about Ontographer 1.0

Are you a lexicographer, ontologist, taxonomist, semiotician, or translator? A methodical manipulator of conceptual language and linguistic concepts? An interpreter of interpretations interpreted? If so, you could very well be an Ontographer. Are you schooled in Classical rhetoric, Medieval mnemotechné, Renaissance epistemology, Enlightenment jurisprudence, Fin de siècle metapsychology, Modernist belles-lettres, and Postmodern cognitivism? If so, your name is Umberto Eco; if not—well, nor are we. Nevertheless, we should like to invite lingo-slingers to help raise our infantile babble-box into a literate lexicon.

The utility of our Mind Modeler should increase over time as the AIA platform learns from usage by registered Archemind Members. To that end, the Mind Modeler depends upon invisibility of mechanism to end Users, just as the AIA schema depends upon visibility of mechanism to Administrators.

The Modeler-User (reader, writer, editor; teacher, student, privateer) is provided an intuitive User Interface (UI) in which to manipulate multivalent concepts by subjecting their value-laden lexical signifiers to value-free visuospatial schematization. Less technically, Mind Models place words into relation via geometric figures that extend the reach of conceptual language past the limits of propositional speech.

Ontographer UI

The Ontographer-Administrator (ontologist, taxonomist, lexicographer; linguist, logician, semiotician) is provided a supplementary UI in which to more directly manipulate the underlying AIA database by way of its objects (terms, lemmas, lexemes, definitions) and relations (variation, opposition, mediation, hierarchy).

While the Ontographer UI launches as a utility within the Archemind-hosted Mind Modeler, in principle a freestanding version of either UI can be adapted to any lexical database or domain ontology. If you are free from metalinguistic malady, this probably strikes you as an alien tongue (or as Roland Barthes put it, “I have a disease. I see language”)—but if it strikes you as potentially interesting, please read onward.

ontographers unite!

Philosophy will not regain its proper status until the gradual elaboration of categorial schemes, definitely stated at each stage of progress, is recognized as its proper objective. There may be rival schemes, inconsistent among themselves; each with its own merits and its own failures. It will then be the purpose of research to conciliate the differences. Metaphysical categories are not dogmatic statements of the obvious; they are tentative formulations of the ultimate generalities.

—Alfred North Whitehead, 1929

On one hand, Archemind Intelligent Artifice is an “open source” project in keeping with the advent of crowdsourcing and other distributed cognitive systems. On the other hand, its immediate synchronic functions depend upon mediated diachronic reformulation: we must, as Whitehead has it, “conciliate the differences.” When compared to the lexical inventory of a literate human being, the general-purpose database behind our Mind Modeler may seem a bit stupid; should you see fit to lend your considerable knowledge by a dextrous hand in the altruistic sprit of collaboration, the improved ‘smarts’ of the AIA engine will flatter its Administrators and Users alike.

We would be particularly pleased to hear from translators whose work calls for inventive reassembly from our timeworn inventory of conceptual components—that is, in the Latin sense of inventio—of selective withdrawal from the semio-linguistic strongbox. In addition to speeding the development of Mind Modeler Multilingua, we should bolster our Anglophone database with definitions sufficient for end Users to discern différance from difference, differencial from differential, detention from detension, and intentional from intensional. Nit-picks to box-ticks. Sharpen your pencils.

ontographers untie!

We would like it to escape no one’s attention that we are not playing games of synonymy by manipulating the speechwriter’s senseless bag of tricks. Philosophy’s court admits of no synonyms, unless in this day and age we wish to reckon amongst philosophers those grammarians who have acquired their chief distinction from the despicable power of words while harmonizing in the style of parrots and monkeys; nor unless we wish to compete with Cicero in the profession of sciences by trading small Greek words for large Latin ones, thereby mixing linguistic knowledge into the matters under consideration.

—Giordano Bruno, 1592

In order to reckon Archemind Users according to our needs, yours, and theirs, we must differentiate between Mind Modelers in general and more specialized Ontographers. While “we” should like to democratize critical thinking, we shan’t kid ourselves about the wider prospects. Thinking is not everyone’s cup of tea—and less so, critique (cf. “ignorance is bliss” and other sad truisms).

To get the (perhaps Sisyphean) ball rolling, for the first set we have composed a user-friendly e-book, The Model Mind, from which you may discern our method, if not our madness; for the second, we have composed a critical essay, Ontography in a Nutshell, from which you may discern our motive, if not our maxim. While the first set is a mixed bag of language users, effectively unaware of our computational mechanisms (never mind their own), the powerset is a cluster-bomb of metalanguage users, the bombast of whose hyperbolic petard perpetually over-hoists itself in the manner of a Hegelian Tilt-a-Whirl.

“parrots and monkeys”!

Words and phrases must be stretched towards a generality foreign to their ordinary usage; and however such elements of language be stabilized as technicalities, they remain metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap. [...] Every science must devise its own instruments. The tool required for philosophy is language. Thus philosophy redesigns language in the same way that, in a physical science, preexisting appliances are redesigned.

—Alfred North Whitehead, 1929

While our concerns may be “philosophical,” our methodology is “scientific.” While we shall strive for the “elaboration of categorial schemes [... as] tentative formulations of the ultimate generalities”, we shan’t “reckon amongst philosophers those grammarians who have acquired their chief distinction from the despicable power of words”. From the ecumenical to the heretical; if the book errs on the side of Whitehead, the essay errs on the side of Bruno.

If, having scanned this and that, you’re interested in getting under the hood (UK: “bonnet”) and turning a wrench (UK: “spanner”), contact us here and we’ll see about upgrading your membership. Please provide a publicly accessible URL where we can view your CV or resumé, your papers or abstracts, your portfolio or manifesto—prithee, omitting screed and TOE; our cup already runneth over with H2SO4.

read onward: Ontography in a Nutshell »

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