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Re: [ontolog-forum] Upper ontology content and structure

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Patrick Cassidy" <pat@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2008 08:05:46 -0400
Message-id: <00d901c91fd0$35a7d560$a0f78020$@com>
Mike -
  Concerning your question:    (01)

> MB> It also made sense to me, to distinguish between first- second-
> > and third-order classes of Thing, as defined by John Sowa and
> > others (John's book summarises the history of those terms very well).
> MB> What interests me, and what I am really asking here, is why is
> > this approach not noticeable in upper ontology resources like
> > the Suggest Upper Merged Ontology (SUMO)? Am I missing something?
> > SUMO looked to me like a single taxonomic hierarchy of classes
> > of Thing, without these three sets of partitions.
>    (02)

   I can't answer for SUMO, but I can tell you why those distinctions don’t
appear in COSMO: 
   *** there is no apparent need for them, and spending time trying to
decide into which of those abstract categories one might place specific
types or relations does not make any sense to me, as they add nothing to the
intended meaning. ***
    Wherever one might think that a type or relation fits one of those
categories, the more specific and meaningful type or relation itself will
carry all the meaning required to perform the intended function of the
    The top level of COSMO under 'Thing' has 20 types, and one of the those
('Individual') is a heterogeneous grouping of other types that are mostly
heterogeneous groupings associated by some property (a 'faceted'
categorization).  If I had 'firstness' secondness' and 'thirdness' at the
top level, I expect that few people wanting to find some particular type of
thing would have no idea where to start in the drill-down process.  Tools
like Protégé that allow searching for substrings in the label for a type
help immensely, but as far as creating a hierarchy for drill-down when
string search fails, those three abstract categories, in my estimation, are
quite useless.  I am very concerned with usability of any ontology, meaning
that it has to be as easy as possible to understand, while preserving its
technical adequacy.    (03)

   Those abstract categories may be interesting for philosophical
speculation, but I have never observed any function for them in automated
reasoning.  More specific issues dominate my concerns about representing
meaning.    (04)

   If they help you organize your own thinking about the meanings of
concepts, they may be useful, for you, for that purpose.  I haven't found
them useful in that way.    (05)

   However, if anyone were interested in trying to figure out which of those
categories applies to the elements of the COSMO ontology:
I would have no objection.  If some useful function could be demonstrated by
the act of such a classification, I would be intrigued and may change my
mind about their usefulness.    (06)

Pat    (07)

Patrick Cassidy
cell: 908-565-4053
cassidy@xxxxxxxxx    (08)

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