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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology vs KR

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 04 Oct 2014 20:49:26 -0400
Message-id: <54309596.9030502@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat C, Ed, Leo, Steven, Rich, and Mark,    (01)

I'd like to quote Anna Wierzbicka's remark about her "primitives".
Her point is also true of Longman's list of 2000 defining terms,
which Pat has emphasized:    (02)

AW, _Lexicography and Conceptual Analysis_
> An adequate definition of a vague concept must aim not at precision,
> but at vagueness:  it must aim at precisely that level of vagueness
> which characterizes the concept itself.    (03)

Anna W's list, Longman's list, and the synsets of WordNet are vague.
That vagueness is *useful* for enabling incompatible predicates
from inconsistent ontologies to be mapped to the same synsets.
Those mappings are valuable for NLP, but not for detailed reasoning.
Immanuel Kant summarized the issues:    (04)

IK, _Logic_, Dover reprint.
> Since the synthesis of empirical concepts is not arbitrary but based
> on experience, and as such can never be complete (for in experience
> ever new characteristics of the concept can be discovered), empirical
> concepts cannot be defined. Thus only arbitrarily made concepts can
> be defined synthetically. Such definitions... could also be called
> declarations, since in them one declares one’s thoughts or renders
> account of what one understands by a word. This is the case with
> mathematicians.    (05)

In short, you can have complete formal definitions in mathematics.
Since every computer is formally specified, every program does
something very precise -- but what it does so precisely might not
be what the programmer had intended.    (06)

> Thorough simplification leads to convergence in underlying features
> of language design, such as the structure of information building
> blocks that are well designed to be easily arranged.    (07)

I assume that you're talking about the design of computer systems
and languages.  I agree that those designs should be clean, simple,
and formally defined.    (08)

To draw an analogy, the difference between what a programmer says
and what the program actually does is similar to the difference
between WordNet and formal ontologies.    (09)

> One exception may be the foundations of mathematics (and logic)
> such as Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory (ZFC) or variants...    (010)

Kant would say that any mathematical system can be specified
precisely.  But the question whether a single foundation can
be adequate for every possible mathematical system has been
hotly debated since it was first proposed in the 19th century.    (011)

> Then of course for science, to gauge/adjudicate scientific
> theories, one gets into philosophy of science issues such
> as theory succinctness...    (012)

> Not the case Leo ... There is no bridge constructed between
> Pure Mathematics the Physical Sciences...    (013)

I'll let Leo and Steven clarify what they mean.  But I'd emphasize
that mathematics is not part of physics.  Those precise mathematical
specifications of physical concepts are *fallible* and *changeable*.    (014)

English words such as 'mass', 'force', 'energy'... are mapped
to incompatible theories in the same way as as WordNet synsets.
In fact, engineers frequently and *knowingly* use incompatible
definitions of those terms for different components of the same
physical system -- car, airplane, computer...    (015)

> the infant Kernel of the agent, prior to learning, should include
> a vocabulary of each and every perception, and each and every action,
> plus a pool of constants, variables and constraints among them, as
> imposed by the agent on the environment, and by the environment
> on the agent.    (016)

> it seems unlikely that there can be a fundamental ontology of
> perception or of action.    (017)

The vague primitives by Anna W. are an example of a vague starting
set that is common to infants around the world.  But AW would agree
with Mark (and Kant) that no formal definition is possible *or*
desirable.  Any such definition would destroy their flexibility.    (018)

John    (019)

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