Re: SUO: Re: Lattices, Modules, Registries
Two things must be carefully distinguished:
1. Normal use of natural language for communication between
human beings who are more intent on discussing some serious
subject matter than playing language games.
2. Linguistic analysis of language use for the purpose of
developing a theory of language, semeiotic, or ontology
for possible implementation in computer systems.
When using language, metonymy is a common and indeed preferred
technique for dispensing with needless pedantic verbiage for
marking obvious distinctions.
But when doing linguistic analysis, as for example, when writing
axioms for an ontology, it is absolutely essential to note and
distinguish each and every use of all figures of speech, especially
metonymy and metaphor. Failure to note such distinctions is a
common source of fallacies in reasoning, bugs in computer programs,
and disasters in ontologies.
ja> But when I sat down to the Metonymous Computer to play, it
> laughed, and it laughed, and it just kept laughing if I did not
> play numbers and numerals straight.
Indeed. I recommend Section 2, entitled "Signs of Signs" in the
One of the examples caused by the kind of confusion you mentioned
is illustrated by the following example in that section:
Q: What is the largest state in the US?
The confusion is caused by not distinguishing the size of the area,
from the size of the population, or the size (in alphabetic order)
of the name. The computer did not laugh, the programmer cried, and
the rest of us can sit back and laugh.
1. When we are in a hot discussion of whether or not to apply
lattice theory to the question of how to organize and use the
modules of an ontology, a discussion of the fine points of
metonymy and metaphor is an inappropriate distraction.
2. But when we are in the process of formalizing the definitions
of the lattice operators and their application to the issues
of designing the software for processing ontologies, then those
points are not only appropriate, but essential.
3. Most of all, however, metaphor, metonymy, and other figures of
speech must be recognized and carefully distinguished whenever
anyone is translating natural language specifications into
programs, axioms, rules, or other notations used by computer
Bottom line: I strongly urge you to apply your analytical skills
to analyzing and exposing the errors embodied in the axioms of SUMO,
OpenCyc, WordNet, etc. There you will find the mother lode of
confusions and fallacies that need to be exorcised.