Ontology has the task to synthesize the most general properties of concrete entities, called things, their being and becoming.
The natural order does not include the concepts that words may designate, because concepts can not (directly) interact with material systems, they are not constituents of the physical world. For the purpose of terminological convenience, the material world is called the Material Stratum (MS).
Bunge’s emphasis on concrete-world things that possess properties is suitable for concrete organisations and other societal settings in which people work and live on a day-to-day basis. Things constitute the ontological anchor of the organisational and socio-cultural knowledge. The Material Stratum is relatively stable and bound by multiple invariance laws.
The knowledge, on the other hand, is expressed by means of sign systems, i.e. models and data. It is convenient and effective to assume that these additional objects exist in a distinct (ontological) stratum: the Data Stratum (DS) (or sign stratum). Knowledge spaces that are constructed in DS are highly adaptable, expandable and even dispensable for the MS. Their purpose lies in planning, communicating and learning. Language and knowledge are ingredients of the social order.
The being and becoming of knowledge intensive actor networks of which things are part involves semiotic relations between elements of the Material and the Data Stratum, and between different kinds of elements of the Data Stratum.
The social order uses a stratum architecture that facilitates a range of semiotic interactions as part of the knowledge conversions. These semiotic interactions distinguish the objects in one stratum (domain), and the signs in another stratum (range). Often the interpretant performing the semiotic interactions is capable of acting both in the object and the sign stratum. But it can be different, for instance when a statue (the sign) represents an invisible or intangible god (the object). It is also possible that both the sign and the object exist in either MS or DS.
Let's now consider the case that both the sign and the object exist in either MS or DS. A variety of semiotic systems can be constructed, to support the myriad of cultural-historical actor network systems that constitute society. Our focus is on the semiotic systems used in science, engineering, business and government.
These semiotic systems have MS dynamics as their (ultimate) object, and make use of DS entities in a systematic way.
A stratum structure that includes DS allows the construction of an infinite variety of semiotic systems. Amalgams of semiotic systems found enhanced semiotic competences that in their turn contribute to increasingly complex orders.
The semiotic underpinnings of the natural, social and techno order are explained at their respective pages: Natural Order builds upon the Material Stratum.
..in the Social Order
Semiotic interactions in the Social Order build upon the use of language in addition to the Material Stratum. This is explained in …
…in the Techno Order
Semiotic interactions in the Techno Order build upon the use of sign systems that included mathematical theories.
Those sign systems include:
- powerful classifications,
- nesting and abstraction and
- system models
By means of these highly structured sign systems one can bring order and control in complex realities, and create new products on the basis of designed blueprints.
Emergence from Semiosis
Both the social and the techno order's emergence builds upon (i) scientific disciplines with a focus on increasing and structuring our knowledge; (ii) organisations with a focus on organizing and performing increasingly complex tasks; and (iii) computers and the world wide web changing our ways of handling data and models as part of knowledge conversions.
As socio-technical systems develop in multiple ontological strata, these strata's properties must be leveraged in a proper way, so as to avoid (cognitive) inefficiencies.