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Re: [ontolog-forum] Just What Is an Ontology, Anyway?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Steve Newcomb <srn@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 31 Oct 2009 07:58:30 -0400
Message-id: <4AEC2666.9010209@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
John F. Sowa wrote:    (01)

> That is why I have emphasized the need for *a* framework that can
> accommodate *an* open-ended *hierarchy* of ontologies.    (02)

John, I added the emphases in the above quote, possibly changing what you 
meant.  I have no intention of offending, and I'm not trying to pick a fight, 
either. I just keep suspecting that frameworks necessarily make ontological 
assumptions, and that even the assumption of hierarchy is an example of such an 
assumption.     (03)

I would argue that what's needed, as the bottom turtle in the stack, is a 
rhetoric capable of accommodating diverse frameworks without isolating them 
from one another.  Naturally, many frameworks can each accommodate one 
open-ended hierarchy, but even the assumption of hierarchy is, for me, itself 
suspect.  "There are more things in heaven and earth..." and there is an odor 
of a priestly caste and an intent to control discourse about an assumption of 
hierarchy.  I'd be happier to start somewhere so fundamental that nothing human 
can possibly be alien, nor be isolated from anything else.  Then, no matter 
what, there are no isolated ontological contexts, even though there may be no 
common ontological assumptions, nor any guarantee that a mathematical excuse 
can be found for every insight.  There is a guarantee that a cross-ontological 
insight can be precisely expressed, however, and I'm guessing that's very 
valuable.    (04)

There is a cost, of course, and the cost is disclosure of commitments, and of 
the extremities of commitment, and the cost of distinguishing semantics from 
one another.  I would expect readers of this list to be embarrassed to cavil at 
paying that cost.    (05)

Steve    (06)

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