Semantics and Ontology and Semiotics

Adam and Chris,


I wonder how you both managed to make so many fallacies in just few sentences: indeed the ill will may affect even good minds. Your responses make an object lesson of sophistic refutations, as far as we are here talking of the topics of semantics and meaning and logic. 

The farther of logic instructed us that no reasoning creature, human or application, is allowed to do three things:

1. to argue from false assumptions and unproved presumptions and wrong definitions, so that to avoid all sorts of substantial, material fallacies: sweeping generalizations, irrelevancy, circularity, false cause, etc.;

2. to argue with an ambiguous usage of words, so that to avoid all sorts of verbal fallacies: intentional equivocation, wrong accent or emphasis, amphiboly, part-whole displacement, etc.;

3. to argue with breaching of inferential and logical forms, so that to avoid all sorts of formal fallacies and defective forms in logical argumentation.


Most of the laws of reasoning you managed to offend in your funny refutals. 

Let's see the example: 

<Adam comments>. "It must be clear even to the most obstinate researchers - condescension at it height. "to build the real life knowledge machines" - I have a terrible feeling you are trying to suggest a *life like* knowledge machine. You suggest it by elision.>


At once, Adam falls into two fallacies of ambiguity, equivocation and wrong accent, performing his incorrect reasoning through incorrect use of the phrase 'the real life knowledge machines'. For 'real life, or real world', is defined as 'the practical world as opposed to the academic world' (WordNet 2.1). Then the 'real life knowledge machines' is a nominal construction, the pattern where a noun modifies another noun. The phrase is meant to indicate a subclass of knowledge machines, designed to model the real world in all its dynamic complexities and so enabled to decide the real world problems in various domains of human practice: education, government, commerce, industry, etc. 


Christ's sophistries are more shocking. There is a rather clear conditional statement, with the plain vanilla meaning:

<AA> . the whole enterprise of semantic technology is an otiose undertaking and expansive academic mystification without understanding of the nature of meaning, its critical dimensions, mechanisms and algorithms of representation in computable forms. 


It is tried to be refuted by two kinds of so-called fallacies of relevance (or irrelevance), by appealing to the people rather than to the matter itself (known as the ad populum fallacy). 

<CM>.Maybe it's just a cultural thing, but do you realize that this translates into "Everyone engaged in semantic technology research doesn't have any idea what they are talking about"?>  


One error is running after other, the argument ad hominem, speaking against the person instead of analyzing the objective reasons why it may be wrong


<CM>.Moreover, other of your posts translate pretty directly into: "I, on the other hand, Azamat, have it all figured out. In fact, I think a lot of folks around here are quite easily as smart as you and know quite well what they are doing and what they are up against.  You, on the other hand, often seem to me to be a bit confused".>

In fact, the statement neither derogated nor humiliated anybody, if you don't put your perverted interpretation. It just states [no comprehension of meaning no semantic machines], like no meaning no truth. It just states that the meaning (and significance) must be viewed with every its elements, denotation cum connotation, sense cum reference and representation; with every its aspects: syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic. If you don't know this and can't apprehend the distinction between meaning and significance, between the formal logical semantics and the real ontological semiotics, then refrain from publishing as the W3C recommendation such a raw stuff as the RDF Semantics. At least, try to avoid the screaming misstatement: 'This is a specification of a precise semantics, and corresponding complete systems of inference rules, for the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and RDF Schema (RDFS).'


Another vanilla formula:


< AA>.Real Semantic System = sign (symbol) system (languages, natural and artificial; data systems, static and dynamic) + axioms (ontological, scientific, mathematical, and formal logical) + semantic assumptions (signification rules).

<CM>... But just what is it you are castigating here?  *No one* thinks that a merely
formal semantic system with only mathematical or formal logical axioms is of
any use. 


It is not quite honest answer, all formal logicians think just like this, read the RDF (formal) Semantics. Or read the promulgation of the formal (dolce sweet) ontologists from Italy. Or, here in EU, see the formal semantic web projects delivirables, if any,  eating most FP 6 funds allocated for Information Society Technologies. And read this promulgation:


'The Laboratory for Applied Ontology (LOA) performs basic and applied research on the ontological foundations of conceptual modeling, exploring the role of ontologies in different fields, such as: knowledge representation, knowledge engineering, database design, information retrieval, natural language processing, and the semantic web. The group is characterized by a strong interdisciplinary approach that combines Computer Science, Philosophy and Linguistics, and relies on logic as a unifying paradigm.'


How many times it should be said that the formal logic has nothing to do with the real world, but only with special logical forms and constructs: propositions, individuals, predicates, and formal inferential rules. The logic is nothing but a formal tool (a servant of his masters): of ontology, of science, of mathematics, and of semantics. Only ontology can handle the whole world as the largest hierarchy of distinct kinds of things organized by distinct types of real relationships. For the goal of ontology is to formulate the overall patterns and fundamental laws of the universe, with its practical role to set the world models, rules, and reasoning algorithms for advanced information technology. 

Ontology is surely not: 'an explicit conceptual model with formal logic-based semantics', the false assumption, a major obstruction to the success of the promising ontological projects as the semantic web and SUO and ONTAC.


To conclude:


My email box is overfilled with these daily ads about academic gatherings promising to do whatever you like with ontology and its content: modeling, construction, extraction, evaluation, management, alignment, documentation, registry, certification, usability, interoperability, and applicability in commerce and government. 
Though it is clear that the issue of issues is a unified reference ontology and semantics standardization suggesting a comprehensive study of meaning, its machine mechanisms of processing, where most effort and funding should be directed. For without a common standard ontology as a single code of meanings and rules, there is no foundation for the whole enterprise of ontological semantic technology, a new class of advanced knowledge machines and large-scale semantic applications. 

With good wishes,
Azamat Abdoullaev

One good wishing: not to degrade the intelligent debate into the empty argy-bargy, let's first well reason before action, before publishing the incoherent thoughts badly harmed by logical defects.

Received on Saturday, 27 May 2006 14:07:48 UTC