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Re: [ontolog-forum] Proof that we construct language from ourperceptions

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2012 18:49:52 -0800
Message-id: <4E1F92B5247D4555AC03C124F5A6C618@Gateway>

Dear Leo, William and John,


Since you all answered with the same concept in mind, I will reply to all three together. 


Since we all seem to agree that our individual perceptions provide the basic experience needed for each of us form concepts, the only way we could share the precise definition of any concept is through all of us having shared the same experiences which relate to that concept. 


But we know from many examples that we all assess our situations differently:


Remember the ring of repeated messages?  By the time the message is passed from person to person until it reaches the originator, the message has been changed beyond recognition. 


Remember the story of the elephant “seen” by a group of blind men?  Each one comes away with a different description; one sees the trunk, one the leg, one the tail, one the body, one the tusks. 


But for me, the clearest proof that we do NOT share the same concepts is that we have yet to find a truly successful large scale ontology that actually works.  Only small, deeply restricted topics such as Dublin Core have been widely accepted.  The same thing was true in the OOD community; only small components such as those on the Delphi component palette achieved significant reuse.  Large scale reuse has only been successful in toto.  Operating systems (think Windows, Unix, Linux, …) have been huge and because of their integrated set of interacting capabilities; their success has not been through conceptual libraries. 


So I find the effort to shift causal bases from concepts to perception to be unconvincing. 


Why hasn’t ontology worked if you truly believe that we share 95% of our concepts?  There has to be an explanation, but I haven’t seen one yet that is convincing other than the fact that we all construct our unique library of concepts through our own experiences, which includes perception, but also includes communications through language, visual images, signs, and other means. 


So the open question is still this one: Why hasn’t ontology worked if you truly believe that we share 95% of our concepts? 






Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

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From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of William Frank
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 2:04 PM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Proof that we construct language from ourperceptions


I am very glad that someone else said this, but I would go further and say that this is not just Leo's *personal* opinion, but the result of more than a century of work in linguistics, psychology, logic, and the philosophy of language, and even (Kantian) ontology.

As Leo says, if we created our own "languages" from perception, we would all have private languages, and would be unable to discuss together, for instance, whether we were posting things we shouldn't. Maybe, "don't post" means "shout".

Ever since Bill Clinton said "that depends on what the meaning of "is" is," and every since I saw a big system that could not be retired get retired to huge rewards simply by changing its name in all the documentation, I have thought our new century was in trouble, and so I am always hypersensitive to things that sound as if science is on the way out.

But of course, the content of a communication is not in the physics of the external event; it must be intermediated by our minds, which must use ***shared** understandings of contexts, experiences, etc., to "create" the knowledge that you said 'way' and not 'wait', when I thought I heard "wait to go!"

That is to say, there *is* no "what we actually see" versus what we expect. There is only the pure meaningless phenomina we experience, interpreted by what we believe about the world. Babies can't see not because they can't experience visual stimuli, but because they can't *interpret* them. There is only the shared ways in which sane people more or less map their experiences to the same mental constructs. In fact, the examples Rich sends are well known, and many date back to the 1930s.

The examples of the "languages" with "noise": did surprise me, in that there was no noise. A very very simple repeated code in which, for example, "3" meant "E". and "7" meant "T"

So, this is what I thought Rich was perhaps referring to, not the fallacy that we all have private languages.


On Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 4:29 PM, Obrst, Leo J. <lobrst@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Rich, you are confusing perception with conception, and thereby generating a misconception. One may initially not be able to perceive something which is actually physically there for a variety of reasons. Blindness, e.g. Optical illusion, as the examples in your presentation illustrate. Mis-perception: I didn’t hear what you said. Or post-perception, mis-interpretation: I thought you meant the other kind of “bank”. However, perception grounds out in conception, which is typically based on shared reality, i.e., ontology.

Deception is based on using/misusing perception and lying (i.e., an ability that depends on some kind of truth value). How can you lie if you don’t know what the truth is? Our “truth” (truth-functional, truth-conditional) is largely based on ontology, i.e., the common real (or offsets of the real, e.g., fictional, mythical, impossible, etc.) things of the world.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), you share 95% of your ontology with us here in the Ontolog Forum: it’s a common, shared ontology. That’s why we can approximately understand you.



From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Rich Cooper
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 12:17 PM
To: '[ontolog-forum] '
Subject: [ontolog-forum] Proof that we construct language from our perceptions

Dear Ontologists,

The attached PowerPoint presentation shows how we can construct language, and other facilities, through what we expect to see instead of what we actually see.

I found it on another list, but I want to share it with those who still think we have a common set of concepts. Note especially the slide with words wildly misspelled, note also the slide that can only be seen by adults, and the one where only children can see the dolphins.




Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

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