To the Ontolog mailing list

Ontolog is a leading email discussion list for "semantic ontologists" -- professional engineers and mathematicians who analyse the use of language in some professional context and work to build systems of agreement so that people in a specialized industry can understand one another and work together without error. This is especially important in an area like medicine, where a misunderstanding can be a disaster.

Most people on Ontolog are highly specialized. But there are a few like me who want to pursue general purpose or "upper" ontology -- while making an effort to be consistent with the needs of the specialists. The "upper" ontology is the general form -- and today there is no widely accepted general form for ontology. But it's an exciting and significant area, and I'd say even if challenging and difficult, it's very much worth pursuing.

Comment for Paola - March 5, 2019

Thanks for this warm-blooded message. I thought I would recite a somewhat related quest.

When I was about 10 years old, my father was a high-school algebra teacher and my mother was a librarian.

I remember sitting in the library wondering why – when human beings have all these books and all this supposed knowledge -- are they still doing all this stupid stuff? Having wars, making ridiculous mistakes, not knowing how to get along, failing at life, essentially being clueless in so many ways. Why is there no learning curve? Why haven’t human beings figured all this stuff out? They’ve been at it for thousands of years – and they are still mindless. I decided this had to be fixed.

Why adults did all this dumb stuff was very confusing to me as a child. For me, common sense didn’t really work, and you couldn’t rely on it. What you had to do as a child was memorize the rules – and the rules were dumb, but they were the rules.

We were an agnostic family, my father had rejected Catholicism, so there were no priests and no religion. But I did have something like “mystic tendencies” – and I guess they popped out later.

In college I was thinking about this same kind of issue. What we have supposedly for guidance and wisdom is “the religions of the world” – and maybe some of them are great, but they are still not really working – and they are confusing, and in conflict, and sometimes sheer nonsense, etc. We are still beating each other to a pulp over mindless issues (“where ignorant armies clash by night”). The major interfaith organizations of the world were developed to counter this tendency, and I have worked for several of them.

I decided we need new rules, and a new way to understand religion that removed all ambiguity from the terminology. My big issue was “multiple alternative interpretations” – something that immediately throws an error in computer programming. What do these big vague holy abstractions really mean? We supposedly got one guiding book (or a few), and we got ten-thousand interpretations of what it means, and we’re killing each other over that argument (among other reasons).

So way back then I got into “semantic ontology”. In college, I had this phrase “break the ontologic code”.

So that brings me to today, as I am sitting here contemplating this thing about the dimensionality of conceptual form, which seems resolvable.

I love ontology, but in me, there is a kind of drive to absolute universality. I don’t want to drill down to some micro-sub-specialization, and get really good at one tiny thing. Like you say, Paola,

what I am trying to say, I guess, is that to understand the world and resolve the meaning of life we need to reconcile the vastly fragmented data and information

On the search issue – I did look up Solomon’s curse, but I didn’t find much, other than a book by that name. The Wikipedia article on Solomon does not contain the word “curse”. But maybe this is just a very rarified issue, and the google results are driven by market tendencies, which go to the book.

For me – I’d say a big factor is – people are very confused about religion. If you think search results are fragmented, try religion. So, there are very few broad sweeping and inclusive principles in religion. Google is not an oracle – though I think it is really incredibly good. The issue of a guiding ethic is too controversial – and might sink Facebook.

So what I am inclined to do – is to pursue my ambition as a 10-year old, and work to define a single unified foundation for ontology that includes at least these subjects – all at the same time: science, humanism, spirituality, semantics and mathematics. That’s a huge bite – but I think it’s in the air.

I think there is a possible common foundation for these supposedly very diverse subjects, and it emerges from the concept of “one” at the top level of an ontology. At the upper levels the concept is wide open – and “under-specified” (it’s probably just a null) – and at the bottom it’s the “real number line” – with both top-level and bottom-level defined as a unit interval, and the physical reality of numeric measurement defined in terminating decimals – with the spaces between them also null.

Seen this way – we might say

1) All religion is a locally-adapted cultural interpretation of a universal spirituality, which can be seen in endless alternative ways. This is why religion is full of metaphors and distorted by bureaucracy. At best, it is “seen through a glass darkly”

2) Universal spirituality emerges in human experience directly from “the one”

3) But of course, human experience, even if highly valid, is still viewed and interpreted through the lens of concepts – so it’s no surprise that even our best and most authentic prophets have not defined this subject of the “Godhead” with a universal mathematical interpretation; nobody knows how to do this yet, but maybe we ought to keep trying

But more or less:

- Mathematics: emerges from a parsing of the one – the one is the continuum, and all mathematical concepts emerge from interpreting it

- Science: the precise study of anything, fragmented into endless disciplines today, but perhaps eventually amenable to a “unity of science” project grounded in an ontology of “the one” which categorizes the subjects and defines their relations through a common mathematical scheme

- Humanism: the same ontology without the bureaucracy and the metaphors. Ethics can be defined as and derived from a relationship to the whole, whether or not we call that whole “God”

- Spirituality: the source of all religion, in its universal sense emerging from the one.

- Semantics: all word meaning is contained within and derived from the universal (often ad hoc and context-specific) decomposition of the one


So ok, back to chasing the ontologist’ s curse, thanks for the message….


Bruce Schuman Santa Barbara CA USA, 805-705-9174

From: On Behalf Of Paola Di Maio Sent: Monday, March 4, 2019 10:01 PM To: SW-forum Cc: Mailing List ;; ontolog-forum Subject: [ontolog-forum] Re: Solomon's curse and search Bias

Thanks all for the many replies (scratching head)

so many angles, and glad the quest for knowledge resonates on this list (may reply separately on individual issues)

Basically, since I was born, nobody could answer simple existential questions why we live, why there is suffering why we die. As a child did not know there is difference between history and mythology *uh?

Parents could not - or they could some at some basic level - nor could school teachers nor the priest (we were told to ask the clergy because they tended to be a bit more learned than the average populatio). Then was sent to the doctor to see if there was an underlying medical condition for my concern.

It was disheartening journey, spent much time in libraries where again, there was so much knowledge it was impossible to find some single answer within my lifetime

Then I realised that I was learning more about epistemology and category theory, the way humans represent knowledge rather than knowledge itself - more than about the topic themselves that to get to some answer first one had to learn about the knowledge structure of that particular subject To me that was kind of annoying

Then came the computer , the internet , the hope to understand the meaning of life a bit quicker. But first I had to learn about html. which I did because it wasnt that hard. Now we are asking questions to Google!!!

With every year that goes by, the total amount of knowledge that humanity accumulates only grows and grows. At the start of 2015, humanity had never detected a gravitational wave; at present, we've detected 11, and fully expect to find perhaps hundreds more in 2019.

Humanity learning curve is speeding up, and possibly getting nearer a climax

The web, distributed, instant knowledge and communication together with the other technology advances (better optical lenses, faster and less expensive computation etc) are underlying this increased cognitive surge

But when making our daily choices, such as ordering a sandwich, we do not necessarily harness the knowledge that is available to us - why? this could be a challenge for educators/future generations

But also for the present generation, since were still mostly concerned about location, price and speed of delivery of our sandwiches, but not always/necessarily about the other factors which are inextricably linked to our consumer choices, like environmental impact health and possibly other stuff. How can the content of our sandwich be related to the meaning of life.

Much advances are being made in cognition, showing that the cognitive function, the intellect and intelligence come from the connections between different parts of our brain

Until very recently, or maybe even up to our days history and political structure have been shaped by religion.mythology because that is all we had

If parts of history are classed under mythology because evidence has never been found, or has been faded or disintegrated because of the elements, then we may never truly understand If there was a Solomon, and indeed a Solomon Curse (still trying to find out) then what would that mean for me and you , exactly?

BTW, there is quite a lot of evidence of Solomon Kingdoms, but our query result does not take that into account

what I am trying to say, I guess, is that to understand the world and resolve the meaning of life we need to reconcile the vastly fragmented data and information to yield a reasonably comprehensive search result, even when ordering the sandwich

Looks like its up to us to figure out how to improve the quality of information gathered from generic searches when people go to Google for answers - , then we ll be glad this list is still open

More later