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Re: [ontac-forum] Semantics (1, 2, and 3), Ontology and Semiotics

To: Arun Majumdar <arun@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 06 Jun 2006 12:51:56 -0400
Message-id: <4485B2AC.3000805@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Arun and Chris,    (01)

The issues that Arun raised are very broad, but I think that
all of them can be reduced to three fundamental points:    (02)

  1. Purpose is central to everything that people (and computer
     systems designed by people) do.  More generally, purpose
     is central to everything that any living organism does.
     Without a clear notion of purpose, reasoning systems
     (human or computer) churn endlessly on irrelevant details.    (03)

  2. In the 1930s, Charles Morris modified and renamed one of
     Peirce's triads with the labels Syntax, Semantics, and
     Pragmatics.    (04)

  3. With the attitude that "two out of three ain't bad", logicians,
     linguists, and philosophers focused on the first two, and
     relegated everything that might be purposeful to pragmatics,
     which promptly became the trash heap of hard problems that
     people ignore.    (05)

As I said in my previous notes, I agree with Chris that model theory
is good, logic is good, axioms are good, precise definitions are good,
and lots of other things that philosophers, logicians, and computer
scientists have been doing for the past century are good.    (06)

But without a clear focus on purpose, all that good stuff is, to put
it bluntly, *purposeless* .  It can't give us any help in determining
what we should be doing or why.    (07)

AM> My conjecture is to see if the notion of "mind as political system"
 > is perhaps a more useful fundamental starting point from which to
 > design a process model.    (08)

I think that would be a much better starting point than the currently
popular "mind as a theorem prover" model of Cyc and most of the
formal ontology proposals.    (09)

My suggestion would be to drop the word "mind", which leads to too
many distracting issues.  Instead, I would suggest the idea of
viewing computer networks of any kind and the Internet in particular
as a political system.  Each module in the network, which may be
of any size, always communicates with other modules for a purpose.
The focus of network design should be on the purpose of each
communication.  Any attempt to design systems of any kind, including
ontologies, without focusing on purpose is a total waste of time
and money.    (010)

John    (011)

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