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Re: [ontolog-forum] Offline note

To: "Ontolog-Forum-Bounces" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Sean Barker" <sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 31 May 2009 10:45:09 +0100
Message-id: <OOEEJGAPCAJOKOFFPHLHKECCCAAA.sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
In berating people about thinking they have solved a problem (context) while
not having done years of work in the subject, one is reminded of Kuhn's book
of scientific revolutions, in which (as I remember) he notes that often
someone new to the field is the source of the revolution, not being hide
bound by existing thinking - citing particularly Watson in the discovery of
DNA.    (01)

One of the BIG problems with ontologies is that the proponents are really
bad at explaining the subject. It took me a couple of years to realise that
ontologies are merely data models with AI gubbins (explaining this, and then
explaining why the AI gubbins is useful, is how I get funded by engineers).    (02)

Perhaps the biggest problem is the depth of knowledge of some of the
contributors (John Sowa particularly). There is a huge amount to learn from
John, and he is brilliant at putting it clearly, but IMHO what is needed is
not just a clear statement of the theory so far, but a paradigm shift    (03)

The shift I suspect is needed is from thinking about how symbols represent
knowledge to thinking about how knowledge fans out from symbols. That is,
how the use of a symbol invokes a set of knowledge processes in the
recipient - these may be simple, as when we say "the number on the dial is
six", or complex, such as "Amy Winehouse is the apotheosis and nadir of
post-modern femininity". Deciding the truth of the former is a very much
simpler process than deciding the truth of the latter.    (04)

And in both cases we are still using the same definition of symbol as C. S.
Pearce, which John S. has referred to on more than one occasion.    (05)

Sean Barker
Bristol    (06)

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