Category of being

In ontology, the different kinds or ways of being are called categories of being; or simply categories. To investigate the categories of being is to determine the most fundamental and the broadest classes of entities. A distinction between such categories, in making the categories or applying them, is called an ontological distinction.

Early development

The process of abstraction required to discover the number and names of the categories has been undertaken by many philosophers since Aristotle and involves the careful inspection of each concept to ensure that there is no higher category or categories under which that concept could be subsumed. The scholars of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries developed Aristotle's ideas, firstly, for example by Gilbert of Poitiers, dividing Aristotle's ten categories into two sets, primary and secondary, according to whether they inhere in the subject or not:

  • Primary categories: Substance, Relation, Quantity and Quality
  • Secondary categories: Place, Time, Situation, Condition, Action, Passion[1]

Secondly, following Porphyry’s likening of the classificatory hierarchy to a tree, they concluded that the major classes could be subdivided to form subclasses, for example, Substance could be divided into Genus and Species, and Quality could be subdivided into Property and Accident, depending on whether the property was necessary or contingent.[2] An alternative line of development was taken by Plotinus in the second century who by a process of abstraction reduced Aristotle’s list of ten categories to five: Substance, Relation, Quantity, Motion and Quality.[3] Plotinus further suggested that the latter three categories of his list, namely Quantity, Motion and Quality correspond to three different kinds of relation and that these three categories could therefore be subsumed under the category of Relation.[4] This was to lead to the supposition that there were only two categories at the top of the hierarchical tree, namely Substance and Relation, and if relations only exist in the mind as many supposed, to the two highest categories, Mind and Matter, reflected most clearly in the dualism of René Descartes.[5]

Modern development

An alternative conclusion however began to be formulated in the eighteenth century by Immanuel Kant who realised that we can say nothing about Substance except through the relation of the subject to other things.[6] In the sentence "This is a house" the substantive subject "house" only gains meaning in relation to human use patterns or to other similar houses. The category of Substance disappears from Kant's tables, and under the heading of Relation, Kant lists inter alia the three relationship types of Disjunction, Causality and Inherence.[7] The three older concepts of Quantity, Motion and Quality, as Peirce discovered, could be subsumed under these three broader headings in that Quantity relates to the subject through the relation of Disjunction; Motion relates to the subject through the relation of Causality; and Quality relates to the subject through the relation of Inherence.[8] Sets of three continued to play an important part in the nineteenth century development of the categories, most notably in G.W.F. Hegel's extensive tabulation of categories,[9] and in C.S. Peirce's categories set out in his work on the logic of relations. One of Peirce's contributions was to call the three primary categories Firstness, Secondness and Thirdness[10] which both emphasises their general nature, and avoids the confusion of having the same name for both the category itself and for a concept within that category.

In a separate development, and building on the notion of primary and secondary categories introduced by the Scholastics, Kant introduced the idea that secondary or "derivative" categories could be derived from the primary categories through the combination of one primary category with another.[11] This would result in the formation of three secondary categories: the first, "Community" was an example that Kant gave of such a derivative category; the second, "Modality", introduced by Kant, was a term which Hegel, in developing Kant's dialectical method, showed could also be seen as a derivative category;[12] and the third, "Spirit" or "Will" were terms that Hegel[13] and Schopenhauer[14] were developing separately for use in their own systems. Karl Jaspers in the twentieth century, in his development of existential categories, brought the three together, allowing for differences in terminology, as Substantiality, Communication and Will.[15] This pattern of three primary and three secondary categories was used most notably in the nineteenth century by Peter Mark Roget to form the six headings of his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. The headings used were the three objective categories of Abstract Relation, Space (including Motion) and Matter and the three subjective categories of Intellect, Feeling and Volition, and he found that under these six headings all the words of the English language, and hence any possible predicate, could be assembled.[16]

Twentieth century development

In the twentieth century the primacy of the division between the subjective and the objective, or between mind and matter, was disputed by, among others, Bertrand Russell[17] and Gilbert Ryle.[18] Philosophy began to move away from the metaphysics of categorisation towards the linguistic problem of trying to differentiate between, and define, the words being used. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s conclusion was that there were no clear definitions which we can give to words and categories but only a "halo" or "corona"[19] of related meanings radiating around each term. Gilbert Ryle thought the problem could be seen in terms of dealing with "a galaxy of ideas" rather than a single idea, and suggested that category mistakes are made when a concept (e.g. "university"), understood as falling under one category (e.g. abstract idea), is used as though it falls under another (e.g. physical object).[20] With regard to the visual analogies being used, Peirce and Lewis,[21] just like Plotinus earlier,[22] likened the terms of propositions to points, and the relations between the terms to lines. Peirce, taking this further, talked of univalent, bivalent and trivalent relations linking predicates to their subject and it is just the number and types of relation linking subject and predicate that determine the category into which a predicate might fall.[23] Primary categories contain concepts where there is one dominant kind of relation to the subject. Secondary categories contain concepts where there are two dominant kinds of relation. Examples of the latter were given by Heidegger in his two propositions "the house is on the creek" where the two dominant relations are spatial location (Disjunction) and cultural association (Inherence), and "the house is eighteenth century" where the two relations are temporal location (Causality) and cultural quality (Inherence).[24] A third example may be inferred from Kant in the proposition "the house is impressive or sublime" where the two relations are spatial or mathematical disposition (Disjunction) and dynamic or motive power (Causality).[25] Both Peirce and Wittgenstein[26] introduced the analogy of colour theory in order to illustrate the shades of meanings of words. Primary categories, like primary colours, are analytical representing the furthest we can go in terms of analysis and abstraction and include Quantity, Motion and Quality. Secondary categories, like secondary colours, are synthetic and include concepts such as Substance, Community and Spirit.


One of Aristotle’s early interests lay in the classification of the natural world, how for example the genus "animal" could be first divided into "two-footed animal" and then into "wingless, two-footed animal".[27] He realised that the distinctions were being made according to the qualities the animal possesses, the quantity of its parts and the kind of motion that it exhibits. To fully complete the proposition "this animal is…" Aristotle stated in his work on the Categories that there were ten kinds of predicate where...

"…each signifies either substance or quantity or quality or relation or where or when or being-in-a-position or having or acting or being acted upon".[28]

He realised that predicates could be simple or complex. The simple kinds consist of a subject and a predicate linked together by the "categorical" or inherent type of relation. For Aristotle the more complex kinds were limited to propositions where the predicate is compounded of two of the above categories for example "this is a horse running". More complex kinds of proposition were only discovered after Aristotle by the Stoic, Chrysippus,[29] who developed the "hypothetical" and "disjunctive" types of syllogism and these were terms which were to be developed through the Middle Ages[30] and were to reappear in Kant's system of categories.

Category came into use with Aristotle's essay Categories, in which he discussed univocal and equivocal terms, predication, and ten categories:[31]

  • Substance, essence (ousia) – examples of primary substance: this man, this horse; secondary substance (species, genera): man, horse
  • Quantity (poson, how much), discrete or continuous – examples: two cubits long, number, space, (length of) time.
  • Quality (poion, of what kind or description) – examples: white, black, grammatical, hot, sweet, curved, straight.
  • Relation (pros ti, toward something) – examples: double, half, large, master, knowledge.
  • Place (pou, where) – examples: in a marketplace, in the Lyceum
  • Time (pote, when) – examples: yesterday, last year
  • Position, posture, attitude (keisthai, to lie) – examples: sitting, lying, standing
  • State, condition (echein, to have or be) – examples: shod, armed
  • Action (poiein, to make or do) – examples: to lance, to heat, to cool (something)
  • Affection, passion (paschein, to suffer or undergo) – examples: to be lanced, to be heated, to be cooled


Plotinus in writing his Enneads around AD 250 recorded that "philosophy at a very early age investigated the number and character of the existents… some found ten, others less…. to some the genera were the first principles, to others only a generic classification of existents".[32] He realised that some categories were reducible to others saying "why are not Beauty, Goodness and the virtues, Knowledge and Intelligence included among the primary genera?"[33] He concluded that such transcendental categories and even the categories of Aristotle were in some way posterior to the three Eleatic categories first recorded in Plato's dialogue Parmenides and which comprised the following three coupled terms:

  • Unity/Plurality
  • Motion/Stability
  • Identity/Difference[34]

Plotinus called these "the hearth of reality"[35] deriving from them not only the three categories of Quantity, Motion and Quality but also what came to be known as "the three moments of the Neoplatonic world process":

  • First, there existed the "One", and his view that "the origin of things is a contemplation"
  • The Second "is certainly an activity… a secondary phase… life streaming from life… energy running through the universe"
  • The Third is some kind of Intelligence concerning which he wrote "Activity is prior to Intellection… and self knowledge"[36]

Plotinus likened the three to the centre, the radii and the circumference of a circle, and clearly thought that the principles underlying the categories were the first principles of creation. "From a single root all being multiplies". Similar ideas were to be introduced into Early Christian thought by, for example, Gregory of Nazianzus who summed it up saying "Therefore Unity, having from all eternity arrived by motion at duality, came to rest in trinity".[37]


In the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Immanuel Kant argued that the categories are part of our own mental structure and consist of a set of a priori concepts through which we interpret the world around us.[38] These concepts correspond to twelve logical functions of the understanding which we use to make judgements and there are therefore two tables given in the Critique, one of the Judgements and a corresponding one for the Categories.[39] To give an example, the logical function behind our reasoning from ground to consequence (based on the Hypothetical relation) underlies our understanding of the world in terms of cause and effect (the Causal relation). In each table the number twelve arises from, firstly, an initial division into two: the Mathematical and the Dynamical; a second division of each of these headings into a further two: Quantity and Quality, and Relation and Modality respectively; and, thirdly, each of these then divides into a further three subheadings as follows.

Table of Judgements


  • Quantity
    • Universal
    • Particular
    • Singular
  • Quality
    • Affirmative
    • Negative
    • Infinite


  • Relation
    • Categorical
    • Hypothetical
    • Disjunctive
  • Modality
    • Problematic
    • Assertoric
    • Apodictic

Table of Categories



Criticism of Kant's system followed, firstly, by Arthur Schopenhauer, who amongst other things was unhappy with the term "Community", and declared that the tables "do open violence to truth, treating it as nature was treated by old-fashioned gardeners",[40] and secondly, by W.T.Stace who in his book The Philosophy of Hegel suggested that in order to make Kant's structure completely symmetrical a third category would need to be added to the Mathematical and the Dynamical.[41] This, he said, Hegel was to do with his category of Notion.


G.W.F. Hegel in his Science of Logic (1812) attempted to provide a more comprehensive system of categories than Kant and developed a structure that was almost entirely triadic.[42] So important were the categories to Hegel that he claimed "the first principle of the world, the Absolute, is a system of categories… the categories must be the reason of which the world is a consequent".[43]

Using his own logical method of combination, later to be called the Hegelian dialectic, of arguing from thesis through antithesis to synthesis, he arrived, as shown in W.T.Stace's work cited, at a hierarchy of some 270 categories. The three very highest categories were Logic, Nature and Spirit. The three highest categories of Logic, however, he called Being, Essence and Notion which he explained as follows:

  • Being was differentiated from Nothing by containing with it the concept of the "Other", an initial internal division that can be compared with Kant's category of Disjunction. Stace called the category of Being the sphere of common sense containing concepts such as consciousness, sensation, quantity, quality and measure.
  • Essence. The "Other" separates itself from the "One" by a kind of motion, reflected in Hegel's first synthesis of "Becoming". For Stace this category represented the sphere of science containing within it firstly, the thing, its form and properties; secondly, cause, effect and reciprocity, and thirdly, the principles of classification, identity and difference.
  • Notion. Having passed over into the "Other" there is an almost Neoplatonic return into a higher unity that in embracing the "One" and the "Other" enables them to be considered together through their inherent qualities. This according to Stace is the sphere of philosophy proper where we find not only the three types of logical proposition: Disjunctive, Hypothetical and Categorical but also the three transcendental concepts of Beauty, Goodness and Truth.[44]

Schopenhauer's category that corresponded with Notion was that of Idea, which in his "Four-Fold Root of Sufficient Reason" he complemented with the category of the Will.[45] The title of his major work was "The World as Will and Idea". The two other complementary categories, reflecting one of Hegel's initial divisions, were those of Being and Becoming. At around the same time, Goethe was developing his colour theories in the Farbenlehre of 1810, and introduced similar principles of combination and complementation, symbolising, for Goethe, "the primordial relations which belong both to nature and vision".[46] Hegel in his Science of Logic accordingly asks us to see his system not as a tree but as a circle.


Charles Sanders Peirce, who had read Kant and Hegel closely, and who also had some knowledge of Aristotle, proposed a system of merely three phenomenological categories: Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness, which he repeatedly invoked in his subsequent writings. Like Hegel, C.S.Peirce attempted to develop a system of categories from a single indisputable principle, in Peirce's case the notion that in the first instance he could only be aware of his own ideas. "It seems that the true categories of consciousness are first, feeling… second, a sense of resistance… and third, synthetic consciousness, or thought".[47] Elsewhere he called the three primary categories: Quality, Reaction and Meaning, and even Firstness, Secondness and Thirdness, saying, "perhaps it is not right to call these categories conceptions, they are so intangible that they are rather tones or tints upon conceptions":[48]

  • Firstness (Quality): "The first is predominant in feeling… we must think of a quality without parts, e.g. the colour of magenta… When I say it is a quality I do not mean that it "inheres" in a subject… The whole content of consciousness is made up of qualities of feeling, as truly as the whole of space is made up of points, or the whole of time by instants".
  • Secondness (Reaction): "This is present even in such a rudimentary fragment of experience as a simple feeling… an action and reaction between our soul and the stimulus… The idea of second is predominant in the ideas of causation and of statical force… the real is active; we acknowledge it by calling it the actual".
  • Thirdness (Meaning): "Thirdness is essentially of a general nature… ideas in which thirdness predominate [include] the idea of a sign or representation… Every genuine triadic relation involves meaning… the idea of meaning is irreducible to those of quality and reaction… synthetical consciousness is the consciousness of a third or medium".[49]

Although Peirce's three categories correspond to the three concepts of relation given in Kant's tables, the sequence is now reversed and follows that given by Hegel, and indeed before Hegel of the three moments of the world-process given by Plotinus. Later, Peirce gave a mathematical reason for there being three categories in that although monadic, dyadic and triadic nodes are irreducible, every node of a higher valency is reducible to a "compound of triadic relations".[50] Ferdinand de Saussure, who was developing "semiology" in France just as Peirce was developing "semiotics" in the US, likened each term of a proposition to "the centre of a constellation, the point where other coordinate terms, the sum of which is indefinite, converge".[51]


Edmund Husserl (1962, 2000) wrote extensively about categorial systems as part of his phenomenology.

For Gilbert Ryle (1949), a category (in particular a "category mistake") is an important semantic concept, but one having only loose affinities to an ontological category.

Contemporary systems of categories have been proposed by John G. Bennett (The Dramatic Universe, 4 vols., 1956–65), Wilfrid Sellars (1974), Reinhardt Grossmann (1983, 1992), Johansson (1989), Hoffman and Rosenkrantz (1994), Roderick Chisholm (1996), Barry Smith (ontologist) (2003), and Jonathan Lowe (2006).

See also


  1. ^ Reese W.L. Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion (Harvester Press, 1980)
  2. ^ Ibid. cf Evangelou C. Aristotle’s Categories and Porphyry (E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1988)
  3. ^ Plotinus Enneads (tr. Mackenna S. & Page B.S., The Medici Society, London, 1930) VI.3.3
  4. ^ Ibid. VI.3.21
  5. ^ Descartes R. The Philosophical Works of Descartes (tr. Haldane E. & Ross G., Dover, New York, 1911) Vol.1
  6. ^ Op.cit.3 p.87
  7. ^ Ibid. pp.107,113
  8. ^ Op.cit.5 pp.148-179
  9. ^ Stace W.T. The Philosophy of Hegel (Macmillan & Co, London, 1924)
  10. ^ Op.cit.5 pp.148-179
  11. ^ Op.cit.3 p.116
  12. ^ Hegel G.W.F. Logic (tr. Wallace W., Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1975) pp.124ff
  13. ^ Op.cit.15
  14. ^ Schopenhauer A. On the Four-Fold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason 1813 (tr. Payne E., La Salle, Illinois, 1974)
  15. ^ Jaspers K. Philosophy 1932 (tr. Ashton E.B., University of Chicago Press, 1970) pp.117ff
  16. ^ Roget P.M. Roget’s Thesaurus: The Everyman Edition 1952 (Pan Books, London, 1972)
  17. ^ Russell B. The Analysis of Mind (George Allen & Unwin, London, 1921) pp.10,23
  18. ^ Ryle G. The Concept of Mind (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1949) pp.17ff
  19. ^ Wittgenstein L. Philosophical Investigations 1953 (tr. Anscombe G., Blackwell, Oxford, 1978) pp.14,181
  20. ^ Ryle G. Collected Papers (Hutchinson, London, 1971) Vol.II: Philosophical Arguments 1945, pp.201,202
  21. ^ Op.cit.1 pp.52,82,106
  22. ^ Op.cit.9 VI.5.5
  23. ^ Op.cit.5 Vol I pp.159,176
  24. ^ Op.cit.4 pp.62,187
  25. ^ Kant I. Critique of Judgement 1790 (tr. Meredith J.C., Clarendon Press, Oxford 1952) p.94ff
  26. ^ Op.cit.25 pp.36,152
  27. ^ Aristotle Metaphysics 1075a
  28. ^ Op.cit.2
  29. ^ Long A. & Sedley D. The Hellenistic Philosophers (Cambridge University Press, 1987) p.206
  30. ^ Peter of Spain (alias John XXI) Summulae Logicales
  31. ^ Categories, translated by E. M. Edghill. For the Greek terms, see The Complete Works of Aristotle in Greek (requires DjVu), Book 1 (Organon), Categories Section 4 (DjVu file's page 6)."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2010-02-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  32. ^ Op.cit.9 VI.1.1
  33. ^ Ibid. VI.2.17
  34. ^ Plato Parmenides (tr. Jowett B., The Dialogues of Plato, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1875) p.162
  35. ^ Op.cit.9 Op.cit.1.4
  36. ^ Ibid. III.8.5
  37. ^ Rawlinson A.E. (ed.) Essays on the Trinity and the Incarnation (Longmans, London, 1928) pp.241-244
  38. ^ Op.cit.3 p.87
  39. ^ Ibid. pp.107,113
  40. ^ Schopenhauer A. The World as Will and Representation (tr. Payne A., Dover Publications, London, New York, 1966) p.430
  41. ^ Op.cit.15 p.222
  42. ^ Ibid.
  43. ^ Ibid. pp.63,65
  44. ^ Op.cit.18 pp.124ff
  45. ^ Op.cit.20
  46. ^ Goethe J.W. von, The Theory of Colours (tr. Eastlake C.L., MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1970) p.350
  47. ^ Op.cit.5 p.200, cf Locke
  48. ^ Ibid. p.179
  49. ^ Ibid. pp.148-179
  50. ^ Ibid. p.176
  51. ^ Saussure F. de,Course in General Linguistics 1916 (tr. Harris R., Duckworth, London, 1983) p.124

Selected bibliography

  • Aristotle, 1953. Metaphysics. Ross, W. D., trans. Oxford University Press.
  • --------, 2004. Categories, Edghill, E. M., trans. Uni. of Adelaide library.
  • John G. Bennett, 1956–1965. The Dramatic Universe. London, Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Gustav Bergmann, 1992. New Foundations of Ontology. Madison: Uni. of Wisconsin Press.
  • Browning, Douglas, 1990. Ontology and the Practical Arena. Pennsylvania State Uni.
  • Butchvarov, Panayot, 1979. Being qua Being: A Theory of Identity, Existence, and Predication. Indiana Uni. Press.
  • Roderick Chisholm, 1996. A Realistic Theory of Categories. Cambridge Uni. Press.
  • Feibleman, James Kern, 1951. Ontology. The Johns Hopkins Press (reprinted 1968, Greenwood Press, Publishers, New York).
  • Grossmann, Reinhardt, 1983. The Categorial Structure of the World. Indiana Uni. Press.
  • Grossmann, Reinhardt, 1992. The Existence of the World: An Introduction to Ontology. Routledge.
  • Haaparanta, Leila and Koskinen, Heikki J., 2012. Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hoffman, J., and Rosenkrantz, G. S.,1994. Substance among other Categories. Cambridge Uni. Press.
  • Edmund Husserl, 1962. Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. Boyce Gibson, W. R., trans. Collier.
  • ------, 2000. Logical Investigations, 2nd ed. Findlay, J. N., trans. Routledge.
  • Johansson, Ingvar, 1989. Ontological Investigations. Routledge, 2nd ed. Ontos Verlag 2004.
  • Kahn, Charles H., 2009. Essays on Being, Oxford University Press.
  • Immanuel Kant, 1998. Critique of Pure Reason. Guyer, Paul, and Wood, A. W., trans. Cambridge Uni. Press.
  • Charles Sanders Peirce, 1992, 1998. The Essential Peirce, vols. 1,2. Houser, Nathan et al., eds. Indiana Uni. Press.
  • Gilbert Ryle, 1949. The Concept of Mind. Uni. of Chicago Press.
  • Wilfrid Sellars, 1974, "Toward a Theory of the Categories" in Essays in Philosophy and Its History. Reidel.
  • Barry Smith, 2003. "Ontology" in Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information. Blackwell.

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Aristotle's theory of universals is a classic solution to the problem of universals. Universals are types, properties, or relations that are common to their various instances. In Aristotle's view, universals exist only where they are instantiated; they exist only in things. Aristotle said that a universal is identical in each of its instances. All red things are similar in that there is the same universal, redness, in each thing. There is no Platonic Form of redness, standing apart from all red things; instead, each red thing has a copy of the same property, redness.


In philosophy, being means the existence of a thing. Anything that exists has being. Ontology is the branch of philosophy that studies being. Being is a concept encompassing objective and subjective features of reality and existence. Anything that partakes in being is also called a "being", though often this usage is limited to entities that have subjectivity (as in the expression "human being"). The notion of "being" has, inevitably, been elusive and controversial in the history of philosophy, beginning in Western philosophy with attempts among the pre-Socratics to deploy it intelligibly. The first effort to recognize and define the concept came from Parmenides, who famously said of it that "what is-is". Common words such as "is", "are", and "am" refer directly or indirectly to being.

As an example of efforts in recent times, Martin Heidegger (who himself drew on ancient Greek sources) adopted after German terms like Dasein to articulate the topic. Several modern approaches build on such continental European exemplars as Heidegger, and apply metaphysical results to the understanding of human psychology and the human condition generally (notably in the Existentialist tradition). By contrast, in mainstream Analytical philosophy the topic is more confined to abstract investigation, in the work of such influential theorists as W. V. O. Quine, to name one of many. One of the most fundamental questions that has been contemplated in various cultures and traditions (e.g., Native American) and continues to exercise philosophers is articulated thusly by William James: "How comes the world to be here at all instead of the nonentity which might be imagined in its place? ... from nothing to being there is no logical bridge."

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Categories (Aristotle)

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The Categories places every object of human apprehension under one of ten categories (known to medieval writers as the Latin term praedicamenta). Aristotle intended them to enumerate everything that can be expressed without composition or structure, thus anything that can be either the subject or the predicate of a proposition.

Category (Kant)

In Kant's philosophy, a category (German: Categorie in the original or Kategorie in modern German) is a pure concept of the understanding (Verstand). A Kantian category is a characteristic of the appearance of any object in general, before it has been experienced. Kant wrote that "They are concepts of an object in general…." Kant also wrote that, "…pure cоncepts [Categories] of the undеrstanding which apply to objects of intuition in general…." Such a category is not a classificatory division, as the word is commonly used. It is, instead, the condition of the possibility of objects in general, that is, objects as such, any and all objects, not specific objects in particular.

Fundamental ontology

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Hegelianism is the philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel which can be summed up by the dictum that "the rational alone is real", which means that all reality is capable of being expressed in rational categories. His goal was to reduce reality to a more synthetic unity within the system of absolute idealism.


In philosophy, ideas are usually taken as mental representational images of some object. Ideas can also be abstract concepts that do not present as mental images. Many philosophers have considered ideas to be a fundamental ontological category of being. The capacity to create and understand the meaning of ideas is considered to be an essential and defining feature of human beings. In a popular sense, an idea arises in a reflexive, spontaneous manner, even without thinking or serious reflection, for example, when we talk about the idea of a person or a place. A new or original idea can often lead to innovation.

Index of metaphysics articles

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that investigates principles of reality transcending those of any particular science. Cosmology and ontology are traditional branches of metaphysics. It is concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. Someone who studies metaphysics can be called either a "metaphysician" or a "metaphysicist".

Karl Robert Eduard von Hartmann

Karl Robert Eduard von Hartmann (23 February 1842 – 5 June 1906) was a German philosopher, author of Philosophy of the Unconscious (1869).

Liam Cosgrave

Liam Cosgrave (13 April 1920 – 4 October 2017) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as Taoiseach from 1973 to 1977, Leader of Fine Gael from 1965 to 1977, Leader of the Opposition from 1965 to 1973, Minister for External Affairs from 1954 to 1957, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Government Chief Whip from 1948 to 1951. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1943 to 1981.Born in Castleknock, Dublin, Cosgrave was the son of W. T. Cosgrave, the first President of the Executive Council in the newly formed Irish Free State. After qualifying as a barrister he decided to embark on a political career. He was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1943 general election and sat in opposition alongside his father. The formation of the first inter-party government in 1948 saw Cosgrave become a Parliamentary Secretary to Taoiseach John A. Costello. He formally became a cabinet member in 1954 when he was appointed Minister for External Affairs. The highlight of his three-year tenure was Ireland's successful entry into the United Nations. In 1965 Cosgrave was the unanimous choice of his colleagues to succeed James Dillon as leader of Fine Gael. He lost the 1969 general election to the incumbent Jack Lynch, but won the 1973 general election and became Taoiseach in a Fine Gael-Labour Party government.

He was the longest-lived Taoiseach of Ireland, dying at the age of 97 years, 174 days, on 4 October 2017.

Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi

María Luisa Cáceres Díaz de Arismendi (September 25, 1799 – June 28, 1866) was a heroine of the Venezuelan War of Independence.

Plane (esotericism)

In esoteric cosmology, a plane is conceived as a subtle state, level, or region of reality, each plane corresponding to some type, kind, or category of being.

The concept may be found in religious and esoteric teachings—e.g. Vedanta (Advaita Vedanta), Ayyavazhi, shamanism, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Kashmir Shaivism, Sant Mat/Surat Shabd Yoga, Sufism, Druze, Kabbalah, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Rosicrucianism (Esoteric Christian), Eckankar, Ascended Master Teachings, etc.—which propound the idea of a whole series of subtle planes or worlds or dimensions which, from a center, interpenetrate themselves and the physical planet in which we live, the solar systems, and all the physical structures of the universe. This interpenetration of planes culminates in the universe itself as a physical structured, dynamic and evolutive expression emanated through a series of steadily denser stages, becoming progressively more material and embodied.

The emanation is conceived, according to esoteric teachings, to have originated, at the dawn of the universe's manifestation, in The Supreme Being who sent out—from the unmanifested Absolute beyond comprehension—the dynamic force of creative energy, as sound-vibration ("the Word"), into the abyss of space. Alternatively, it states that this dynamic force is being sent forth, through the ages, framing all things that constitute and inhabit the universe.


Posthumanism or post-humanism (meaning "after humanism" or "beyond humanism") is a term with at least seven definitions according to philosopher Francesca Ferrando:

Antihumanism: any theory that is critical of traditional humanism and traditional ideas about humanity and the human condition.

Cultural posthumanism: a branch of cultural theory critical of the foundational assumptions of humanism and its legacy that examines and questions the historical notions of "human" and "human nature", often challenging typical notions of human subjectivity and embodiment and strives to move beyond archaic concepts of "human nature" to develop ones which constantly adapt to contemporary technoscientific knowledge.

Philosophical posthumanism: a philosophical direction which draws on cultural posthumanism, the philosophical strand examines the ethical implications of expanding the circle of moral concern and extending subjectivities beyond the human species.

Posthuman condition: the deconstruction of the human condition by critical theorists.

Transhumanism: an ideology and movement which seeks to develop and make available technologies that eliminate aging and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, in order to achieve a "posthuman future".

AI takeover: A more pessimistic alternative to transhumanism in which humans will not be enhanced, but rather eventually replaced by artificial intelligences. Some philosophers, including Nick Land, promote the view that humans should embrace and accept their eventual demise. This is related to the view of "cosmism", which supports the building of strong artificial intelligence even if it may entail the end of humanity, as in their view it "would be a cosmic tragedy if humanity freezes evolution at the puny human level".

Voluntary Human Extinction, which seeks a "posthuman future" that in this case is a future without humans.


A villain (masculine) and villainess (feminine) (also known as “bad guy” or “black hat”) is an evil fictional character, whether based on a historical narrative or one of literary fiction. Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines villain as "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot". The purpose of the villain is to be the opposition of the ‘’’hero’’’ character and their motives or evil actions drive the plot along. In contrast to the hero, who is defined by their feats of ingenuity and bravery and their pursuit of justice and the greater good, a villain is often defined by their acts of cruelty, cunning and displays immoral behaviour that can oppose or perverse justice. The Antonym of a Villain is a Hero.

Examples of villains range from mythological figures, such as Cronos, Hera and Ares, to historic figures such as Nero, Vlad the Impaler and Adolf Hitler and fictional supervillains, such as Doctor Doom, The Joker and Lex Luthor.

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