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THEME 13.Ontology. Philosophy of being. Theory of dialectics. Epistemology. Philosophy of politics and education.

Ontology' is originally a technical word of the philosophical jargon, which is now become extremely trendy in AI. If we date the beginning of Western philosophy with Socrates, then ontology is a comparatively new term for a very old set of problems: those concerned with being and existence. Traditionally, the questions on being were to be answered by metaphysics, a discipline which goes back to Aristotle and refers to fourteen treatises dealing with what he called `philosophy' or `theology'. Aristotle singled out three main tasks for metaphysics: the discovery of the first principles and causes of reality, the study of being qua being, and the study of the divine, named after Aquinas prima philosophia, metaphysica and theologia respectively. At the end of the seventeenth century Wolff divided metaphysica into metaphysica generalis and metaphysica specialis. Metaphysica generalis was also called ontologia and was meant to investigate the most general concepts of being, while metaphysica specialis was in its turn divided into the three branches of rational theology (the study of God), rational psychology (the study of the soul) and rational cosmology (the study of the body).

Contemporary ontology has its root in Wolff's general metaphysics. However its modern shape is due to the works of Meinong and Husserl. In particular, Husserl's Third Logical Investigation, On

the theory of parts and wholes, set the basis for the development of ontology as a rigorous discipline dealing with such concepts as: object, state of affairs, property, genus, species, identity, unity, plurality, number, relation, connection, causation, series, part, whole, dependence, existence, magnitude, boundary, manifold, set, class, etc. Those categories where called by Husserl formal to emphasize the fact that they pertain to the mere form of a being, in contrast to its material realization, and their investigation was named formal ontology. The counterpart of formal ontology is material ontology: there are many different material ontologies, also called regional ontologies, which investigate the most general concepts peculiar to the different regions of reality. For example, a standard approach would distinguish between spatio-temporally extended things, organic or living entities, minds and cultural objects; the regional ontology of extended things would then deal with the concepts of space, time, causation, movement, and so on. Even though contemporary ontology is often defined as ``the study of being in so far as this is shared in common by all entities, material and immaterial'', thus giving the impression that only formal ontology in the husserlian sense is nowadays alive as a research subject, most of the investigations carried out in philosophy of mind and ethics are often cast as debates about the ontological status of such things as pains, sensations of colour, qualia and particular instances of actions. This means that a great effort is also put in achieving well-established material ontologies.




The aim of descriptive metaphysics and ontology in philosophy.

Explanation of ontology.


Date: 2015-01-12; view: 1927

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