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Re: [ontolog-forum] What is "understanding"

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 08 Apr 2008 01:08:31 -0300
Message-id: <47FAEFBF.1070506@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sergei and Leonid,    (01)

At this level of detail, I agree with both of you.    (02)

SN> A more plausible source of difference [with Cimiano and Reyle]
 > might be our lack of interest in proving soundness of our knowledge
 > base.  One of the reasons for that is the observation that people
 > hold vast amounts of contradicting beliefs and still manage to
 > function...  If our task is to approach human levels of performance
 > it is reasonable to try to operate with models that have this feature.
 > Not that we deliberately introduce contradictions...    (03)

Yes, that is a point that I have stressed in my discussions of
"knowledge soup".  People do try to resolve the contradictions, but
the amount of information impinging on our senses is far beyond our
ability to analyze and synthesize into a single grand theory of
everything.    (04)

I'm not against the quest for a grand theory of everything, but
I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for (or make my software depend
on) finding the Holy Grail.    (05)

SN> Issues such as vagueness, "unexpected" input, non-literal language,
 > reference and ellipsis and others require harnessing (at least)
 > discourse (or textual) context and prior knowledge.    (06)

Yes, those are the issues that must be addressed *first*.  It is much
easier to fit logic into a system that can accommodate vagueness
than to put a "nonmonotonic" patch on top of a logical system that
wasn't designed for it.    (07)

LO> ... the "understanding" problem is more complex. It needs to
 > take into account the "pragmatics" for example etc.    (08)

Yes, Wittgenstein started with neat syntax and logic in his first book.
Then with the belief that he had solved all the problems of philosophy,
he retired to an Austrian mountain village, where he taught elementary
school children.  But he discovered that they didn't think the way his
theory predicted.    (09)

After he came down from the mountain top, he spent the rest of his
life developing theories of pragmatics -- his language games -- and
explaining the "grave errors" of his first book.    (010)

John    (011)

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