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Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantic Systems

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "FERENC KOVACS" <f.kovacs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 2009 18:01:46 +0100
Message-id: <158E5CB6B37A432A99BE9D48A23D5A0E@Swindon>
Thanks John,    (01)

JS: The point I would qualify is that we directly observe absence.
> More precisely, we experience *contrast*.  That is a more
> immediate experience that does not depend on retrieval and
> comparison with anything from background knowledge.
> For example, the experience of something vanishing or popping
> into view is a contrast.  But a report that there is no
> hippopotamus in the room is unlikely to be the result of
> experiencing a hippo that suddenly went "POOF".
I agree. We as embryos for nine months had enough experience of the 
shapelessness, dark and other sensory input which is in sharp contarst to 
what we get after birth. And since the structure of the nerves in the eye 
have specific sensors for contrast, we do not need "retrieval". But we also 
experience soap bubbles or baloons to fly and be blown into nothing, with 
amazement as children    (02)

JS: > I agree, but I would emphasize that immediate experience is
> prior to any verbalization.  In fact, most use of language
> involves a great deal of reasoning (by analogy with prior
> experience and by induction, deduction, and abduction from
> previously processed experience as codified in concepts).
> The fact that verbal forms encode so much background knowledge
> makes it difficult for us to say what is immediately before
> our eyes (and ears, nose, hands).  What we report tends to be
> a combination (by various forms of reasoning) that mixes and
> colors the immediate experience with previous knowledge.
I agree that immediate experience is prior to any verbalization. But in 
order to share my prior experience and any reasoning connected thereto with 
you, I need to use verbalizalization, although we tend to realize that 
thinnking is done non-verbal, non language forms even with animals.    (03)

This is a quote from Sydney Lamb:    (04)

We actually can get empirical clues about how animals represent
meaning. Example: We took our two cats with us on a trip to
California from Texas; stopped at a motel; we put their litter
box in the bathroom just as we do at home. The cats immediately
recognized that it was in the right place. Also immediately
jumped up on the bed (N.B. "the"), just as at home. This tells
us a lot. They had a category of BED, with its various visual
and other properties. They had a category of BATHROOM, with its
properties -- tile floor, presence of commode, wash basin,
shower, just as at home. Etc. etc. this is just one observation.
We can make many many additional ones. So they make use of
categories much as we do -- without language.    (05)

Moreover, there is direct experimental evidence that shows us
how it is done -- from experiments performed on living brain
tissue of cats and mice. See the very important book by Vernon
Mountcasle, "Perceptual Neuroscience", Harvard Press, 1998.
(I will elaborate, and show how/why we can extend these results
to understanding human categorization in my lecture at the
upcoming LACUS meeting in Claremont, CA, August 4-8 -- inf at
the LACUS web site, www.rice.edu/lacus .)    (06)

About Whorf: Surely we need no further convincing that
categorization is influenced by language (for those who have
language -- i.e. humans), and that therefore different human
groups categorize differently. There are some very interesting
recent papers by Tara Lipinsky and others (incl. Stephen
Levinson) on this point.    (07)

On Tue, 7 Jul 2009, jess tauber wrote:    (08)

> Now if we only knew first how nonhuman minds represent
> meaning, that would help too. What were the steps leading to
> where we are now- does everyone compartmentalize the world in
> the same way? Then there are Whorfian questions of whether
> language structure skews this- assuming that nonlinguistic
> minds already are unified under one cognitive type (or
> spread).
> Perhaps our alien friends could help us figure this out, if
> they weren't so preoccupied with our other organs....:-{
> Jess Tauber
> _______________________________________________
> NeuroCogLing mailing list
> NeuroCogLing@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> http://five.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/neurocogling
>Sydney M. Lamb http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~lamb/
Linguistics and Cognitive Sciences
Rice University, Houston, TX    (09)

Continuing my posting (FK)    (010)

> I believe that *every* large ontology that has so far been
> presented or even proposed is far, far too simplistic to be
> a suitable foundation for understanding experience and its
> verbalization in natural languages (or in logic, which is
> a further abstraction away from language).    (011)

Experience starts with being conscious and able to exercise our will and be 
in control of our bodily movement, including our capability of orientation 
in space and time. To be able to do that we must be able to have learnt 
about the world at concrete, specific level as you say, which only means 
that we hava a colection of patterns and form associated with basic content, 
properties like edible, friedly, warm, spiky, etc. Such lessons are not 
axioms and they do not to be, as the boundaries of a human ego or one's 
picture of the self would not lend itself to any final form either.
The story is written metaphorically in the Genezis in the Bible and 
elsewhere. What ontologies miss is the documentation of the process of 
emergence from chaos, that is from the first, vague and multipurpose word to 
the sophistication of a multipurpose language counting now one million 
words.    (012)

> That is why I have been emphasizing an open-ended collection
> of ontologies, in which the most important are *not* the upper
> levels, but the lowest levels that are closest to the subject
> under discussion.
> And every different subject is a different way of experiencing
> reality, thinking about it, and acting upon it.  The upper
> levels cannot be defined *in advance*.  They are always
> abstractions from the more concrete lower levels.
> Any attempt to fix and freeze an upper level in advance is
> guaranteed to be hopelessly inadequate.  As I have said to
> Pat C, the best upper level should be little more than a
> collection of words that are linked by very few axioms.
> The most important reasoning must be done at the lowest levels
> that are closest to the experience and action required for
> the subject matter at hand.  Note the word 'hand'.  I mean it
> literally as an important part of what we use to experience
> the world, not as a metaphor for something close by.
Most of our early names given to "geographical" objects or measurements of 
various kinds to identify details come from the vocabulary describing the 
human body, probably the best known chunk of reality to everybody, not 
scientifically, but languagewise.Although as subjects we have different ways 
of experiences hence universe to live in, we should still have a more 
systematic way of collating experience in verbal forms that currently 
provide for a very poor sort key. And mapping these verbal forms into 2D 
networks of discrete points is nearly pitiful. The relations identified are 
largely spatial, or even worse, because they do not reflect true or complete 
spatial alternatives either. For one thing there is no 3 or 4 dimensions, 
but just one spacetime dimension where you have any number of directions in 
space and just one direction in time. To represent any object in space you 
can take a view from three different points, but to avoid collision you have 
four directions to choose from. But to define any point in space you only 
need two non parallel directions which , if extended, can never be connected 
by a third straight line, as they go on infinitely. Infinitity is inn front 
of us in the fact that you cannot close a circle or calculate square root 2 
of a square withour a remainder, while we always work with integers and try 
to recreate any experience as a COMPLETE, WHOLE picture of reality. When you 
see something for the first time, yopu are likely to assme that all further 
incidences of the same thing will be like that and you would say "all 
Germans ar nuts" and similar rubbish, when you have met one.    (013)

As all comparison of any properties of any objects ends up with the greater 
than consequence or conclusion, it must be clear that the current complexity 
is built from simple observations, hence they can be tracked back from any 
level of complexity of any machinery or mental product. At the lowest level 
you have the exercise of giving names to new objects, which unfortunatelly 
is not based on reason or any system except for a few areas, where rules for 
name formation exist.    (014)

Frank    (015)

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