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

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 31 May 2009 11:29:16 +0200
Message-id: <A0B77A0B36F44BF3841E41EA5378ABF2@CECILE>
Sean,    (01)

Excellent, including how your P.S. situates 'context'.    (02)

Thanks once again!    (03)

Christopher    (04)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sean Barker" <sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "Ontolog-Forum-Bounces" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, May 31, 2009 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Past, Present, and Future of Ontology    (05)

> I get very uncomfortable when I see discussions of words having
> "senses" and "semantic primitives". While the idea of a word "having
> a meaning" is a useful metaphor, it is only a metaphor.
> To use a different analogy, I would represent semantics as a
> continuum, like a power cable, and that words are the pylons holding
> up the cable.  The sense of a word is then the section of power line
> either side of the word, just as far as the low point of the cable.
> An intended implication of this analogy is that I can put in extra
> pylons, which, as words, then take a bit of the sense from the words
> on either side - rather like turquoise being somewhere between green
> and blue. In fact, I could change the number and position of all the
> pylons, to get a different collection of words with the continuum of
> senses distributed differently between them.
> One trivial interpretation of this analogy is that different
> languages have different collections of words covering the same
> general concept - colour terms being an obvious example. Where there
> is consistency between human languages, this probably arises because
> we are the same species - Wittgenstein's remark (approximately) "If
> lions could talk, we would have nothing to say to them" is germane
> at this point. As societies elaborate beyong the purely physical
> forms of life, the choices explode.  This is very evident in the
> differences in vocabularies between businesses (and also why it is
> <b>in principle</b> impossible to fill in a tax form).
> This leads to my view that, while the paradigmatic algorithm for
> sight is pattern recognition, that for language is classification
> (starting with binary chop). And therefore choosing the terms of an
> ontology involves an a priori categorization of the forms of life
> that the ontology users need to distinguish. Interoperability
> between businesses is tricky, because they have evolved local forms
> of life, and therefore each use a vocabulary with a different set of
> boundaries between terms to those of any other business.
> This is why the future of the semantic web will be limited to low
> risk interactions such as buying pizza, while high risk
> interactions, such as buying aircraft parts, will take place only in
> closed, trusted communities, where due diligence on the meaning of
> terms has taken place.
> PS The analogy address only one aspect of language. The role of
> knowledge and the different levels of awareness (perception,
> comprehension, etc) is another, and I suspect that is where
> discussions of context should sit.
> Sean Barker
> Bristol, UK
>    (06)

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