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Re: [ontolog-forum] Terminologies and Ontologies

To: AzamatAbdoullaev <abdoul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 03 May 2011 09:16:34 -0400
Message-id: <4DC00032.6070707@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 5/3/2011 5:58 AM, AzamatAbdoullaev wrote:
> I. "Ontology is a general theory about the world, its domain, entities
> and relationships."    (01)

> II. "An ontology is a general theory about some aspect of the world, its
> subdomains, entities and relationships."    (02)

> III. "A formal ontology is a formal theory of some aspect of world, its
> subdomains, entities and relationships."    (03)

My recommendation for anyone who is trying to define anything is
to check a good dictionary for an independent opinion.    (04)

Following is the definition from the closest dictionary at hand,
_Merriam-Webster Ninth Collegiate_:    (05)

  1. a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations
     of being.    (06)

  2. a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds
     of existents.    (07)

I don't know who wrote those two definitions, but they're as good as
any and much better than most.  The editors of the best dictionaries 
usually have associate editors for various fields.  The person who
wrote (or reviewed rand revised) that definition was probably a
philosopher who was knowledgeable about the field.    (08)

In English, the word 'ontology' without a preceding article refers
to the branch of philosophy.  With an article or other determiner,
such as "an ontology", "Aristotle's ontology", or "Kant's ontology",
it refers to a specific theory.    (09)

My suggestion is to adopt the distinction from M-W.  In the discussions
in this forum, we're usually talking about specific theories.  That
means all of them are variations of M-W definition #2.    (010)

I also recommend an adjective, such as 'general' if it has a broad
scope.  If it has a more narrow scope, I would add a qualifier,
such as 'medical', or a name, such as 'XYZ Corporation'.    (011)

Another adjective would be 'formal' if the definitions are stated
in some version of logic or mathematics.  By combining the adjectives,
you could talk about a formal general ontology or an informal medical
ontology.    (012)

If you leave out the adjective 'formal' or 'informal', it avoids
making a commitment about whether the terms are stated in some
version of logic.  The default assumption is that they're not,
but it leaves open the option of a future revision and extension
that defines some or all of the terms in some version of logic.    (013)

John    (014)

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