Research Background on Ontology

Research Background on Ontology

Ahlam F. Sawsaa (University of Huddersfield, UK & Benghazi University, Libya) and Joan Lu (University of Huddersfield, UK)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 67
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2058-0.ch011
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The literature review gives the background to the research process, which consisted of three main aspects to find out the theoretical background essential to this project. These aspects were: ontological engineering, Information Science, and Communities of Practice within knowledge management. The following sections provide an overview of key literature relevant to this project. Firstly, however, the background starts with some basic definitions to establish what is meant by ontology and what the significance of creating ontology is. The survey will come back to the three key aspects of this study and review literature on these; firstly, ontology.
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Historical And Philosophical Persective Of The Ontology

To understand the ontological foundation for the ontology of Information Science it required reviewing diverse approaches to the notion of this concept. This section reviews some of the literature that is relevant to philosophical ontology. We explore some views from logicians that have influenced this project.

The ontology concept came from a branch of philosophy. Philosophers used ontology as a synonym of metaphysics - that means anything comes after the physical (Smith, 2003). Consequently, they defined it as a theory related to the study of relationships between beings (Webster's, 2010). More accurately, ontology is the study of things categories that may exist or already do exist in some domains (Sowa, 2000).

Back to the history from a philosophical perspective, Aristotle (384-322BC) invented ontology as a study of the ways that the universe is organised into categories. The category is the highest level of universal obtained from those domains; all other universals reorganised their hierarchies that need the top levels of categories, such as City, Man, and Organism. In (1200-1600) medieval scholars developed a common control vocabulary for talking about these universals in terms of sorts of reality. Descartes only initiated a movement of epistemology as a centre of philosophy rather than ontology or metaphysics until around (1960-61) by differentiating between mental and physical subspecies which had not been a problem for Aristotle. Brentano (1838-1917) denied the differences between philosophy and science; he said they are one and the same. Husserl (1859-1938) influenced by Brentano, invented formal ontology as a discipline distinct from formal logic. He showed how philosophy and science had become detached from the real life world or ordinary experience (Calero et al., 2006).

Philosophical ontology is a way of describing reality by providing a comprehensive classification of entities. That means organising all kinds of relations by classes or entities collectively (Merrill, 2011).

In general, methods of philosophical ontology are derived from philosophical methods. These methods include theory development, and testing and modifying them. Furthermore, these methods were similar to Aristotle’s view.

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