be thinking the same way. Its just NOT TRUE. People DONT agree, and they WONT agree. Please wake up and start living the real world, because we have some real problems out here that are not going to be solved by pretending that they don't exist.

As I have spent many, many hours documenting this stuff in so many email archives stretching now over more years than I care to remember, I won't keep on arguing the point. After all, a country that can waste 14 trillion dollars fighting a religious/civil war on the other side of the planet can afford to spend a little money chasing an impossible dream. But I would hate to see yet another promising ontological engineering initiative get lost in the same swamp that has consumed so many others.

Pat H
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