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Re: [ontolog-forum] OntoPaedia [was Physical Grounding [was Foundation O

To: standard-upper-ontology@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2008 11:07:10 -0400
Message-id: <48BC051E.5080103@xxxxxxxxxxx>
James,    (01)

That is obvious:    (02)

 > Isn't it fitting that the Ontological World, the location of
 > fundamental concepts, be grounded in the Natural World, the source
 > of all concepts?    (03)

Nobody objects to that principle.  But there are an open-ended number
of ways in which words or more formal terms are grounded.  Following
is a very brief summary that I sent to these lists last week:    (04)

JFS> ... there are three methods of grounding the symbols we use:
 > 1. Direct experience with the referents by perception and action.
 > 2. Indirect connections to experience by associations created by
 >    patterns of words that are more directly grounded.
 > 3. Communication by means of natural languages with other people
 >    whose grounding for the symbols is more direct than ours.    (05)

Each of these three very broad methods can be further analyzed
into an enormous number of issues and details.  Point #1 gets into
all the issues of perception and action in every possible mode,
including every kind of extension to the sensory and motor mechanisms
by means of telescopes, microscopes, microphones, hearing aids, and
animals like seeing-eye dogs, etc.  They extend to every kind of
prosthetic device, and every kind of scientific and engineering
mechanism and methodology, each of which raises an enormous number
of idiosyncratic aspects, problems, and questions.    (06)

Point #2 gets into all possible issues about the syntax and
semantics of words and patterns of words.  Those topics have been
analyzed for many millennia by all the philosophers, linguists,
psychologists, lexicographers, logicians, and just ordinary
people who notice and comment on the ways they use language.    (07)

Point #3 gets into every mode of communication by any kind of
language or logic, formal or informal, natural or artificial,
transmitted by any means from sound, to gestures, to carrier pigeon,
to the most advanced electronics imaginable.  It extends to
communications by means of books and libraries from people who
lived thousands of years ago, and it includes artifacts dug up by
archaeologists that can tell us something about the experiences
of people long before there was any written form of language.    (08)

After you finish working through all that detail and you open an
arbitrary newspaper to an arbitrary page, column, and paragraph --
say page 17, column 1, paragraph 3 of the first one you pick up --
you will discover complexities that you hadn't thought of and,
if analyzed sufficiently far, will lead to open research questions
in philosophy, linguistics, etc.    (09)

Good luck,    (010)

John Sowa    (011)

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