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Re: [ontolog-forum] The class of the planet Venus

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2012 14:42:39 -0400
Message-id: <50006C1F.3050303@xxxxxxxx>

Kingsley Idehen wrote:
On 7/12/12 10:19 AM, John F Sowa wrote:
The terms Sinn and Bedeutung name two points on the meaning triangle.
In German, they are Zeichen, Sinn, Bedeutung -- usually translated
as sign, sense, and reference.

So for the Web medium one could map sign, sense, and reference as follows:

Sign -- URI based denotation
Sense -- Web Document that describes URI referent
Reference -- Description Subject .

I am very uncomfortable with this, but only in one way.  The problem is that the Web document is not the Sense; it is just another Sign.  The Sense is the meaning of the text in the document -- the intended conceptualization in the human intellect.  The Document is just another representation of that conceptualization. 

This is a very important distinction, because for many persons, the intellectual conceptualization can be triggered by nothing more than a term, like "Murphy's Law".  And "talking past one another" is a direct outgrowth of using only the term to evoke a conceptualization, when a definitional _expression_ of the intended concept might have evoked the intended conceptualization.  For Frege, the Sense (Sinn) is something that occurs only in the human mind, and language is the primary means by which we evoke very similar Sinn things in different minds, what the SBVR lot call the "shared body of meaning".  But terms and documentary descriptions are just different language constructs, different Signs.

And that is even more true of software implementations.  Some will use the URI only to evoke a specific internally encoded Sense, i.e. as an identifier; others may use the URI as a locator, to visit the site and process the Web document to create an internally encoded Sense.  (I am here relying on the idea that "internally encoded Sense" is the artifice that begets the term "artificial intelligence".)

Based on the above, a URI that denotes a subject could then use 
indirection (explicitly or implicitly) to resolve to an actual Web 
document (resource) that bears description (characterization) of its 
referent. Basically, the Sign resolves to the Sense of its Referent.

Y..yes.  I am trying to sort out two ideas here:
(a) the URI as Sign resolving to the Sense, and
(b) the URI as Sign resolving to the Referent.

The Sign resolves to the Sense either directly (by being recognized as being associated with that Sense) or indirectly (by causing the user to obtain that Sense from the Resource).  When the Sense has a unique Referent, then the Sign "implicitly" resolves to that Referent.  But:
 - When the Sense is a more general concept, it may denote zero or more Referents.
 - It is not clear that it is necessary for a Sense to be involved in relating a Sign to a specific Referent.  The Sign might "explicitly" denote that Referent.

Frege is clear on this last point.  That is why there is a triangle, not just an angle bracket.  This is Lewis Carroll's distinction between the 'name of the song' and 'what the song is called'.  The same Referent 'song' can be reached by a number of Senses ('what the song is called') that connote properties that ultimately characterize only the Referent song, but the 'name of the song' denotes the Referent song without connoting any particular properties.  (And that leads to the discussion of identity 'what the song is', but I leave that to others.)


'The name of the song is called "Haddocks' Eyes."'
'Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel 
'No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. 
'That's what the name is called. The name really is "The Aged Aged Man."'
'Then I ought to have said "That's what the song is called"?' Alice 
corrected herself.
'No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The song is called "Ways 
and Means": but that's only what it's called, you know!'
'Well, what is the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time 
completely bewildered.
'I was coming to that,' the Knight said. 'The song really is "A-sitting 
On A Gate": and the tune's my own invention.' 
  -- Lewis Carroll (C.L. Dodgson), "Through the Looking Glass"

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                Cel: +1 240-672-5800

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."

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