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Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantics of Natural Languages

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2011 14:45:12 -0400
Message-id: <4E5D2FB8.2050909@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azamat and Rich,    (01)

Theory and practice are both important.  I don't want to minimize
the value of a good theory, but I also want to emphasize that people
survived for thousands of years without the guidance of formal theories
of self interest.    (02)

> I'd say a bit more: no top ontology, no fundamental solution for a problem.    (03)

> We need a simpler, more fundamental way to model interest than
> has so far been discussed - a kind of Newton's laws for motivation.    (04)

I am very suspicious of that word 'fundamental'.  My uncle Al never
studied Maxwell's equations, but he had a good business in repairing
TVs.  If I had a problem with the TV, I'd call uncle Al rather than
a theoretical physicist.    (05)

What is better?  A successful repair by Al?  Or a "fundamental" attempt
by a physicist who never saw the insides of a TV set?    (06)

As examples of language use, I often cite the following sentences
by a child named Laura shortly before her third birthday:    (07)

    Here’s a seat. It must be mine if it’s a little one.
    I want this doll because she’s big.
    When I was a little girl I could go "geek-geek" like that.
    But now I can go "this is a chair."    (08)

See http://webster.unh.edu/~jel/JLimber/Genesis_complex_sentences.pdf    (09)

Laura correctly used a wider range of modal language than Montague had
formalized, and I doubt that Montague grammar would help her in any way.    (010)

> We need a simpler, more fundamental way to model interest than
> has so far been discussed...
> Perhaps we should consider Pavlov's ways of simplifying the situation...    (011)

There's been over a century of research since Pavlov's dogs, and even
dog's are vastly more complex than stimulus-response models can explain.
For a summary of cognitive models with references to other work, see    (012)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/ca4cs.pdf    (013)

As I keep saying, starting with a simplified theory is guaranteed
to produce toy solutions to toy problems.  Montague grammar is an
example of a brilliant, but useless toy.  It is *not* fundamental.    (014)

If you start with a big problem, you might need to simplify it,
but it's impossible know in advance what aspects to discard,
simplify, or generalize.    (015)

John    (016)

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