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Re: [ontolog-forum] Dennett on the Darwinism of Memes

To: "doug@xxxxxxxxxx" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pavithra <pavithra_kenjige@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2013 15:04:14 -0700 (PDT)
Message-id: <1365631454.19059.YahooMailNeo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dr. Pat & Doug,

I remember these discussion and decisions about defining  "Words are things, just as numbers, patterns and other non-physical things are. Spoken or written word tokens are *physical* things ",  in these forums in the past.

But in general discussions in this forum or other contexts, it is not very intuitive.    I wish we used the term "word" itself rather then thing.  
Pavithra Kenjige

From: doug foxvog <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: Pavithra <pavithra_kenjige@xxxxxxxxx>; [ontolog-forum] <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 3:57 PM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Dennett on the Darwinism of Memes

On Wed, April 10, 2013 14:07, Pavithra wrote:
> Dr. Hayes

> Based on wikipedia definition of meme,

Wikipedia should never be considered as a reference.  Use the document
that is the source of whatever Wikipedia claims.  For definitions, go to a
good dictionary.

>  it can be modeled as a concept.   It is a social concept.

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

Wikipedia references the Meriam Webster Dictionary's definition,  "an idea,
behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."

Of course, the idea is far more than that.  Dawkins proposed a theory
of how they operate and others have modified and expanded the
theory (creating the field of memetics).  A cultural ontology could have
the basic concept at a broad level and have multiple theories of how
the property of memes in  theory knowledge bases (or ontologies).

> You can call all "words" as "things".

Needless to say, the word, "thing", has scores of definitions.  The
normal formal ontology use of the term is the one that informs the words
"anything", "something", "everything", and "nothing".  If one says that
"nothing" has a certain property P, but you define words as not being
"things", then a word having the property P would not falsify the claim
that nothing has property P.

In formal ontologies, the concept "thing" (e.g., Cyc's #$Thing) is the
universal set -- anything that the ontology can refer to (including #$Thing)
is an instance of it.

>  And all things as words at your discretion.

Not at all.  Flower petals, animal species, and thing itself are not words,
although they may have various words or strings of words to denote them.

> But defies the English language, & meaning of the
> word "thing" and how it is described in wikipedia.

Wikipedia's disambiguation page gives the first meaning of the word
"thing"  as "Object (philosophy)", which page states that "Charles S. Peirce
defines the broad notion of an object as anything that we can think or talk

We can think or talk about words, so they would be PhilosopicalObjects.
So would memes (or anything else you mention!).

> Wikipedia has documented meaning of the word "word" and
> "thing" as follows.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThingÂ

> Using definitions of those two words, I can not derive that all words are
> things in a logical manner.

?? Huh?  Are there words that one can not talk about?

>However I can say that nouns are things.

The referents of verbs, adverbs, and adjectives are also things, in that
they can be talked about.  One can also talk about prepositions, but
if they don't have referents, then their referents are not things.

> But am not the authority on wikepedia or English language.  So it is at
> your discretion, ( In other words, you are the adviser).

I advise that word is a type of thing, which means that any instance of
word is an instance of thing.  Wikipedia is also a thing.
> However,  In traditional modeling, for example relational and Object
> Oriented world such assumptions leads to many to many relationships and
> causes infinite loops in programming.

Programming languages allow for infinite loops.  Just because the concept
of thing is an instance of thing, your reasoning engine does not have to
follow the turtles all the way down.  One should program to avoid infinite

> Who is "us" ??  Us is Ontolog group and OWL, UML modelers..

Many in the Ontolog group find OWL very restrictive.

> About Darwinism, As you said, DNA and genetic engineering did not exist

I presume you mean human knowledge of DNA.

> at the time of definition.   Felidae
> & Canidae  or Cats and Dogs can not breed an offspring and it is
> fatal if they do so, since they belong to different species

I assume that the word "fatal" referred to being fatal to a continued
line of descent.  There are many cases in which animals of different
species of the same genus can breed to produce sterile offspring.

>  Who knows what happens in the future or happened millions of
> years ago. I speculate about such things.  I have no proof one way or
> the other at hand.

As species are diverging, members of different subspecies are less
likely to produce fertile (or any) offspring.  It is certainly possible
to have 3 subspecies (S1, S2, and S3) diverging from a parent species
S, such that a member of S1 may sometimes produce a fertile offspring
with a member of S2, and a member of S2 may sometimes produce a
fertile offspring with a member of S3, but no member of S1 may produce
a fertile offspring with a member of S3.

Sure, no one has proof.  But we have good scientific theories that we
can state and model.

>  (A Korsak looks like cross breed between a cat & a
>  dog, I may call it a cat ).

The English term is corsac fox (or corsac); its scientific name is
Vulpes corsac.  It is a kind of fox (Vulpes), which is a canine.  You
may call it what you want, but it is not a feline.

>  I will read or re-read the books that you suggested. 
> Pavithra

> ________________________________
>  From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
> To: Pavithra <pavithra_kenjige@xxxxxxxxx>
> Cc: [ontolog-forum] <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 11:35 AM
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Dennett on the Darwinism of Memes
> On Apr 10, 2013, at 8:15 AM, Pavithra wrote:
>> John Bottoms:
>> From a modeling perspective:
>> ·         Languages are first level abstraction of real world
>> ·         Languages are _expression_ of the world, allows us to
>> express and communicate past, present, future, real and imaginary,
>> proven and unproven aspects of the world.
> But they are also in the actual world, and can be studied empirically like
> any other phenomenon.
>> *   Words are parts of a language.
>> *   Nouns are used to express "things" in English

As are verbs and adjectives.

>> language.  Things - as in entities.   ( Not all words are things. For
>> example, verbs are words, but not things)

> All words are things. Not all words *describe* things, maybe.

OK.  Words such as prepositions don't describe things.

>> *   Nouns are a subset of words.
>> *   Memes are ideas / concepts, real or imaginary, proven or
>> unproven. 

>> Question is :  do  we need to model  meme??

> Who is "we" and what is being "modeled"?

>> My opinion : Concepts can be named with a name and modeled.

OWL users have taken the English word "concept" and made it a jargon
word.  I find such use confusing and suggest avoiding such computer
language-specific use when not referring to OWL.  The Compact Oxford
Dictionary's first definition of 'concept' is "an abstract idea" -- which
seems a good definition to me.  The word comes from Latin 'conceptum' --
"something conceived".

>>  At present we do not use the verbiage "meme" for it.  Probably we
>> can use the name meme in the future.

The word 'meme' is part of a theory that many do not accept.
There is no need to commit to that theory.  I suggest using the
word only when referring to the theory to which it is attached.

> My advice would be to only use the term if you have a pretty exact idea of
> what it is you are talking about, and document that understanding as
> carefully as you possibly can.

>> About Darwinism,  Americans use the word Darwinism from a scientific
>> evolution point of view vs theological, god made us, changed us (
>> mutation) etc.
> American scientists use the term the same way other scientists do.
>> Maxwell,  & Dr. Steven.
>> Thanks for summarizing my gibberish writing.   ( It was not scientific
>> feed back, it was more of a general discussion)
>> There is natural evolution due to mutation and then there is human
>> intervention for change.
> Until recently, the only intervention available was artificial
> *selection*, which follows the natural process but amplifies the effects.
>>  Grafting & genetic engineering are human intervention.  My point was
>> Darwinism did not include human intervention, or cross breeding among
>> subspecies. 
> Darwin certainly considered cross-breeding and also human intervention in
> breeding (eg of dogs and farm animals, which he studied at great length: I
> recommend reading his "Origin of Species", it is a very readable work.) He
> did not, of course, consider genetic engineering, as genetics had not even
> been formulated when he was writing. I suspect he would have been
> delighted and fascinated to have known about genetics and DNA, but he did
> not have this pleasure.
>> You mentioned that his theory includes cross breeding among
>> subspecies?? 
> If animals can breed and produce fertile offspring, they are (by
> definition) the same species.
>> However the following is not totally proven in all cases and is open for
>> speculation and there are ethical issues about genetic engineering. ( I
>> don;t want to go there)
>>     • crossing between different species is genetically fatal  ..
>> Thanks,
>> Pavithra
>> From: John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>> To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:20 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Dennett on the Darwinism of Memes
>> Pavithra,
>> I may not have remembered his wording correctly in the use of "word".
>> Also, it is a difficulty of linguistics that "thing" often gets used
>> when a better selection would be "entity". However, the audience
>> understood the intent of the question. Words come and go and likewise
>> memes come and go. They share some characteristics and there is a
>> shoot-from-the-hip impulse to put them in a lexicon or dictionary.
>> Another view might be that memes are types of propositions that need to
>> be evaluated. They could be classified into "indeterminate" until they
>> are evaluated. Dennett does recognize that memes are "good" or "bad",
>> and I suppose we should accept that they can be resurrected. One theory
>> I have is that the term "meme" applies to atomic entities that have
>> particular attributes or properties that  can be generalized or
>> rationalized. If that is true then we should be able to build
>> classifiers for memes. A question for exploration is whether that
>> property can be understood in a way that makes sense or is useful.
>> Your view of giraffe evolution is referred to as Lamarckian inheritance
>> and it survives today only as a weakened theory.
>> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism)
>> -John Bottoms
>>  Concord, MA USA
>> On 4/9/2013 8:39 PM, Pavithra wrote:
>>> Hello,
>>> Words are not things.  "Words" representation things if they are
>>> nouns.  memes are ideas that spreads from person to person??
>>> Darwinism and theory of evolution explains how living organisms evolve
>>> over  few generations according to the needs/usage etc. According to
>>> him Giraffe has long neck, because they keep stretching their neck to
>>> eat branches and eventually it caused a genetic mutation to  aid
>>> survival -- a process known as "natural selection." These beneficial
>>> mutations are passed on to the next generation.
>>>  Darwin does not take cross pollination ( for lack of better word) 
>>> of plants and animals and between different species that happens in one
>>> generation and produce offspring of  blended types  into
>>> consideration.   A Lion and Tiger may have a Liger for a child.   You
>>> can actually cut a branch of one fruit tree and put it  another fruit
>>> tree branch stub and tie it up and it may bear the fruit of the first
>>> tree kind..  There is all sorts of intervention that happens to change
>>> the way species of plants and animal world to evolve  into  something
>>> new and different not only by genetic mutation due to thousands of years
>>> of  usage or need for survival but due to cross pollination.   I know
>>> this is a thesis for genetic decoding not fiction. 
>>> I still have to read the book listed below..
>>> Pavithra   
>>> From: John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>>> To: [ontolog-forum] <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>>> Sent: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 5:28 PM
>>> Subject: [ontolog-forum] Dennett on the Darwinism of Memes
>>> Daniel Dennett's next book will be out in a few weeks and I had the
>>> opportunity to hear him talk about how memes obey the tenets of
>>> Darwinism.
>>> The title of his book is, "Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for
>>> Thinking".
>>> (not available yet,
>>> http://www.amazon.com/Intuition-Pumps-Other-Tools-Thinking/dp/0393082067)
>>> His argument starts by asking if words are things. Then he argues that
>>> if words are things then we should consider memes as things also. He
>>> goes on to illustrate that memes follow the basic three principles of
>>> Darwinism.
>>> His arguments are compelling and I wonder where they belong in the
>>> grand
>>> ontologies of entities. Are memes a new construct, or do memes simply
>>> replicate a known construct?
>>> -John Bottoms
>>>   FirstStar Systems
>>>   Concord, MA USA

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