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Re: [ontolog-forum] standard ontology

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Matthew West <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 12:27:16 -0000
Message-id: <4992c439.2535640a.7695.427d@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Dear Pat,


Well I’ll take a crack at this.


OK, I've read all the way down. Now, let me respond. First, OK y'all have described your system quite tightly and thoroughly, which is good. But you are also stuck in a cul-de-sac, apparently paying no attention to the rest of the world, which is not good. You don't understand RDF and RDFS, which maybe isn't itself very important but I fear may be only a symptom of a deeper malaise.


[MW] Actually Ian is pretty good at the techy stuff, even if he does not explain it in standard philosophical terms.


You mis-use established terminology ("individual" here being the worst culprit: that isn't what everyone else means by "individual".


[MW] That’s a bit vacuous. There is hardly any word that does not have a large number of meanings, and at least this is one of the meanings that individual has been used for.


For example, the number three is an individual, but not one of yours.)


[MW] Well it doesn’t have a spatio-temporal extent does it? I agree they are missing numbers, but they do not have to be called individuals, whatever they are.


Just generally, you appear to not know about basics like the distinction between syntax and semantics, what 'extensional' means, the difference between actual and possible, and so on. Look, I'm not meaning to criticize or pull rank here, just letting you know that there is a big ontological world out there, and before suggesting that your brand-new minor variation on a theme by Aristotle is the final answer to the world's problems, it might be a good idea to try reading a little more about what others have done. You aren't the first people to invent a formalized system for representing general knowledge, and you ought to at least know a little bit about what was already done. After all, suggesting any ontology as a possible general ontology standard amounts to making a VERY large philosophical claim, one that most professional philosophers or ontologists would hesitate to even approach. At the very least, it surely behooves one to know just a little about the field in which one is making such grand suggestions. Like knowing what some of the long words mean, and being able, or maybe willing, to actually read and understand the specifications of the notations one is bandying about. 


[MW] You realise this is Chris Partridge you are describing as not well read and not knowing anything about ontology?... Not sure I’d like to have to trade reading lists with him...


Here's a few questions for y'all. 


[MW] Well I’m pretty familiar with Chris’s positions on most of these, so I’ll give this a go.


(1)   Is Sherlock Holmes an individual? [MW] Yes
One might say he is located in a possible space-time, but not in the actual one. Do you want to say that? [MW] Yes
If so, how are the many possible but non-actual space-times related to one another, if at all? [MW] By counterpart Theory (David Lewis, straight down the line)

If not, what do you want to say about S.H. ?


(2)   How much extent is required? Is the event of a quantum being emitted by a sodium atom's moving from a higher to lower energetic state an Individual? [MW]Yes
(How does one kick that?) [MW] Metaphorically (Ian was of course talking loosely)
Are things like vortices in a fluid, waves on the ocean, burstings into flame, explosions all Individuals?[MW] Yes
 (How does one kick them?) Is an acceleration an Individual? (Say my truck goes from zero to 30 in about a minute when I set off to work tomorrow. Is that acceleration an Individual? [MW] Yes
How does one kick it?)


(3)   You say a type is identified by its members, which I take to mean that if it has the same members, its the same type. That sounds like saying that a type is a set. Is a type a set, in fact? [MW] Yes
If not, how do they differ from sets? If they are, are all sets types? [MW] Probably, but I’m not sure what the approach would be to ordered sets, like temperature or the real numbers.
If not, what distinguishes the type-type sets from the non-type-type sets? [MW] Well that would be the ordering relation.


(4)   You say that a type can be a member of a type (which is good, and not un-extensional.) Can a type be a member of itself? More generally, can there be circles of type-membership, so that A is a type of B is a type of C is a type of A ? If not, why not? [MW] Not sure. I would say yes, but I think Chris is uncertain. He leans towards type theory rather than set theory (that might impact some earlier answers.


(5)    Into which basic ontic category would you put the following: the number three; the color purple; the property of being square; the relation between people of being the natural mother of ; the shape of a face (in the sense in which a death mask has the same shape as the face it is a casting of); the Krebs cycle in cellular biology; Moby Dick, the novel by Melville (not any particular imprint or edition of it, but the work itself); a website (c.f. the current W3C debates over the notion of an "information resource"); an email message; the sentences in that same email message; a substance (such as clay or air: not any particular piece of it, but the stuff itself); a time-interval?  I realize this is a longish list, but since you have your identity criteria so well defined, you ought to be able to rattle them off pretty quickly.

[MW] I think Ian has answered these, no they are not very difficult.




Matthew West                           

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