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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology vs OWL implementation

To: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 11:28:54 +0200
Message-id: <046f01c8ac36$f9047710$0100a8c0@Dev>
Pat, my comments embedded below:    (01)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
To: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2008 11:34 PM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology vs OWL implementation    (02)

> At 9:45 PM +0200 5/1/08, Christopher Spottiswoode wrote:
>>Pat, Bill,
>>>  At 2:41 PM -0400 5/1/08, Bill Andersen wrote:
>>>>The only reason I can see for the use of the term "ontology" in
>>>>this connection is to increase the chances of winning funding from
>>>>people who still attach mystic significance to the term "ontology"
>>>>that they would not to "logical theory"
>>>  Quite. But isn't that the only reason for using the word
>>> "ontology" under any circumstances?
>>If only it were a laughing matter!  For there is another reason, I
>>fear:  the long word with its metaphysical associations makes the
>>notion more impressive, seemingly so in touch with some transcendent
> I wish people would get clear that there are TWO senses of the word
> 'ontology', with almost no useful or interesting relationship
> between them. One, the older sense, is philosophical, where it means
> something like 'concerned with reality' (as opposed to, for example,
> epistemics, which is concerned with beliefs, and phenomenology,
> which is concerned with impressions and experience). The other
> sense, much newer, is that in which an ontology (a phrase which is
> hardly meaningful using the earlier sense) is a formalized theory.
> All of this forum and all of these threads are concerned with
> ontologies in the second sense, which is NOT the first sense. Only
> ontologies in the second sense can be engineered.    (03)

It's very common for two senses of one word to diverge, and I'm sure
that on a forum such as this there is very seldom any misunderstanding
as a result.  The problem I have is when our discourse (sorry to be
using that pretentious word!  Here I mean it as a convenient shorthand
for a vocabulary or jargon infiltrated into everyday language) finds
itself transplanted elsewhere.    (04)

> It is a great pity that such a useful word got co-opted in this way,
> but these things happen. Its too late now to do anything about it.    (05)

I'm not so sure it is too late.    (06)

>>  That's very useful to dictators for browbeating the innocent
>>into submitting to the apparent authority behind it.
> Oh, bullshit. The only authority Im claiming, even implicitly, stems
> from years doing AI KR work, which has now gotten re-christened (and
> not by me).    (07)

Don't worry, Pat, I do recognize a no-nonsense Englishman when I see
one!  A fine empiricist and engineer, in Bill Anderson's words in this
thread.  Your dissociation from the fancier sense of the dread word
has long been quite clear.    (08)

And as I have already said, the folks on this forum are also very
clear about the two senses of the word, even on those rare occasions
when they find it valuable to conflate them where they can conceivably
be said to overlap.    (09)

No, my problem is when spokespersons "out there", as in marketing or
standards bodies, misuse that overlap in the way I was complaining
about.  I think we need to stop implicitly inviting them to do so.
It's not their fault.  They're only trying to sell and propagate our
products as we talk about them.    (010)

More than that, the fancy word tends to obfuscate what should be a 
very everyday issue, namely the real power of words and the need to 
prevent its abuse.  (But now I am straying into the material in the 
forthcoming 5th instalment of my "MACK basics" series...)    (011)

Christopher    (012)

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