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Re: [ontac-forum] Problems of ontology

To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Azamat" <abdoul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 00:51:50 +0300
Message-id: <005401c67ac5$453dc5a0$e053960a@homepc>
>> AA> For without a common standard ontology as a common code of meanings
>> > and rules, there is no base and foundation for the whole enterprise
>> > of ontological semantic technology, or intelligent applications...
>>    (01)

>>JS > No!  Absolutely not!  That is the ultimate goal, not the starting
>> point.  The best we can say is that every attempt to design a
>> unified theory of everything has failed.  Yet somehow the genus
>> Homo has survived for about two million years without it. Perhaps
>> we may have a better foundation in another million years or so.    (02)

John,    (03)

No need wait for so long time, since such an ontological grounwork begun at 
the moment humans started to systematically meditate about the
environmental categories such as being, reality, existence, cause, time,
space, life, etc. As a result, any substantial doctrines, religious,
ideological or political or social, are pervaded with ontological ideas.
Any science, formal or material, presupposes ontological assumptions about 
its universe
of discourse.  For every general scientific theory is inherently 
and other way round, every significant ontological theory is scientific.
Inside, ontology is a general science as much as any science is a particular
ontology. Implicitly and explicitly, modern science and technology have 
ontological inputs and outputs.    (04)

Currently there are several knowledge domains closely affiliated with
ontology: science, mathematics, logic, and semantics. Using them as
conceptual tools and instruments, ontology provides the most general
theories about reality; with its referent and scope, reality; goal,
underlying uniformities and patterns and laws in the universe; method, 
postulation; truth type,
ontological; and role, integrated world views and computable models for
intelligent technology.    (05)

So neither theory, scientific or mathematical, nor formal logical languages
nor natural languages can do without an ontological background, enhanced
with mathematical axioms, scientific formulas, and semantic assumptions.
Accordingly, without ontological groundwork, only formal logical or pure
semantic or mathematical or scientific or linguistic analysis would be
incomplete or even misleading. This also goes for your  idea of the lattice
of theories, which to be viable and appealing should be based on a single
unified ontology theory, which rudimentary axioms and truths and laws and
principles and rules will make the fundamental assumptions for the less
general lower levels: domain-independent theories, domain models, and 
Lack of such understanding is a major obstacle to the success of large
ontological projects as the semantic web, CYC, etc.    (06)

With due respect,
Azamat Abdoullaev    (07)

> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 1:57 AM
> Subject: Re: [ontac-forum] Problems of ontology
>> Azamat, David, and Eric,
>> First of all, the view I presented is definitely not a rejection
>> of "the ultimate goal of science".  It is, in fact, a recognition
>> of the difference between the process and the goal.
>> JS>> The view of science as a unified body of theory is totally
>> >> unrealistic.  Even physics, the hardest of the hard sciences,
>> >> is a hodge-podge of thousands of mutually inconsistent models
>> >> for each area of application.  As Bundy said, there is no such
>> >> thing as a unified model of everything.
>> AA> What i found so disturbing about your position, it is not
>> > its partiality, but rather its apparent rejection of the ultimate
>> > goal of science led by ontology, to set an all-comprehensive and
>> > unified description of the world.
>> My basic claim is that science is not yet finished.  Science is
>> first and foremost a methodology for asking and answering questions
>> about the universe.  And every research scientist will tell you
>> that whenever they find the answer to any important question,
>> they discover that it always leads to even more questions.
>> And what on earth do you mean "led by ontology"?  Aristotle
>> explicitly put metaphysics *after* physics because it's
>> impossible to do any decent work in ontology without first
>> having a great deal of empirical evidence.  Without empirical
>> data, the only subjects you can work on are pure uninterpreted
>> logic and mathematics.  They're useful tools, but certainly
>> not capable of "leading" science.
>> AA> And the high goal of science...
>> We don't disagree about the goals.  My only point is that we
>> still have a long way to go before we reach them.  Perhaps
>> we might get there in a few more centuries, or perhaps it may
>> take billions of years.  Nobody knows.
>> AA> ... the task of ontology is to give us the overall structures,
>> > uniformities, patterns, laws and constraints within which all
>> > the many changes in the world take place...
>> I don't disagree.  My only point is that it might take us millions
>> of years to get a complete answer.  We certainly don't have anything
>> remotely resembling a final solution today -- or even a good outline
>> of a final solution.
>> DE> That's the best description of the enterprise collection of
>> > legacy systems -- what we're tying to inter-operate on, right?
>> > -- that I've seen in a long time.
>> >
>> > While there may in fact (in the class-room) be something called
>> > "computer science," such purity is very hard to find in legacy
>> > systems land.
>> Unfortunately, *every* system becomes a "legacy system" the instant
>> it is released to the customer.  That is when the engineer's dilemma
>> kicks in:
>>    Customers never know what they want until they see what they get.
>> That causes version 1.0 to be replaced by version 1.01, 1.02....
>> And every version is incompatible with every previous version,
>> with every subsequent version, and with every piece of software
>> produced by any other vendor.
>> DE> I wonder if there is any correlation between how valuable
>> > a system is and how chaotic it is.
>> Every system becomes more chaotic with each release.  Windows NT
>> version 3.5 was probably the cleanest.  That's when Bill Gates
>> declared that the support for the display had to be brought into
>> the kernel for NT 4.0 -- then the bugs really began to multiply.
>> Today, Windows XP is bad enough, but Digital Rights Mismanagement
>> (DRM) puts chaos directly into the kernel of the operating system.
>> If you want to preserve even a modest amount of sanity, I suggest
>> that you buy your last version of Windows in 2006 before Vista is
>> inflicted upon us.  For 2007, do not think of using any software
>> that incorporates DRM.  (For evidence of this point, look at the
>> iPod by Apple.  Sony failed because they tried to implement DRM
>> in their device, but Apple wisely ignored DRM.)
>> EP> All my thoughts and effort toward mapping and merging upper
>> > ontologies have been centered on the creation of a merged lattice
>> > of types and and a merged lattice of relations.  For my purposes,
>> > this is where I seem to be getting value.  Theory boundaries seem
>> > to me to be more arbitrary and less useful stuff with which to
>> > integrate databases.  I'm still not sure if we actually differ
>> > on this point.  I'm suspecting that we agree.
>> I agree that working with a lattice of types and relations is
>> important.  But as soon as you start writing axioms for those
>> types, contradictions begin to proliferate.  I like to quote
>> Peirce's remark (CP 4.237):
>>    It is easy to speak with precision upon a general theme.
>>    Only, one must commonly surrender all ambition to be certain.
>>    It is equally easy to be certain.  One has only to be
>>    sufficiently vague.
>>    It is not so difficult to be pretty precise and fairly certain
>>    at once about a very narrow subject.
>> The first point summarizes the futility of a trying to develop
>> a precisely axiomatized ontology of everything, but the second
>> point holds out hope of having a decent, but vague overview.
>> That's why WordNet is so useful -- it's vague, and it has very
>> few axioms.  Unfortunately, it still has contradictions.
>> The final sentence corroborates the point that Lenat makes about
>> Cyc -- the most important inferences are in the microtheories,
>> which are, in Peirce's terms, "very narrow subjects" about
>> which it is possible "to be pretty precise and fairly certain".
>> Summary:  I agree with Azamat about the goals of science, but I
>> don't believe there is any evidence that we are even close to
>> reaching a final theory of everything.  For supporting evidence,
>> I highly recommend the following book (which assumes a good
>> mathematical background, by the way):
>>    _The Road to Reality:  A Complete Guide to the Laws of the
>>    Universe_ by Roger Penrose, Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, New York.
>> For an estimate of how close we are to a final theory of physics,
>> read the last Chapter 34, "Where Lies the Road to Reality."
>> Penrose believes that there is likely to be a major upheaval
>> sometime in the 21st century that will be at least as far reaching
>> and perhaps even more disruptive than the revolutions caused
>> by relativity and quantum mechanics in the 20th century.
>> That shows how far we still have to go just to find the basic
>> equations for the foundations of physics.  And even if we knew
>> the equations, they still wouldn't tell us what approximations
>> are necessary in order to make them applicable and solvable for
>> any practical problem.
>> So much for the hardest of the hard sciences.  When it comes
>> to economics, sociology, psychology, and their applications to
>> business and politics, we have *nothing* that can even come
>> close to 19th century physics.  We have a lot of practical
>> experience about "human nature", but *nothing* so far that
>> remotely resembles even the bare beginnings of a vague theory.
>> For the foreseeable future, the best we have are lots of usable
>> piecemeal results on narrow subjects, but no general theory of
>> everything.  That doesn't mean we should give up work on
>> fundamental science, but there is no end in sight.
>> Meanwhile, let's make use of what we have.
>> John Sowa
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>     (08)

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