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Re: [ontolog-forum] Polysemy and Subjectivity in Ontolgies - the HDBIexa

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 06 Nov 2010 20:17:39 -0500
Message-id: <4CD5FE33.80008@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 11/6/2010 12:55 PM, Rich Cooper wrote:
> Then perhaps I don't understand the reasons why you define an ontology as
> monosemous.  Why don't you think a practical ontology MUST be polysemous if
> you agree with the conclusion I reached?    (01)

For many years, I have been saying that there is no such thing as one
ideal ontology of everything.  In my 1984 book, the last chapter had
the title "Limits of Conceptualization," in which I outlined the many
problems with assuming one ideal ontology.    (02)

In my 2000 book, I covered similar material in more detail in Ch 6,
which had the title "Knowledge Soup."  That was also the title of
a talk I gave in 1987, and a paper I published in 1991.  In 2004,
I wrote a longer version, "The Challenge of Knowledge Soup":    (03)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/challenge    (04)

There are several points, which I have emphasized over and over
and over again in those publications and many email notes:    (05)

  1. There is no such thing as an ideal ontology with one unique
     meaning for every term.    (06)

  2. But for any system of formal reasoning, we must have one
     meaning for each term in order to avoid contradictions.    (07)

  3. Therefore, we can handle requirements #1 and #2 by providing
     an open-ended number of theories (or microtheories, as Cyc
     calls them), each of which has one meaning per term.    (08)

  4. But we can have terms with same spelling, but different
     definitions (or axiomatizations) in different theories.    (09)

  5. In order to manage all that multiplicity of theories and to
     organize them in a way that enables us to find the one we need
     for any particular problem, we can arrange them in a generalization
     hierarchy.    (010)

  6. The complete hierarchy of all those theories would be an infinite
     lattice, and we can't implement all of them.  But any one(s) we need
     can be created by combinations and modifications of ones we have.    (011)

  7. When we're not sure which of the many theories with a particular
     term, say the predicate dog(x), we can select an underspecified
     theory near the top.  As we get more info, we can move to (or
     create) a more specialized theory that adds any detail we need.    (012)

I'm sure that I repeated this in about 2,376 different notes over
the past ten years.  For the record, following is the most recent
talk in which I discussed it:    (013)

    Integrating Semantic Systems    (014)

Please read slides 61 to 81.  Then bookmark it and reread it
whenever you have a question like the one above.    (015)

John    (016)

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