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[ontolog-forum] definition

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: FERENC KOVACS <f.kovacs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 2010 18:11:58 +0000 (GMT)
Message-id: <465710.47908.qm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Doug, Rich


Like if a semantic analysis is based on semantic primitives, then this should be universally applied (in fact, I did semantically analyze a photo that John Bottoms asked me to the other day to his satisfaction.) The method should apply to the definition of definition too.

When a definition (object) is to be defined (verb, hence a relation) to arrive at a definition (the result of the operation, a property of the object) all you do is to say this:

Facet 1 – sense 1, word class: verb, mental operation

Definition is a verb (to define, a relation), (usually) a concept (object)  tagged by a word (“definition”, object) serving as a shorthand and looking as a noun.

Facet 2 – sense 2, word class: noun (phrase), operand

The operation “to define or defining” in a definition form results in another object, a cluster of words called a definition (another object, the words with which you define).

Facet 3 – sense 3 word class noun, property

The verbal form considered to be a definition (object)

An attempt to “formalize” what is happening

A to be defined:

a=bcd where a is defined by using the define operation (symbol =) and the string bcd with what we define a, which is called the definition (quality or property) of a (as per Facet 3). And (a=bcd) is a definition (object) (as per Facet 2) and the operation (as per Facet 1)


What (object called subject that may not be made explicit) you define by using a definition (operation) is another object either existing or not. Such an existence may mean that the object is already tagged (has a name), or it is not, and it is an object that is at least visually observable or somewhat tangible to your senses or to be identified for your own mind. Therefore definition may be an operation not to define objects verbally, but using other visual objects, and/or other sensory clues. Such an operation may be different from giving a verbal definition, nevertheless as the same brains with the same operating capacities are used, the algorithm (mental operations) must have some common elements in them.


Now it is a common mistake to forget about our change of view (rotation) in our mind as a result of which we see either form or content, and instead, we misrelate them. In a lengthy exercise on definition by Prof Swartz, I quoted earleier the author says “For example, the term, "pain", is defined, but pain itself is not defined. We define only terms, never their referents.” Later he says: Any teaching that a certain word is the name for a certain thing should be called "definition". ([18], pp. 48-49)

My comments: a word IS a name itself and the definition of that word is both about the object and its name. It depends on what sort of word it is, like is it a noun, a verb or an adjective each calling for a different definition, subject to whether the thing is real (existing) or not. Would it not be for a single word, then the boundary between a dictionary and a lexicon would be removed.


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