Monday, July 21, 2003

Of Dragons and Classifications

Whoa... here's an interesting article by Lily Diaz-Kommonen. Just a sample of the mysteries within:

"Ontology has been described as the science of being; a “theory regarding the entities, especially the abstract entities to be admitted into a language of description.” Ontology can also be defined as a way of characterizing the world and its entities through language. As a tool for description, ontology can be used in defining parameters, as well as the artifacts and ecology that populate a given domain of knowledge. Formal classification systems are definitions of shared ontologies for particular knowledge domains. Against this background, the material culture resulting from syncretism presents an immense challenge to traditional ontological approaches. On the one hand, there is the immense variety and complexity of knowledge sources and traditions crystallized in the syncretic representation. On the other, there is the problematic of fuzzy boundaries characteristic of syncretism. When dealing with a syncretic artifact, there may be no way to empirically ascertain a common ancestor, a source of origin. Ultimately there may not be such as thing as a pure ideal type against which others can be measured. This essay examines some of the issues and problems involved in the classification of syncretic artifacts. It advocates the need for development of alternative approaches and proposes an initial thrust of development through the use of Prototype Theory. Such efforts can be instrumental in the design of new forms of interpretation and knowledge production."

And she justifies it all while describing the curious inclusion of a Japanese Samurai statue in the Latin American section of the Helinä Rautavaara collection. Interesting stuff!


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