[Crm-sig] Homework

Martin Doerr martin at ics.forth.gr
Fri Jan 3 18:23:35 EET 2020

Dear All,

I wish you all a Happy New Year, successful and in good health.

Here my attempt to describe the reality concept of the CRM and its 
relation to a knowledge base. Please comment!!

      Reality and Knowledge Bases

The CIDOC CRM is a formal ontology in the sense introduced by N.Guarino 
[XXXX]. In order to understand the function of a formal ontology for 
collecting information in research processes about the past that can be 
shared, connected and integrated into coherent resources, one needs to 
make the following distinctions:

a)a) The /material reality/. For the purpose of the CRM, it is taken as 
that which is of a substance that can be perceived with senses or 
instruments, such as people, a forest or a settlement environment, sea, 
atmosphere, distant celestial or cellular micro structures, including 
what we assume that could be potentially or theoretically perceived if 
we could be there, such as the center of Earth or the sun, and all that 
is past. It is constraint to space and time. What is going on in /our 
minds/ and produced by our minds is also regarded as part of the 
material reality, as it becomes materially evident to other people at 
least by our utterances, behavior and products.

b)b) The units of description or /particulars/, i.e., the things and 
relations as which we distinguish parts of reality when we refer to it, 
such as Mount Ida, the Taj Mahal, the formation of Chinaby emperor Qin 
Shi Huang(秦始皇) in 221BC,Tut-Ankh Amun and his embalmment, Prince Shotoku 
of Japan sending a mission to China in 607AD, the participation 
ofSocrates in the Battle of Potidaea or the radiocarbon dating of the 
Iceman Ötzi[1] <#_ftn1>.

A formal ontology, such as the CIDOC CRM, constitutes a controlled 
language for talking about particulars. I.e., it provides definitions of 
classes and properties for categorizing particulars as so-called 
“instances” in a way that their individuation, unity and relevant 
properties are as unambiguous as possible. For instance, Tut-Ankh Amun 
as instance of E21 Person /is/ the real pharaoh from his birth to death, 
and not extending to his mummy, as follows from the specification of the 
class E21 Person and its properties in the CRM.

For clarification, the CRM does not take a position against or in favor 
of the existence of /spiritual /substance nor of substance not 
accessible by either senses or instruments, nor does it suggest a 
materialistic philosophy. However, for practical reasons, it relies on 
the priority of integrating information based on material evidence 
available for /whatever/ human experience. The CRM only commits to a 
/unique material reality/ independent from the observer.

When we /provide descriptions/ of particulars, we need to refer to them 
by unique names, titles or constructed identifiers, instances of E41 
Appellation in the CRM, if the reference should be independent from 
context, such as reference by pronouns or enumerations of characteristic 
properties. The appellation itself, and the relation between the 
appellation and the referred item or relationship, must not be confused 
with the referred and its identity. Instances of the CRM are the /real 
/particulars, not their names. Particulars are approximate 
individuations, like sections, of parts of reality.

In contrast, a CRM-compatible /knowledge base/ is an information object, 
instance of E73 Information Object in the CRM. It relates appellations 
with identifiers of CRM-Concepts in propositions about a described 
reality. Thereby users, in their capacity of having real-world knowledge 
and cognition, may be able to relate these propositions to the reality 
they are meant to characterize, and reason and research about their 
validity. In other words, the formal instances in a knowledge base are 
the /identifiers/, not the real things or phenomena.  Therefore, a 
knowledge base does not contain knowledge, but represents knowledge of 
its maintainers, as long as there exist people that can resolve the used 
identifiers to their referents.


[1] <#_ftnref1> Kutschera, Walter. “Radiocarbon dating of the Iceman 
Ötzi with accelerator mass spectrometry.” (2002).

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