Dear Johannes,

I'm pretty fond of freemind and semAuth. As suggested by the freemind authors I have encoded my PhD thesis in a tree ( freemind source: | web: ):

Now that I learned that semAuth will support me even in adding formal semantics to my text. This gave me the idea to formalize early foundations of language philosophy - let me call it a "Tractatus"- in form of an ontology. My hope is to abandon all this weak and hermeunic stuff from philosophy, turning philosophy into a sound and positive science. Wouldn't it be possible to extract a formal ontology from my text with semAuth?

yours, Ludwig W.


Dear Ludwig,

in fact the semantic web approach (as of 2008) relies heavily on the "Abbildtheorie" of language you are outlining in your work. In fact the semantic web relies on a pretty neo-positivistic view on the world. And this is exactly the reason why there is no chance to *turn* your text into a formal ontology.

Why not?

First you are perfectly right with claim "5.6 The limits of my language mean the limits of my world". It easily can bee seen that your text itself contains much more philopsophy than you could express if you would stick to your own conclusions, i.e. "7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." I.e. you are perfectly right with your conclusion "6.54 ... he who understands me finally recognizes [my propositions] as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright." Eat your own dogfood: go ahead! Throw away the ladder, overcome the restrictions of formal (or logical, semantical etc.) thinking!

Second you are right in the claim "5.63 I am my world. (The microcosm.)". This claim will lead not only to a psychological solipsism. It also will lead to a formal solipsism: The more expressive you have axiomatized a formal ontology, the less compatible it will be with other conceptualizations. (Some people say that OWL ontologies are write only artefacts.)

What about taking a break from ontology engineering, say in a nice mountion valley in Österreich? (They are often looking for primary school teachers there; try e.g. Trattenbach, Puchberg am Schneeberg, Otterthal). Probably the fresh air will help you to pass over in silence some years, allowing you to grow an even much richer analytical philosophy of language afterwards?

yours, Johannes


The semAuth tool addresses the problem you are stumbled over from a pragmatic point of view. Though a formal ontology can formalize (or even "construct") some aspects of the world, there will always be an overwhelming amout of aspect which have to be communicated in a much more informal way.

Thus the semAuth tool is not meant to be a formal ontology engineering kit. Instead it is a tool which allows you to reflect in informal language (i.e. a buch of xhtml pages) *about* concepts and formal aspects of your ontology without identifying your reflections with the ontology itself. SemAuth is a sort of "literate modeling" tool, mirroring the "literate programming" approach of Donald Knuth. It allows you to extract a simple ontolgy (mainly the A-box plus some trivial T-box statements) from its documentation (as opposed to other approaches which extract a documentation from an ontology instead). SemAuth stresses the communicative function of formal ontologies, i.e. it's capability to communicate "formalized" understanings from human to human.

What you could do is to enhance the structure of your text with semAuth, i.e. by annotating words, tagging sentences, prviding hyperlinks etc. This should work perfectly fine, allowing you to communicate understandings instead of meaningless formal axioms.