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Re: [ontolog-forum] Sharing and Integrating Ontologies

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2010 08:38:25 -0400
Message-id: <4C9F3EC1.5010805@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 9/25/2010 9:42 PM, Rick Murphy wrote:
> Am I correct to assume that intentionality is the logos that is not
> depicted in Brentano's tree of Aristotle's categories?    (01)

The Latin word 'intentio' was used by the medieval Scholastics to
distinguish _first intentions_, which are language about things
outside language, from _second intentions_, which are language
about language.    (02)

Both Peirce and Brentano had studied Aristotle and the Scholastics
in great detail.  They independently adopted the word 'intention'
for related, but slightly different notions.    (03)

Both Peirce and Brentano were strongly influenced by Aristotle's
notion of 'telos' (end or purpose) which was a major issue.
Telos isn't one of the categories, but it's one of Aristotle's
four aitia (translated 'causes', but with misleading connotations,
since the modern English 'cause' has shifted in meaning since
the Greek 'aition' or its Latin translation as 'causa').    (04)

See the quotation below by Brentano.  For Peirce, the category
of Thirdness includes intentionality as a special case, since
CSP would consider the laws of physics to involve Thirdness,
but the word 'intention' would be misleading.  I go into more
detail about related issues in the following article:    (05)

    The Role of Logic and Ontology in Language    (06)

> I'm working hard to overcome my preconception that Entity is not only
> Thing(s), but I'd like a better visual cue, like Being. Have any
> projects favored the term Being?    (07)

The English word 'being' can be used as a participle meaning 'ens'
or as a gerund that means 'entitas', as in the term 'human being'.
Aristotle used the term 'to on' -- which could be translated to
Latin as 'the ens', if Latin had a definite article.    (08)

Heidegger used phrases like "das Sein des Seiendes" -- translated
as "the Being of beings".  But to avoid sounding Heideggerian,
I would prefer not to use the word 'Being'.    (09)

As I have said many times, it's irrelevant what you call the top node
of an ontology because its intension (with an 's') is empty:  it says
absolutely nothing, and it is therefore true of everything.  I would
prefer a symbol that is as totally devoid of content as possible.    (010)

But it's convenient to have a pronounceable word.  Therefore, an
technical term, such as 'entity', would have fewer distractions than
a more common word like 'being'.  Having a "visual cue" would be a
distraction, since it might suggest something that could be seen
That content is false for many kinds of "entities".    (011)

> BTW - I tried this experiment tonight as did my daughter. With your eyes
> closed, try to see the number 1. Can you actually see it, or can you
> only imagine it ?    (012)

The normal uses of the words 'see' and 'imagine' don't really apply
to such questions in any clear way.  But the recent work on brain
scans provides some interesting data:    (013)

  1. The same areas of the brain that are used to perceive an object
     (by vision or hearing) are also used when a person is thinking
     about the image of sound.  (These points have been suspected
     for years, but brain scans have provided much more data.)    (014)

  2. But in direct sensory perception, the initiating stimulus
     comes from the senses.  A conscious effort to "imagine"
     something seems to be initiated by the frontal lobes.    (015)

  3. When somebody thinks about an image or a melody, brain scans
     show that the same sensory areas light up that were stimulated
     by the senses.  However, the frontal lobes, which tend to be
     quiescent in perception, tend to light up during attempts to
     imagine the sensation.    (016)

I don't know whether anybody has done brain scans of people thinking
about numbers, but I doubt that they would suggest a better term
for the top node of an ontology.    (017)

_____________________________________________________________________    (018)

Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the 
Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object, 
and what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a 
content, direction towards an object (which is not to be understood here 
as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity.  Every mental phenomenon 
includes something as object within itself, although they do not all do 
so in the same way.  In presentation something is presented, in judgment 
something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire 
desired and so on.  This intentional in-existence is characteristic 
exclusively of mental phenomena.  No physical phenomenon exhibits 
anything like it.  We could, therefore, define mental phenomena by 
saying that they are those phenomena which contain an object 
intentionally within themselves.    (019)

Franz Brentano, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, edited by Linda 
L. McAlister (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 88-89.    (020)

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