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[ontolog-forum] Language and logic

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: FERENC KOVACS <f.kovacs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2009 16:22:20 +0000 (GMT)
Message-id: <741792.77069.qm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Re: John wrote to Pat and Ferenc,

PC> Concerning the possibility of a finite number of conceptual
 > primitives...

That depends on what you mean by "primitive" and what you plan
to do with whatever "primitives" you select.

I acknowledge the possibility of having a vocabulary of *vague*
primitives, such as Anna Wierzbicka's or Longman's, which can be
adapted to give *vague* definitions along the lines of typical
dictionaries designed for human readers.

Objects, properties and realtions may do well as conceptual primitives. Events on the other hand arte not a good choice since they have vague boundaries subject to chunking.

Chunking of reality is an imporatnt issue as most of the differences in senses are explained by chunking.

Both objects and properties are easy to paraphrase from parts of speech. relations are not, because they are verbs (in my view, anyway) by "abstracting" a verb you turn it a vague category that does not make sense, hence no good to be included in the basic set of sematic primiotives. To make a verb complete you need to supply gramar person and time.

To make sense of time, you need to defgine space time which cannot be done without defining speed and motion and a reference (starting) point. Ín other words you have recursive definitions of semantic primiotives, which should be alright as the origin of thinking and languages supports this view.

But please note the following point by Peirce, which I often quote:

CSP> It is easy to speak with precision upon a general theme.  Only,
 > one must commonly surrender all ambition to be certain.  It is
 > equally easy to be certain.  One has only to be sufficiently vague.
 > It is not so difficult to be pretty precise and fairly certain at
 > once about a very narrow subject.  (CP 4.237, 1902)

In summary, you can use vague terms to cover a broad field -- as
Wierzbicka and Longman's did.  But if you want a formal ontology
that is sufficiently precise for computer interoperability, you
can only cover a "very narrow subject" or microtheory.  And for
each microtheory, the formal axioms that make those vague terms
sufficiently precise for one application will be different from
and *incompatible* with the definitions for other microtheories
that use the same terms.
I do not see why generic terms would be easy to speak about. What is easy though to change or shift focus and make the subject to be floating and undecided all the time. Most of the dialogueas are surfing on the surface and are nothing but an exchange of slams. This is why first need a method of synchronizing human thoughts through defintions of a fomrla kind, not identical with that of a dictionary. As far as concepts are concerned taking them as objects that are a unity of form and content can help, especially in you accept that they are at the same time quality and quantity. the usual breakdown into intension and extension is a breakdown of properties that can be made explicit, while the list of objects that feature those properties in your experience (this verified) may also be drawn. Both of those lists are open ended and extendable through dialogues. Moreover, you should also be able to see how to go one step further and se one particular property as an object and derive the properties of tha object by the next opeation called abstarction or isolation, depending how you loook at it.
A set of semanrtic primitives can be produced by using BNF as suggested by someelse here, but without including the operations (verbs) that classicifation will remain lopsided. I admit, that you do not badly need such a system as you can make a living from what you have already got. I also admit that it may look mind bugging to follow the steps of trabnsfroming objects into properties, then relations then objects again, but without showing that this is what is happening in a dialogue using natural languages you will never get to an agremeen founded on some correct logic.

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