[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] (renamed) Terms with fixed/multiple meanings

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2010 14:29:42 -0400
Message-id: <4C8A7916.8000406@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rich,    (01)

This isn't a matter of debate.  It's a matter of how people have
used the phrase 'formal logic' for over a century.  If you choose
to use words in different ways, you are just creating confusion.    (02)

> It is true, as John Sowa and Doug Foxvog among others state, that
> WordNet was not called an ontology by its creators, and it certainly
> misses the inference wagon, but toma'to, tom_a_to, IMHO, I don’t see
> much progress in other more “official” designated ontologies.  So the
> practical test of whether some cluster of knowledge is called an
> ontology is just an exercise in English definitions, IMHO.    (03)

Absolutely not!  Blurring the distinction between formal logics and
natural languages is an open invitation to total confusion.  Miller
and Fellbaum are very well aware of the work on formal ontologies,
and they deliberately (and correctly) chose *not* to lump WN in
the ontology pot.    (04)

It is true that philosophers have been talking about ontology using
NLs for centuries.  But from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to the
present, they made the point that one of the worst kinds of confusions
caused in reasoning, both formal and informal, has been a confusion
of what Aristotle called 'homonyms':  terms that sound the same,
but have different meanings.    (05)

In every version of logic, one and only one meaning is assumed within
a given train of reasoning.   If you want to use the same string of
letters, such as 'horse', then you must add some qualifier, such
as 'horse1', 'horse2', horse3', etc.    (06)

> Here is Google's best response to the "define:ontology" request I gave it:
>    •In computer science and information science, an ontology is
>    a formal representation of the knowledge by a set of concepts
>    within a domain and the relationships between those concepts.
 >    It is used to reason about the properties of that domain,
>    and may be used to describe the domain.
>    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology_(information_science)    (07)

Note the word 'formal' in line 2 of the Google definition.    (08)

> Nothing in that definition, or in any other that was returned,
 > required a singular meaning...    (09)

The word 'formal' implies some version of logic, which implies
that you must distinguish terms that have different definitions
by some qualifier like 'horse1', 'horse2', ...    (010)

This convention does not say anything about how NLs work.
It merely provides a useful ground rule for avoiding confusion
when you're discussing NLs (or any other system of signs).    (011)

John    (012)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (013)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>