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

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2013 00:40:33 -0700
Message-id: <580B02EC-6666-4C4D-A7F0-257DFC5F39A8@xxxxxxx>

On Apr 12, 2013, at 12:20 PM, John Bottoms wrote:    (01)

> PatH,
> (see comments below)
> On 4/12/2013 4:54 AM, Pat Hayes wrote:
>> Pavithra, greetings.
>> On reading through these emails again, I think I may understand what is 
>bothering you.
>> I think you have a picture of the semantic/ontology game which divides the 
>world into layers. The base layer is the actual external world, the world of 
>objects. Houses, for example, are in this basic layer. Then language comprises 
>the next layer, which describes the first layer, and words live in this 
>second, language, layer. And perhaps meta-linguistic knowledge, such as 
>disussions of grammatical relationships between words, lives in a third layer 
>lying even higher. But in any case, the layering is strict, and is necessary 
>to avoid paradoxes and perhaps infinite loops in programming, so you object to 
>ideas which seem to violate this clean layered division, by for example using 
>categories (like Doug's and my "thing") which bridge across two or more layers.
>> If I have this is more or less right, then I would suggest that you might 
>want to consider abandoning this layering idea. It does not really correspond 
>with anything real, and it is not necessary. It reflects a very early approach 
>to avoiding the semantic paradoxes, but this approach was abandoned by 
>mathematicians nearly a century ago in favor of more modern approaches to set 
>theory (which are now considered standard, most notably Zermelo-Fraenkel set 
>theory, dating from 1922) which do not force this rigid hierarchy of levels 
>upon the universe. (Indeed, more recent work has shown that it is quite 
>possible to have set theories which violate the 'layers' idea even more 
>sharply, for example by requiring that all sets have infinitely descending 
>chains of subsets, so there is no "bottom" to the universe. I mention this not 
>to recommend such odd theories, but only to illustrate that the idea that a 
>strict hierachy of levels is somehow necessary, or required in order to keep 
>things consistent, is quite wrong.) The IKL logic developed by myself and 
>others a few years ago is strictly first-order, but it contains its own 
>meta-language: it is able to describe its own propositions and reason about 
>them, and even quantify over them, with complete syntactic freedom, without 
>needing any kind of 'layering' discipline to maintain internal consistency. 
>The propositions are fully-fledged genuine elements of the semantic universe, 
>just like everythng else the logic is describing. (See 
>http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes/ikl/guide/guide.html ) The RDF semantics uses 
>a simpler version of the same basic device to ensure consistency while 
>allowing such things as classes that contain themselves (rdfs:Class is an 
>element of itself, for example.)
> JB: The layering approach traces back to a paper by Edsger W. Dijkstra 
> entitled "THE Machine" which suggests that operating systems should be 
> constructed in layers:
> http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~zaher/classes/CS656/p341-dijkstra.pdf    (02)

I wasnt talking about operating systems or even programs of any kind, but about 
the world/language/metalanguage contrasts and the (mistaken) idea that a strict 
separation of these is needed to avoid the semantic paradoxes. I don't think 
that we are talking about the same topic here. AFAIKS, semantics has virtually 
nothing to do with operating systems nor vice versa.    (03)

Pat    (04)

> Further, Dijkstra points out that in a well-behaved system a layer 
> passes data to an adjacent layer but does not dip into another's layer's 
> data. Today, this approach is modified a bit, again for operating 
> systems. Hierarchical structure is still used, but forward and reverse 
> tunnels are established to steal data away from a layer using a higher 
> (temporal) priority.
> One can argue that semantic and linguistic processing are types of 
> operating systems, but I think of them more as applications running 
> under an operating system. Still, a system that uses an ontology may use 
> a number of different architectural approaches, and layering might be 
> useful for some. I don't think we should ban them altogether. I imagine 
> a sophisticated system would use a combination of layering, data passing 
> and link types to allow a wide variety of data access.
> -John Bottoms
>> So, layering is not in fact necessary. I would argue that it is also not 
>desirable. The world is *not* layered in this way, in fact. Language is as 
>much part of the real world as architecture is, and words are just as real as 
>houses. (Contrary to your assertion, below: words *are* objects.) Language is 
>itself described in language just like anything else is: the word "word" 
>describes words just as the word "house" describes houses. And we do in fact 
>violate any kind of layering discipline whenever we talk about reference, 
>because to even describe the idea of reference, we have to say what the 
>referring word is, and what that word refers to, and so mention both 'layers' 
>in one sentence. And when we talk about the business of defining reference 
>itself, as I have just been doing in the previous sentence, we are actually 
>using at least three layers, because this discourse itself is about the 
>*relationship* between language and the world that it describes, which would 
>be located in a higher "level". If you try to keep this kind of discussion 
>separated into rigorously distinct layers of objects, descriptions and 
>meta-descriptions, you will inevitably fail, or become hopelessly confused. 
>Not because the ideas are hard to grasp, but because the layer metaphor is 
>simply inadequate to the task of handling this kind of discussion.
>> So, to sum up: strictly separated layers of description and meta-description 
>are not in fact required, are artificial, and do not correspond to reality. 
>This layering idea is neither correct nor useful. Abandoning it does not lead 
>to paradoxes or to infinite loops: it just requires us to be a little careful 
>when we make definitions, to check they are internally consistent. But this is 
>a good idea, in any case.
>> Hope this helps.
>> Best wishes
>> Pat
>> On Apr 11, 2013, at 3:02 PM, Pavithra wrote:
>>> Doug,
>>> I understand that "Thing" is used in an universal type and everything is a 
>thing, until further defined.
>>> The word "house" is an English word that represent an object house,    The 
>word itself is not an object, it is a 5 character string ( which you call a 
>thing) , that represents a building with rooms and doors and roof etc ( which 
>is actually the thing.)
>>> Every word represents something in real world,  based on the language.   
>But it is  part of a language.   Just like number 2 represent 2 things ( we 
>don't know what those two things are, unless specifically mentioned), it is 
>quantitative and part of mathematics.
>>> There are actual things, or acts or events and there are language specific 
>words that represents them.  I understand that it  is a matter of  semantics, 
>and  it has been defined and formalized that way.  If we have to change it, we 
>have to define a new class -  language, and subclass - word , types as - noun, 
>verb etc.  But all the double usage ( as in string vs string ) of the same 
>words with multiple context usage etc cause semantic problems.   So I 
>understand that we can not  jump the guns make changes unless  such issues 
>have resolutions.
>>> Pavithra
>>> From: doug foxvog <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>
>>> To: Pavithra <pavithra_kenjige@xxxxxxxxx>
>>> Cc: "doug@xxxxxxxxxx" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>; [ontolog-forum] 
><ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>; Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
>>> Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 4:38 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Dennett on the Darwinism of Memes
>>> On Wed, April 10, 2013 18:04, Pavithra wrote:
>>>> 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.
>>> As a native English speaker, i found it intuitive.  But for the purposes of
>>> this forum, you can consider "thing" to be jargon with the defined meaning
>>> of the class of whatever can be referred to.
>>>>  I wish we used the term "word" itself rather then thing.
>>> Most things are not words.  Was your writing of the email i am responding
>>> to a word?  Was each bite you took in your last meal a word?  Is your
>>> house a word?
>>> -- doug
>>>> Thanks,
>>>> 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."
>>>> http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meme
>>>> 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
>>>> about.
>>>> 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
>>>>>   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word
>>>>> 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
>>>> loops.
>>>>> 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:
>>>>>> Â
>>>>>> ·         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.Â
>>>>> 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??Â
>>>>> 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
>>>>>> Â  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.
>>>>>>> Â  Darwin does not take cross pollination ( for lack of better
>>>>>>> word)Â
>>>>>>> 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  intoÂ
>>>>>>> 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.Â
>>>>>>> I still have to read the book listed below..
>>>>>>> Pavithra  Â
>>>>>>> Â
>>>>>>> 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,
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> Â   FirstStar Systems
>>>>>>> Â   Concord, MA USA
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