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
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
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 AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
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[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of William Frank
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 2:04
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Proof that we construct language
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
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
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
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
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.
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 AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
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