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Re: [ontolog-forum] Past, Present, and Future of Ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Cyclify Austin <cyclify-austin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, KR-language <KR-language@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 19:16:23 -0400
Message-id: <4A1F1B47.5000005@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ravi,    (01)

I mentioned Aristotle because his version of logic and ontology is
in the direct line of transmission (through medieval Arabic and Latin)
to the current systems in use today.    (02)

But it is certainly true that versions of philosophy, ontology, and
logic were developed in India, China, Persia, Egypt, Sumer, and Babylon.
Each of these countries undoubtedly influenced and was influenced by the
others:    (03)

  1. All those countries interacted with (by war and by trade) with
     their neighbors, and the Silk Road from China to Europe was
     well traveled by 1500 BC.  Wise men and gurus probably followed
     the same roads as merchants and soldiers.    (04)

  2. Heraclitus, one of the early Greek philosophers, lived in
     Asia Minor at the end of the Silk Road.  He was contemporary
     with Lao Tze in China, Gautama Buddha in India, and Zoroaster
     in Persia.  The actual dates are not clear, but many scholars
     have noted similarities in their sayings.    (05)

  3. Pythagoras is another early Greek philosopher who stimulated
     much of the Greek interest in mathematics.  But when he was
     young, he went to Egypt where he was inducted into the Egyptian
     priesthood.  He also went to visit the Babylonian mathematicians
     before returning to the Greek colonies in Italy.    (06)

Nobody knows precisely which ideas were invented where, but the
cross fertilization probably stimulated much of the creativity.    (07)

RS> ... we have missed the mention of Upanishads that are agreed
 > to be at least a few millennia BC (~5000 years ago) that are based
 > on Reasoning (NYAYA-Logic) the branch of Indian Philosophy well
 > practiced to date.    (08)

The Upanishads are certainly ancient and they use a form of reasoning,
but the formal analysis of the underlying logic wasn't done until later.
The analysis of grammar and semantics by Panini around 500 BC was very
important.  Some modern computational linguists in India have found
Panini's system to be very useful -- especially for the analysis of
languages with a more flexible word order than English.    (09)

And Nyaya logic may be used to analyze the reasoning in the Upanishads,
but it dates from the 2nd century AD, which is much later.    (010)

In any case, the main point I wanted to make is that logic and ontology
are much older than computer science and the Semantic Web.    (011)

John    (012)

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