On 23. feb. 2014, at 12:34, Sebastian Rahtz wrote:

> On 23 Feb 2014, at 09:51, Řyvind Eide <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> "real person who live or are assumed to have lived." 
> i wonder what to say about Ossian ( He is
> assumed nowadays to be an invention of  James Macpherson, but it is just
> possible that he did actually live. if he is a <persona> of McPherson, he
> certainly has his own prosopography.

We can never now for sure. Our knowledge about the past is always limited and fragmented (as all our knowledge). But in an information system we can choose to make a definition of a real person and a definition of a fictitious person, and then go on to classify our representations of persons accordingly. Then we are not claiming that we know that Ossian was a real person, what we claim is that he is treated as a real person in our system. Based on that we can go on to reason about facts in the system, and for instance conclude that if two statements puts him in two different places at the same time one of the statements must be false, depending on distance between places and possible travel speed.

If we on the other hand claim that Ossian is a fictitious person then such a claim about the falseness of the statement cannot be made. A fictitious person can very well be at two different places at the same time, travel very fast, etc. 

Differentiating between real and fictitious persons is necessary in most museums information systems. However, if I would encode a work of fiction in TEI, I would be very wary to make any statement about the real existence of persons named in the work. I may conclude that a specific work of fiction is constituted in such a way that person names can be taken a references to real persons, but I would surely not establish that as a general rule for fiction. Thus, having a person element in TEI that I can use while being agnostic about the ontological status of the entities I model with it makes a lot of sense. 

Different purposes, different modelling languages.

If I make a prosopography of real people I also make the implicit claim that every person I include in that prosopography has lived or lives. That claim may very well be false, of course. But that is at another level. We are not talking about actual truth here, but rather about truth claims. As such they can be examined, but we will never know for sure. 

> I am happy with that set of “people” which FRBRoo defines F38 Character to
> describe, but I dont think it covers those “people” who do _not_ 
> "exhibit properties that would be inconsistent with a real person”. 
> I don’t think one could easily say what distinguishes Bilbo Baggins
> as a  “real” person from (say) Tarquinus Superbus, from Romulus,
> and from Augustus.

Why not? "as characters they may exhibit properties that would be inconsistent with a real person or group". Surely, "may" is one of the words the English keep themselves with to give foreigners a hard time, but signals a possibility? They do not have to exhibit properties which are inconsistent, but being concepts, they are free to do so -- which you are, I am sorry to say, not.

I surely do not KNOW that you are real and Bilbo Baggins is not, any more than I know that the world exists. But I can easily claim that you are real and he is not, and I can sustain that claim with a lot of evidence. 


Řyvind Eide