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ontology, language, logic, and what we intend to do here in ONTAC: what DO we want to do in ONTAC?

From: Obrst, Leo J. <lobrst@mitre.org>
Date: Sat, 27 May 2006 18:05:12 -0400
Message-ID: <9F771CF826DE9A42B548A08D90EDEA800102218E@IMCSRV1.MITRE.ORG>
To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <ontac-forum@colab.cim3.net>
Cc: <editor@content-wire.com>, <semantic-web@w3.org>

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 not
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 ACHIEVE?


ps. Discussion of all the philosophical, linguistic, and logical issues
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@mitre.org    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@colab.cim3.net
[mailto:ontac-forum-bounces@colab.cim3.net] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
Sent: Saturday, May 27, 2006 4:11 PM
To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion
Cc: editor@content-wire.com; semantic-web@w3.org
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

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Received on Saturday, 27 May 2006 22:05:47 UTC

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