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

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 24 May 2008 19:36:14 -0400
Message-id: <4838A66E.8090702@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed,    (01)

I agree that it's not necessary to be "steeped" in philosophy,
but some exposure, at some level, is important.    (02)

 > And I take issue with the idea that "knowledge engineers" need
 > to be steeped in philosophical theory in order to build useful
 > "ontologies". Their job is to model belief -- the beliefs of
 > the target user and application community, not truth.    (03)

The task of modeling belief is the traditional job of philosophy
since Socrates.  And as Peirce observed, anyone who avoids
philosophy will inevitably be left with a philosophy that is
totally unanalyzed and probably hopelessly muddled.    (04)

My recommendation is to incorporate a modest amount of fairly
unobtrusive philosophical analysis in any decent textbook on
knowledge representation.  I tried to do that in my KR book.
Some people liked it very much, and others thought that it
was too heavy on philosophy.    (05)

As another example of an appropriate amount of philosophy, I
have often recommended the following book:    (06)

    Joseph, Sister Miriam (1937) _The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of
    Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric_, Third edition 1948, reprinted
    by Paul Dry Books, 2002.    (07)

This is the textbook that Sister Miriam used to teach the basic
principles of Aristotelian logic, ontology, and rhetoric to
freshman English majors at St. Mary's College.    (08)

The basic logic is Aristotelian syllogisms, which form the core
of every version of Description Logic (and also an important
subset of any version of FOL).  This amount of logic and
philosophy would be highly valuable for anybody who proposes
to do knowledge representation, data modeling, or clear,
precise writing in English or any other language.    (09)

That amount of logic was taught to all university students from the
13th to the 19th centuries.  I blame Bertrand Russell for causing
universities to stop teaching Aristotelian logic.  They did so.
But they didn't put any other version of logic in its place
(except for a tiny number of students in math and philosophy).    (010)

John    (011)

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