We are largely in accord.
I still believe in possibility of formulating some combination from:
"An ontology is a theory about what exists in some domain."
"Ontology is a description of the world. A formal ontology is a formal
theory/account/model/specification of the world."
Something like: "Ontology is a general theory about the world, its domains,
entities and relationships." "A formal ontology is a formal theory of the
world, its domains, entities and relationships."
Some comments below.
----- Original Message -----
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2011 12:39 AM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Terminologies and Ontologies (01)
> The first point I want to emphasize is that the distinction between
> formal vs. informal is not a value judgment. There is no suggestion
> that an ontology expressed in logic is better than one expressed
> in ordinary language.
Agree. Each good science is seeking two types of analysis:
Qualitative/Descriptive and Quantitative/Formal
> On the contrary, there are very many formal ontologies that are
> significantly *worse* than informal ones.
Please note the poem
> by Henry Kautz (copy below) which have quoted on many occasions.
> In particular, note the following sentence:
> "With sufficient formality, the sheerest banality
> will be hailed by all as miraculous."
> I also like to quote a statement attributed to Lord Kelvin:
> "Better a rough answer to the right question
> than an exact answer to the wrong question." (02)
Again, can't disagree. Most of them leaving aside the content/substance,
hunting the empty form only. (03)
>> In fact, Ontology is a description of the world. A formal ontology
>> is a formal theory/account/model/specification of the world.
> It would be very nice to have a formal ontology of everything,
> but a prerequisite would be a finished, completely specified
> theory that answered every open research question in science,
> engineering, philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc.
> That won't happen for a long, long time, if ever. But there are
> many useful informal theories that are sufficient to cover most
> of our requirements for our daily lives. (04)
AA: A "formal ontology of everything", FOE, is an ideal/approximation, but a
hardly utopia for theoretical physicists looking for TOE, which could be the
Models of FOE. (05)
>> As all sciences, one can divide ontology into three broad categories:
>> descriptive, normative and exact (as in the ontology lattice diagram).
> I had some serious concerns about that division.
It has its weaknesses, but for a long time has been silently accepted by
> First of all, nothing in science is normative. The only normative
> fields are aesthetics, ethics, and the law -- and for law, you
> always have to ask about the authority of the lawgiver and the
> extent of the jurisdiction.
> Second, there is no such thing as absolute exactness in science. (06)
Undeniable. We are able only to approximately model, imposing all sorts of
temporal and spatial conditions, restrictions, and constraints. (07)
> A statement of a theory in mathematics can be exact. But there
> is no guarantee that the theory is true beyond those conditions
> for which it was tested and the level of precision of the measuring
Too ofhen, they are far away from the real world complexities.
> Third, the most important criterion for any scientific theory
> to be more than a summary of data is that it has predictive
> power: it can make predictions about what will happen in the
> future, given certain observations in the past.
> Since ontology is closer to science than it is to aesthetics,
> ethics, or the law, the normative issue is not applicable.
> Exactness is possible (i.e., an ontology can be formal), but
> formality is no guarantee of truth or relevance.
AA: Reasoning in the same way, i credited to Federated/Integrated Ontology
all three attributes: Exactness/Fomality, Descriptiveness and
Normativeness/Prescriptiveness (giving fundamental rules and strategic
> If your thesis is utterly vacuous,
> Use first-order predicate calculus,
> With sufficient formality,
> The sheerest banality
> Will be hailed by all as miraculous.
> But for theses you fear indefensible,
> Reach for semantics intensional.
> Over Montague grammar
> Your committee will stammer,
> Not admitting it's incomprehensible.
> --Henry Kautz
> 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
Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/
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 (09)