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

To: edbark@xxxxxxxx
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 22:46:47 -0400
Message-id: <483CC797.606@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed,    (01)

Words acquire new meanings, but old meanings die more slowly
than new ones accumulate.    (02)

 > Surely you are familiar with semantic drift.  What the word
 > meant 300 or 3000 years ago may be a bit different.    (03)

Consider the word 'carriage', which was shortened to 'car' in
the early 20th century.  Today, we would apply the word 'car'
to both a 2008 model and a 1908 model.  Even though the
technology has changed, the same word is used for both.    (04)

In French, the word 'voiture' is used for a modern car and
for a horse-drawn carriage from a couple of centuries ago.    (05)

 > OK.  You define 'theory'.  I'm happy to agree that the concept
 > I have is not what you think I should have meant by the word.    (06)

We all have habits of speech that change from one context to another.
For example, the following definition is often used in this forum:    (07)

    A theory is the deductive closure of a set of propositions
    called *axioms*.    (08)

If you pick up a typical dictionary, you'll find a wide range of
definitions, all of which are in common use.  The above definition
is closest to def 6c of the M-W 10th:    (09)

   6c: a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view
       of a subject.    (010)

The definition that is closest to the current thread is    (011)

   3:  the general or abstract principles of a body of fact,
       a science, or an art (music ~ ).    (012)

Most chemists today would include the 18th century work by
Lavoisier in the field of chemistry, and this definition is
sufficiently vague to include it.  I don't see any reason
for excluding it.    (013)

 > I never said you had to be able to explain all the workings
 > of the universe to have a useful or valid scientific theory.    (014)

The point I was making is that there's a continuum.  Nobody can
understand everything in every detail, but anybody who has a
sufficient understanding about a subject to make successful
predictions under varying conditions can certainly be said to
understand it.    (015)

For that reason, I would claim that the people who designed
medieval cathedrals or samurai swords understood their subject
very well -- probably better than most physicists understand
string theory.    (016)

I'll just stop where you did:  "Thass all ahm sayin'."    (017)

John    (018)

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