Just released on Science Daily is the news that psychiatrists in Buffalo are working on a project to enable chronic pain sufferers to better describe what they are feeling. The docs are using ontology, the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such. Metaphysics is sometimes called philosophy, especially in its more abstruse branches. [Definitions are from Dictionary.com.]
Here is a quote from the Science Daily article:
"The philosophical definition of ontology is the study of things that exist and how they relate to each other," says [Werner] Ceusters, who also is director of the Ontology Research Group of UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. "I am a person and you are a person so we share something. Suppose I drop dead. What lies on the floor? Is that still a person? If it is no longer a person, is it still the very same thing that was sitting here as a person but now is a corpse?"
If you can explain that quote to me, I would certainly appreciate it.
Someone must understand it because the group has received an NIH grant of $793,571 to study the subject.
You may have no idea how many chronic pain sufferers there are. I do. For fibromyalgia [also known as chronic widespread pain syndrome] alone, 17% of a population in a published study from England had it. In my blog on the paper, I pointed out that at the rate people were developing the syndrome, 50% will have it by the year 2033.
Honestly, I do not see standardizing a vocabulary for pain based on ontology leading to anything good.