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

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2015 20:35:41 -0400
Message-id: <55AEE55D.5090902@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 7/21/2015 1:40 PM, Thomas Johnston wrote:
> Knowing the definitions [of 'semantics' and 'ontology'] is
> almost worthless as a guide to when to use the words correctly and
> when not to, and provides you with almost no useful information    (01)

A good example is Quine's definition:    (02)

Basic question of ontology:  "What is there?"
Answer:  "Everything."    (03)

That's easy.  It's much harder to define what you mean by "Everything."    (04)

Following is Quine's article on that subject:
https://sfcmadrid.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/quine-on-what-there-is.pdf    (05)

Quine does not like abstract entities.  He calls any ontology with
abstract objects "bloated".  Yet he allows sets in his ontology.
It's ironic to claim that an ontology with Cantor's infinite
hierarchy of infinities is more 'lean and mean' than one that
permits abstract entities.    (06)

As an alternative, see "The need for abstract entities" by
Alonzo Church:  http://www.jfsowa.com/ontology/church51.htm    (07)

This is a technical article.  For a more readable humorous
response to Quine, see his talk at Harvard, which I've cited
several times:  "The ontological status of women and abstract
entities":  http://www.jfsowa.com/ontology/church.htm    (08)

An ontology I like is an updated version of Wilkins' ontology.
In his original ontology (1668), Wilkins had a category called
'Transcendental' with subcategories called 'Things' and 'Words'.
See slide 26 of http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/patolog4.pdf    (09)

Wilkins' Transcendental Things are abstract entities of various
kinds.  I kept Wilkins tree structure, but used the terms 'Signs'
for Transcendental, 'Types' for Things, and 'Tokens' for Words.
See slide 30 of http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/patolog4.pdf    (010)

Wilkins got some impressive assistance from various members
of the British Royal Society to help extend his ontology.
With the updates in slide 30, I believe it's one of the best
upper levels I've seen.    (011)

John    (012)

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