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Re: [ontac-forum] Re: The world may fundamentally be inexplicable

To: Murray Altheim <m.altheim@xxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: SUO WG <standard-upper-ontology@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, cg@xxxxxxxxxx, ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 10:29:46 -0500
Message-id: <43C5246A.8090603@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Murray,    (01)

I have been preaching that point to the SUO group for
the past five years and to the ONTAC group for the
past three months.  But as I said to David Eddy, it
is impossible to get that point across to people who
believe in the *one true ontology to rule them all.*    (02)

 > Given that #1 (a single unified theory) requires that
 > everyone agree on everything, it simply doesn't seem
 > feasible. People's requirements are often very different,
 > not to say anything about their use of language, even
 > mathematical language.    (03)

You obviously know something about how software works
and about how it is developed.  I am quoting your note
in its entirety for the benefit of those who think they
can legislate the one true ontology:    (04)

 > I realize this comes slightly out of left field, but in my
 > own work (which was markedly to design a system to enable
 > non-experts to work with "informal" ontologies, but could
 > still be harmonized with a formal logic at some level, which
 > suggested trying to locate a single, logical core), I ended
 > up with only a few concepts that needed to be in the core:
 >  1. a means of establishing [subject] identity
 >  2. a facet, or property relation
 >  3. the class-instance relation
 >  4. the superclass-subclass relation (which I later
 >     redefined to be based on a mereological or
 >     collection basis, ala Cyc)
 >  5. a means of expressing context
 > I realize that this as a "core" doesn't fit within any
 > single formal logical bounds (borrowing willy-nilly as
 > I have), but the five aspects above were what I ended up
 > with, for what it's worth. I expect that I'll be able to
 > align this to some degree with Common Logic once it is
 > stabilized (and I have the time).    (05)

My list of absolute requirements for the core is similar
to yours.  The word _context_, however, has many different
meanings.  I'm sure that you had a precise definition for
your system, but it might be better to use a different
word in order to avoid confusion.    (06)

 > One thing (which I'm sure might seem strange to some)
 > is that I'm not convinced that a class-based approach to
 > ontology is all that useful, at least for my purposes. For
 > example, in looking at Faceted Classification (from library
 > science) for concepts of identity, I found that sets drawn
 > from collections of entities sharing specific properties
 > or 'facets' (i.e., extensional sets) are much more valuable
 > in drawing up functional categories. I'm admittedly in way
 > over my head on this kind of thing, but I think I just kept
 > running up against epistemological walls in the axiomatic
 > approach, and my attempts to understand category theory was
 > not helped by putting the book under my pillow. I do find
 > topos a very appealing theory. In retrospect, it'd have been
 > nice to have had a formal grounding in mathematics before I
 > jumped into this slough, but I didn't. Life goes on.    (07)

Your points are very well taken.  Unfortunately many people
in this slough still think they can legislate a magic solution
to all the world's problems.    (08)

John    (09)

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