[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] George Lakoff - Women, Fire, Dangerous Things - Embo

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:10:20 -0400
Message-id: <53D2735C.7080108@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Bruce, Rich, and Simon,    (01)

General principles:  The word 'concept' is used in many different ways
in cognitive science.  Concepts that have a fixed, stable meaning are
usually associated with words.  But note the article "I don't believe
in word senses" by the lexicographer Adam Kilgarriff.  (See below
for a summary and citations.)    (02)

> I first heard about these general categories through John Sowa's
> /Conceptual Structures/ , where much of the discussion hinges on an
> influential book of that time by Smith and Medin entitled /Categories
> and Concepts/.    (03)

Two points:  (1) There is some overlap between what I discussed in
the CS book and nearly any book that discusses concepts.  (2) But
my only formal definition of the word 'concept' is "a node in a
conceptual graph."    (04)

By point #2, I mean that no single formal definition of any concept
(or word sense) can be adequate for all its uses.  In any context,
the meaning of a word (i.e., the concept or the word sense) is based
on the pattern of links derived from prior experience as adjusted to
the pattern of links in that context.  Note Kilgarriff's article.    (05)

In the CS book, the Epilog (Chapter 7) has the title "Limits of
Conceptualization", which discusses the many varied ways in which
any fixed system of concepts will prove to be inadequate.  For some
related ideas see http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/challenge.pdf    (06)

> Are you saying that Kant’s schema was a bottom-up, empirical
> development of categories?  It’s good to hear that Aristotle had
> such good sense, but I didn’t expect that from Kant.    (07)

Kant made a sharp distinction:  for mathematical concepts, a fixed
top-down definition is possible;  for empirical concepts, any
definition must change as new information becomes available.  He
proposed a *schema* as more flexible than a formal definition or an
image.  He would consider a prototype to be just a privileged image.    (08)

Kant's schema had a strong influence on cognitive science through
the work of Selz, Bartlett, Piaget, Newell & Simon, etc.    (09)

> The significance of Rosch's work was that it was empirical,
> uncovering surprising results, and suggested a model that accounted
> for many of the observed phenomena.    (010)

That is useful.  But the design of an experiment is based on some
prior notion of concept that determines what kinds of information
can be derived and how the results are evaluated.  Her experiments
were primarily directed at concepts represented by nouns that refer
to physical things.    (011)

Wittgenstein talked about the many kinds of 'games'.  What is the
prototype that includes chess, bridge, baseball, hockey, hopscotch,
ring-around-the-rosy, hide-and-seek, the many kinds of computer games,
the games at a gambling casino, war games, TV game shows, the "games
people play", and the activities performed by people who are "gaming"
the system?    (012)

> A good overview of the field can be found in Murphy, G. L. (2004).
> The big book of concepts. MIT press.
> http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/big-book-concepts    (013)

Murphy is a psychologist, who has done a lot of research on studying
how people learn to classify items and reason about the classification.
But he has a very narrow definition of 'concept', and his experiments
are designed around that definition:    (014)

 From a review at http://linguistlist.org/issues/14/14-986.html
> In the first chapter the "Introduction", Murphy outlines some
> fundamental terminology: a "concept" is a mental representation
> of classes of things and a "category" refers to the classes
> themselves. He also states the purpose of his book: "[it] is not so
> much to tell you all about concepts as to provide some kind of basis
> to your continuing acquisition of knowledge" (p. 8).    (015)

I'm not claiming that this work is bad.  But it only develops one
aspect of the issues that Wittgenstein and Kilgarriff discussed.    (016)

_____________________________________________________________________    (017)

 From slide 17 of http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/goal3.pdf    (018)

              “I don’t believe in word senses.”    (019)

The title is a quotation by the lexicographer Sue Atkins, who
devoted her career to writing and analyzing word definitions.    (020)

In an article with that title,* Adam Kilgarriff observed that    (021)

● “A task-independent set of word senses for a language is not
   a coherent concept.”    (022)

● The basic units of meaning are not the word senses, but the
   actual “occurrences of a word in context.”    (023)

● “There is no reason to expect the same set of word senses to be
   relevant for different tasks.”    (024)

● “The set of senses defined by a dictionary may or may not match
   the set that is relevant for an NLP application.”    (025)

● Professional lexicographers are well aware of these issues.    (026)

● The senses they select for a dictionary entry are based on
   editorial policy and assumptions about the readers’ expectations.    (027)

* See http://www.kilgarriff.co.uk/Publications/1997-K-CHum-believe.pdf    (028)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J    (029)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>