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Re: Some TAG review of "Cool URIs for the Semantic Web"

From: Nick Gall <nick.gall@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:51:01 -0400
Message-ID: <a6a6df360709211151m460f4225k50778b8f0938429a@mail.gmail.com>
To: "John Cowan" <cowan@ccil.org>
Cc: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us>, "Tim Berners-Lee" <timbl@w3.org>, "Technical Architecture Group WG" <www-tag@w3.org>, "Susie Stephens" <susie.stephens@gmail.com>
Since we're quoting favorite philiosophers, let me quote one of mine:

Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)


Das Buch behandelt die philosophischen Probleme und zeigt -- wie ich glaube
-- daß die Fragestellung dieser Probleme auf dem Mißverständnis der Logik
unserer Sprache beruht. Man könnte den ganzen Sinn des Buches etwa in die
Worte fassen: Was sich überhaupt sagen läßt, läßt sich klar sagen; und wovon
man nicht reden kann, darüber muß man schweigen.

The book deals with the problems of philosophy and shows, as I believe, that
the method of formulating these problems rests on the misunderstanding of
the logic of our language. Its whole meaning could be summed up somewhat as
follows: What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot
speak thereof one must be silent.

Which raises the question, is the following a valid URL?


This is a URL that refers to the space of non-things, or at least the the
space of that which cannot be desscribed.

I suppose it is an alias for



-- Nick

On 9/20/07, John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org> wrote:
> Pat Hayes scripsit:
> > And I'm sorry, but the above is not a definition: it is an
> > explanation of why no definition is possible. A definition of something
> > distinguishes it from things it is not. In this case there is nothing
> > it is not.
> I know.  Isn't that wonderful?
> Ray Smullyan, my favorite philosopher, quotes one of his favorite
> philosophers, Chi Po (not the real painter, but a fictional version of
> him in a book by Oscar Mandel, and why not?)  The sorcerer Bu Fu says to
> the child Chi Po  "You have merely painted what is!  The real secret is to
> paint what isn't".  Chi Po, puzzled, "But what is there that there isn't?"
> Or as W.v.O. Quine, one of my other favorite philosophers, puts it,
> the subject matter of ontology is simple: it asks the question "What is
> there?" and replies "Everything!"
> > The correct English word to use here is not "resource" or "subject" -
> > both of which already have particular meanings, which are here being
> > explicitly denied - but 'entity' or 'thing'.
> But as you now know, "thing" is too narrow a term.
> > But in fact, neither of these is quite right either, since unicorns
> > are not things. (At best they might be said to be 'possible things',
> > aka possibilia.)
> There are no such things as unicorns (I'm fairly sure), but unicorns
> are the *subjects* of quite a lot of talk.  And that's what the term
> "subject", and its definition, serve to do: they keep us firmly grounded
> in the world of what we think about and talk about, not on the world of
> objects that we say (perhaps on sufficient grounds, perhaps not) exist.
> In the beginning was the word.
> > Rather, what these definitions are struggling to say is that the name
> > is being used without any regard for its referent.
> Not at all.  The referent of the word "unicorn" is unicorns.  When I
> talk of unicorns, I am not talking of nothing, just because there are
> no unicorns -- any more than when I talk of having a heart (physical,
> non-metaphorical) I am talking of having a liver, even though {X|X has
> a heart} and {X|X has a liver} turn out to be the same sets.
> --
> John Cowan  cowan@ccil.org   http://ccil.org/~cowan
> It's the old, old story.  Droid meets droid.  Droid becomes chameleon.
> Droid loses chameleon, chameleon becomes blob, droid gets blob back
> again.  It's a classic tale.  --Kryten, Red Dwarf

Nick Gall
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Received on Monday, 24 September 2007 04:43:58 UTC

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