I could not resist to the title, so I started to read Umberto Eco, Dall’albero al labirinto. Studi storici sul segno e l’interpretazione (Bompiani 2007). (The brute English translation of the title is “From the tree to the labyrinth. Historical Studies on sign and interpretation “.) Just opening the book, I learned about Arbor Porphyriana.
I shall cite from the very rough description given in the wiki page (before, let me laugh a bit by reading from the talk page of the mentioned wiki page: “This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project’s importance scale.” Ha-ha, an encyclopedia to state that arbor porphyriana is a low importance subject, that’s weird. Is like the egg stating that chickens are not important on it’s scale.)
The Porphyrian tree, Tree of Porphyry or Arbor Porphyriana is a classic classification of a “Scale of being”, invented by one of the earliest Greek logicians Porphyry. It is also known as scala praedicamentalis.
The Greek Neoplatonist Porphyry introduced the Porphyrian tree in his introduction to Aristotle‘s Categories. Porphyry presented the basis of Aristotle’s thought as a tree-like scheme of dichotomous divisions, which indicates that a species is defined by genus-differentia and that the process continues until the lowest species is reached.
So, that’s a huge subject. A short google search for “arbor porphyriana ontology semantic web” gives on the first place these very interesting slides by Harald Sack: “Semantic Web Technologies“.