First Paolo Bozzi Prize in Ontology to be awarded to Barry Smith

The idea of a prize in ontology has become necessary at a time when philosophy is moving out of the confines of academia and making contributions to the better understanding and management of the wider world in fields such as social ontology, bioinformatics, intelligence analysis, and many more. The prize, which was designed especially by the artist Ugo Nespolo, is being awarded for the first time to Barry Smith, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the University at Buffalo and founder of IFOMIS, the Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science in Saarbrücken, Germany, which was the first to initiate a large-scale ontological research initiative in the biomedical sciences.


Smith has made groundbreaking contributions in practically all important areas of ontology. He is Director of the US National Center for Ontological Research, a founder of the Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) Foundry, and a lead scientist in the Ontology for General Medical Science (OGMS), Protein Ontology (PRO) and Infectious Disease Ontology (IDO) initiatives. He also works with the US Army Net-Centric Data Strategy Center of Excellence on ontology-based data integration and reasoning and with Hernando de Soto of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima, Peru on the role of documentation in social and economic development.


The award ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 4p.m. in the Aula of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Turin. It will be followed by a lecture given by Barry Smith and a laudatio by Professor Maurizio Ferraris.


The Award was conceived by Maurizio Ferraris, who has made decisive contributions to social ontology through the foundation of LabOnt (the Laboratory of Ontology) in the University of Turin, and in particular through his development of the theme of "documentality", a theory of how social reality is intimately related to the systems of documents which underlie it. The title of Smith's lecture, "How to Do Things with Documents," fits exactly with this scheme.


Why dedicate the award to Paolo Bozzi? Paolo Bozzi (1930-2003) was professor of psychology at the University of Trieste. He was a proponent of radical ontological realism, who became the standard bearer of a philosophy that does not see the real world as dissolving into words, but actually gives it weight, autonomy and dignity, and thereby frees it from the stench and fluidity of postmodernism. Bozzi's life work demonstrates the need for an ontological reconstruction of philosophy exactly as manifested in initiatives such as IFOMIS and LabOnt.


Streaming video of prize ceremony is here:

Lecture by Barry Smith in English starts at about 35:45

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
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