Language, logic and ontology: uncovering the structure of commonsense knowledge

Saba, Walid (2007) Language, logic and ontology: uncovering the structure of commonsense knowledge. (In Press)

This is the latest version of this eprint.

Full text available as:



The purpose of this paper is twofold: (i) we argue that the structure of commonsense knowledge must be discovered, rather than invented; and (ii) we argue that natural language, which is the best known theory of our (shared) commonsense knowledge, should itself be used as a guide to discovering the structure of commonsense knowledge. In addition to suggesting a systematic method to the discovery of the structure of commonsense knowledge, the method we propose seems to also provide an explanation for a number of phenomena in natural language, such as metaphor, intensionality, and the semantics of nominal compounds. Admittedly, our ultimate goal is quite ambitious, and it is no less than the systematic ‘discovery’ of a well-typed ontology of commonsense knowledge, and the subsequent formulation of the longawaited goal of a meaning algebra.

Item Type:Other
Additional Information:In Press, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Keywords:Ontology, semantics, commonsense knowledge, reasoning
Subjects:Computer Science > Language
Philosophy > Philosophy of Language
Linguistics > Computational Linguistics
Linguistics > Semantics
Computer Science > Artificial Intelligence
Linguistics > Pragmatics
ID Code:5535
Deposited By: Saba, Walid
Deposited On:08 May 2007
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:56

Available Versions of this Item

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Allen, J. (1987), Natural Language Understanding, Benjamin/Cummings Menlo Park:CA.

Asher, N. and Lascarides, A. (1998), The Semantics & Pragmatics of Presupposition,

Journal of Semantics, 15:239-299.

Barwise, J. (1989), The Situation in Logic, CSLI, Stanford.

Charniak, E. (1993), Statistical Language Learning, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Cochiarella, N. B. (2001), Logic and Ontology, Axiomathes, 12, pp. 117-150.

Cresswell, M. J. (1973), Logics and Languages, Methuen & Co., London.

Dubois, et al. (1994), Fuzzy Logic vs. Possibilistic Logic, IEEE Expert, 9(4), pp. 15-19

Dummett, M. (1981), Frege: Philosophy of Language, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge:


Elkan, C. (1993), The Paradoxical Success of Fuzzy Logic, In Proceedings of the 11th

National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI-93, pp. 698-703..

Fodor, J. (1998), Concepts – Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong, New York, Oxford

University Press.

Fodor, J. & Lepore, E. (1996), The pet fish and the red herring: why concepts aren't

prototypes, Cognition 58: 243–276.

Guarino, N. and Welty, C. (2000), A Formal Ontology of Properties, In Proc. 12th Int.

Conf. on Knowledge Engineering & Knowledge Management, LNCS, Springer.

Hobbs, J. (1985), Ontological Promiscuity, In Proc. of the 23rd Annual Meeting of the

Assoc. for Computational Linguistics, pp. 61-69, Chicago, Illinois, 1985.

Hobbs, J. R., et al. (1993), Interpretation as Abduction, Artificial Intelligence, 63:69-142.

Hobbs, J. R. and Moore, R. (Eds.) (1985), Formal Theoreis of the Commonsense World,

Norwood, N.J. : Ablex Publishers.

Kamp, H. & B. Partee. 1995. Prototype theory & Compositionality, Cognition 57:129-191.

Kurtzman, H. and MacDonald, M. (1993), Resolution of Quantifier Scope Ambiguities,

Cognition, 48: 243-279.

Lahav, R. (1989), Against Compositionality: the Case of Adjectives, Philosophical Studies,


Lakoff, G. (1987), Women, Fire and Dangerous Things – What Categories Reveal About

the Mind, Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press.

Lenat, D. B. and Guha, R.V. (1990), Building Large Knowledge-Based Systems:

Representation & Inference in the CYC Project. Addison-Wesley.

McCarthy, J. (1980), Circumscription - A Form of Non-Monotonic Reasoning, Artificial

Intelligence, 13:27-39.

Mahesh, K. and Nirenburg, S. (1995), A Situated Ontology for Practical NLP, In IJCAI-95

Workshop on Basic Ontological Issues in Knowledge Sharing, IJCAI-95, August 1995,

Montreal, Canada.

Montague, R. (1960), On the Nature of Certain Philosophical Entities. The Monist, 53:159-


Montague, R., 1974. In Thomason, R. (1974) (Ed.), Formal Philosophy: Selected Papers of

Richard Montague, Yale University Press.

Pereira, F. C. N. and Pollack, M. E. (1991), Incremental Interpretation, Artificial

Intelligence, 50:37-82.

Pustejovsky, J. (2001), Type Construction and the Logic of Concepts, In P. Bouillon and F.

Busa (eds.), The Syntax of Word Meanings, Cambridge University Press.

Reinhart, T. (1997), Quantifier Scope: How Labor is Divided between QR and Choice

Functions, Linguistics and Philosophy, 20(4): 335-397

Saba, W. S. and Corriveau, J.-P. (1997), A Pragmatic Treatment of Quantification in

Natural Language, In Proc. of the 1997 National Conference on Artificial Intelligence,

pp. 610-615, Morgan Kaufmann

Saba, W. S. and Corriveau, J-P. (2001), Plausible Reasoning and the Resolution of

Quantifier Scope Ambiguities, Studia Logica, 67(1):271-289

Sloman, AS., Love, B. and Ahn, W-K. (1998), Feature Similarity and Conceptual

Coherence, Cognitive Science, 22(2):189-228.

Sowa, J. F. (1995). Knowledge Representation: Logical, Philosophical, and Computational

Foundations. Boston, MA: PWS Publishing Company.

van Deemter, K. (1996), Towards a Logic of Ambiguous Expressions, In van Deemter and

S. Peters (1996).

van Deemter and S. Peters (1996) (Eds.), Semantic Ambiguity and Underspecification,

CSLI, Stanford, CA.

Zadronzy, W. & Jensen K. (1991), Semantics of Paragraphs, Computational Linguistics,



Repository Staff Only: item control page