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Re: [ontolog-forum] GOFO vs alarmism and defaitism (again)

To: doug@xxxxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pierre Grenon <pierregrenon@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 01:14:37 +0000
Message-id: <AANLkTimaoz+N-NNJouQdM9zpXRNiY2R_wo1y2BV4Ok-T@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 5:29 PM, doug  foxvog <doug@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On Mon, February 14, 2011 10:06, Pierre Grenon said:
>> Try as I may, I seem to fail to elicit the original point and its cogency.
>> On Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 2:15 PM, Krzysztof Janowicz <jano@xxxxxxx> wrote:
>>> On 02/14/2011 01:55 AM, John F. Sowa wrote:
>>>> But a top-down, monolithic, detailed, universal ontology of everything
>> by the time it has become detailed and, also, an ontology of
>> everything, does it still make sense to call it top-down? What exactly
>> is being referred to here?
> This appears to be a Cyc-like ontology without microtheories.  Everything
> is in one ontology without contextual considerations.    (01)

OK, let's go for this then. We do allow some kind of reasoning context
though, but it's under just one consistent theory for the ontology. No
alternate axiomatisation and such niceties; we split hairs
(categories), not wigs (microtheories), as much as needed.    (02)

So the claim is:    (03)

a single consistent, detailed ontological theory of everything is i)
not possible and ii) would be disastrous (in circumstances to be
explained).    (04)

>>>> is not only impossible to achieve,
>> The nature of the alleged impossibility is unclear and the various
>> characteristics do not seem particularly well on a par as prospective
>> causes.
>>>> it would be a disaster, if anybody
>>>> tried to enforce it on everything.
>> Why?
> The enforcement is the problem, since in specific contexts, the
> hierarchy would change.    (05)

I'm not sure I follow, wasn't the point that the ontology in question
would not have alternatives? So, hierarchies would not change in
contexts (whatever contexts are), if that's your way of understanding
the sort of ontology you describe. Perhaps you mean that in your view
the hierarchy should be able to change? But this is just rejecting the
assumption of a single consistent ontology. Furthermore, it is a
rejection on a superficial point, since there may be ways of dealing
with what contexts are trying to achieve even in a single consistent
ontology.    (06)

>> You will excuse the non-native speaker if my command of English is not
>> sufficient to see through the apparent paradox that something
>> allegedly impossible to achieve may also lead to disaster when acted
>> on.
> It is the enforcement that would lead to disaster, not the creation of
> an allegedly universal top-down ontology of everything.
>    (07)

Sorry, this beats me. How could you enforce the impossible? So I take
it it is trying to work under the assumption that a single consistent
ontology is desirable which would be disastrous. Unlike Sowa's on an
unrelated thread, I take it yours is not a political point.    (08)

>>> I could not agree more, this would be almost like a conceptualization
>>> oligarchy. The even more important point however is that it is
>>> impossible and we should stop doing it.
>> This is a very pessimistic view on progress, in science, and human
>> matters in general. Granting the impossibility of the task for the
>> sake of the argument (as noted above, I am not entirely sure of what
>> the task at hands is), great things can be achieved when trying the
>> impossible.
> Great things can be achieved in the construction of ontologies.  But
> the ignoring of contexts precludes, imho, other great things.    (09)

Well, leaving aside the ultimate nature of contexts, and assuming we
have more or less the same thing in mind, I'm not convinced that what
is intended to be captured with context can't be captured when using a
single consistent ontology. But the point here was not to brush off
possible difficulties, which I'm quite happy to grant even without
discussion of the specifics. The point was only that you may still
make progress while shooting for something that is hard to reach, if
not an unattainable goal.    (010)

>>> Information communities (and
>>> even individuals) have their local conceptualizations of the physical
>>> world
>> These are conceptualisations. It is a useful, if nothing else,
>> assumption that these conceptualisations are directed towards a common
>> reality.
> The various conceptualizations may be directed towards different
> contexts, and thus different realities.    (011)

I do not understand this claim.    (012)

>> There is a useful, if nothing else, sense of ontology whereby
>> ontology is not conceptual modelling. Moreover, so goes the
>> disposition, conceptual modelling can interestingly benefit from
>> ontology in its `absolute', truth-mongering thrust. After all, these
>> conceptualisations exist, and Good Old Fashion Ontology has room for
>> them as well, absolutely...
> Sure.  But it need not bring them into the same context.    (013)

I don't follow.    (014)

>>> and they have them for good reasons.
>> I find this claim interesting. It is perhaps credible with some
>> qualifications, but it is unclear what these may be.
> An atom may usefully be considered indivisible in one context, but not
> another.  Same with a neutron.  A person might be a 4D entity in one
> context, but in another context is a 3D+1 entity.   Etc.    (015)

So you read "[Information communities (and even individuals)] have
[their local conceptualizations of the physical world] for good
reasons" as meaning that there are different conceptualisations
because some are more useful than others? That's in fact much kinder
than my original parse, as I guessed it was referring to a more
disturbing sociological reality. In the context of the original claim,
however, these examples do not challenge the cogency of looking for a
single consistent ontology of everything. This is because in this
context, they would reflect conceptualisations, which, aside from
being useful to somebody, may be wrong or simplistic. Of course,
ontologies could be wrong as well but that is another problem.    (016)

p    (017)

> -- doug foxvog
>    (018)

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