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Re: [ontolog-forum] Data Models v. Ontologies (again)

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2008 10:09:10 -0700
Message-id: <4CEF5378-5416-4CE8-B108-09E0D8D161A2@xxxxxxxx>
On May 22, 2008, at 3:05 PM, John F. Sowa wrote:
> Ed,
> I agree that many of the discussions on this list generate more heat  
> than light.  I also agree with Peirce who observed that many of the  
> speculations of "metaphysicians" deserve whatever contempt is heaped  
> upon them.  But Peirce also made the following observation:
>     "Find a scientific man who proposes to get along without
>     any metaphysics... and you have found one whose doctrines
>     are thoroughly vitiated by the crude and uncriticized
>     metaphysics with which they are packed.  We must philosophize,
>     said the great naturalist Aristotle -- if only to avoid
>     philosophizing.  Every man of us has a metaphysics, and has
>     to have one; and it will influence his life greatly.  Far
>     better, then, that that metaphysics should be criticized and
>     not be allowed to run loose."    (01)

There is no doubt that knowledge engineers have to make some  
metaphysical assumptions when they build their ontologies (which I  
myself take to include data models) -- if nothing else, the broad  
ontological categories of OBJECT, CLASS, PROPERTY, and RELATION seem  
pretty much unavoidable -- but it seems to me that, unlike genuine  
(typically self-proclaimed) metaphysicians, the knowledge engineer  
doesn't -- or, at least, oughtn't -- insist that his or her  
metaphysics is the Way Things Really Are.  Indeed, the knowledge  
engineer might freely make incompatible metaphysical assumptions in  
different contexts and, in general, chooses the conceptual framework  
that is most useful to the engineering need.    (02)

> Wittgenstein wrote his first book under the influence of Frege
> and Russell, and he spent the second half of his life working
> his way out of that trap.    (03)

Hard to imagine how anyone working in formal and applied ontology,  
which owes so much to the influence of Frege and Russell -- esp the  
use of logic in the analysis of philosophical problems -- can can  
think of W's work after the Tractatus as anything other than a big  
step backwards.    (04)

> There is nothing worse than bad philosophy.  But it's impossible to  
> do good ontology without having a good sense for philosophy.    (05)

+1.    (06)

-chris    (07)

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