RDF and Wittgenstein

[27 July 2008]

The more I think about RDF’s goal of providing a monotonic semantics for RDF graphs (under pressure in part from my colleague Thomas Roessler, to whom thanks), the more the RDF triple seems to be an attempt to operationalize Wittgenstein’s notion of atomic fact, with all the advantages and disadvantages that that entails. Is this an insight, or just a blazing truism? Or false?

Interesting that this possibility seems to run counter to Steve Pepper’s remark “RDF/OWL is to Aristotle as Topic Maps is to Wittgenstein.” Perhaps SP has the Wittgenstein of the Untersuchungen in mind?

One thought on “RDF and Wittgenstein

  1. Yes, exactly, it was the later Wittgenstein I had in mind — in particular the discussion (in Untersuchungen) of the category “game” and the notion of family resemblances.

    The contrast between the Aristotelian view of categories (defined in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions) and the view that category membership is based on resemblance to prototypical members seems somehow to be reflected in the contrast between RDF/OWL and Topic Maps (as between generative and cognitive linguistics).

    It’s just a thought, though. I haven’t really thought it through and I’m not sure it will lead to any useful insights.

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