[Crm-sig] Issue: E89 Propositional Object and Symbolic Object, CRM compliant and museum doc.

Christian-Emil Ore c.e.s.ore at edd.uio.no
Thu May 1 13:34:07 EEST 2008

Dear Günther
There may be a misunderstanding here. I have no problems personally with 
the CRM. I am completely aware that we don't need neither set theory or 
higher order type theory. I also appreciate Frege for example his 
definition of a number: The number 5 is 'to count to 5'. Altenatively, 
the number 5 is what is common for all sets containing 5 elements. This 
is in fact very parallel to what the nat.historians try to express with 
their species concept.

My main concern is how we should disseminate a good understanding of 
what the CRM is and why it is useful as a (conceptual) tool for 
integrating information in the cultural heritage sector.

It is clear that the activities in the CRM SIG are and perhaps also 
should be focused on the development of the CRM as an ontology. It may 
also be so that the CRM SIG for these reasons no longer (perhaps it has 
never been) is a group primarily for museum documentalists but for 
people interested in analytic philosophy, ontologies and semantics and 
the semantic web (in the computer science understanding). I have no 
problems with that.

Still I think we should keep in mind why the work on the CRM was 
initiated: The CIDOC ER model was not satisfactory and one saw the need 
for a better model for data interchange in the cultural heritage sector. 
The development of the CRM is a great success but if all memory 
institutions use DC instead we have failed and the CRM will just be 
another interesting exercise. I too often meet people who says the CRM 
is too abstract or somewhat better' we have been inspired by the CRM but 
the entire model is too complex for our needs'. This is an attitude I 
have observed also among advanced groups in humanities' computing. This 
worries me.

Compared to standard practice and models in the cultural heritage sector 
there are three major new features in the CRM: Events, abstract objects 
(abstract content of intellectual works, concepts (e.g. species in 
nat.hist) and more specific abstract motifs of images) and the strict 
distinction between a name and the object it denotes. In most museum 
databases there are no explicit events, implicit events are thought to 
be identical to their identifier and the databases are focused only on 
material objects even in art museum database. We all know this.

In my opinion we need both to continue to develop the CRM and to make it 
more accessible. If we could convince the museum community that they 
should start to document events, abstract objects and make a distinction 
between the denotation and the denoted object The CRM core is a step to 
make the CRM more easily understandable. The main question is: How do we 
find resources to write tutorial material and make it more 
understandable to a wider community. At the Heraklion meeting in 2006, I 
said that a transcript of Stephen Stead's introduction would be a good 
starting point. I still below it would be.


On 30.04.2008 00:48, Guenther Goerz wrote:
> Dear Christian-Emil,
> I think there is no need to be worried.  Basically, things are quite
> easy to understand and no set theory and no higher order logic are
> required, although the proposed scope note for E89 seems to me rather
> myterious and not very helpful. I think, the essentials can be
> explained in a rather simple way which everybody will be able to
> understand.
> So let's start with a basic everyday scenario: Given a material object
> we can point to --- common agreement about that simple fact assumed
> ---, we could use
> a) a proper noun to address it (like "Emil"), or
> b) a common noun or a definite description (as "man")
> to refer to it.  The second case explains the use of the term "man" by
> pointing to examples (and counterexamples).  In this way, we can only
> address or refer to individuals, but not concepts: you can point to
> the sign "IIIIIII" or "VII" or --- taken the cultural history of
> number writng systems for granted --- the sign "7" , but not to the
> concept of "number 7" oder just the concept of "number".  Predication,
> of course, is not a definition.  If we want to define the concept of
> "man" or "number", we need some more linguistic expressivity.
> How do we get to concepts?  Frege says, by abstraction, in the
> following way: Under a given goal or purpose, we name explicitly and
> positively certain properties, and we collect individuals which have
> the same properties in a class, e.g. we collect all objects
> representing the same number of counting signs in a class.
> Mathematically spoken, this is an equivalence class partition, but
> this can be handled by practicioners without understanding equivalence
> relations at all.  The decisive point is that we make a
> linguistic/logical transition (only, no psychological operation etc.
> --- keep in mind that Frege's abstraction was introduced at the time
> where psychologism in mathematics was heavily criticzed) in that we
> now speak about "abstract objects", but those are nothing else than
> equivalence classes where any element may be used as a representative:
> take seven strokes at the wall or seven nodes in a quipu or seven eggs
> in a basket... No secret at all behind the concept of "number". So,
> abstraction is a methodological "facon de parler", we speak about the
> same individual objects in a new fashion: Abstracta are
> linguistic/logical constructs, i.e. objects of language, and nothing
> mental (as the tradition from Aristotle through Ockham --- yes, also
> the Nominalists were mentalists --- to Descartes claimed).
> If we build sentences which contain a defined concept as, e.g.,
> "number", we speak "about" it, e.g. "The number 7 is a prime number"
> (given the definition of prime numbers in advance).
> This should be sufficient to demystify the Dahlberg diagram (although
> I don't agree with everything she claims): We have an object, item of
> reference, we use a linguistic sign to refer to it and we build
> abstractions ("synthesis") by explicitly naming relevant properties.
> Furthermore, we can construct sentences which say something "about" an
> item of reference, i.e. by subsuming it under a given class, talk
> about values of its properties, etc. So, I think, quite simple, no
> artificial popularization level required, and no reason to worry.
> The object-centered perspective comes in if we arrange concepts in a
> hierarchy, i.e. if we describe prime numbers as a special kind of
> numbers, etc., given by a terminological rule "if n is a prime number
> then n is a number", etc.  Assuming  appropriate definitions, then
> prime numbers "inherit" all general properties any number has... a
> rather obvious idea.  As for granularity, there is no general
> recommendation except the fact that the degree of detail of a
> description depends on the what you want to do with it; even as a
> physicist you will not describe a piece of wood in quantum mechanical
> terms if you want to build a table, but if you are planning some a
> material science experiment you might want to extend your description
> to the atomic level for obvious reasons.
> Would you think that I left out something VERY important??
> Hope this helps,
> best wishes,
> -- Guenther Goerz
> On 4/29/08, Christian-Emil Ore <c.e.s.ore at edd.uio.no> wrote:
>> Dear all,
>>  I follow the interesting discussion about E89 Propositional Object and
>>  Symbolic Object, 'refer to' and 'is about'. This is a non trivial topic
>>  and  specially interesting for people with background in formal
>>  philosophy or logic. That is ok for me since I have this background (set
>>  theoretical models for higher order type theory).
>>  The introduction of  higher level philosophical concepts in the model
>>  may make the model harder to understand for persons without special
>>  training in and/or interest in formal logic. This worries me.
>>  One of the major advantages of CRM is the possibility to use the object
>>  oriented formalism to choose levels of granularity.
>>  It may be so that it could be an idea to have a granularity dimension
>>  also on the philosophical complexity, that is, a kind of popularisation
>>  axis (without throwing out the nicely and concise defined baby with the
>>  water)? This may also make it easier to formulate an operational
>>  compatibility requirement. It may also make CRM easier to understand for
>>  a larger number of museum/cultural heritage persons form whom it was
>>  originally intended (I at least believe).
>>  Regards
>>  hristian-Emil
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