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[ontac-forum] RE: ontology, language, logic, and what we intend to do he

To: <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Obrst, Leo J." <lobrst@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 28 May 2006 14:27:13 -0400
Message-id: <9F771CF826DE9A42B548A08D90EDEA8001022194@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
[cc to semanticweb@xxxxxx dropped]    (01)

PDM,    (02)

Your comment:
"Broader perspectives, a higher understanding of the top level issues, 
increased commnication flow and general improved sense of orientation
are likely to help any list ACHIEVE  any GOAL better and faster."    (03)

Unfortunately I no longer believe so. I think there are discussion
lists and there are working lists, which also have discussions. The
difference is that the latter focus their discussions on goals to be
achieved. There are also open and closed lists, depending on the
rationale for the list.    (04)

In fact, I think open-ended philosophizing doomed the IEEE SUO list and
led to a failure to achieve its goals. The list eventually was seen as
being only a forum for endless disputation by armchair philosphers, and
those with much time on their hands. The real work was done offline by
smaller groups.     (05)

I think there is definitely a need for discussion groups, but I think
there is also a need for working groups. Education, consensus building,
broader perspectives are important, but not necessarily if you want to
achieve specific goals. A given group has to define what it is and what
its goals are (if any), and its members either have to discipline
themselves to try to achieve those goals or a top-down structured
methodology must be employed (as for example, ISO, W3C, OMG, etc.,
standards groups have done).     (06)

Confusing the type of group you are is bad. Look at some of the
arguments made recently about the impossibility of a common standard
upper ontology: they cite the failure of the IEEE SUO distribution list
to come to agreement. This is a fallacious, self-fulfilling argument,
to me, because endless argumentation dooms real achievement, i.e., we
didn't achieve what we wanted to because we argued incessantly and
therefore what we wanted to achieve is not achievable. It will doom
ONTAC too unless ONTAC is supposed to be just a discussion list. In
which case we can argue endlessly and newer members will raise the same
old issues again and again, without real resolution. Because there are
always newer, mis-, dis-, or un-informed members who will often have
strong opinions inversely proportional to their knowledge.     (07)

I know I will seem to be an arrogant, elitist bastard who is trying to
squelch creativity, but I have seen too many lists fail. People who can
contribute the most drop off because of the high noise, and the list
flounders, reducing to argumentation among the latest members with too
much time and too little knowledge.    (08)

If ONTAC is just a discussion list and has no additional goals, then I
will gladly drop out. As will others. I don't think that is the case,
hence invited Pat's response.    (09)

By the way, profligate cross-posting to other distribution lists is
also typically not very productive.     (010)

Leo    (011)

Dr. Leo Obrst       The MITRE Corporation, Information Semantics 
lobrst@xxxxxxxxx    Center for Innovative Computing & Informatics 
Voice: 703-983-6770 7515 Colshire Drive, M/S H305 
Fax: 703-983-1379   McLean, VA 22102-7508, USA     (012)

-----Original Message-----
From: Pdm [mailto:editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: Sunday, May 28, 2006 4:14 AM
To: Obrst, Leo J.
Cc: ONTAC-WG General Discussion; semantic-web@xxxxxx
Subject: Re: ontology, language, logic, and what we intend to do here
in ONTAC: what DO we want to do in ONTAC?    (013)

Dear Leo    (014)

I am new to your list and I think its great resource that I might join 
at some stage    (015)

I understand your frustration about people getting sidetracked and that    (016)

some threads maybe more relevant than others to what is at hand
But  additional information - unless totally unrelated - should not be 
seen as an obstacle to goal achievement, rather as contribute to it    (017)

Broader perspectives, a higher understanding of the top level issues, 
increased commnication flow and general improved sense of orientation
are likely to help any list ACHIEVE  any GOAL better and faster    (018)

Best wishes    (019)

PDM    (020)

. On the other hand I assure you that Obrst, Leo J. wrote:    (021)

>I would say ontology precedes language which precedes logic, but the
>latter makes our understanding of the former two much more precise and
>allows us to represent and know what we think we know.
>Also, by the way, discussion in its own right about these issues is
>necessarily what we intend in the ONTAC forum. Instead, we would like
>Perhaps a restatement of our goals is necessary now -- and
>periodically, to keep achievement of goals foremost in our minds and
>our discussions?
>Pat and founding members: care to restate the GOALS we want to
>ps. Discussion of all the philosophical, linguistic, and logical
>that surround our goals is very interesting, but we tend to get
>side-tracked and the readership (and writership, if you will) is
>getting educated in these issues, but progress is nearly non-existent.
>If I'm not mistaken, this distribution list is intended to resolve and
>get things done. Admittedly it is not yet like the disciplined effort
>to achieve specific goals that other standards based (or occasionally
>non-standards based) activities are, but perhaps it should be?
>Dr. Leo Obrst       The MITRE Corporation, Information Semantics 
>lobrst@xxxxxxxxx    Center for Innovative Computing & Informatics 
>Voice: 703-983-6770 7515 Colshire Drive, M/S H305 
>Fax: 703-983-1379   McLean, VA 22102-7508, USA 
>-----Original Message-----
>From: ontac-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>[mailto:ontac-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
>Sent: Saturday, May 27, 2006 4:11 PM
>To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion
>Cc: editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; semantic-web@xxxxxx
>Subject: Re: [ontac-forum] Semantics and Ontology and Semiotics
>All this discussion resembles the parable about seven blind
>men examining an elephant.  Each one examines one part in
>detail -- the trunk, the tail, an ear, a side, a leg, the
>underside, or the back -- and draws conclusions that are
>diametrically opposed to any of the others.
>Language has even more sides than an elephant.  When we're
>doing math, science, or business, we do use the logical side.
>But frequently in science and very frequently in business,
>we are at a loss about the meaning of some observation or
>puzzle, and we have to fall back on vague intuitions.
>The hardest part of science is *not* deduction from axioms,
>but the *discovery* of axioms that are suitable for precise
>deduction.  If all we had was logic, we would never be able
>to analyze and talk about the typically vague intuitions
>that lead to some of the greatest discoveries.  But if we
>didn't have the ability to do logic, we could never explore
>the consequences of those intuitions, and we'd be cheated
>in business by any shyster who could.
>Following are a couple of quotations:
>    "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality,
>    they are not certain; and as far as they are certain,
>    they do not refer to reality."  Albert Einstein
>    "If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical
>    processes of arithmetic, we should not get very far
>    in our understanding of the physical world.  One might
>    as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely
>    by the use of the mathematics of probability."
>    Vannevar Bush
>We cannot understand language if we don't recognize that
>logic is part of every natural language.  But we cannot
>use logic effectively unless we recognize that our precise
>axioms were derived from some initially vague intuitions.
>John Sowa
>Message Archives: http://colab.cim3.net/forum/ontac-forum/
>To Post: mailto:ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>Shared Files: http://colab.cim3.net/file/work/SICoP/ontac/
>Community Wiki:
>    (022)

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