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Re: [ontac-forum] Semantics and Ontology ? and semiotics?

From: adasal <adam.saltiel@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 26 May 2006 13:28:46 +0100
Message-ID: <e8aa138c0605260528v1847dfafk7603b1ac94edcf4@mail.gmail.com>
To: semantic-web@w3.org
I think there is a lot of confusion around in what is a complex field.
But you have to judge a contribution by its quality.
Is the interlocutor contributing anything new?
Are they offering a novel explanation that clarifies things for people,
maybe irrespective of their own level?
Do they draw on the accepted work of past experts who have built the
foundations to the field?
Are their contribution pithy and to the point?
Are they able to highlight explicit technical details in context and with
relevant examples?

If one is to speak of the foundations of the field I would expect learned
references to Frege, Russel, Peirce, Wittgenstein, Ayers, Austin, Dummett,
Grice and many others.
The point is that this is just not the forum for that, and what comes across
is inferior philosophy out of context of any established dialectic, foisted
upon a reluctant audience. I don't think that anyone in this forum has so
far demonstrated the relevance of the philosophical investigation to the
activity of typical participants on this forum. That is not to say it isn't
relevant, but to establish this you would have to adhere to a strict and
well thought out regime. From that point of view there is a rational behind
the BCNGroup. But I remain sceptical. While Grice cuts to the quick, you may
recollect that he was notorious for a. succinct notation and b. a lack of
algorithms. b. simply wasn't part of his approach since he was concerned
with logical analysis. Unless the case can be made for machine computation
achieved on the basis of a broad logic but without algorithms that can be
reduced to binary logic then there seems to be no immediate connection
between these ruminations and the purpose of this list. That means that the
appropriate place for them is a philosophical forum.
However, I think that they may well be shot down on such a forum.
Philosophers work hard at their statements, or else there is just no point.
This is a taste of real philosophical dialectic, but open to anyone to
participate in (obviously a short extract, out of context):-

> I was hoping that someone with expertise on Islamic philosophy would
> respond to a question which came in a whole month ago from a Ms Zahedi, a
> PhD student. She wants to know how one might compare the problem of essence
> in Frege (1848—1925) and the Islamic philosopher Avicenna (980—1037). My
> only clue, from an utterly impregnable article in the *Oxford Companion to
> Philosophy* is that one of Avicenna's 'two best-known formulations' is:
> *the ontological distinction between essence and existence, in which the
> essences of existing entities cannot be explained as actualized forms of
> their material potentialities without an existing cause whose existence,
> while coexistent with the caused and perceived essence, is prior in rank.*
> I have read this extract a dozen times, and still it makes about as much
> sense to me as 'Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the
> wabe'. The author of the article, a certain Prof Hossein Ziai from UCLA,
> would evidently be the best person to answer Ms Zahedi's question —
> assuming, of course, that Prof Ziai knows somewhat more about Frege than I
> know about Avicenna.
> But I've a good hunch what this is about. The essence of a thing, in
> Fregean terms, consists in the *concepts* under which it falls. If you
> take a physical entity, say, an elephant, there is an open-ended list of
> concepts under which it might be classified: '_is an elephant', '_weighs
> over two tons', '_lives at London Zoo', '_likes apples' and so on. Suppose
> that you made up a long list. If you showed someone the list, they could
> still ask, 'Does this entity which you have described *exist?*
> Frege, following Kant, denied that existence is a concept under which some
> thing might, or might not fall. Existence is not a predicate.
from http://www.pathways.plus.com/glasshouse/notebook/page72.html
 And about what philosophers expect of one another :-

 Dummett has thought more deeply than most academic philosophers about the
> fundamental questions of the philosophy of logic and the philosophy of
> language. But his 'rules' theory of concepts is wrong (in my view). Since
> most philosophers' theories are wrong, that is the least serious criticism
> one could make of him as a philosopher! The theory itself poses little
> threat, largely because so few persons are able to really understand it!
> (myself included, at least on some days).
> I did have the opportunity to put my objection to Dummett's account of the
> mechanism of the criticism of concepts in terms of changing the 'rules for
> use' directly to him at a seminar in Oxford once. His response was along the
> lines of, 'I don't know what to say about that.' It is a measure of his
> elevated stature (the 'seminar' was more like a lecture audience packed with
> dons and graduate students) that he could get away with that reply!
from http://www.pathways.plus.com/glasshouse/notebook/page72.html
 I would say that, by any one's standards, this manner of expression is
open, appealing and intelligible. But it invites a thinking process that
doesn't quite fit in this forum, or any forum I am aware of with a technical
I do not think, by way of contrast, that the vague, obscure and impenetrable
qualifies for inclusion in this forum just because it seems to be touching
on issues addressed here by way of common concepts such as ontology and so
forth. I think it just qualifies as bad philosophy with all the arrogance
that implies.

Adam Saltiel

On 25/05/06, Pdm <editor@content-wire.com> wrote:
> Azamat
> thanks a lot for the interesting and detailed exposition below, from
> which I learn
> Maybe because I have studied with a leading semiologist ( Umberto Eco),
> but I would argue that what you refer to in parts of your definition
> below woudl be best called semiotics (science of signes and symbols) and
> not semantics.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiotics
> To me semantics is the meaning of words, and semiotis is the meaning of
> non verbal communication, ie signs and symbols
> Please correct me where I am wrong,
> Paola Di Maio
> > Ken,
> > Essentially determining the nature of meaning (and significance), this
> > matter is the core issue not only for a unified computing ontology but
> > also for the machine processed semantics, the key element of the
> > semantic web. For signs (as the words of different languages) must be
> > related to concepts and ontological entities only by a many-to-one
> > relationship: from the words of natural languages (or the symbols of
> > formal ontology languages) to the concepts of the mind (the constructs
> > of knowledge machines) to the categories of ontology (the kinds of
> > things in the world). As an example, consider the class of
> > relationship, which can expressed by as many names as 'connection',
> > 'association', 'link', 'reference', 'regard', 'tie', 'bond'; or
> > indicated by as many verbs as 'to relate', 'associate', link', 'link
> > up', 'connect', 'tie-in', 'colligate', 'refer', pertain', 'concern',
> > 'bear on', etc. Or, take the class of events expressed by as many
> > words as 'happening', 'occurrence', 'occurrent', 'contingency',
> > 'outcome', 'effect', 'issue', 'upshot', 'result', etc. For instance,
> > the process (event) of fire is that significance which the name 'fire'
> > has when it denotes the natural phenomenon. There is a plenty of
> > natural languages using their specific signs for this process,
> > nevertheless having always the same signification, since the concept
> > of fire is the same and the human experience is the same, regardless
> > of its numerous expressions in different natural or artificial
> > languages: 'fire', 'Feuer', 'ogon', etc..
> >
> > So, semantic system may be constructed as a formal semantics or as a
> > more comprehensive and consistent, real world semantics; namely:
> >
> > **
> >
> > *Formal Semantic System = sign (symbol) system (the SW languages, XML,
> > RDF, OWL) + axioms (mathematical or formal logical) + designation
> > rules (the semantic function from the set of language expressions into
> > the collection of constructs)*
> >
> > *Real Semantic System = sign (symbol) system + axioms (ontological,
> > mathematical, formal logical) + designation rules + semantic
> > assumptions (the reference function from constructs to real objects
> > cum the representation function from constructs to the state spaces of
> > the world) (ontological entities).*
> >
> > Thus, unlike the formal Semantic Web, the real Semantic Web includes
> > the correspondence (reification) rules from constructs to real world
> > entities (semantic assumptions), which parallels the semantic systems
> > of natural and social sciences.
> >
> > As a consequence, the Real Semantic Web (or the world wide intelligent
> > Web) as the pinnacle of ontological semantic technology involves a
> > grand trio of knowledge domains making the Knowledge Trinity:
> >
> > 1. The world science of Ontology caring the real entities, underlying
> > constraints, principles, truths, and strategic rules;
> >
> > 2. Semantics managing the whole works of meanings;
> >
> > 3. Syntax doing business with languages, the signs, and the rules of
> > meaningful constructions.
> >
> > As in the Holy Trinity, each member of the Knowledge Trinity has its
> > unique goal and role. The goal of ontology is to formulate the overall
> > patterns and fundamental laws of the universe, while its role is to
> > set the world models, rules, and reasoning algorithms for advanced
> > information technology. Syntax supplies the totality of signs, marks,
> > and expressions as formal or natural languages with their operation,
> > formation and transformation rules. Semantics is aimed to provide a
> > general theory of meaning relations between signs, constructs and
> > things, assigning signification to syntactic structures and meanings
> > to conceptual structures. So, semantics integrates the totality of
> > signs, signals or symbols, the domain of knowledge, and the universe
> > of ontological entities and relationships into a comprehensive
> > knowledge and reasoning context (a unified ontology framework),
> > serving as the world modeling framework for all sorts of emerging
> > intellectual information and communications technologies.
> >
> > Azamat Abdoullaev
> > http://www.eis.com.cy
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Ken Ewell" <mitioke@readware.com <mailto:mitioke@readware.com>>
> > To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <ontac-forum@colab.cim3.net
> > <mailto:ontac-forum@colab.cim3.net >>
> > Sent: Monday, May 22, 2006 7:26 AM
> > Subject: Re: [ontac-forum] What should be in an upper-level ontology
> >
> > > JS> Words must be related to ontologies, but that mapping is a complex
> > > many-to-many [or one?] relationship between the words of any natural
> > > language and the categories of an ontology.
> > >
> > > No doubt. Words must be related to ontologies. It is many to many and
> > > one to one. depending only on the given.
> > >
> > >> JS > .any upper level should be as *neutral* as possible. The upper
> > >> levels should have very few axioms.
> > >>
> > > No doubt. I did not offer axioms in the previous post. It does not
> mean
> > > I do not have them. Consider an axiom that defines a set, named,
> > > appropriately, {self, others} and what falls between.
> > >
> > >> JS > A truly neutral upper level should avoid any commitment to what
> > >> is considered essential vs. what is considered accidental.
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> JS > the upper level is much less important than the mid and lower
> > >> levels. Don't waste more time and money on things that don't matter.
> > >>
> > > I do not know exactly. My experience is that I was given the upper
> > > level while the lower levels, though muddled, were made to experience
> > > and made to fit, as it were. Just the knowledge of the upper level
> made
> > > things in the lower and middle layers fit -- that, in my mind, may not
> > > have fit before; I learned. I did not alter my way of thinking in that
> > > I adapted to new facts.
> > >
> > > -Ken Ewell
> > >
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Received on Friday, 26 May 2006 12:29:26 UTC

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