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Re: [ontolog-forum] Distinction between ontology and semantics

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Nadin, Mihai" <nadin@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2015 00:03:12 +0000
Message-id: <A54DB347E05A5F43A1B1008A02DB0ABDEA6532F9@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Dear and respected colleagues,

We cannot disconnect ontology from the philosophy within which it is defined. Parmenides’ thoughts on the nature of reality and Plato’s understanding of what exists are quite different from the categories of beings that preoccupied later analytic philosophy. Add to this the implicit or explicit ontology of the Nyaya-Vaišesika School (part of Hindu philosophy), or the pre-Qin (early Chinese philosophy) understanding based on part-whole relations, not on member set relations. These are ONLY examples meant to explain the first sentence. (I know you have more and better!)


Ontology in Peirce’s understanding is part of his philosophy. How to Make our Ideas Clear ((1878) extends to the very meaning of concepts, which he identified with the practical consequences that would follow from their adoption. In this sense, you are all practicing his view. Boeing or the oil exploration industry perfectly illustrate the thought.


But I brought up Peirce—studied quite in detail by John Sowa-- because my next assertion is that we cannot disconnect semantics from the semiotics within which it is defined. Semiotics is, of course, Peirce’s major contribution to our understanding of _expression_, communication and signification. In the process of transcending the syntax phase of computation (forcing those using computers to submit to syntax rules within a language of 2 letters and Boolean logic as its grammar), ontologies became necessary because there was no other way to map from language to computer operations. This phase, of semantic (actually pseudo-semantic) computation will eventually make possible pragmatics-driven computation.


My respect for those who heroically provided ontologies (I was impressed by what you reported in recent mails) and thus made possible new forms of interaction with computers. But be aware: in the end, what counts is what we do with computers, including the act of endowing them with adaptive capabilities. If everything associated with computation was until now promising, with the pragmatic stage of computation things will get really exciting.



Mihai Nadin






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