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Re: [ontac-forum] Theories, Models, Reasoning, Language, and Truth

To: Chris Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>, ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 22:32:29 -0500
Message-id: <43A386CD.9000306@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Chris, Paul, and Dale,    (01)

First a brief comment on Dale's remark:    (02)

DL> Is your definition of "sign" stipulative, lexical,
 > theoretical, precising, or what? Do you have any empirical
 > evidence for your theory of the meaning of the word "sign"?    (03)

I first started studying C. S. Peirce's writings on logic
in the late 1970s, when I was developing the theory of
conceptual graphs.  But for more than 20 years, I have been
digging deeper into his work on semiotics, and I have come to
agree with Susan Haack that "Peirce is the first philosopher
of the 21st century" -- i.e., his work, which was badly
neglected in the 20th century, is destined to have an enormous
impact in this one.  For a short article on zoosemiotics,
which is conveniently available on the web, see    (04)

    http://www.ut.ee/SOSE/deely.htm    (05)

As I have said before, I highly recommend the two volumes
of _The Essential Peirce_, which are available in paperback.
My remarks on signs are based on Peirce's.    (06)

Re the notes by Chris M. and Paul P:  As usual, I have no
disagreement with Chris about the technical points of math,
physics, logic, and computer science.  But I'd like to add
a few comments about the recent discussions:    (07)

PP>> Pure computer science thus has a problem with relevance...    (08)

CM> Human reality is no more relevant to theoretical computer
 > science than it is to quantum electrodynamics.  Of course,
 > there are issues of usability in applied CS -- interface
 > issues, human factors, intellectual property issues....    (09)

When I was talking about goals and intentions, I was not
talking about pure computer science.  I agree with Chris that
comp. sci., as a science, is independent of human intentions.
And I was not, in that note, talking about human factors
and usability (although I agree that they're important).    (010)

The issue I was discussing was the selection of categories
to be included in an ontology and the basis for defining
them.  When we're defining an ontology to be used in business
data processing, we need to include categories for Business,
Employee, Customer, Sales, Product, Management, Committee,
Policy, Strategy, Contract, ....    (011)

All those categories involve aspects of Peirce's category of
Thirdness, which I despair of explaining to people who have
not done the reading.  Therefore, I have used more familiar
terms -- such as goal, purpose, and intention -- which cover
roughly similar territory, but unfortunately, those words have
distracting associations that tend to confuse the issue.    (012)

PP>> Roger Penrose's book, as John Sowa has been pointing out,
 >> is an excellent "complete" overview of modern foundations to
 >> physical theory.    (013)

CM> And largely irrelevant to the construction of the vast
 > majority of ontologies that will prove useful to the Semantic Web.    (014)

I agree with Chris that Penrose's book is irrelevant to the
vast majority of ontologies that the ONTAC WG must address.
The reason why I mentioned that book was to make three points:    (015)

  1. It is a compendium of categories that can be defined without
     mentioning goals, purposes, or intentions somewhere in the
     definitions.    (016)

  2. Except for some other scientific terms, *every* other category
     must include, either explicitly or implicitly, some version of
     a goal, a purpose, or an intention in its definition.    (017)

  3. It is far better to make those underlying intentions explicit,
     where they can be recognized and analyzed, than to pretend that
     that they don't exist.    (018)

For example, you might be able to define the species Homo Sapiens
by a definition that includes just DNA and physical characteristics,
but you can't define employee, customer, manager, sales clerk, etc.,
without mentioning purpose or intentions.    (019)

As an example of an *objective* fact about intentions, I cited
the principle that the goal of a business is to make money.  That
point that is beyond dispute, and similar *objective* definitions
that involve intentions occur throughout engineering, medicine,
government, law, etc.  For example:    (020)

  - Engineering is the application of science for the purpose of
    solving problems within the limits of resources and deadlines.    (021)

There is the word "purpose" front and center.  Intentions also
occur in the definitions of resource and deadline.  Purpose is
essential to any *purposeful* endeavor, and the ONTAC WG has
not be chartered to address purposeless activity.    (022)

John Sowa    (023)

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