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Daniel Dennett[edit]

Shouldn't he be mentioned here? What with him having pretty much declared ontology unexistent?

Since making a negative existential assertion about ontology could be considered a contradiction in terms, perhaps Dennett's insight has been correctly overlooked (seriously, is he making a joke?). Baadog (talk) 20:55, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Metaphysics: Meaning and History[edit]

I would like to point out that "metaphysics" did not get its name from being "above the physical". This does not make sense when we look at Aristotle since Aristotle was a realist. Its actual meaning is "after the physics" because of were the books on metaphysics were placed in respect to his other works. Please see the wikipedia on Aristotle for confirmation. I changed the article accordingly---Franklin Carroll

Horse Hockey[edit]

The original article was pure horse hockey, but sophists and Platonists and such will be pleased to know that I kept every blessed word and made them all make sense. This is definitely a subject where theology can explain the same things better than philosophy. I suppose that's fair, since theology can't explain epistemology at all...

The original article apparently makes sense to people who don't make sense. However, the English word "to be" means literally nothing, i.e. "A is B" can be used in English with literally every combination of "A" and "B". So it must "be" eliminated from the article, if it is to survive in this form.

It gives drastically too little weight to the very common use of the word in AI/KR, and it doesn't mention theology at all, which is inexecusable. So, I'd appreciate some constructive critique of the article as it exists, else I'll work on the new one.

It is fine to have the initial section slanted towards antiquity or traditional meta physic's well defined discussions about nothing; but in my view it is also useful and helpful to lay a foundation or at least point at one that is useful in modern physics, technolgy, and engineering. Many of our future users will not be academics. user:mirwin

Perhaps the religious ramifications and links belong in the middle to give us an outline of the concept following somewhat historical developments. user:mirwin

still needs reduction of various tenses of 'to be', including 'is', 'are', which become redundant.

"This is definitely a subject where theology can explain the same things better than philosophy." you write. How so? Jimp 2Nov05


being = ον. Thanks --Kalogeropoulos 10:27, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Ontology appears to be a basis for irrational action.[edit]

The concepts in this subject appear to be accessible by inference only. It does not seem to be approachable except by degrees of belief. In other words, basing ones' actions on ontology only, seems to be a dangerous strategy, for oneself and for others. 'Do X and there will be 72 virgins awaiting ...'

If this is the case, then why has this kind of study persisted over millennia. It appears to be a sheer waste. Why not spend the time on actions which produce observable good results.

If one acts based on an ontology, then the immediate result of that action must be the feedback, presumably self-reinforcing. Hence the persistence of the viewpoint. But if suicide or other violence is the action, then the recipients who are 'pleased' by the action must ?...? It is completely irrational.

Unless revenge or other coercion is the motive. But this would be a situation for which the justice system was created. Then the aggrieved could demand reparations and restitution. Unless the aggrieved feel the justice system is completely corrupt. But that can be fixed by an appeal to the mass media, who could expose the condition. Unless the aggrieved feel the mass media ... .

This chain of reasoning has identified a population which must be helped, somehow. But how.

Bertrand Russell said 'Washing is unhealthy. Wearing clothes is unhealthy. But the combination of Washing and Clothing is healthy'. If Ontology is unhealthy, then what is the corresponding antidote. 09:48, 29 Sep 2003 (UTC)

This article seems to be accreting strange stuff again...

Does anyone know what this is supposed to mean?

In Software architecture, Marketing or Sales, the entities can be _, should be _, need to be _ or will be _. Thus the issues lie with Brand, Brand name or Product line. See also:

   * ontological commitment
   * ontological warfare 

In Engineering, Software development or Software engineering, the entities will be _, are _, or were _. See also:

   * ontological commitment
   * ontological distinction (computer science)
   * ontology (computer science)
   * cognitive ontology 

The phrasing is horrible and all I conclude by reading this is that ontology is somehow related other major fields of study.

This cruft needs to go.

I suggest that you read the articles on entity and agent. When the subject was invented in Greece, that classical language had subtleties that do not carry over to English, and subtler thinkers of the past two centuries started studying things like physics and mathematics. My point was that the verb to be is not unnecessary, but needs to be thought of in different senses than the intransitive verb is; in fact, some more pertinent verbs are are, should be, and were. For people who are creating things that do not exist yet, should be and can be are very important concepts. 01:22, 25 Feb 2004 (UTC) And a standard engineering specification uses those words.

Deletion of cruft[edit]

I deleted the cruft. If Wikipedia is ever to be taken seriously, its articles on academic disciplines need to be restricted to material that is academically respectable in that discipline, not random misplaced cruft.


"The concept of ontology originated in theology with basic questions about God, e.g. "does God exist?", some of which seemed to apply more generally to other kinds of beings."

This is crap, ontology existed way before 'God', in the time of Aristotle. Gods maybe slightly more approporiate but even then I dont think it was the main cause. --ShaunMacPherson 16:46, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)

If you people did your homework you'd realize that the crap was entered by JRR Trolliken, who is now BANNED for trolling and vadalism (check out his user page). Someone didn't revert his edits and now we are stuck with them, i say we revert to the edit before his, comments? --ShaunMacPherson 07:33, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The second paragraph in the opening is also generally wrong. Modern philosophers like Heidegger did not leave ontology to the physical sciences or psychology. Ontology remains the area in which the questions are asked about being and reality that can still not be answered by modern science. -A. Cole — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:30, 28 March 2018 (UTC)

Aristotle Paragraph Similar to Early History Paragraph[edit]

The "Aristotle's Description" paragraph is very similar to the "Early History of Ontology" paragraph. Do we need to have both, it seems unnecessarily repetitive? Where does this paragraph belong? WhiteC 06:59, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

You're right. I glued it together. This still needs some real rework to be combined together.--denny vrandečić 12:02, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)
OK. I removed the second paragraph, since it was all a duplicate of the end of the first paragraph. WhiteC 03:46, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

JJ Gibson's Ontology[edit]

I was the rat who deleted (or tried to) the following reference to J. J. Gibson.

"A key theory was that of J. J. Gibson, which held that the (subject) animal did not perceive other (object) elements of its environment directly, but rather, strictly in terms of opportunities or potentials, "affordances", relevant to its own ecological niche within that environment."

I did so because it made a distinction between direct perception, which was supposed to be alien to Gibson's views, and the perception of affordances, which was supposed to be essential to those views. I never thought I would have the gall to edit one of these things, but this distinction is clearly WRONG.

J. J. Gibson was a student of Holt who was himself a student of James and one of the founders of a brief philosophical movement called the New Realism. One of centeral tenants of that movement, and the one that gave Gibson's work its essential character, was the notion that organisms directly perceive environments. In fact, I believe, his theory is called by some, "direct perception theory"! In any case, in Gibson's view (says I) there is no contradiction between affordances and direct perception because an affordance is a property of an environment that can be directly perceived. Given all of this, I am surprized that J. J. didnt rise up from the grave and edit himself.

The ontology of the new realism is extremely radical. At the risk of violating some norm against hornblowing here, allow me to quote from a passage of an article I am working on. "[That ontology] places consciousness outside the conscious actor. It moves your consciousness, for instance, from being a property of you to being a property of your surroundings. This ontology turns on its head the functionalist notion that your consciousness is ontologically ?within? you but epistemologically available to you only through examination of your behavior. In the New Realist account, the contents of your consciousness are epistemologically linked to you but are ontologically outside of you. Thus, to a New Realist, an emotional feeling is a fact about the world, rather than a fact about the organism that ?has? the feeling."

If anybody gets this far, would they be willing to offer me some advice on the usage of the word ontology. I have perhaps regretably fallen into a habit of referring to the ONTOLOGY OF A THEORY, meaning the picture of the world on which the theory is based, perhaps its most fundamental metaphor, if you will. Thus when somebody explains some behavior in terms of a "mechanism", we are led to picture some whacking great clanking machine, no matter what disclaimers the user of the term might invoke. This is what it is to be infected by a mechanist ontology. (now I should take a whack at some non mechanist to show that I am fairminded, but I dont have the energy.) But quite apart from my fair=mindedness about different ontologies, am I using the word correctly. Certainly one could NOT substutute "the study of being" for "ontology" and come up with anything, so if my usage is right, then the ontology entry would have to include a second definition, something like "fundamental and unexamined presumptions about the nature of the phenomenon under study."

Anybody who would like to berate me can do so at

What is ontology?[edit]

I guess it depends on which school one belongs to. I find there is not much here that would be informative to someone trying to find out what ontology is. Such people would likely conclude, ontology is extrememly abstruse -- and who could blame them?

What entities are there & what types of entities are there? Physical objects generaly make the list, sensations do not. I guess ontology would deal with the reasons why some nouns are not entities too --JimWae 09:32, 2004 Dec 21 (UTC)

I added part of 'What entities..' to the intro paragraph, since I agree that this article wouldn't make much sense to anyone who deosn't already know what ontology is. But to be fair, ontology is somewhat abstruse. WhiteC 12:09, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Imagine a table with 4 columns (Entity | Non-Entity | Unsure | Comments) & unlimited rows

Put the following into the appropriate column & put similar things in the same rows:

mice, men, brains, mind, thoughts, feelings, ideas, space, time, number, god, Y*h*v*h, Vishnu, Jupiter, atom, gryphon, moon, light, matter, energy, electron, wave, building, bank, person, corporation, team, red, sugar, sweetness, Plato, Capt. Picard, Bugs Bunny, present king of France, your future children, sentence, promise, contract, earth, air, water, fire, song, e-mail, computer program, soul, charisma, verve, vigor, vitality, Santa Claus, geometry, nouns

... and lots more nouns

... as you do this you will develop an ontology & develop reasons & deal with similarities and identity of indiscernibles. Is that what ontologists do?

Basically, yes. I think the comments column would need a lot of space--discussion of "why does this thing exist? How do I know? What sort of thing is it? Are these categories arbitrary, and if not why am I categorizing?" and stuff like that, although that overlaps with epistemology. Also, I think the job/hobby description would be philosopher or philosophy professor (who argues about ontology), since most "ontologists" are also interested in philosophy in general. WhiteC 18:19, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There is no spoon? --Tsinoyboi 08:05, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Yes there isn't —Preceding unsigned comment added by ReluctantPhilosopher (talkcontribs) 15:59, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

I think that there is a problem in this article in that it claims that ontology is the study or "what entities exist". I believe that that is the job of something like natural science, or geometry or whatever field is appropriate for discerning what entities exist in that particular field of investigation. As an example consider the CERN Large Hadron Collider which is trying to determine if the Higgs boson exists. Since this is a material particle it is right to call the search for it a problem of physics and not ontology. Or consider a mathematician trying to determine whether some limit of some function exists. That is a problem in mathematics not ontology. While the problem of the existence of God may have some inherent relation to ontology the normal course, or first order course, would be to consider it a subject in "theology" versus "ontology" and only if there was, and only because there was, and only to the extent that there was, some inherent and unusual relation in the meaning of "God" to the meaning of "being" would it be considered "ontology" and not "theology".

So I am asserting that that the "study of what entities exist or can be said to exist" is inherently distinct from ontology which is the study of being as being.

Further question I have on this question: The Wiki is supposed to represent material that is already established or known. I have seen a few philosophers referring to the term "ontology" as a "list of what is", but I know of no major ones that make that mistake. Words can evolve and they are a kind of agreement. I do not believe that the term ontology has evolved to where it means "determining what entities exist" is established. How does one determine that? Second, if there is an ambiguity in the term what is the appropriate mechanism in the wiki to disambiguate it. Should this article be edited or a separate page with ontology as the study of being as being disambiguated from the idea of ontology as the study of what entities exist. I believe that the former is correct. I am a novice. Can you help me with this?

I further think that in this article there is another equivocation between ontology and taxonomy. Ontology is not concerned with classification except to the extent that it posits within being types of being as being. So for example the distinctions Sartre makes between being-in-itself and being-for-itself could be considered within the domain of ontology. They are ontological distinctions within being considered as being. But once being is considered, for example as particles, then the taxonomy reverts to the field of study. An example is the standard model of elementary particles which classifies some particles as bosons and others and leptons. This is a question of physics not ontology.

I have thought about this for months now and need help. Thanks in advance. Justintruth (talk) 11:18, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

External Links[edit]

I'm pretty sure the Clay Shirky "Ontology is Overrated" piece belongs in the Ontology (computer science) page instead, but I'm a new user and scared of making a change like that without some kind of approval. --Grace 09:39, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

I think it is good here as it gives access to the subject for a lot of people who didn't know that they were ontologists. Meggar 00:31, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Section headings[edit]

The first 4 sections ("Early History of Ontology", "Subject, relationship, object", "Body and Environment" and "Being") all describe different views of ontology as practiced by different philosophical schools throughout history. Later paragraphs do not follow this system. I would like to organize the article better so that this is more obvious. Any suggestions on how to go about this? WhiteC 07:17, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Those 4 sections could be moved down so they came after the "Some basic questions" part. It seems strange to have the basic questions at the end of the article, rather than near the beginning. Please tell me if you object... WhiteC 17:47, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I most certainly agree. --denny vrandečić (hp) (talk) 13:43, Dec 23, 2004 (UTC)


Does anyone know if Mead was consciously addressing the cartesian other and seeking an alternative when he developed the generalized other ?

Applying Ontology to Abortion, Stem Cell Controversy?[edit]

Wouldn't it be possible to apply ontology, and the discussion of Existence to Abortion and Stem cell controversy? After all, don't both subjects deal with the destruction of human embryos, and therefore the discussion of when human life begins?

Or maybe I'm just being naive and failing to see the true purpose of ontology...

The question of whether or not an embryo qualifies as human life is, I think, not really an ontological subject. Ontology does, however, raise the question "What is a human being?" — whether this can be solved without considering questions such as "Is a fetus a human being?" is highly debatable. So perhaps it might be fair to say that the Abortion and Stem cell debates have "drawn" ontology in.
Historically, however, ontological debates have been little concerned with these practical question or, at least, they are generally presented as though they can be thought through without needing to consider practical questions, though, in fact, the answers to ontological questions do, in fact, have practical results. Thus, Aristotle's Politics and ethics derives many of its concepts from his ontology. And, of course, Spinoza's natura plays straight into his political notions.
Short answer: Yes, with some reservations... Ig0774 07:33, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

ANOTHER ANSWER: It may be that ontology can lead to an understanding of what is good because it may be that what is good is intrinsically related to the experience of being. Then it would have a bearing on all ethical issues including the ones you cite. I am fairly sure that ontology is necessary to resolve these issues but also believe that it may not be sufficient. From an evolutionary point of view it is necessary that the organism have a very strong desire to be but also that this desire be associated with the survival of its offspring. To what extent this relationship is accidental or essential to ontology is key. Is the association of ontology with ethics essential or an accident of evolution? The evolutionary biology of ontology does not invalidate ontology any more or less than it invalidates any knowing but the ecstatic experiences may or may not be separable from the experience of ontology itself. We will not know without better control of our physiology. We have pushed the envelope of reflective phenomenology about as far as it can be. Until we get the right pharmaceuticals and actually investigate organically what we can become and how the good changes we will not know. Ontology may also be relevant not only to study of issues with respect to abortion but also the issues of animal rights and certain cybernetic ethical issues. All of this however presupposes a certain outcome of ontology that is I think very likely but not certain. To what extent do ants, or spiders, or fetuses experience being? To what extent are they Dasein? This is a question for biology and may be resolvable based on some rules that relate experience of ontology to the arrangements of neurobiology, (and importantly endocrinology as sexuality may be tied up in ontology too). After experiencing alternate biology, to what extent and why should life be protected will certainly be related to ontology but may or may not be resolvable by it alone.Justintruth (talk) 11:19, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

Feb 2006 changes by Ontoquantuum aka[edit]

Massive changes have been made by Ontoquantuum (aka I see no improvement in the article - in fact I see more hyperbolic jargon than ever. The paragraphs that made the most sense have been deleted. I am inclined to just revert. Comments?--JimWae 05:22, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

Although the previous version of the article is deficient in many ways, I agree that Onotquantuum's edits have primarily served to make the article incomprehensibly dense, besides which, the edits mainly seem to repeat the same points over and over. So, yeah, go ahead and revert. Ig0774 08:07, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
Ontoquantuum may be a sockpuppet of Azamat Abdoullaev. They have both edited the same articles. And Azamat has written a very splendid article about himself. Maustrauser 11:21, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. I've done a revert as well. In the spirit of compromise, I've left in the links to Abdoullaev's company web site and upper-level ontology. Dr. Abdoullaev: your contributions would be welcomed, if you are willing to work with the material that is already there, and support each change. Matuszek 15:54, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Dr Abdoullaev's article and his own autobiography are up for AfD owing to his material being original research and his autobiography being non-notable. It looks as though the concensus will be delete. You may wish to consider removing links to his website. Maustrauser 20:51, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Eh, the content pointed at by external links can be original research. If anything I'd organize his and other attempts to define an upper ontology. If they got deleted I wouldn't take umbrage either. Matuszek 16:39, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
I guess my point is that if Dr Abdoullaev is considered Non-notable then I wonder why we would have external links to non-notable research. Maustrauser 05:19, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Improving this article[edit]

Azamat, Holon here. My view is that the article can be improved, but you are simply not doing so. As one example, in a recent revision, you tried to add the following:
The substance (core) of the ontological universe of discourse is nothing else but entity in its major meanings of being, thing, reality with its essential classes and kinds lying behind everything of the sorts of particulars, or concrete things.
Is your text above supposed to be an attempt at an ontological analysis of ontological discourse?? Alternatively, do you mean the focus of ontological discourse is ... such and such? Seriously, while I think I know what you are trying to say, the above text is all but incomprehensible and it seems that what you are attempting to say is a rather obscure repitition of clearer and more concise definitions regarding what ontology is. It does not enhance the article, and I would not be surprised if it loses the reader entirely. Why keep trying to make such wholesale changes when it is clear the majority of editors/readers do not think they are helpful? Wouldn't it be more productive to discuss what you perceive to be key problems or issues here, and go from there? Holon 04:10, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

a straw man proposal[edit]

Hollon, I believe that you know that the current text on ontology is a weak content, a 'straw man proposal' in your terms, much in need of complete revising or just deleting. Now topics by topics. Start from introduction, which must indicate the basic points of the subject matter: a verified definition (or a set definitions), its scope or range.

In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek ὄν, genitive ὄντος: being (part. of εἶναι: to be) and -λογία: writing about, study of) is the most fundamental branch of metaphysics.[AA comments: better avoid this statement, metaphysics is just an artificially contrived term, never used by Aristotle]

It studies being or existence and the basic categories thereof, to determine what entities and what types of entities exist. [AA comments: it studies the nature of being and existence, its basic properties and relationships, etc]. Ontology thus has strong implications for conceptions of reality. [ AA: ontology deals with reality, its major parts and levels]

[AA comments: the discourse take a sudden semantic turn, trying to say that there are different sorts of nouns: (mass, class, or individual) nouns of magnitudes and noun of multitudes (collective names); clearly the topic refers to semantics.} Some philosophers, notably of the Platonic school, contend that all nouns refer to entities. Other philosophers contend that some nouns do not name entities but provide a kind of shorthand way of referring to a collection (of either objects or events).

[AA comments: what this semantic diversion is doing here? ]

In this latter view, mind, instead of referring to an entity, refers to a collection of mental events experienced by a person; society refers to a collection of persons with some shared characteristics, and geometry refers to a collection of a specific kind of intellectual activity. Any ontology must give an account of which words refer to entities, which do not, why, and what categories result. When one applies this process to nouns such as electrons, energy, contract, happiness, time, truth, causality, and god, ontology becomes fundamental to many branches of philosophy.

[AA comments: the reader should be said that: ontology also concerns with the naming things in the world, which can be done either by their nature or by reference to their relationships to other things]

Now see the proper version of intro

Ontology (from the [Greek on, ontos being, existence + logia <logos word, study]) is the philosophical science of reality, existence, or being, its major properties and relationships. It studies the basic divisions and modes of being as the general entities and things of reality like as substance or object; state, quality, or quantity; change or process, and relationship. It is characteristic that most accepted definitions of ontology marked by deep similarity:

the science of entity (or being) as such; the most general theory concerning reality, being, or existence; the general cosmology or universal science dealing with the whole of reality; the knowledge of the most general structures of reality; the theory of the kinds and structures of things in every domain of reality; the science of the essential nature and fundamental relations of all that exists; the research of the necessary and universal truths about the essences of beings.

Any mature science implies some ontological assumptions about its knowledge domain of study. For ontology serves as the unifying knowledge framework (the general context of use) both for the philosophical sciences as epistemology, logic, semantics, ethics, value theory, ideology and for the particular sciences, basic and applied, hard and soft, theoretical or experimental, natural or humane, material or formal. Azamat Abdoullaev 12:08, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

To reiterate. AZAMAT, above you said: Try and avoid personal matters of somebody's notability or non-notability, let's concentrate on the content of the matter. Notability was brought up above specifically regarding linking to one of your sites. Your bringing it up again is a straw man. It is a misrepresneation of others' arguments. Since you referred to what I believe -- like others here, I believe it can be improved like many articles but find most of your suggested revisions extremely difficult to follow. Holon 14:48, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
Azamat, thank you very much for the comments. It does help to make the badly needed improvements started while (hopefully avoiding the continual reverts that have thus far plagued this page. The text you present here is much clearer than many of your previous edits, but allow me to raise my concerns with it:
  • Greek: I prefer the Greek text in the polytonic now on the page (but I can read polytonic Greek, so maybe this isn't appropriate for everyone.
  • Metaphysics: While it is true that the term "metaphysics" was never used by Aristotle, this is no argument against the mention of metaphysics, as it has roughly a 2000 year history of use. That said, something like your first sentence is, I think, more appropriate.
  • The inclusions of definitions: these definitions you include need to be sourced; where are you getting them from? More than that, do they really add anything to the page? — I am not so sure.
  • Second paragraph (as it stands): I agree with your comments: what is that paragraph doing here? It seems to pertain mostly to the philosophy of language, and not directly to ontology.Ig0774 17:14, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Edited ancient history[edit]

First of all this page is much, much better than the disaster that was here before.

I edited the ancient history section, adding some etymology and historical work I did for an article in 2001, finding the earliest usage of the word. Aristotle did not use the word ontology (nor metaphysics), and as the article now says, the earliest records of it are from the 17th century.

Indian References[edit]

Re: Early history of ontology

I have removed the last paragraph of this section and pasted it below- please read on for my reasoning. My first question is: is this true scolarship? Is it widely accepted that indian 'philosophers' had "asked, debated, and ANSWERED... these questions..."? The paragraph gives the impression, not only that the indians had worked on the topic of ontology, but that they had solved it. My impression is that the questions raised have not been answered even today, let alone prior to the Greeks. Moreover, the 'philosophers' cited do not seem to have confirmed dates, and appear in mythological rather than verified historical writings. With the absence of confirmed dates, or independent writings about these people, it is impossible to say if writings attributed to them were by them, or by later scribes or scholars. In the same way it is impossible without a leap of faith that King Janaka (who is cited in the paragraph) set a challenge for whoever wanted to marry his daughter Sita that they had to string the bow of the Hindu God Vishnu- a task that the god Rama managed to perform.

Deleted paragrabraph is included below:

"Prior to Greek philosophy these questions were debated in ancient India by many philosophers and thinkers. The names of a few of these have come down to us today. The most notable secular philosophers are Raja (King) Janaka and Rajamuni (Royal Sage) Kapila. Kapila's Samkhya philosophy asked and answers many ontological questions posed by the Greek philosophers. The most distinguishing fact concerning Kapila's ontology is that it is entirely secular in nature."

I have inserted the following paragraph in its place, which I believe is a fairer presentation of the facts, and which also lists China:

"Ontological questions have also been raised and debated by thinkers in the ancient civilizations of India and China, in some cases perhaps predating the Greek thinkers who have become associated with the concept."

Bradby, I hope you don't mind, but I went ahead and deleted even that, because it didn't seem to contain any verifiable information. However, if anyone can produce any genuine ancient Hindu or Chinese ontology, it would be a welcome addition. Ocanter (talk) 19:14, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

A question: What are the semantic and pragmatic advantages of having an ontology that includes events?[edit]

Please discuss.....

new page on critical ontology[edit]

I came across Critical Ontology during new page patrol and figured you readers here would be able to give me some advice about notability, verifiability, etc. of this supposed phenomenon. Apparently it was produced by the page's creator. Thoughts?--Chaser T 01:27, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

Worse than hitler[edit]

"According to this theory, then, ontology is the science of being inasmuch as it is being, or the study of beings insofar as they exist."

Could someone rephrase or elaborate on the above sentence so that it's intent will be clear to someone who isn't already familiar with this particular definition of ontology?

ANSWER: I can elaborate on this. When one considers any entity that is one has a choice. One can consider what the thing is. That is considering its nature. One can also consider the fact that it is. That is to consider its being. Ontology is the science (science here meaning the attempt to know) the latter. It considers only issues that deal with the understanding of being itself when one considers it as being instead of considering it as what it is. If by nature I mean "what something is" then, strictly speaking, ontology is distinct from natural study.

The use of the phrase "in as much as it is being" is present because whenever one considers being one has this choice of referring to it in terms of its nature or in terms of its being. For example consider a baseball. It is round. It is so big. It is usually white. In all of these statements I am considering its nature. Now go and get a real baseball and hold it in your hand and consider the fact that it is. Now you will be considering being and as long as you are doing that and not referring to its nature "as a baseball" but instead considering it "as being" you are doing ontology.

That is one of the problems in this article. It equivocates the definition of what entities exist which is a study of nature with the study of being as being which is ontology. Ontology does not study nature unless, and then only to the extent that, being can be said to have a nature as being itself instead of as, for example, a firetruck, or a triangle, or a particle, or a number, or any other nature. If I were to explain this in the wiki it would go something like this: "Ontology is distinct from all questions that deal with what exists but instead considers only questions that deal with the understanding of the fact of their existence itself. It is an attempt to understand the nature of being itself, as being, rather than being as some other category such as material object, number, or color." I am unsure as to whether a disambiguation is required. If so it would go something like this: "The term ontology is sometimes also used to refer to a list of those entities in a particular field that have been determined to be." I am hesitant to propose this disambiguation because I believe it is just a rank misunderstanding possibly caused by an equivocation with the computer science term. Nevertheless, the language evolves and the term is being used recently in this sense sometimes and it is difficult to know what to do with respect to the wiki. If the term continues to be used in this latter sense then it must eventually be disambiguated from the term as I have been describing it.

Does this help? Long live Wikipedia!

For some people, the purpose of writing is to obscure and confuse the reader, hopefully tricking them into believing that the writer is smart. To wit:
"Hence, ontology is inquiry into a being in so much as it is a being, or into beings insofar as they exist, and not insofar as, for instance, particular facts obtained about them or particular properties relating to them."
Whoever wrote this sentence is a monster far worse than hitler.
—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 01:51, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

Clay Shirky - BULL[edit]

Please remove this article: Clay Shirky: Ontology is Overrated.

This is hardly productive in an explanation of an ontology. If this is to be taken seriously, then I think I'm going to look up the entry for Britney Spears, and write a dissertation on why she's overrated. Please, any topic in wiki can be "overrated". And Clay, your article is counter-productive to the field...especially those of us working with medical ontologies.

External Links[edit]

Removed a lot of second-rate and irrelevant links. Apologies in advance if I removed anything that was actually relevant to "ontology in philosophy". DrL 20:33, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

rand? and a standard for inclusion.[edit]

given the status of the rest of the list of philosophers on the ontologies list. it does not seem correct to add a fairly minor character, specifically ayn rand. therefor, i suggest a standard for inclusion that stipulates that their works are well-cited in the philosopher's index. with a minimum of 10 citations related to ontology. without such participation and citation in the index of the field, it does not seem to correct to call anyone part of the field, no less a significant figure.--Buridan 12:28, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Leflyman's comments are merely a personal attack from someone with a history of reversions without discussion. I'll leave Rand out until I can dig up the proper citations. LaszloWalrus 15:40, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

I am beginning to suspect that you show a pattern of wikipedia non-neutrality and promotion of personal view points or what is known as a personal campaign. It might be time for you to take a break from wikipedia. All i've seen so far in the philosophy articles is insertion of rand, then the same old arguments for rand, which have always failed to certify rand is anything beyond a person who espoused a philosophy, which is a fine and good thing, but it does not make one a philosopher of any standing in the field. --Buridan 16:32, 6 September 2006 (UTC)


This is a list of factual errors and poorly explained concepts and other problems within the article

- It’s an incoherent and confused idea jump. The sections don’t give a broad overview of their topics but merely dump us straight in. The section “Being and non being” is a prime example of this.

- The body and environment section is confusing, incomprehensible to lay people, it depends on claims that need citations ( “This relied to a great degree on insights derived from scientific research into animals taking instinctive action in natural and artificial settings ? as studied by biology, ecology, and cognitive science.” did it really?).

-E-prime came along before postmodernism ( or at least before postmodernism really got going).

-What does “other philosophers tried to dig into the word and it’s usage” mean? How do you dig into the usage of a word?

-How precisely is Heideggers attempt to distinguish being and existence relevant ( not doubt it is, but how, wikipedia should be written for the intelligent lay person?)

- How is that “the idea of being itself became difficult to really define.” if being is a difficult concept to define it was always a difficult concept to define correctly.

- How does the paragraph on subject, relationship and object relate to it’s title? It’s just a confused discussion of the philosophy of mind.

- Why does “Subject, relationship and object” state that Descartes didn’t consider the question worth much consideration, it takes up a huge chunk of his most famous book “Meditations on the first philosophy”. Unless the author is talking about a different question in which case it should be made clear in the text.

- How is the claim “The first formal development of this notion within philosophy began with the pre-Socratic Heraclitus” justified by the evidence? Wouldn’t “The first known formal development of the this notion within western philosophy began with the pre-Socratic Herecliatus” be more accurate and better supported by evidence.

- How is the enormous millennia spanning claim that Herecliatus’ views were abandoned until Nietzsche and Parmendies views replaced them instead possibly defensible as an incontrovertible non POV claim, a thesis this huge about the nature of Western philosophy is always going to be disputed.

- Wikipedia should be written for the intelligent layperson but the paragraph on Nietzsches views, using an enormous quantity of Nietzsche’s jargon would only be comprehensible to someone who already knew it all anyway.

-“During the Enlightenment the view of Rene Descartes that "cogito ergo sum" ("I think therefore I am") had generally prevailed,” how is this a general theory of ontology relating to “Subject, relationship and object” it’s only about the ontology of minds.

- The division of social science into four perspectives on ontology is bound to be POV and controversial as these categories would be disputed. The explanation given of each of the perspectives is factually inaccurate, represents the views of only some of the proponents of these positions and is POV. The explanation given for Positivism is totally innacurate, positivism is related to empiricism and realism in standard formulations and would have us try to put aside our own perspectives and claims about fact’s and look to find the facts as they can be established by concrete research methodologies. The explanation given for postmodernism is also not good, postmodernism contains many different views some of them being not especially and to reduce it to the definition given on the page is a bad idea.

furthermore, would these not better be described as epistemological positions (theories of knowledge) rather than ontological (theories of being)? 00:36, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

- The first paragraph of the section "Early history of ontology" contains this phrase: "However its appearance in a dictionary indicates it was in use already at that time." This phrase is weird. The following would be better: "However, its appearance in a dictionary indicates it was already in use at the time."

Cognition of Being and Singularity[edit]

I added this section

  • Please sign your posts. The section needs some citations. Please provide them or it will likely be removed per WP:OR. Thanks for your work on the article! --DrL 14:04, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

I am removing this section on grounds of incoherence. Here's what I removed, for anyone who wants to know what they're missing. Mporter 09:45, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

  • Good decision. It needs considerable revision and may violate WP:OR. --DrL 17:06, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Cognition of Being and Singularity, as brought about by the presence of language.

Some philosophical schools equivocate being, to the self-aware and actualized experience of understanding one's relationship and locality in space-time. This space-time exists in a sort of non-Euclidean platonic space, that can only be perceived by conceptualizing the singularity of the event. Heideggar's notion of Dasein is the truest poetic embodiment of this concept, whereas Einstein's relativity, in some respects, bears the semblance to this in the quantum sense.

RESPONSE ON EINSTEIN: The theory of relativity is quoted in this case mistakenly. Einstein's relativity is based on the fact that two events can be considered simultaneous from one reference frame while being considered not simultaneous from another. It is based on the physical fact that all observations appear to occur from some place and are mediated by signals with finite velocity. This fact is a natural fact of the world, contingent in that it could have been otherwise, and therefore a part of the experimental natural science of physics and subject to the requirement of experimental verification and to its limitations. Heideggar's notion of Dasein has to do with the basis of temporality in its relation to being as being itself and is therefore ontological and not verifiable by physical experiment. The reason Einstein is often quoted is because the relativity of time means that there does not exist some image that corresponds absolutely to "what is" but rather that there are several such images each related to the other by transformation equations that determine how to construct the view of what is based on one coordinate system against that which is viewed based on another. In fact in his theory what is cannot be viewed directly - it must be calculated based on observations and calculations that back out the travel time of the mediating signal. Two frames of observers that see exactly the same thing get different answers as to what is because they do the calculations that derive what is from what is seen differently. It therefore shatters a naive view of what is. In a sense Heideggar is an exposition the meaning of time experienced in a frame of reference by one of its observers and is inherently local in the relativity sense. Einsteins theory is dependent on the fact, an empirical fact, that there exists no signal faster than the speed of light. Heideggar's theory has nothing to do with it and is meaningful or not no matter if the physical world is Newtonian or not. On the contrary, Einstein, arrived at his theory by pushing the limits of what conceiving of the nature of the world as a collection objects could do. He broke the idea that a single collection need be posited and instead posited multiple collections and showed how they are not arbitrary but rather related to each other strictly in the reordering transformation equations. Minkowski then showed how a single four-d space could then be constructed replacing the old three-d notion restoring the singular character. The 4d space time manifold is not relative, it contains all of the possibilities of coordinate systems in its maps. ENDJustintruth (talk) 11:19, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

RESPONSE ON "QUANTUM SENSE": This comment is also mistaken. No physical theory currently exists that reconciles quantum mechanics with Einsteins general theory. I believe it is being used here naively because, like with the relativity of time, quantum mechanics shatters the idea that there exists some simple absolute, hard, entitative physical reality, replacing it with a statistical statement about the results of a given measurement the results of which are nevertheless interpreted objectively. Both quantum mechanics and relativity posit objects. Real objects. Its just that they no longer posit a single physical universe that can be described as simply as a collection of these objects that are right now. They are however both theories of the natural world and are dependent on experiment for verification. Heideggar's ideas are not. ENDJustintruth (talk) 11:19, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

The Cognition of Being and Singularity refers to a single point in space-time which is neither appropriated in linear time, or in the physical space humans experience directly. The Cognition of Being is the moment of self-awareness at the point of singularity. This is the bringing-together of nowness and experience. It is a merging of the microcosm and the macrocosm. We can interpret this as the Self and the All.

According to the OED Cognition is: "the process of obtaining knowledge through thought, experience or the senses."

Being, in the aforesaid context, is the quintessence, soulfulness or permeance of the human condition as it manifests in thought and language. This self-actualization is the moment which the self-actualizing being understands their relationships both IN and TO the Universe. It is the ultimate expression of being.

Heidegger says that the Logical Schools would call his notion of language an empty tautology, asking him whether his discourse can get us anywhere in our understanding of language. He replies that we are not trying to “get anywhere”, but rather, “to understand where we already are.” Heidegger’s theory of language and being works in its own context, provided that we are willing to identify with the concepts of dif-ference and dasein.

Saussure says, all realities have their seat in the brain. If this is true, then language must be studied in relation to the being whose brain houses it as a linguistic reality. There is no way to fully study language by itself outside the context of being. What is language when divorced from the human condition? Is it still language?

Saussure distinguishes between two forms of speech; what he calls La langue (language) and La parole (concrete utterances which constitute all acts of language). Heidegger takes on the difficult task of assigning a name to that which is not nameable, in trying to illustrate the physical realities of the line and difference between the world and thing. He tells us that this is a middle “not added,” but already present in its apparent absence. This is the foundation on which Dasein is built.

Marc Paul DiMarco, From Diatribe of a Miscreant, 2006

Martin Heidegger: Poetry, Language and Thought, translated by Albert Hofstadter. Copyright © 1971 by Martin Heidegger. Reprinted in Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W.W. Norton & Co. 2001.

Ferdinand De Saussure: Course in General Linguistics, translated by Wade Baskin. © 1966 by the Philosophical Library, NY. Reprinted in Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W.W. Norton & Co. 2001


for rand to be on this list of notable or important ontologists, you need to find ontologists that say she made significant contributions, else, as I suspect, she did not make contributions per se, but merely was famous and tried to make contributions. the merits of her arguments will either be demonstrated in philosophic literature or not, if they are, then I won't remove again, as i admit, i am not familiar with the extent of the literature.--Buridan 15:27, 14 April 2007 (UTC)


  • The talkpage is getting quite long, and only some of the issues required to improve the article are being addressed
  • Addressing style issues only, any worthwhile additions have to fit, or else may require deletion of redundant material elsewhere
  • The style and/or content of any recent improvements/changes can be discussed on this Talkpage with a view to improving the article
  • The article attracts criticism, for being too dense, or obscure — with care, the writing can reveal at least the gist of the topic to a reasonably intelligent reader
  • This article can be improved, suggestions can be added below — User:Newbyguesses 01:30, 4 June 2007 (UTC)


Is there something wrong with: "God would necessarily, according to Anselm, exist, as we could possibly imagine something to be greater than God, which would therefore be impossible."? It doesn't make sense, in particular the "we could possibly imagine" which isn't English.

What could not be represented?[edit]

There is a link to with the title above in the article. The site seems quite funny to me, I mean, not very philosophical and more of a joke. I think that link should be removed. David Andel 19:18, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Paragraph removed from lede by anon IP with no explanation & no talk[edit]

An anon IP removed from lede, with no explanation anywhere

Some philosophers, notably of the Platonic school, contend that all nouns refer to entities. Other philosophers contend that some nouns do not name entities but provide a kind of shorthand way of referring to a collection (of either objects or events). In this latter view, mind, instead of referring to an entity, refers to a collection of mental events experienced by a person; society refers to a collection of persons with some shared interactions, and geometry refers to a collection of a specific kind of intellectual activity.

While this may be too detailed for the lede, Platonic realism is an important tradition in ontology & does need to be covered somewhere

ALSO: that same IP added a paragraph on epistemology to the lede that seems off-topic - no connection of ontology to epistemology is made (other than they are "sisters"). Nearly the same paragraph was added in the past by another anon IP. Neither IP has any history of editing philosphy topics --JimWae 18:33, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Ontological indeterminism[edit]

Hi guys! Shouldn't this article have a section on Ontological Indeterminism (or perhaps even its own article)? I'm new to the subject so apologies if I'm missing something. Amit@Talk 15:22, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

I too just noticed the current wiki entry for ontology and thought that some of the sections are well done but was surprised there is no section such as the one Amit suggests or a section of criticism, if that could apply to this type of entry. For example, highly influential philosophers such as Emmanuel Levinas whose book, "Otherwise Than Being, Or Beyond Essence", attempts to discredit most conceptions of ontology, and Hilary Putnam's more recent work "Ethics Without Ontology", which has a chapter that is titled an "Obituary" on ontology. Sounds contradictory? Maybe you too participate in a Holocaust. Check out Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" or Peter Singer's "Animal Liberation", or Kevin Danaher's critiques of the IMF and the World Bank, to name just a few. --Teetotaler 12 July, 2008


I think this article is confusing and unclear as of Nov. 2007. Cazort 19:04, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I actually thought the article gave a fairly clear overview of the field. It does seem that the article lacks clear organization and might dwell too much on a few specific theorists, though. 10:57, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Metaphysics Vs Ontology[edit]

I end up reading this entry on ontology and the one in metaphysics, because i want to understand the difference between this two notions. This article says that the basic question of ontology is: what exits?. I am guessing that metaphysics then is the study of not only what exists but also how things that exist interact and change? Or, does it take a step forward and has as it subject the totality of things and interactions? Or I am wrong? 19:34, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

  • My take: metaphysics tries to use "reason" to "prove" the "existence" of "things" whose "existence" is not quite so obvious - things "beyond" the physical. Early candidates were "the One", Platonic Forms, the First Cause, soul --JimWae (talk) 00:30, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
    • My take: Ontology produces a list of the things that exist, and categorizes them. For instance, physical things, non-physical things, mental things, abstract objects, universals, and so on. Metaphysics not only concerns itself with what exists, but the overall principles of existence. So the task is not merely to list or categorize but also to describe and explain. Topics would include the relationship between logic and [physical] reality, time-travel, identity, personal identity, and so on. There is a lot of overlap. --Rdanneskjold —Preceding undated comment added 03:14, 24 October 2009 (UTC).
  • It raises the possibility of a lacuna in this meme, specifically in the promotion of Neoplatonism under Abelard in the early 12th Century, and precisely in his debate with de Champeaux over universals and realism - top-down and bottom-up taxonomy. For Rome, the top-down universalism included sin and error - which is why the Victorines worked from the tangible. The linear descent from there through Ruusbroec, d'Ailly and Windesheim to a Kempis, Luther, Erasmus, van Helmont, Boyle, Newton and Liebnitz suggests that the historical image of the Enlightenment as a complete fresh start is incorrect, Neoplatonism is one of a number of descents from the Early Fathers into the Enlightenment. More generically, one can view the foundation of all sciences in mathematics as a limited subset of the previous academic lemma of the quadrivium, four facets of theology in geometry/art, music, arithmetic and cosmology.

I would therefore suggest that you also need a section on Late Mediaeval and Renaissance ontology. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:38, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

Earlier citation[edit]

The earliest OED citation in the article is from 1721. In fact the OED has: "1663 G. HARVEY Archelogia Philosophica Nova I. II. i. 18 called also the first Philosophy, from its nearest approximation to Philosophy, its most proper Denomination is Ontology, or a Discourse of a Being." Myrvin (talk) 20:47, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Anselm's argument[edit]

Isn't Anselm making the joke that humans will term anything that's beyond their current comprehension as being God's work? Honestly I fail to see how his argument can be taken seriously in any capacity.

ον or ων[edit]

Is the participle of ειναι not ων? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jftsang (talkcontribs) 22:30, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Middle Ground,Please[edit]

Some philosophers, notably of the Platonic school, contend that all nouns refer to entities. Other philosophers contend that nouns do not always name entities, but that some provide a kind of shorthand for reference to a collection of either objects or events. In this latter view, mind, instead of referring to an entity, refers to a collection of mental events experienced by a person; society refers to a collection of persons with some shared characteristics, and geometry refers to a collection of a specific kind of intellectual activity.

This selection from the introduction gives the impression that the only alternatives are Platonism and nominalism. It ignores a vast middle ground. Aristotle for one believed collections to reflect real characteristics of things without being independent things (i.e., "entities") or mere "mental events". —Preceding unsigned comment added by JKeck (talkcontribs) 15:54, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Longer Ancient History, Changes to Introduction - Last Sections?[edit]

Hey, I just extended the section on ancient history; the idea was to show how the concept of being was progressively/variously defined in greek thought, rather than just an etymology. All the references are in-site, unless to the specific texts that were important; all this stuff is reiterated from other pages, but I selected it because of its relevance to the development of the concept of Being and beings - is this sufficient referencing? The basic points are supposed to be:

  • Parmenides first thought about the nature of true reality;
  • Plato introduced the problematic notion of metaphysical entities;
  • Aristotle, the basic concept of discrete substantial entities, with predicable qualities/relations;
  • and the Atomists the still common conception of materialism.

If this section needs changed, it would be good if these points were retained or improved.

BTW, this section really needs some pictures; if anyone can find any of Being as such, could they stick them in?

I also shifted the bit explaining Aristotle's definition of ontology to the intro, leaving his actual conclusions to the section on early history; because the shifted section (to my mind) gives a reasonable introductory sense of what ontology is. I also inserted some in-site references to nominalism, Platonic realism, AND moderate realism (as suggested) to the (now third) section on various ontological viewpoints; maybe this makes the intro too long, and this third section should be moved elsewhere? I haven't done so because it gives an introductory taste of definite ontological solutions, and suggests the possible scope of ontological problems ('apply this to...').

seriously guys, nae use[edit]

However, the last four sections (subject-object relations, body environment, Being, sociology) are a total embarrassment. Most of these relate principally to epistemology (schools of subjectivism, objectivism, relativism, positivism, &c), NOT ontology; and it seems like their individual sentences have been tacked together randomly. Even the bit on Heidegger is crap. I haven't deleted them 'cos I've already done quite a lot of major changes, and 'cos some of it MIGHT be relevant (the systems theory bit? certainly existentialism), if someone could make just how clear. As it is, it's confused and confusing.

Yes, the section headed Being is just stupid, and as it's not supported by any citations, it must go. As far as I'm concerned, the other three sections might as well go too.KD Tries Again (talk) 20:00, 10 October 2008 (UTC)KD Tries Again

Sub-fields of ontology[edit]

It would be interesting if we could get content on sub-genres of ontology, such as ontology of history, ontology of music, ontology of science, ontology of religion, moral ontology, phenomenological ontology, immanent ontology, ontology of desire, ontology of love, ontology of will, political ontology, ontology of matter, ontology of action, ontology of language, propositional ontology, representational ontology, ontology of justice, ontology of freedom, trinitarian ontology, ontology of power, ontology of truth, ontology of culture, etc. ADM (talk) 01:57, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

I think it would be valuable even to just list some of these more significant sub-fields, the ones seeming most prominent to my mind being ontology of religion, moral ontology, phenomenological ontology, immanent ontology, ontology of will, propositional ontology, trinitarian ontology, and ontology of truth. Rdanneskjold (talk) 03:26, 24 October 2009 (UTC)


Is the list of ontologists supposed to be alphabetical by last name? Why is the first one seemingly alphabetical by first name? Also, the most influential ontologist in the last... probably 1000 years, Peter Simons, is not represented on the list. His Parts: A Study in Ontology is the ontology bible these days--he needs to be on the list. Also, less celebrities but still a force in modern ontology are Achille Varzi and Dean Zimmerman. Rdanneskjold (talk) 03:32, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Also interesting is the omission of György Lukács and his "Ontology of Social Being". kovesp (talk) 14:28, 28 August 2011 (UTC)


Is it the case that physical science has more-or-less settled certain issues? I'm thinking in particular of the essence/accident thing. A basic question in ontology is: water is liquid, but when you freeze it it's solid. What "thing" stays the same? How do these accidents (liquidity, solidity) get associated with this essence? We kinda have this one worked out now, so far as it goes. You can go a level deeper if you want ("yeah, but what is a quark, really?), but to an enormous extent these questions are answered.

No original research, of course. But the question of "how much of the stuff that puzzled the ancients, over which they philosophised, have we pretty much got worked out now as part of science" might rate a mention here.

Paul Murray (talk) 02:37, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Read up on the philosophy of science and you'll see that science has not solved anything. Answer this: what is the ontological status of a thought? WillMall (talk) 13:52, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

What's the standard for being a Prominent Ontologist?[edit]

I'm the guy who made the edits to include Rand in the list of Prominent Ontologists, and redid them twice after others undid them. I'm not coming here with an axe to grind or anything, it just seems like excluding her is a violation of neutral POV. She's in the list of philosophers, and I think reasonably so, despite being very much absent from most contemporary academic philosophy. She's obviously prominent, and whether she should be included isn't related to whether one agrees with her or not.

The criterion for inclusion here should be relevance, which is not necessarily the same as acceptance within a narrow professional field, especially for soft subjects like philosophy. This is why she's in the list of philosophers. She belongs here as much as she belongs there. If you'd like to make an article about "Ontology as studied in modern universities," then feel free to do so, but this isn't that article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by LudoLogosi (talkcontribs) 00:34, 26 January 2010 (UTC)


Though the existing article has plenty of problems, replacing it with an unsourced essay (with no reference sources) from is not a way to co-operatively build a better article --JimWae (talk) 21:19, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Misuse of sources[edit]

A request for comments has been filed concerning the conduct of Jagged 85 (talk · contribs). Jagged 85 is one of the main contributors to Wikipedia (over 67,000 edits, he's ranked 198 in the number of edits), and practically all of his edits have to do with Islamic science, technology and philosophy. This editor has persistently misused sources here over several years. This editor's contributions are always well provided with citations, but examination of these sources often reveals either a blatant misrepresentation of those sources or a selective interpretation, going beyond any reasonable interpretation of the authors' intent. I searched the page history, and found 4 edits by Jagged 85 in April 2010. Tobby72 (talk) 17:02, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

That's an old and archived RfC. The point is still valid though, and his contribs need to be doublechecked. Tobby72 (talk) 21:02, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

ontology of mathematical entities[edit]

It would be of interest to have someting either here or at philosophy of mathematics on the ontology of mathematical entities, beyond citing the names of mathematical schools. Tkuvho (talk) 19:31, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Needs more historical development[edit]

This seems to jump, between the discussion of the ancients to a sudden discussion of modern uses of the term and its meanings. I don't at all, at all, know enough to contribute, but I suspect some clarity about the later issues under discussion could be had if there were follow up: how did later writers use these concepts?

And, if they were extant in the Greek era, what were they called before the folks in the 1600s took the ideas and gave them the name "ontology," etc.

I'm guessing, but do not know, that even if the concepts were blurred or less clearly defined in some "trough" period (perhaps between the late Hellenistic to the late Renaissance?--that's how the article reads now) that they must at least have been identified again by the time Aquinas was writing the Summa, since other Greek concepts were then being re-discovered and discussed. And I think he, and probably Abelard before him, were dealing with these ideas as well. (Gentle jibe: This is one reason folks who claim religions are irrelevant need to study them anyway, by the way....omitting stuff because of a personal proclivity is not responsible scholarship! That may not be the motivation for the huge lacuna here, but I would think it was at least potentially contributory. /jibe)

But again, I don't really know...this is just what would be useful in clarifying the history of use of the term from my perspective.

Also, a link to an article (that would need to be created, since it doesn't seem to exist here) on theological ontology, which is what I was looking for, would be good; you could then also put all the theological stuff with that and just link to it via terms as they arose, so the interstitial references could give a better overview without weighting down the article too much overall.

Just some thoughts...Best--Dellaroux (talk) 13:43, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

I think this article is far too focused on the history of ontology and needs more discussion of the practice of ontology itself.223fxt (talk) 17:08, 11 February 2012 (UTC)


Just because you communicate that something may be does not mean that your concept is pertinent to the laws of physical motion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:14, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Questionable choice of word in the Section 'Parmenides and monism'[edit]

'Rather, the entirety of creation [...]' The mere word 'creation' implies that the world has been created at some point of time; but that is contradictory to the thesis that existence can never come into being. Another word should be used. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:30, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Discussion of criticism of ontology[edit]

As pointed out here there are quite a number of modern philosophers that, like Carnap, adopt a 'deflationary' view of ontology, that is, that ontology is bosh. Some recognition of this school of thought should be presented in Ontology. Brews ohare (talk) 14:07, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

As a partial resolution of this issue, I added the section Ontology and language. Brews ohare (talk) 15:34, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

Ordinary language philosophy[edit]

Snowded has removed the discussion of Wittgenstein and the role of ordinary language philosophy in ontology presented here with the one-line in-line edit remark: "Extended discussion more appropriate to Philosophy of language and Allor ovary sourced with excessive quotation" I translate the later part of this remark without the typos as "All overly sourced with excessive quotation".

The first comment to make about this summary statement of Snowded addresses his words: "appropriate to Philosophy of language". According to Parker-Ryan, 'Ordinary language philosophy' "may be characterized as the view that a focus on language is key to both the content and method proper to the discipline of philosophy as a whole (and so is distinct from the Philosophy of Language)." I believe that if this comment is accepted, it demolishes any opinion of Snowded that this topic is properly part of Philosophy of language.

The second part of Snowded's comment, that the section is overly sourced (if I got that right) is a bit much. It sources Wittgenstein, which is hard to avoid in the context, and then places Wittgenstein in context with a comment by Grayling about the role of Wittgenstein in the school of Ordinary language, and a third-party overview of the topic that brings Wittgenstein and the school itself sharply into focus. That is hardly overkill. As for the quotation from Wittgenstein, I believe it to be a very brief indication of this thinker's views on the topic. The quote from Grayling could be abbreviated, but for what purpose? To save paper? Brews ohare (talk) 18:52, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

In view of the inadequacy of Snowded's explanation for his reversion, I have replaced this material. Brews ohare (talk) 19:01, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

You are working from primary not secondary sources for one thing which is a problem. An extended discussion of one Philosopher's view of language is not appropriate for this article which is ontology. There was excessive quotation as well, but that is not the most important aspect. What might be appropriate here is a secondary or tertiary source summarising ontological aspects of the Philosophy of Language. What is not justified is the start of what (given your practice on other articles) will be an extended essay comprising quotes strung together from multiple primary sources. You should also learn to respect WP:BRD. you are not the arbitrator of the adequacy of other editors explanation ----Snowded TALK 19:05, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
The reference to Wittgenstein is of course a primary source. The other two are most definitely not primary sources. If you think that in some way I have constructed an 'essay' presenting my own parochial views, perhaps you can point out how you arrive at this conclusion. IMO it is simply a very contracted report about Wittgenstein and the ordinary language school that should be mentioned here, but for which the details can be left to the linked WP articles on these matters. It is my opinion that your comments such as 'given your practice on other articles' indicates an attitude you bring to this text that is carried over from elsewhere and actually is not shown to have any bearing whatsoever on the present text. Although "you [i.e. Brews] are not the arbitrator of the adequacy of other editors explanation", it is certainly reasonable for me to request sensible and constructive commentary. Brews ohare (talk) 19:18, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
lets see what other editors think. I am tired of explaining why Wikipedia is not best served by your desire to write essays based on your readings and/or google searches. ----Snowded TALK 21:50, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
It would be nice if there were other editors, but there isn't any interest in these things. You also show no interest, and don't care to help with some treatment of ordinary language philosophy here. Instead of Waiting for Godot, why not help out? Brews ohare (talk) 00:22, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
I am just jumping in (as another voice), so forgive if i have missed something. but The writing style of the deleted section is very odd for a Wikipedia entry. --Inayity (talk) 01:49, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Merged in part of 'Meta-ontology'[edit]

A section of the article 'Meta-ontology' has been merged into this article, 'Ontology' as a subsection.

Meta-ontology - no longer any mention?[edit]

The page on meta-ontology and indeed the entire subject has been dropped from ontology. A subsection on this topic was removed by Snowded on the basis that there was some debate about its inclusion. The debate actually was about removing the article Meta-ontology and making a it a subtopic of Ontology. It would appear to me that complete omission of this topic here suggests that Snowded's proposal for a merger is unlikely to succeed. However, there should be a mention of meta-ontology here to alert a reader to this sub-topic. Brews ohare (talk) 17:44, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

The subject is covered, and the particular 'name' which is your particular obsession is in the links That is enough in my opinion ----Snowded TALK 18:04, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

sentence in the lead[edit]

I am unhappy with this sentence in the lead: "In the broadest sense, ontologists investigate what makes a human human, relying on institutional, social, and technical conventions representing a nexus of intellectual activities." I think it is tendentious, loose, and unnecessary. I would like to delete it.Chjoaygame (talk) 08:51, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

Not to mention obscure and unnecessary! I agree delete it ----Snowded TALK 12:54, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
Done.Chjoaygame (talk) 08:25, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

conceptions and nature[edit]

It is good to see thought being expressed on this question. I chose conceptions because I thought it avoided taking a position, you favour nature because you think it avoids taking a position. It seems we agree that a position should be avoided in the definition of the scope of the subject. I am not familiar with the literature enough to judge your view that it favours nature. For me, nature has an empirical content, which means taking a strong position. But for others it is more abstract and just means character, in the sense that, as well as a natural object, a pure abstraction can have a nature, but is not itself, as I view it, a natural object.

I think some people read ontology as being about the nature of the world, whereas I view it as being about conceptual structures used to describe the world. Those people seek to say what is really real. I seek to find conceptual structures with definite logical starting points, which say what for a current discussion will be considered real. Thus the natural numbers are basic reality for a discussion of arithmetic. They are postulated to exist. But such an existence is far from adequate for the discussion of the natural world, and so a more powerful kind of existence is needed for the latter.

Perhaps you can provide some literature support for your view. I don't have my books with me at the moment. On thinking about it, I would be happy to see character instead of nature, but I am open to reason on the question.Chjoaygame (talk) 21:09, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

In Philosophy is is the nature of the world, in technology it has come to mean linguistic structures (which personally I think is a misuse). I can check my text books when I get home, but Weissmann for a start is clear it is about nature. Character is equally problematic. ----Snowded TALK 04:53, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
You speak of the nature of the world, versus linguistic structures. I would not think so directly about linguistic structures as logical or conceptual structures.Chjoaygame (talk) 12:07, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I was making a general point, not one about you specifically. Either way having got home I checked the Oxford Companion. "Ontology understood as a branch of metaphysics, is the science of being in general ...." Happy to go to being from nature ----Snowded TALK 12:55, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Sorry my books are out of reach at present. Thank you for this.
The lead first sentence now reads "Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations." For the present I am happy enough to leave it so, unless you want to change it.Chjoaygame (talk) 22:12, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

undid good faith edit which intended to radically alter the scope of the article by means of a few insertions in the lead and introduction[edit]

I undid a good faith edit which intended to radically alter the scope of the article by means of a few insertions in the lead and talk page.

If the editor wants to write in Wikipedia about social ontology, best he create an article about it, rather than try to cram it into an article with a rather different orientation, namely philosophical.

Putting something in the lead and introduction, without corresponding weighting in the body of the article, is not the way to enter editing an article. The placement of the edit unduly emphasized in the lead and introduction something that is peripheral to the main drift of the article.

Mostly, etymology does not belong in the lead. And in particular, not in this article's lead. The main thrust of the term ontology is not in the post-fix -ology, which was what the edit focused on. It is in the body of the word, on-, from the Greek meaning being, which the edit did not mention. Consequently the talk of etymology in the lead was inappropriate and even misleading.Chjoaygame (talk) 01:00, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Following a second insertion of the piece, though into an etymology section, I don't agree that it was an "excellent" earlier contribution. I just pointed out above how the main word's etymology was deficiently expressed.Chjoaygame (talk) 03:58, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Disambiguation page?[edit]

Has there been discussion of Ontology having a disambiguation page? I come from a biology background so I am used to ontology being a method of knowledge representation and am completely naive on the philosophical origins of the term. For me, having a disambiguation page would be useful but I'm not sure how many similar pages there need to be before one is deemed necessary.

Sezzyboy (talk) 15:38, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

Interesting. I was a biological scientist for many decades. I did not encounter the usage of the word ontology to refer to a method of knowledge representation. That might mean that I was blind or ignorant, probably both. But I would like to check with you about your statement that "ontology [is] a method of knowledge representation". Would you very kindly provide some fair sample of reliable sources for it, for my edification. I would not know how to respond to your suggestion without some help such as that from you.
For me, there are two more or less antithetical terms, ontology and epistemology; perhaps mistakenly, I regard them as two important branches of metaphysics. Ontology is about what a subject, for its universe of discourse, considers as its basic irreducibly existing entities. Epistemology is about how we have knowledge of those entities. For example, the ontology of physics is more or less what actually or potentially exists in the physical cosmos. Epistemology is about how we have knowledge of those existents. It strikes me as very odd to hear that biology has a radically different vocabulary here. The ontology of biology might well, though contestably, admit that living things are basic existents. Not the same ontology as physics, which is a bit messy in this regard. But in physics, one might for a contestable example, say that energy is a basic existent. In mathematics, the ontology might for example posit the natural numbers as basic existents. Obviously they don't exist in the same way that one might suppose that energy exists in the physical cosmos. But they are objects of ontology, because they are basic existents for a particular subject or universe of discourse. Aristotle's ontology of nature, if I may, for definiteness, give a contestable opinion, had two basic kinds of abstraction, form and matter, that characterize a substance, which is a basic really existing entity; for example Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander, was a substance. Descartes recognized three kinds of substance, God, extensive entities (physical objects for us), and non-extensive entities (mental phenomena for us).
So I am asking for some evidence that your idea, that "ontology [is] a method of knowledge representation", is widely held in biology.Chjoaygame (talk) 19:55, 13 November 2014 (UTC)
The most prominent ontologies that I can think of in Biology are the Gene Ontology and Human Phenotype Ontology although there are more (see: [1] and [2]). I concede that, given your definitions above, it does seem that Biology and biomedicine have misappropriated the word in their usage of it. However, I can assure you that it is a widely used definition in that field.
Suggested reading for a bit of background: [3] and [4] Sezzyboy (talk) 13:03, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for this.
I think some careful logic is needed here. You read the ontologies as "method[s] of knowledge representation", which might suggest epistemology in the usual sense. I read them as lists of entities admitted as fundamentally existing for the relevant universe of discourse, and so as ontologies in the usual sense. Consequently I would say that your reading "method of knowledge representation" is your own, and does not reflect the usual sense given to these words in this context. So I think "that Biology and biomedicine have misappropriated the word in their usage of it" is a misreading. I think you have read into the sources something of your own. To validate your reading "ontology [is] a method of knowledge representation", I think you should produce and write here explicit quotes from reliable sources, exactly supporting it. In other words, a personal "assurance" is not evidence.Chjoaygame (talk) 15:41, 14 November 2014 (UTC)Chjoaygame (talk) 18:05, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
Looking at one of your indicated examples, I find the phrase "to exploit OWL ontologies to encode knowledge in distributed computer systems".
In order to encode knowledge in distributed computer systems, one may "exploit OWL ontologies". I can see how you might read that as intending that ontology means epistemology, but I don't think it is a compelling reading. The ontology is used to encode information. The problem here is perhaps the word knowledge. Your example text says at one point "its role as an ontology information resource".
Your example text seems to define 'ontology' as 'vocabulary'. It writes of "multiple bodies of data using common controlled vocabularies or 'ontologies'". I prefer to read your source as using the word ontology as referring to listing of entities really admitted as existing, not quite calling for the word 'knowledge'. Further down I read that "Foundry ontologies are created and maintained by biologists with a thorough knowledge of the underlying science." I would say that knowledge is one thing, vocabulary another.Chjoaygame (talk) 18:27, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
Looking now at something that is definitely not a reliable source, namely Wikipedia.
I see an article Ontology (information science). Its lead starts
"In computer science and information science, an ontology is a formal framework for representing knowledge. This framework names and defines the types, properties, and interrelationships of the entities in a domain of discourse. The entities are conceptualizations (limited abstractions) of phenomena."
I think its second and third sentences are good: "This framework names and defines the types, properties, and interrelationships of the entities in a domain of discourse. The entities are conceptualizations (limited abstractions) of phenomena."
I don't feel the same about its first sentence "In computer science and information science, an ontology is a formal framework for representing knowledge."
I would say that its use of the word "knowledge" there is dangerous and potentially misleading. I think it unjustifiably goes beyond the good story of the second and third sentences. I would have preferred it if you had seemed to go by the second and third sentences than by the first. I think the first sentence is hardly supported by the rest of the article, which seems more or less to me to use the word ontology in the usual sense. On the other hand I read there that Tom Gruber's webpage and article think he knows better. I am inclined to prefer the usual meaning. In the usual meaning, knowledge is perhaps represented, as stated in that article, in axioms. But the ontology is logically prior to the axioms, because it specifies the language in which the axioms are stated.
I will have a go at fiddling the first sentence of that lead. A dangerous undertaking. But let's see.Chjoaygame (talk) 18:46, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
There.Chjoaygame (talk) 19:04, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
And for good measure there.Chjoaygame (talk) 19:13, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
Though I have carped at your word 'knowledge', my chatter hasn't touched your main concern. Is a disambiguation page needed? A fair question.Chjoaygame (talk) 16:04, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

Suggest you create one[edit]

When I enter the word ontology into the Wikipedia search field, a dropdown menu appears. I think it is list of article names that begin with the word ontology? I think it is a reason to create a disambiguation page as suggested by Editor Sezzyboy. That list looks like a good starter for the construction of a suitable disambiguation page for 'ontology'.

Perhaps, if we are fortunate, Sezzyboy feels like going ahead and creating one. I think it would be good if he did so.Chjoaygame (talk) 12:06, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

Some clarification on the topic presented[edit]

It says: Parmenides and monism

Parmenides was among the first to propose an ontological characterization of the fundamental nature of existence. In his prologue or proem he describes two views of existence; initially that nothing comes from nothing, and therefore existence is eternal. Consequently, our opinions about truth must often be false and deceitful.

This article ignores the contribution from the Eastern philosophical positions. The existence in sansktrit sat - is ontological defined as the very essence from which the whole universe is originated. In Chandogya Upanishad the 6th chapter deals with this topic - The proposition of the teacher is - knowing one thing one can know the essence of everything. If one knows the material cause all its products are essentially known. The teacher gives three examples - knowing gold all golden ornaments are essentially known. The rings, bangles, bracelets etc are only name and forms (differing attributes)but all are in essence are gold - from gold they came, by gold they sustain and into gold only the merge. Hence ontologically gold is of higher order of reality in reality than all the names and forms of the ornaments. They are only name-sake objects since their essence is only gold. Similarly all mud pots from mud and all the iron tools from iron, etc. Using familiar examples, then the teacher says pure existence alone was there before creation and it is of the nature of consciousness. It itself became many names and forms - both grosser and subtler objects of the Universe. In Bhagavat Geeta - 2nd Chapter - 16th sloka - it says - that which exists can never cease to exist and that which is not existent can never come into existence. Hence it is an absolute law of conservation proposed. Existence itself can transform from one form to the other but existence itself not become non-existent. Hence the above assertion that Parmenides was among the first shows a narrow view of the ontological analysis of the systems. How can the existence is of the nature of consciousness etc are beyond the scope of this discussion. Ksadananda (talk) 03:50, 17 November 2014 (UTC) Sadananda

It is valuable to have the immediately above comment.
I have modified the sentence about Parmenides priority. He was among the first in the Greek tradition. Not stated there is what early authors in other traditions have to say on this subject, or how this relates to other traditions.
I think it would be good to include information about other traditions, and, if any editor is learned enough, about comparisons between traditions. For myself, I am not expert in this area. But I think Parmenides was an extreme monist; subject correction, I think he would have denied even the plurality of different materials such as gold and water. Present day physical monism perhaps would put energy or causal efficacy as the one underlying substance. Neutral monism would perhaps prefer to think of creativity for that rôle. I think psychic monism does not have a strong following? I see it as good to have information about Sanskrit writing on this subject.Chjoaygame (talk) 05:37, 17 November 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia is about valid sources not about opinion. If what you are proposing is true then find a valid set of sources and add it to the article. Right now I can not think of any source that claims that any form of Hinduism claims to have invented the concept of Ex nihilio let alone that there is a tradition in the East that taught zero, not-being or nothing. This sounds like WP:OR. Wikipedia is not here to revise history the historical scholars of the academic world are for that. If you can find valid sources that say that the concept of zero or nothing was from somewhere else documented in history before say Parmenides by all means please post it to the article. There is no sourcing that I know of that make the statement that Parmenides is the first of Greek tradition and that is so because so and so was the first before anyone else. I am not saying that could not be the case I am saying I have no valid source that makes that statement or at least no sources that I personally know of. My opinion is of no consequence and this is true of anyone in general, academic consensus and academic sourcing is what is considered valid here in Wiki. LoveMonkey 14:22, 17 November 2014 (UTC)
Editor User:LoveMonkey tells us that he can think of no valid set of sources that makes a certain distinction. But he doesn't himself offer any particular source. Perhaps, by the same token, he cannot think of a set of sources that does not simply assume a European context. He does not tell us if this is so or not. If he can think of a reliable source that explicitly says that the Greek tradition is earlier than all other relevant traditions, let him tell us about it. My reference to the Greek tradition is simply limiting what is said to what I think the usual sources take as their context. But we are not entitled to assume their context, so when we rely on the usual sources we should make it clear what context they assume. Perhaps I am mistaken, and perhaps the Greek tradition predates all others, and I mean all others. Then LoveMonkey will have a strong case. Either way, I think it is not good enough that he just says "I can think of no valid set of sources ..."
If no context is made explicit in the relevant sources, we should let the onus of proof fall on those who think the Greek tradition is special. They have a special claim. Without explicit context, I think one can assume the sources have European context, because they are European sources.
Perhaps we have someone here who really knows his stuff and can enlighten us?
Academic consensus is not the criterion. Reliable sourcing is.
I conclude that Editor LoveMonkey should forthwith provide a reliable source, or even a set of reliable sources, that explicitly says, or say, that the Greek tradition is earlier than all other relevant traditions.Chjoaygame (talk) 06:56, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
The question is not, as proposed by Editor LoveMonkey, as to who first proposed the particular ontology offered by Parmenides. That is not what the sentence is about. It is about who first proposed any ontology.Chjoaygame (talk) 07:13, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
WP:OR says that wiki here should conform to other encyclopedias and academic sources. WP:VS says if you post something you source it. If you post that Parmenidies is of some exclusiveness i.e of the Greek tradition you source it. If it is a common understanding it will be source-able and have plenty of sourcing. You have yet to post any sources for your edits and would rather project onto me. Your comments do not conform to the policies here at Wikipedia. As reliable sources and verifiable sources should be academic, peer viewed (and secondardy sources) in order to meet the policy of WP:VS. I have made no claim that Parmenides was the the first only that the wording before your edit was NPOV as it was unspecific.
As it gave no specificity to Parmenides one way or the other as it stands it makes no such use of WP:WEASEL or POV saying Parmenides is exclusive to the Greek tradition without having that designation source-able will not be remedied by asking me to source a neutral point of view. You can escalate this to an admin notice board or an admin if you feel it is appropriate however I stand by my assertion that Parmenides is not treated as exclusive. If you wish to say he is of the Greek tradition then provide sources that meet the Wiki criteria to say he is exclusive to the Greek tradition and or that is a designation attributed to him in encyclopedias and academic. As far as I know Karl Popper never spoke of him that way. LoveMonkey 17:03, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

dating Parmenides[edit]

Guthrie offers reason to believe that perhaps Parmenides was born about 515–510 BC.[1]Chjoaygame (talk) 21:10, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

other traditions[edit]

Shubra Sharma considers it likely that the Upanishads were composed between 800 and 600 BC.[2]

Chandradhar Sharma cites the Rig Veda as sources of the Upanishads. For example, "Then there was neither Aught nor Nought ..."[3]

  1. ^ Guthrie, W.K.C. (1979). A History of Greek Philosophy, volume 2, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, p. 1.
  2. ^ Sharma, S. (1985). Life in the Upanishads, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, p. 17.
  3. ^ Sharma, C. (1983/2007). The Advaita Tradition in Indian Philosophy, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, p. 1.

Chjoaygame (talk) 21:10, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

This is a philosophy article not a religious article. Ontology is a subset of metaphysics.
No, give sources that say "nothing" as an Ontological concept was taught by the East, before Parmenides. [5] A verifiable and scholarly secondary source not your opinion not your interpretation. Also religion is not philosophy. You are editing on a philosophy article "Ontology" is a subset of metaphysics and posting interpretations of Eastern religions and religious text i.e. Rig Veda. The Rig Veda is not a philosophical text.. I can not understand why you are doing that. There is the study and validation of reason by way of language and then there is religious belief. Thales being the first philosopher was distinct about that. LoveMonkey 20:37, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

Werner Erhard an ontologist?[edit]

In the article, Werner Erhard is listed as a prominent "ontologist". In my judgement, he is a user of the term 'ontology', but that does not come near justifying describing him as an ontologist. This is not a personal judgement of Erhard, but is about what makes someone an ontologist.Chjoaygame (talk) 06:30, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

I couldn't agree more on Erhard. I've added Kolakowski to the list though. Mainly because of his critique of Marx's social ontology and because of Horror Metaphysicus and his deliberations on ontology of metalanguage suitable for contemplating absolutes. That's more than several names on that list did on the subject. (Ok, I'm fairly new to editing and I don't know how to indent this, sorry.)P-Pal88 (talk) 12:54, 19 June 2016 (UTC)

Heidegger's Nazism[edit]

An anonymous user, User:, keeps adding in a parenthetical to a mention of Heidegger that states that he was a Nazi (see here, for example). I don't contest that Heidegger was a Nazi, but it seems like a total non sequitur in this particular sentence. Nothing about it is relevant to the preceding or succeeding clauses. Rather than continue to revert the changes, I thought I'd see if there was consensus about the merits of including it. Esrever (klaT) 04:21, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

See our explanation here:, and do not be afraid of "terror" of propaganda of primeval ideas of nazis or rasists, nowadays more people are suffering from everyday roads accidents. (talk) 04:33, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
I rest my case. Esrever (klaT) 04:48, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
I am loosely in support of Editor Esrever. Is User: a sockpuppet for Editor Paweł Ł Zawada? Sockpuppetry is contrary to Wikipedia ethics.Chjoaygame (talk)
I am loosely in support of His non-his-very-highness-rather mediocre Editor Paweł Ł Zawada but without any non-reductionsistic non-vulgar non-curse-like proves you are propagating conspiracy theories. He can not be everywhere in the world, it is impossible to be somewhere else as astral body (for instance), if the opposite could be true (eee non-sense) remember that Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:49, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Moreover, I am inclined to think that Dasein is not so much about Ontology as it is about philosophical attitudes in psychology. It is verging on clang association to assimilate Dasein to being in the ontological sense.Chjoaygame (talk) 06:23, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Because of this dispute, I have reverted to an earlier version.Chjoaygame (talk) 06:38, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

As a first approximation, ontology is the study of what there is.[edit]

The concept of Ontology finally clicked for me when it was described as "the study of what there is". Here is relevant and reliably attributed quote: "As a first approximation, ontology is the study of what there is." See: Perhaps introducing the idea of "what there is" can better help readers begin to grasp the concept. Thanks! --Lbeaumont (talk) 10:58, 30 March 2017 (UTC)

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Definition of ontology[edit]

This article says early on that "A very simple definition of ontology is that it is the study of what is meant, in context, by the meaning of the word "thing"". Would not a better definition of ontology be to say that it the study of what is meant by the word "being"? Vorbee (talk) 15:47, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

It might very well be better, and that is already supplied in the article. But it is rather hard to understand even for an expert. What is it that does the 'being'? It's things that do the being. I think that gets more easily to the heart of the matter, in ordinary language, and is likely to help some readers. The question 'what is being' is very very abstract. It hardly makes sense, even, because it uses the verb 'to be' in its expression, and so is circular; hard to understand.Chjoaygame (talk) 04:38, 4 October 2017 (UTC)

Re definition of Ontology: Ontology in philosophy commenced with Aristotle's "Metaphysics", and its definition: "Ontology, the philosophical study of being in general, or of what applies neutrally to everything that is real. It was called “first philosophy” by Aristotle in Book IV of his Metaphysics. The Latin term ontologia (“science of being”) was felicitously invented by the German philosopher Jacob Lorhard (Lorhardus) and first appeared in his work Ogdoas Scholastica (1st ed.) in 1606. It entered general circulation after being popularized by the German rationalist philosopher Christian Wolff in his Latin writings, especially Philosophia Prima sive Ontologia (1730; “First Philosophy or Ontology”)." (

If we take the above definition as true, then Plato has nothing to do with it, Parmenides also and not sure about Indian traditions, I believe there is some misunderstanding on the topic.

The fact that one can see with a different angle the thoughts of philosophers using the line of thought of "ontology" does not make them "ontologists" (as described in the above Stanford link, which talks about Plato's ontology, but not the fact that Plato was an ontologist). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:57, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

Nowadays, for the educated rationalists, physics is ontology, and neuroscience analyzes phenomenology[edit]

mention the above - physics is philosophically deep, and analyzes what can exist actually, that is deep I repeat, and philosophical also (even if you don't agree with me, some Earthlings do. We have to mention all facts). — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2a02:587:4104:3b00:7d34:c50a:b735:10de (talk) 03:39, 16 April 2018‎(UTC)

Per Wikipedia:No original research, we can't mention opinions such as the one espoused in the IP comment above without attributing them to reliable sources, so it would be helpful if you could provide sources for such an opinion. Physics today involves ontology, but so does chemistry, biology, medicine, engineering, and other fields; ontology that could not accommodate anything beyond what is studied in what we today call physics would be of limited use to other fields. And neuroscience does not only "analyze phenomenology" as the IP comment above declares; for example, neuroanatomy is a fundamental part of neuroscience that has little to do with phenomenology. These issues take us from ontology into meta-ontology. For examples of opinions that I take to be contrary to the opinion expressed in the IP comment above, see:

  • Schaffer, Jonathan (September 2003). "Is there a fundamental level?". Noûs. 37 (3): 498–517. doi:10.1111/1468-0068.00448.
  • Noble, Denis (February 2012). "A theory of biological relativity: no privileged level of causation". Interface Focus. 2 (1): 55–64. doi:10.1098/rsfs.2011.0067. PMC 3262309. PMID 23386960.
  • Potochnik, Angela; McGill, Brian J. (January 2012). "The limitations of hierarchical organization". Philosophy of Science. 79 (1): 120–140. doi:10.1086/663237.
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Biogeographist (talk) 15:16, 16 April 2018 (UTC)


I removed the parenthesized phrase "(introduced in 1606)" from its prominent position immediately after the first word of the article. The phrase is fundamentally confusing in that position, because it seems to say that the study of ontology only began in 1606, but in fact the study goes back to antiquity. The later discussion under Etymology, of what actually happened in 1606, is proper and sufficient, I think. Eleuther (talk) 07:34, 6 July 2018 (UTC)

A very simple definition of ontology is that it is the examination of what is meant, in context, by the word 'thing'.[edit]

The sentence "A very simple definition of ontology is that it is the examination of what is meant, in context, by the word 'thing'", formerly in the first paragraph of the lead, was destroyed by a demand for a citation, and then by making it into a wikidictionary tautology, nearly repeating the first sentence of the lead. The replacing sentence ("A very simple definition of ontology is that it is the examination of what is meant by 'being'") does not add to the article, and could well be deleted. I am sorry I wasn't on the lookout when the damage was done.

The point of using the word 'thing' is that ontology is not about the verb 'to be' in abstracto. It is about identifying the kind of conceptual world in which a thing can be found, and therefore said to exist. Jaakko Hintikka led me to understand that things that exist can be found somewhere at some time. For example, numbers can be found in textbooks of arithmetic over the ages. Numbers do not exist as actual entities in the ordinary natural world, where events and processes occur and are causes and effects. But it is useful to think of numbers as existing in their native world, of timeless placeless mathematical entities; in that world, they are things of interest. Likewise circles can be found in textbooks of geometry. In contrast, Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon was a process in the ordinary natural world, and exists there as an actual entity with mighty effect; its existence is of a different order than the existence of numbers. Aristotle would not have counted that crossing as a substance, because he didn't use the process ontology. He would have said that Caesar was a substance, that the horse that Caesar rode across the Rubicon was a substance, and perhaps that the Rubicon was a substance. Different ontologies have different criteria for recognising things as existing; they refer to different conceptual worlds. The word 'thing' is helpful as a guide to understanding the concerns of ontology.Chjoaygame (talk) 09:37, 6 July 2018 (UTC)

To try to make my comment clearer, I will add the following. Ontology is about how an entity is recognized as having an existence. 'Entity' is from the Latin for 'being' and is much the same in meaning as the Greek 'ons'. Different ontologies recognize their respective different kinds of entities. 'Entity' is still a version of the verb 'to be', and may not advance the grasp of a reader who is not already familiar with the concerns of ontology; it still leaves a circularity of definition. The entities of an ontology are the things that it recognizes as real. The word 'real' comes from the Latin 'res', usually translated as 'thing'. Each universe of discourse has objects that it treats as real, that it treats as things, that it regards as properly existing or being. This is why the word 'thing' is helpful for a newcomer to the study of ontology. 'Thing' is an English word not tied directly to the Latin and Greek words, and so it gives the uninitiated reader an additional valid handle on the concepts of ontology.Chjoaygame (talk) 16:13, 6 July 2018 (UTC)

The lead is a summary and must express the content of the article, but it is not a detailed exposition of it. Some freedom of expression is allowed in a summary. I can't immediately satisfy the demand for a source for the use of the word 'thing', because I am away from home and my books right now. But the word 'thing' belongs to the ordinary language, and is not just a technical term of philosophy, and this may justify its use to summarise some aspects of the article.Chjoaygame (talk) 16:22, 6 July 2018 (UTC)

  • The Greek word "ontos" is the present participle of the verb "to be." The present participle of the verb "to be" in English is "being." So "ontos" translates fairly directly into English as "being," and "ontology" thus seems to denote the study of being, at least as a matter of etymology. Of course, an etymology is not a definition, but I personally have always thought of ontology as the study of being or existence. The idea that it's the study of "thing-ness" doesn't really resonate with me. But that's just one person's opinion. Cheers, Eleuther (talk) 07:05, 7 July 2018 (UTC)
Thank you for your comment, Eleuther. Perhaps we may have a useful discussion.
The lead of the article defines the topic thus: "Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations", citing the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. I don't have a copy of the printed Dictionary, but looking at an internet quote from it, I did not see that the lead sentence is a close quote from it. The Oxford English Dictionary definition is rather like that of the Merriam-Webster, rather abstract and verbalistic. I think it might be good for Wikipedia to find better sources.
One might start by looking at usages of words such as 'exists', and 'reality'. There is a box in the article with a picture of Parmenides, with a caption "Parmenides was among the first to propose an ontological characterization of the fundamental nature of reality." Parmenides was interested in what really exists, rather than the meaning of the verb to be, as such. The emphasis is on what is real. The Latin origin of the word 'real' is usually translated as 'thing'. I am away from home now and cannot check in my copy of Lotze, but I can get from the Oxford English Dictionary the quote " 1884 Bosanquet tr. Lotze's Metaph. 22 Ontology‥as a doctrine of the being and relations of all reality, had precedence given to it over Cosmology and Psychology, the two branches of enquiry which follow the reality into its opposite distinctive forms." The focus there is on reality, not being as such.
You write "The idea that it's the study of “thing-ness” doesn't really resonate with me." I agree. I don't like the term 'thing-ness', but I didn't propose it. It focuses on the word as a word, rather than on what the word is referring to. Heidegger makes the same mistake in focusing on being as if it were something in itself, when a better focus is on what really exists.
The replacement sentence reads "A very simple definition of ontology is that it is the examination of what is meant by 'being'." That looks like a formal place filler for the sentence which it replaced. I do not see how it adds to the article, and I think it might well be deleted. I think you did not specifically defend it.
In abstracto talk of the nature of being is baffling, while it makes sense in ordinary language to ask what is the criterion, in a particular given context, for a thing to be considered real, which is the real content of ontology. There is a case for Wikipedia to make sense in ordinary language.
"The basic categories of being", mentioned in the first sentence of the lead, are the kinds of entities that are admitted as really existing, in context.
I very much like Jaakko Hintikka's idea that things that exist can be found somewhere.Chjoaygame (talk) 12:48, 7 July 2018 (UTC)

The definition of ontology as "the examination of what is meant, in context, by the word 'thing'" is too restrictive because it doesn't account for approaches to ontology that do not emphasize 'things': see, e.g., Process philosophy. One famous process philosopher even said: "I don't believe in things." Biogeographist (talk) 15:10, 7 July 2018 (UTC)

Thank you, Biogeographist, for your valuable and constructive comment. For myself, I regard Whitehead's ontology, of actual entities as processes, as the best I know that refers to the natural world of cause and effect; I am a fan of Whitehead. So I strongly sympathise with your comment. But I think it doesn't completely cover the matter. Moreover, there are other worlds; for example, there is a mathematical world in which one can find imaginary numbers. Whitehead believes in what he calls 'enduring physical objects', which for many people would pass as things. They are not fundamentally real entities in the Whitehead ontology. Their ontological status is, however, covered by the proposed very simple definition, which proposes to examine the meaning of the word thing; the view expressed in your comment is that such things as enduring physical objects, in some views, are not admitted as actual entities or ultimately real entities; definitions both include and exclude. Your famous process philosopher might be said to protest too much. Things are an important ingredient of ordinary language, and really not to believe in them would be a joke or witticism, as perhaps your process philosopher intends. I am not persuaded that Whitehead's actual entities are never admissible as things, depending on how one defines 'thing'. The proposed definition is advertised as "very simple", not just as 'simple', and certainly not as 'strict'. Perhaps it might be re-advertised as 'perhaps over-simple' or as 'introductory'. In Whitehead's philosophy, reality is not restricted to actual entities, but, according to his ontological principle, extends by degree to entities, such as enduring physical objects, that are nexūs of actual entities.
I think it would be good to put in the lead something in ordinary language that gets away from the impression that ontology is mainly about a narrowly verbalistic and abstract meaning of the verb 'to be'. Ontology is about the recognition of objects with fundamentally real existence. The word 'real' comes from the Latin word for a thing. The aim here is to be accessible to the newcomer as well as to be accurate.Chjoaygame (talk) 19:13, 7 July 2018 (UTC)

Hi, Chjoaygame, can you please clarify what you're trying to accomplish with this discussion? WP is not a discussion board or a social media site. WP doesn't care about your theories (or mine), or about your elaborate arguments regarding them. WP only cares about encyclopedic content, based on authoritative sources. If you want to make a constructive change to the lead of the article, please clearly cite and discuss your authoritative sources for the change. Thanks in advance, Eleuther (talk) 11:19, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

Dear Eleuther, thank you for your comment. I want to restore the original very simple definition. A source is not necessary for expressing things in ordinary language in the lead. If the original very simple definition is not to be restored, I want to delete the uninformative replacement.Chjoaygame (talk) 20:45, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
The comments by Eleuther and me above indicate that there is not consensus for the proposed definition of ontology as "the examination of what is meant, in context, by the word 'thing'". I would not oppose removal of the last sentence of the lead paragraph ("A very simple definition of ontology is that it is the examination of what is meant by 'being'"); indeed I think removing it would be an improvement, as I find it to be redundant. Biogeographist (talk) 21:25, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
Thank you, Biogeographist.Chjoaygame (talk) 21:54, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

What is a thing as considered in ontology?[edit]

Since it seems perhaps to be not yet agreed that the question of 'what is a thing?' is central to ontology, worthy of a mention in the lead, I deem it safer to start here on the talk page rather than risk a difficult BRD.

Here is a quote from the chapter introduction to one of the items cited [Isham, C.J. (1995). Lectures on Quantum Theory: Mathematical and Structural Foundations, Imperial College Press, London, ISBN 1-86094-000-5, pp. 63–67] in the body of the article:

Chapter 4
4.1 What is a Thing?
An exposition of any area of physics will inevitably contain terms that form part of the general scientific background of the age and culture within which they are employed. The meaningfulness and applicability of such terms is usually deemed to be 'obvious', and therefore not worthy of further explication. But from time to time new concepts arise that challenge this pre-established order of truths and necessitate a radical reappraisal of the foundations of the subject. In twentieth-century physics, the two major examples of such a paradigm shift are the theory of relativity and quantum theory. The former caused a major reassessment of the concepts of space and time; the latter challenges our ideas of existence itself.

The writer was talking about our ideas of existence itself. I think this means that he is talking ontology. Of course I am not suggesting that his views on ontology are decisive for us. I refer particularly to the above comment "The definition of ontology as "the examination of what is meant, in context, by the word 'thing'" is too restrictive because it doesn't account for approaches to ontology that do not emphasize 'things': see, e.g., Process philosophy. One famous process philosopher even said: "I don't believe in things." Biogeographist", a comment with which I am in strong sympathy, though I would not like to be bound by it.Chjoaygame (talk) 22:58, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

That this is a relevant question may be attested by some further quotes. Here is one from the internet [6]:

Table of Contents [show]
I. Definition
Ontology is the study of being. It focuses on several related questions:
What things exist? (stars yes, unicorns no, numbers . . . yes?)

Here is another [7]:

Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Contributor(s): Gord Larose; Price Kruse
In general, ontology (pronounced ahn-TAH-luh-djee ) is the study or concern about what kinds of things exist - what entities there are in the universe.

I could go on. These are of course not reliable sources, and I am not quoting them as such. But they may help to focus the present discussion. I think that though not wikireliable sources, they are near the mark.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:10, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

Here is a further example [8] that illustrates that ordinary language expresses ontological concerns in terms of the word 'thing':

Once they have been brought into the open, ontological disputes tend to concentrate on questions of several recurrent kinds. The fundamental question, of course, has the form, “Are there Xs?” or “Do Xs exist?” Negative answers to the fundamental question are accompanied by attempts to explain away any appearances to the effect that there are such things.

Again, not a reliable source, but still relevant.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:19, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

Another [9]:

These are all problems in ontology in the sense that they deal with whether or not a certain thing, or more broadly entity, exists.

As I mentioned above, I am at present away from home and do not have my books with me.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:26, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

  • Hi, Chjoaygame. It's probably a mistake for me to reply to you here, because replies just seem to encourage you to keep carrying on. Nevertheless, there is an "assume good faith" policy in WP, so I'm obliged to believe that you are not trolling this talk page deliberately, i.e., that you're not just creating disputes for the sake of disputation. So I'm obliged to believe that you think there is a real role for the word "thing" in the definition of ontology, and I will reply in that spirit.
I actually thought this issue out a number of years ago, and the conclusion seems plain. The word "thing" is a sort of utility word in English, which often functions something like a pronoun. It doesn't translate well into other languages. Thus, it's a mistake to try to turn the word "thing" into a technical term, first, because it doesn't translate, and second, because that gives up the ordinary English usage of the word as a utility word.
If you have an issue with this, please reply on my talk page, not here. There has already been too much discussion of the issue here. Thanks. Eleuther (talk) 11:21, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
  • I agree with what Eleuther said about "carrying on". I also want to point out that the sentence quoted above from Section 3.1. Different conceptions of ontology in "Logic and ontology" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy does not represent the full complexity of that section's portrayal of ontology. If you read the whole section, it is (wisely) full of hedges, and when the section is taken as a whole it presents a definition of ontology that is much more complex and varied than "the examination of what is meant, in context, by the word 'thing'". Biogeographist (talk) 12:29, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
It seems I am outvoted.Chjoaygame (talk) 13:34, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
It is a pity I did not previously quote A.N. Whitehead: " 'Actual entities'—also termed 'actual occasions'—are the final real things of which the world is made up."Chjoaygame (talk) 12:02, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Philosopher Mario Bunge has been cited above as an ontologist. The question has been raised above as to whether ontology is about things, and about some world or universe or domain of discourse. Here is a quote from Bunge.

"The following list of ontological principles occurring in scientific research (Bunge, 1974d) must suffice here:
Ml There is a world external to the cognitive subject. If there were no such world it would not be subject to scientific inquiry. Rather we would resort to introspection or to pure mathematics instead of attempting to discover the unknown beyond the self.
M2 The world is composed of things. Consequently the sciences of reality (natural or social) study things, their properties and changes. If there were real objects other than things it would be impossible to act upon them with the help of other things.
M3 Forms are properties of things. There are no Platonic Forms in themselves flying above concrete things. This is why (a) we study and modify properties by examining things and forcing them to change, and (b) properties are represented by predicates (e.g. functions) defined on domains that are, at least in part, sets of concrete objects. (Think of fertility, defined on the set of organisms.)
M4 Things are grouped into systems or aggregates of interacting components. There is no thing that fails to be a part of at least one system. There are no independent things: the borders we trace between entities are often imaginary. What there really is, are systems — physical, chemical, living, or social.
M5 Every system, except the universe, interacts with other systems in certain respects and is isolated from other systems in other respects. Totally isolated things would be unknowable. And if there were no relative isolation we would be forced to know the whole before knowing any of its parts." (Mario Bunge, TREATISE ON BASIC PHILOSOPHY, Volume 3, ONTOLOGY I: THE FURNITURE OF THE WORLD, pp. 16–17; D. REIDEL PUBLISHING COMPANY DORDRECHT — HOLLAND/BOSTON — U.S.A., ISBN — 13: 978 90 277 0785 7, 1977. Further principles continue this list but are perhaps not necessary to clarify the present questions.)

If a writer says that there is a world external to the cognitive subject, does that writer intend that some other world might be considered, and needs to be excluded from the current discourse?

Perhaps some comment may help?Chjoaygame (talk) 06:00, 14 September 2018 (UTC)

Particularly, I was hoping for a comment from Editor Biogeographist, who below (not above, as I mistakenly wrote) suggested quoting Bunge.Chjoaygame (talk) 06:45, 15 September 2018 (UTC)

I mentioned Bunge (among other sources) in a past discussion on this talk page; I never "suggested quoting Bunge" in the article. Biogeographist (talk) 13:01, 15 September 2018 (UTC)
I was referring to your words "at least cite a philosopher who surveys a variety of definitions of ontology, as for example Mario Bunge". I was not suggesting that my talk page quote from Bunge should appear in the article.Chjoaygame (talk) 19:53, 15 September 2018 (UTC)
And the passage from Bunge that I pointed out was an example of a "variety of definitions of ontology", including the definitions that Bunge doesn't agree with. Biogeographist (talk) 13:09, 15 September 2018 (UTC)

On page 16 of the above quoted Volume 3, Bunge writes: "In other words, both science and ontology inquire into the nature of things but, whereas science does it in detail and thus produces theories that are open to empirical scrutiny, metaphysics is extremely general and can be checked solely by its coherence with science." This seems to mean, amongst other things, that Bunge believes that 'ontology inquires into the nature of things'. I think that if Bunge can be taken seriously as in some sense more or less reliable, this quote from him, combined with my above quote of Bunge's list of ontological principles, is an argument that the notion of a thing deserves a mention in the lead of the article. The notion of a thing is already mentioned in the body of the article. If Bunge cannot be taken seriously as in some sense more or less reliable, then these quotes do not provide an argument.Chjoaygame (talk) 19:53, 15 September 2018 (UTC)

First two sentences of the lead[edit]

I continue to be unhappy with the lead of this article. Editors Eleuther and Biogeographist seem to be happy with it, and wish me to accept their combined authority, and to stop talking. I find their above stated arguments inadequate. I will not right here tackle those arguments, but will offer a fresh start.

Ontology is not about the word 'being'. It is about how to know what is, and by implication, what is not, in some world.

'Being' is an example of something that is not. In more detail, it is not a process in the ordinary world. It is at best an abstraction, indeed an abstraction that belongs to a world that seems to live only in some philosophers' minds, for example Heidegger's mind. The occasions of Editors' Eleuther and Biogeographist postings of comments on this page are processes that were, in the ordinary world of the evolution of Wikipedia.

So I want to change the first two sentences of the lead, which currently read "Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations."

I have objections to those two sentences as they stand. I have just above stated my objection to the first sentence, that it is wrong or misleading. The second sentence is cited as sourced from a well known dictionary. In general, such sourcing is unsuitable for the lead of a Wikipedia article. The lead of a Wikipedia article is a summary of the article, which is not considered by the cited dictionary. The lead of a Wikipedia article is a job for Wikipedia editors. It is not in general appropriate to demand reliable sources for sentences in the lead of a Wikipedia article, because reliable sources do not usually study Wikipedia articles. In more detail, the words 'More broadly' seem to be vague and evasive about why the second sentence is there. I think it is there not to broaden the content of the first sentence, but to remedy its defects.

So I propose the following replacement.

Ontology is the philosophical study of what is or exists in various respective worlds or universes of discourse. It studies criteria of existence and reality, and their categories and relations, and how to recognise relevant worlds or universes of discourse.

I am not trying the recommended WP:BRD route for this proposal, because I guess that it will need discussion.Chjoaygame (talk) 11:47, 25 August 2018 (UTC)

Eleuther and Biogeographist aren't the only editors who think this is a bad idea. You make some very weird statements above. You say "'Being' is an example of something that is not.' That is an outright contraction, since "is" just like "am" is word used to denote something that has Being. A thing that has being "is", or "is" something. Even "an example of something that is not" is a contraction, as "something" by definition can not be nothing, which is what "is not" means ("no thing"). Second, "It is not in general appropriate to demand reliable sources for sentences in the lead of a Wikipedia article" is such a strange statement that I wonder if you mistyped it. It is always required that wikipeida articles cite reliable sources, especially in the lead. Your theory on what ontology is is a bizarre subjectivist view, that is just POV, either of you exclusively, or you and a couple of other people exclusively. The lead currently summarizes the general view of philosophers on what ontology is.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:36, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
@Chjoaygame: You stated some inaccurate assumptions in your first paragraph above, perhaps with rhetorical intent: I never said that the current lead makes me "happy", and I certainly don't believe that any editor's personal authority has any relevance. What matters is Wikipedia's core content policies: WP:NPOV – all Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing significant views fairly, proportionately and without bias; WP:V – material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source; WP:NPR – articles may not contain any new analysis or synthesis of published material. If you think you need to justify your proposed changes to the lead, you should be explaining how your proposed replacement better represents all significant views fairly, proportionately and without bias. Whether or not the lead makes you or me or anyone else "happy" is irrelevant.
A major deficiency that I can see in your proposed replacement is that it is certainly not a consensus that ontology is about what there is in various "worlds or universes of discourse". Any philosopher who believes that there is only one "world" would reject that statement. And, for example, Section 3.1. Different conceptions of ontology in the article you cited above, "Logic and ontology" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, does not say anything about "discourse" or "universes of discourse". But, as that article says: "Besides it not being so clear what it is to commit yourself to an answer to an ontological question, it also isn't so clear what an ontological question really is, and thus what it is that ontology is supposed to accomplish." So any discussion about what ontology is could go on for a very long time.
You may want to post a request for comment at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Philosophy to seek feedback from more editors about this subject. Biogeographist (talk) 11:55, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
Noted.Chjoaygame (talk) 07:29, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
One respectable view is that of Jaakko Hintikka: "Metaphorically speaking, an analyst of our Sprachlogik should follow the example of speakers of the Swedish language (among others) and to think of the existential quantifier expressible by saying: 'One can find'. (Swedish: 'Det finns.')" [p. 223 of LINGUA UNIVERSALIS VS. CALCULUS RATIOCINATOR.]Chjoaygame (talk) 12:21, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
I gave several examples in a list above. For all of them but the last, I explicitly said that I wasn't citing them as reliable sources. The last, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I just added with the word "another". It's a pity I didn't then explicitly say I wasn't citing it as a reliable source. Well, I am saying so now: I wasn't citing it as a reliable source.Chjoaygame (talk) 18:57, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
The term 'universe of discourse' is part of the general language of philosophy, as may be seen in this quote from George Boole, cited in the Wikipedia article on him:
1854 definition of universe of discourse
In every discourse, whether of the mind conversing with its own thoughts, or of the individual in his intercourse with others, there is an assumed or expressed limit within which the subjects of its operation are confined. The most unfettered discourse is that in which the words we use are understood in the widest possible application, and for them the limits of discourse are co-extensive with those of the universe itself. But more usually we confine ourselves to a less spacious field. Sometimes, in discoursing of men we imply (without expressing the limitation) that it is of men only under certain circumstances and conditions that we speak, as of civilised men, or of men in the vigour of life, or of men under some other condition or relation. Now, whatever may be the extent of the field within which all the objects of our discourse are found, that field may properly be termed the universe of discourse. Furthermore, this universe of discourse is in the strictest sense the ultimate subject of the discourse.
I observe that Editor Biogeographist writes above that "Any philosopher who believes that there is only one "world" would reject that statement." I think his comment was contributory, about universes of discourse.Chjoaygame (talk) 19:10, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
@Chjoaygame: If you were trying to argue that the quotation above that you copied from the Wikipedia article on George Boole is relevant to evaluating the appropriateness of the phrase "in some world" that I removed from the lead sentence of this article, you have not succeeded. Biogeographist (talk) 19:18, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Unfortunately, we've now landed on a lead sentence makes no evident sense: "... what exists or is or can be found." Are these supposed to be alternatives? How can something be found if it doesn't exist? If they're not really being proposed as alternatives, then what's the sense of making it sound like they are? Anyway, the concept of "finding" is not a basic part of any ontology I've ever run across. Nor is it a part of the theory described and sourced in this WP article: the word "find" occurs only in two inessential places, and the word "found" only in this one newly inserted phrase.

I suggest reverting to the August 11 version by editor Parmenides475. I recall thinking at the time that this editor had done an excellent job of tweaking the lead to express the outlines of the subject. I still think that. Eleuther (talk) 22:00, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Eleuther's proposed revert is fine by me. Biogeographist (talk) 22:16, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
To be clear, my approval of reverting should not be construed as meaning that I am "happy" with the lead, as Chjoaygame imputed to me above. It merely seems to be a "good enough" lead for a C-Class article like this one right now. But my opinion is subject to change if the article changes substantially or if someone presents better reasons why and how the lead should be improved. Biogeographist (talk) 03:04, 29 August 2018 (UTC)

Noted.Chjoaygame (talk) 07:13, 29 August 2018 (UTC)

A.N. Whitehead's masterwork's title is Process and Reality: an Essay in Cosmology. Described in other words, Process and Reality is an ontology. Indeed, it is the deepest ontology of the twentieth century, not surpassed in the twenty-first century. Evidently, in Whitehead's eyes, ontology and cosmology are coextensive. Cosmology is the investigation of worlds.Chjoaygame (talk) 11:23, 29 August 2018 (UTC)

@Chjoaygame: Remember that talk pages are not a forum for general discussion of the article subject. Also remember that Wikipedia should be based on material from reliable secondary sources, not on the primary sources of particular philosophers. If you're going to drop little tidbits about particular philosophers in an attempt to argue for your definition of ontology, at least cite a philosopher who surveys a variety of definitions of ontology, as for example Mario Bunge does in the introduction to his Ontology (volumes 3 and 4 of his Treatise on Basic Philosophy) where he lists ten different definitions of ontology (vol. 3, pp. 3–6). Biogeographist (talk) 13:07, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
Thank you for your help. In the item you recommend, I find the following:
(vii) Metaphysics is the science of being as such : unlike the special sciences, each of which investigates one class of being, metaphysics investigates "all the species of being qua being" and "the attributes which belong to it qua being" (Aristotle, Metaphysics Bk. IV, Chs. 1 and 2). This is what nowadays one would call general ontology by contrast to the various special or regional ontologies (of the biological, the social, etc.). Certainly the Philosopher had a correct grasp of the relation between metaphysics (general) and the sciences (special). Still, the following objections must be raised: (a) the formulation is too imprecise, so much so that it has suggested to some that becoming is not within the purview of metaphysics - an opinion certainly not shared by the Stagirite, who was centrally concerned with change; (b) a science of pure being is a contradiction in terms because it has no definite subject matter (Collingwood, 1940, pp. 10-11).
This looks like adequate grounds for simply deleting the current first sentence of the lead, along with the words "More broadly".Chjoaygame (talk) 16:29, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
No it isn't. Your quote is a quote about metaphysics, not ontology. The article is about ontology generally, not "what nowadays one would call general ontology", which this author thinks is metaphysics.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:02, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
This seems not to be a bad idea to me. I'd like to know what other editors think of this proposal. But the first sentence still needs to make clear that the article is about philosophical ontology, e.g.: "In philosophy, ontology is ..." Biogeographist (talk) 20:06, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
It is a bad idea.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:04, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
This seems to show substantial disagreement between, on one hand, (a) me and Editor Biogeographist and, on the other hand, (b) Editor Parmenides475. Will other editors comment?Chjoaygame (talk) 20:13, 15 September 2018 (UTC)
The title of the treatise you recommend, in particular its volume 4, is Ontology II: a World of Systems. Together with the full title Process and Reality: an Essay in Cosmology, this looks like adequate grounds for mentioning the world or universe of discourse in the lead.Chjoaygame (talk) 16:40, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
That is a horrible idea. Ontology has nothing to do with cosmology, even if one can point to ontological aspects in cosmology. But even then, that would be something to add to the article on cosmology. That shouldn't be anywhere in this article, let alone in the lead.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:06, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
No. You keep making unjustified leaps from the occurrence of some phrase, taken out of context, to your apparent belief that ontology should be portrayed in the lead as about some "world or universe of discourse". I just don't see how this is a consensus view of what philosophical ontology is, and it seems especially misguided to impute this view to Bunge. Mario Bunge does not consider ontology to be about (worlds or universes of) discourse. Just looking at the titles of his works, this can be seen in the fact that the first two volumes of his Treatise, titled Semantics, are separate from the two volumes on Ontology. He makes a clear distinction between conceptual/discursive systems and material systems; for him, ontology is about the latter. I also think of prominent ontologist Barry Smith, who has argued strongly against a conception of ontology in which, as he said in his paper "Beyond concepts: ontology as reality representation" (2004), "concepts themselves become the very subject-matter of ontology"; for Smith ontology is about reality representation, not about concepts or "universes of discourse". Biogeographist (talk) 20:06, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
Agreed.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:07, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
I agree with Barry Smith, that ontology is about reality, such as for example, saying that Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon was a real event, not about concepts, such as for example, 'being' or 'existence'. More precisely, ontology is the study of how one recognises the real existence or non-existence of things. 'Reality' is an English derivative of the Latin word res, a thing. For example, A.N. Whitehead writes: " 'Actual entities'—also termed 'actual occasions'—are the final real things of which the world is made up."
I do not propose that ontology is about "universes of discourse". But I do propose that reality always refers to some world or universe of discourse, and hardly makes sense without such a reference. For example, Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon is not a number, and would hardly fit in a textbook of arithmetic, which is where assertions that numbers exist, and even, in a sense, numbers themselves, are to be found. Likewise, numbers are not processes in the actual world, and, as fundamental real things in themselves, are not to be found in discourses about events in world history.Chjoaygame (talk) 13:34, 1 September 2018 (UTC)
It doesn't matter what you think, what matters is what the general view of philosophers is on the topic. Your reasoning is original research, which isn't allowed on wikipedia. What you are describing is closer to epistemology than it is even metaphysics, let alone ontology. Ontology, more than any other sub-field of philosophy, is concerned chiefly with abstract concepts, which makes it especially peculiar that you would argue the opposite.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:12, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
As should be obvious from what I have already said, I don't agree that reality always refers to some world or universe of discourse. If there's anything that hardly makes sense it's that statement. By the way, in case you were wondering what Mario Bunge thinks of Jaakko Hintikka (and I have no reason to disagree with Bunge's assessment), suffice it to quote a couple of lines from Bunge's memoir: "Exactness without substance is just intellectual gymnastics, as Einstein might say. For example, Max Black, Héctor-Neri Castañeda and Jaakko Hintikka, the sharpest analysts I have known, produced little worthwhile because they did not tackle any deep philosophical problems." Biogeographist (talk) 22:37, 1 September 2018 (UTC)

The current lead is quite plain and well written as it is, aimed at the general reader, who is, after all, the target reader of a lead. There's no need to keep trying to slice and dice it, based on technical readings of the terms involved, cherry-picked from particular philosophers. The first sentence states the gist of the subject, in a consensus way that will be okay with anyone who knows the word at all. But ontologists study more than just "being" per se, they also study related subjects, so the second sentence lists some prominent examples of this, all associated with their own sourced WP articles, prefaced by the clear and harmless explanatory phrase, "more broadly." This is all plain and unobjectionable. I honestly can't see any reason for screwing with it. Eleuther (talk) 21:14, 29 August 2018 (UTC)

Thank you. I wrote the first half of the lead, and retained the second half even though I didn't think it added anything. Actually the second half of the current lead was most of the entire lead before I changed it. I always thought this article's lead was so poorly written that it offered no understanding of ontology, so I tried to write a lead (the first half at least) that as broadly described the field to a general audience as I could.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:15, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
To clarify the above remark (on further reflection): the term "being" in the first sentence, by itself, may be confusing to some general readers, because it may seem to imply that ontology somehow derives from the subtleties of verb tenses, rather than vice versa. So I would support expanding the word "being" in the first sentence to "being or existence." This seems to be a productive change, and I will make it myself in a few days, if no one objects. Eleuther (talk) 20:17, 30 August 2018 (UTC)
I object. My grounds are in Barry Smith's view that ontology is not about such concepts as 'being' or 'existence'; rather it is the study of how one recognises the real existence or non-existence of things, such as numbers, or Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, or Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander, in some world or universe of discourse.Chjoaygame (talk) 13:42, 1 September 2018 (UTC)
As I said above, it doesn't matter what your own view is, or what your reasoning is behind that view. What matters is what the general view of philosophers is, and the current lead describes that. You can't change the lead of an article to correspond to what one or two people think, especially when that represents a major change from what the general view of experts on the matter would say. And Barry Smith, whoever that is, is wrong. Ontology is, more than most other sub fields of philosophy, concerned with abstract concepts. "how one recognises the real existence or non-existence of things" is a question for epistemology, not ontology or even metaphysics.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:22, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
Very well, I will not make the change, though your objection doesn't really make a coherent argument against it. (Shouldn't you have also mentioned the round square cupola of Berkeley cathedral?) Eleuther (talk) 23:39, 1 September 2018 (UTC)
More generally, may I say that I find your view of ontology to be somewhat depressing. By making the subject entirely subjective (i.e., dependent on a concept like discourse or recognizing), you seem to close the door on ontological categories that don't depend on the presence of a human observer at all, the very categories that, to me, are the most interesting. I recognize that there are philosophers who believe that ontology is subjective, mainly because they believe that everything is subjective, i.e., a matter of interpretation, or something like that, but I don't want to go there, because it turns science into something like religion, that depends essentially on whose particular subjectivity (discourse/recognizing) one takes as normative, an issue that can't really be resolved, except by war.
Fortunately, everything I said in the preceding paragraph can be disregarded here. Wikipedia doesn't care about my POV or yours. The POV that ontology is subjective certainly exists, and so should be addressed somewhere in the article. However, it doesn't dominate the mainstream subject, so it should not be allowed to take over the lead. Eleuther (talk) 00:59, 3 September 2018 (UTC)
As I have made clear in my new comments above, I completely agree. These proposed changes are POV that represent the opinion of no one other than, at best, a couple of people. The article should, and currently does, describe the general view of philosophers on what ontology is.Parmenides475 (talk) 02:25, 3 September 2018 (UTC)