Barry Smith
Department of Philosophy, Center for Cognitive Science and NCGIA,
SUNY Buffalo, NY 14260-1010, USA

Abstract: Where some have attempted to apply cognitive methods to the study of geography, the present paper is designed to serve as a starting point for applying methods of geographic ontology to the phenomena of cognition. Agglomerations are aggregates of entities that are dispersed through space on geographic scales. Examples include: plagues, biological species, major world religions. The paper applies standard mereotopological theories of spatial regions to agglomerations in this sense. It offers the beginnings of a general theory of the relations between social, cultural, ethnic and religious agglomerations on the one hand and territorially demarcated spatial objects on the other. In this way it serves as the basis for a general ontological theory of types of human groups and also of types of conflict between these groups. At the same time it provides ontological foundations for the epidemiological study of cognitive phenomena, and especially of cognitive phenomena in the sociopolitical realm.
Keywords: ontology, mereotopology, ethnic conflict, territoriality, cognitive epidemiology

Forthcoming in C. Freksa, ed., Spatial Information Theory. International Conference COSIT ’99 (Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science).

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