Ontological Requirement for Supporting Smart Navigation of Philosophical Resources




This thesis describes a novel method for formalizing philosophical knowledge and shows how, by using it, it is possible to produce intelligent navigation mechanisms for supporting learning about philosophy. The approach taken relies on the usage of Semantic Web technologies for the
codification of the meaning of data and the retrieval of relevant resources. As such, it represents a groundbreaking attempt to adopt these disciplines in a less traditional domain; a domain that, because of its inherent abstractness, poses peculiar problems both at the epistemological and the knowledge representation levels.

What are the major types of entities playing a role in philosophical discourse, and how shall we proceed in order to have a computer manipulate efficiently a set of representations about them? These are the kind of questions lying at the heart of our research. Moreover, we attempt to test this formal framework by putting it into practice with a real-world application, PhiloSurfical.

PhiloSurfical is a prototype tool created with the purpose of helping students learn about a classic in twentieth century philosophy, Wittgensteinʼs ʻTractatus Logico-Philosophicusʼ, by means of dynamic and contextual navigation mechanisms. In particular, the dissertation discusses how such mechanisms could be developed so to mimic some of the classic ways the philosophical discipline employs to narrate itself. For this reason, we generally refer to them
as narrative pathways (e.g., historical narrative, theoretical narrative, etc.).

Evaluation of both the ontology and the prototype tool have shown positive results. Also, it has revealed interesting and complementary research direction which we present in the final sections of this work.

Full reference:

Michele Pasin, Enrico Motta, Zdenek Zdrahal. Ontological Requirement for Supporting Smart Navigation of Philosophical Resources - PhD Thesis Milton Keynes, UK, The Open University July 2009 . PDF

See also:


paper  An Ontological View of Canonical Citations

Digital Humanities 2011 , Stanford, USA, Jun 2011.

paper  Ontological Requirements for Annotation and Navigation of Philosophical Resources

Synthese, Volume 182, Number 2, Springer, Jan 2011.


paper  PhiloSURFical: An Ontological Approach To Support Philosophy Learning

Semantic Web Technologies for e-Learning, Oct 2009. D. Dicheva, R. Mizoguchi, J. Greer (Eds.), vol. 4 The Future of Learning, IOS Press

paper  Ontological Requirement for Supporting Smart Navigation of Philosophical Resources

PhD Thesis, Milton Keynes, UK, The Open University, Jul 2009.


paper  Formalizing ʻphilosophicalʼ narratives: the tension between form and content

European Computing and Philosophy Conference (ECAP08), Montpellier, France, Jun 2008.


paper  Supporting Philosophers’ Work through the Semantic Web: Ontological Issues

Fifth International Workshop on Ontologies and Semantic Web for E-Learning (SWEL-07), held in conjunction with AIED-07, Marina Del Rey, California, USA, Jul 2007.


paper  An ontology for the description and navigation through philosophical resources

European Conference on Philosophy and Computing (ECAP-06), Trondheim, Norway, Jun 2006.