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Review

War of Ontology Worlds: Mathematics, Computer Code, or Esperanto?

  • Andrey Rzhetsky mail,

    arzhetsk@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu

    Affiliations: Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, Institute of Genomics and Systems Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, Computation Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

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  • James A. Evans

    Affiliations: Computation Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

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digging deeper

Posted by genezistan on 01 Oct 2011 at 08:57 GMT

The war metaphor is good for attracting attention, but attention should be refocused on how to avoid such wars of words. One good way of doing it is understanding how natural languages and cognition work. It does not mean brain science or neurocognitive linguistics or giving another fancy name by the concatenation of all the fields that study the same chunk of reality, whilst the underlying concepts are not synchronized or harmonized at all.
Just a reminder: reality is chunked into still pictures that are available to perception, they are given a name for identification and they are both reflected and associated in triplets in the mind as concepts. Now clearly, it is the concepts that need to externalized and shared and agreed on, which are usually broken down into extension and intension, etc. But nothing stay static, so both your experience of the world, the world itself and the symbols used to identify such chunks of reality keep changing. Obviously, you need a common system that observes and keeps track of such changes. The way to generate such a system if to create a lean upper ontology that serves as an appropriate interface between domain ontologies. This can be done, as soon as you realize that the system should be able to keep identification in terms of time and space so that the whole structure of the ontology should be grounded and not built in mid-air. Besides, it should also be recognized that the representation of continuity is a problem, this is why you work with frozen pictures, but can be overcome with proper theoretical approach, which is hinted at by using the term process, but which is not enough as you have those three camps to satisfy at the same time. That can also be done with a little goodwill and curiosity in sources coming outside the boxes.

Competing interests declared: working on a lean foundation ontology to integrate such warring factions