Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Been There, Done That

L Magee has recently discovered that social scientists are confused by how the Semantic Web community uses the term “ontology” to refer, not to the study of being, but to formal representations of knowledge. LM has recently fielded a suggestion that this confusion is best avoided by appending some prefix or suffix to the term “ontology” when used in its specialised Semantic Web context – e-ontology has been suggested – while reserving the unmodified term “ontology” for the standard philosophical meaning. This suggestion has understandably caused some concern, as the use of the term “ontology” has an established meaning in a Semantic Web context, and appending a suffix or prefix would break with the established conventions of this field.

As a possible resolution for this dilemma, I would suggest that LM consider instead placing a suffix or prefix on the term “ontology” when the philosophical meaning is intended.

My personal suggestion would be to use the prefix “ger” for the classic philosophical meaning. Just as the prefix “e” was intended to capture the newness of the Semantic Web concept of ontology, the prefix “ger” can capture the ancient character of the philosophical conception.

I’m sure that everyone would agree that gerontology would get the desired distinction across.

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One response to “Been There, Done That

  1. L Magee April 20, 2007 at 8:34 am

    I consider this expressly unfair, given my imminent birthday next week… It is perhaps appropriate that I begin to devote further attention to this sphere of life. Nevertheless I think we should keep our communications civil, without undue reference to our interlocutors’ age – deontologically speaking, at any rate…

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