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Re: Our central COSMO focus (was RE: [ontac-forum]SurveyedOntology"Libra

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 22:29:35 -0500
Message-id: <4378049F.5010300@xxxxxxxxxxx>
I sent my previous comment to complain about large
files being sent through email, and I hadn't yet
had a chance to look at the report.  But after doing
so, I completely agree with Barry Smith's conclusion:    (01)

 > If we are aiming to provide a hub ontology which
 > will command general agreement across a large cross-
 > disciplinary community we will need to do much better
 > than this.    (02)

Those diagrams in that report don't even observe the
most elementary criteria established by Aristotle
over two millennia ago:    (03)

  1. If a category X is supposed to be a subcategory
     of Y, every instance of X must also be an
     instance of Y.    (04)

  2. If X1 and X2 are both subcategories of Y, there
     must be at least one difference in attributes
     that distinguishes X1 from X2.    (05)

None of the diagrams in that report show any evidence
that the authors made the slightest effort to test
those two criteria.  They report many meetings at
which the participants must have spent many hours
and days of talking.  But all they had to do was
spend ten minutes checking criteria #1 and #2 above,
to find some glaring discrepancies:    (06)

In Figure 1:    (07)

  -- Information Object is a subtype of physical object?    (08)

     What does that mean?  Information is physical?
     Or does it mean an encoding of information in some
     physical medium such as paper or magnetic disk is
     physical?  But the nonphysical properties are what
     is most significant about information.  The book
     "War and Peace", for example, has the same information
     on paper, a magnetic disk, or a CD-Rom.  The physical
     aspects are the least significant.    (09)

  -- Man-Made Object is a subtype of physical stuff?    (010)

     Are they talking about the distinction of
     mass-stuff, such as water or gold, vs. countable
     items?  If so, most man-made objects are countable,
     not stuff.  Perhaps they are made of stuff, but
     the made-of relation is very different from the
     is-a relation.    (011)

In Figure 2:    (012)

  -- Work is a subtype of Abstraction?  Does that
     mean every instance of work is abstract?
     Do they mean working on a farm or building
     houses?  Or perhaps the work of an author in
     producing a "work" in the library?  What are
     the differentiae that distinguish work from
     an abstraction?  Just give a definition: a
     work is an abstraction with the attributes...    (013)

In Figure 3:    (014)

  -- The "harmonized" hierarchy still has work as
     a subtype of abstraction, but it goes one step
     further:  abstraction is a subtype of concrete
     object!  So every instance of work is an
     instance of an abstraction, and every abstraction
     is an instance of a concrete object?    (015)

And that is supposed to be a "hub" that is intended
as a basis for "harmonizing" ontologies?    (016)

John Sowa    (017)

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