Ontology

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.[1] Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

Parmenides
Parmenides was among the first to propose an ontological characterization of the fundamental nature of reality.

Etymology

The compound word ontology ("study of being") combines onto- (Gr. ὄν, on,[2] gen. ὄντος, ontos, "being; that which is") and -logia (Gr. -λογία, "logical discourse"). See classical compounds for this type of word formation.[3][4]

While the etymology is Greek, the oldest extant record of the word itself, the New Latin form ontologia, appeared in 1606 in the work Ogdoas Scholastica by Jacob Lorhard (Lorhardus) and in 1613 in the Lexicon philosophicum by Rudolf Göckel (Goclenius).

The first occurrence in English of ontology as recorded by the OED (Oxford English Dictionary, online edition, 2008) came in a work by Gideon Harvey (1636/7–1702): Archelogia philosophica nova; or, New principles of Philosophy. Containing Philosophy in general, Metaphysicks or Ontology, Dynamilogy or a Discourse of Power, Religio Philosophi or Natural Theology, Physicks or Natural philosophy, London, Thomson, 1663.[5] The word was first used in its Latin form by philosophers based on the Latin roots, which themselves are based on the Greek.

Leibniz is the only one of the great philosophers of the 17th century to have used the term ontology.[6]

Overview

Some philosophers, notably in the traditions of the Platonic school, contend that all nouns (including abstract nouns) refer to existent entities. Other philosophers contend that nouns do not always name entities, but that some provide a kind of shorthand for reference to a collection either of objects or of 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 specific kinds of intellectual activities.[7] Between these poles of realism and nominalism stand a variety of other positions.

Some fundamental questions

Principal questions of ontology include:

  • "What can be said to exist?"
  • "What is a thing?"[8]
  • "Into what categories, if any, can we sort existing things?"
  • "What are the meanings of being?"
  • "What are the various modes of being of entities?"

Various philosophers have provided different answers to these questions. One common approach involves dividing the extant subjects and predicates into groups called categories. Such lists of categories differ widely from one another, and it is through the co-ordination of different categorical schemes that ontology relates to such fields as library science and artificial intelligence. Such an understanding of ontological categories, however, is merely taxonomic, classificatory. Aristotle's categories are the ways in which a being may be addressed simply as a being, such as:[9]

  • what it is (its 'whatness', quiddity, haecceity or essence)
  • how it is (its 'howness' or qualitativeness)
  • how much it is (quantitativeness)
  • where it is (its relatedness to other beings)

Further examples of ontological questions include:

  • What is existence, i.e. what does it mean for a being to be?
  • Is existence a property?
  • Is existence a genus or general class that is simply divided up by specific differences?
  • Which entities, if any, are fundamental?
  • Are all entities objects?
  • How do the properties of an object relate to the object itself?
  • Do physical properties actually exist?
  • What features are the essential, as opposed to merely accidental attributes of a given object?
  • How many levels of existence or ontological levels are there? And what constitutes a "level"?
  • What is a physical object?
  • Can one give an account of what it means to say that a physical object exists?
  • Can one give an account of what it means to say that a non-physical entity exists?
  • What constitutes the identity of an object?
  • When does an object go out of existence, as opposed to merely changing?
  • Do beings exist other than in the modes of objectivity and subjectivity, i.e. is the subject/object split of modern philosophy inevitable?

Concepts

Essential ontological dichotomies include:

Types

Philosophers can classify ontologies in various ways, using criteria such as the degree of abstraction and field of application:[10]

  1. Upper ontology: concepts supporting development of an ontology, meta-ontology
  2. Domain ontology: concepts relevant to a particular topic, domain of discourse, or area of interest, for example, to information technology or to computer languages, or to particular branches of science
  3. Interface ontology: concepts relevant to the juncture of two disciplines
  4. Process ontology: inputs, outputs, constraints, sequencing information, involved in business or engineering processes

History

Early theories

Ontology features in the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy from the first millennium BCE.[11] The concept of guṇa which describes the three properties (sattva, rajas and tamas) present in differing proportions in all existing things, is a notable concept of this school.[12]

Parmenides and monism

In the Greek philosophical tradition, Parmenides (fl. late sixth or early fifth century BCE) was among the first to propose an ontological characterization of the fundamental nature of existence. In the prologue or proem to his poem On Nature 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. Most of western philosophy — including the fundamental concepts of falsifiability — has emerged from this view. This posits that existence is what may be conceived of by thought, created, or possessed. Hence, there may be neither void nor vacuum; and true reality neither may come into being nor vanish from existence. Rather, the entirety of creation is eternal, uniform, and immutable, though not infinite (Parmenides characterized its shape as that of a perfect sphere). Parmenides thus posits that change, as perceived in everyday experience, is illusory. Everything that may be apprehended is but one part of a single entity. This idea somewhat anticipates the modern concept of an ultimate grand unification theory that finally describes all of existence in terms of one inter-related sub-atomic reality which applies to everything.

Ontological pluralism

The opposite of Parmenides' Eleatic monism is the pluralistic conception of being. In the 5th century BC, Anaxagoras and Leucippus replaced[13] the reality of Being (unique and unchanging) with that of Becoming and therefore by a more fundamental and elementary ontic plurality. This thesis originated in the Hellenic world, stated in two different ways by Anaxagoras and by Leucippus. The first theory dealt with "seeds" (which Aristotle referred to as "homeomeries") of the various substances. The second was the atomistic theory,[14] which dealt with reality as based on the vacuum, the atoms and their intrinsic movement in it.

The materialist atomism proposed by Leucippus was indeterminist, but Democritus (c. 460 – c. 370 BC) subsequently developed it in a deterministic way. Later (4th century BC) Epicurus took the original atomism again as indeterministic. He saw reality as composed of an infinity of indivisible, unchangeable corpuscles or atoms (atomon, lit. 'uncuttable'), but he gives weight to characterize atoms whereas for Leucippus they are characterized by a "figure", an "order" and a "position" in the cosmos.[15] Atoms are, besides, creating the whole with the intrinsic movement in the vacuum, producing the diverse flux of being. Their movement is influenced by the parenklisis (Lucretius names it clinamen) and that is determined by the chance. These ideas foreshadowed the understanding of traditional physics until the advent of 20th-century theories on the nature of atoms.[16]

Plato

Plato (lived 420s BCE to 348/347 BCE) developed the distinction between true reality and illusion, in arguing that what is real are eternal and unchanging Forms or Ideas (a precursor to universals), of which things experienced in sensation are at best merely copies, and real only in so far as they copy ("partake of") such Forms. In general, Plato presumes that all nouns (e.g., "Beauty") refer to real entities, whether sensible bodies or insensible Forms. Hence, in The Sophist Plato argues that Being is a Form in which all existent things participate and which they have in common (though it is unclear whether "Being" is intended in the sense of existence, copula, or identity); and argues, against Parmenides, that Forms must exist not only of Being, but also of Negation and of non-Being (or Difference).

Aristotle

In his Categories, Aristotle (384–322 BCE) identifies ten possible kinds of things that may be the subject or the predicate of a proposition. For Aristotle there are four different ontological dimensions:

  1. according to the various categories or ways of addressing a being as such
  2. according to its truth or falsity (e.g. fake gold, counterfeit money)
  3. whether it exists in and of itself or simply 'comes along' by accident
  4. according to its potency, movement (energy) or finished presence (Metaphysics Book Theta).

Avicenna

According to Avicenna (c. 980 – 1037), and in an interpretation of Greek Aristotelian and Platonist ontological doctrines in medieval metaphysics, being is either necessary, contingent qua possible, or impossible. Necessary being is that which cannot but be, since its non-being entails a contradiction. Contingent qua possible being is neither necessary nor impossible for it to be or not to be. It is ontologically neutral, and is brought from potential existing into actual existence by way of a cause that is external to its essence. Its being is borrowed - unlike the necessary existent, which is self-subsisting and is impossible for it not to be. As for the impossible, it necessarily does not exist, and the affirmation of its being is a contradiction.[17]

Other ontological topics

Ontological formations

The concept of 'ontological formations' refers to formations of social relations understood as dominant ways of living. Temporal, spatial, corporeal, epistemological and performative relations are taken to be central to understanding a dominant formation. That is, a particular ontological formation is based on how ontological categories of time, space, embodiment, knowing and performing are lived—objectively and subjectively. Different ontological formations include the customary (including the tribal), the traditional, the modern and the postmodern. The concept was first introduced by Paul James' Globalism, Nationalism, Tribalism[18] together with a series of writers including Damian Grenfell and Manfred Steger.

In the engaged theory approach, ontological formations are seen as layered and intersecting rather than singular formations. They are 'formations of being'. This approach avoids the usual problems of a Great Divide being posited between the modern and the pre-modern. From a philosophical distinction concerning different formations of being, the concept then provides a way of translating into practical understandings concerning how humans might design cities and communities that live creatively across different ontological formations, for example cities that are not completely dominated by modern valences of spatial configuration. Here the work of Tony Fry is important.[19]

Ontological and epistemological certainty

René Descartes, with je pense donc je suis or cogito ergo sum or "I think, therefore I am", argued that "the self" is something that we can know exists with epistemological certainty. Descartes argued further that this knowledge could lead to a proof of the certainty of the existence of God, using the ontological argument that had been formulated first by Anselm of Canterbury.

Certainty about the existence of "the self" and "the other", however, came under increasing criticism in the 20th century. Sociological theorists, most notably George Herbert Mead and Erving Goffman, saw the Cartesian Other as a "Generalized Other", the imaginary audience that individuals use when thinking about the self. According to Mead, "we do not assume there is a self to begin with. Self is not presupposed as a stuff out of which the world arises. Rather, the self arises in the world".[20][21] The Cartesian Other was also used by Sigmund Freud, who saw the superego as an abstract regulatory force, and Émile Durkheim who viewed this as a psychologically manifested entity which represented God in society at large.

Body and environment, questioning the meaning of being

Schools of subjectivism, objectivism and relativism existed at various times in the 20th century, and the postmodernists and body philosophers tried to reframe all these questions in terms of bodies taking some specific action in an environment. 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,[22] and cognitive science.

The processes by which bodies related to environments became of great concern, and the idea of being itself became difficult to really define. What did people mean when they said "A is B", "A must be B", "A was B"...? Some linguists advocated dropping the verb "to be" from the English language, leaving "E Prime", supposedly less prone to bad abstractions. Others, mostly philosophers, tried to dig into the word and its usage. Martin Heidegger distinguished human being as existence from the being of things in the world. Heidegger proposes that our way of being human and the way the world is for us are cast historically through a fundamental ontological questioning. These fundamental ontological categories provide the basis for communication in an age: a horizon of unspoken and seemingly unquestionable background meanings, such as human beings understood unquestioningly as subjects and other entities understood unquestioningly as objects. Because these basic ontological meanings both generate and are regenerated in everyday interactions, the locus of our way of being in a historical epoch is the communicative event of language in use.[20] For Heidegger, however, communication in the first place is not among human beings, but language itself shapes up in response to questioning (the inexhaustible meaning of) being.[23] Even the focus of traditional ontology on the 'whatness' or quidditas of beings in their substantial, standing presence can be shifted to pose the question of the 'whoness' of human being itself.[24]

Ontology and language

Some philosophers suggest that the question of "What is?" is (at least in part) an issue of usage rather than a question about facts.[25] This perspective is conveyed by an analogy made by Donald Davidson: Suppose a person refers to a 'cup' as a 'chair' and makes some comments pertinent to a cup, but uses the word 'chair' consistently throughout instead of 'cup'. One might readily catch on that this person simply calls a 'cup' a 'chair' and the oddity is explained.[26] Analogously, if we find people asserting 'there are' such-and-such, and we do not ourselves think that 'such-and-such' exist, we might conclude that these people are not nuts (Davidson calls this assumption 'charity'), they simply use 'there are' differently than we do. The question of What is? is at least partially a topic in the philosophy of language, and is not entirely about ontology itself.[27] This viewpoint has been expressed by Eli Hirsch.[28][29]

Hirsch interprets Hilary Putnam as asserting that different concepts of "the existence of something" can be correct.[29] This position does not contradict the view that some things do exist, but points out that different 'languages' will have different rules about assigning this property.[29][30] How to determine the 'fitness' of a 'language' to the world then becomes a subject for investigation.

Common to all Indo-European copula languages is the double use of the verb "to be" in both stating that entity X exists ("X is.") as well as stating that X has a property ("X is P"). It is sometimes argued that a third use is also distinct, stating that X is a member of a class ("X is a C"). In other language families these roles may have completely different verbs and are less likely to be confused with one another. For example they might say something like "the car has redness" rather than "the car is red". Hence any discussion of "being" in Indo-European language philosophy may need to make distinctions between these senses.

Ontology and human geography

In human geography there are two types of ontology: small "o" which accounts for the practical orientation, describing functions of being a part of the group, thought to oversimplify and ignore key activities. The other "o", or big "O", systematically, logically, and rationally describes the essential characteristics and universal traits. This concept relates closely to Plato's view that the human mind can only perceive a bigger world if they continue to live within the confines of their "caves". However, in spite of the differences, ontology relies on the symbolic agreements among members. That said, ontology is crucial for the axiomatic language frameworks.[31]

Reality and actuality

According to A.N. Whitehead, for ontology, it is useful to distinguish the terms 'reality' and 'actuality'. In this view, an 'actual entity' has a philosophical status of fundamental ontological priority, while a 'real entity' is one which may be actual, or may derive its reality from its logical relation to some actual entity or entities. For example, an occasion in the life of Socrates is an actual entity. But Socrates' being a man does not make 'man' an actual entity, because it refers indeterminately to many actual entities, such as several occasions in the life of Socrates, and also to several occasions in the lives of Alcibiades, and of others. But the notion of man is real; it derives its reality from its reference to those many actual occasions, each of which is an actual entity. An actual occasion is a concrete entity, while terms such as 'man' are abstractions from many concrete relevant entities.

According to Whitehead, an actual entity must earn its philosophical status of fundamental ontological priority by satisfying several philosophical criteria, as follows.

  • There is no going behind an actual entity, to find something more fundamental in fact or in efficacy. This criterion is to be regarded as expressing an axiom, or postulated distinguished doctrine.
  • An actual entity must be completely determinate in the sense that there may be no confusion about its identity that would allow it to be confounded with another actual entity. In this sense an actual entity is completely concrete, with no potential to be something other than itself. It is what it is. It is a source of potentiality for the creation of other actual entities, of which it may be said to be a part cause. Likewise it is the concretion or realization of potentialities of other actual entities which are its partial causes.
  • Causation between actual entities is essential to their actuality. Consequently, for Whitehead, each actual entity has its distinct and definite extension in physical Minkowski space, and so is uniquely identifiable. A description in Minkowski space supports descriptions in time and space for particular observers.
  • It is part of the aim of the philosophy of such an ontology as Whitehead's that the actual entities should be all alike, qua actual entities; they should all satisfy a single definite set of well stated ontological criteria of actuality.

Whitehead proposed that his notion of an occasion of experience satisfies the criteria for its status as the philosophically preferred definition of an actual entity. From a purely logical point of view, each occasion of experience has in full measure the characters of both objective and subjective reality. Subjectivity and objectivity refer to different aspects of an occasion of experience, and in no way do they exclude each other.[32]

Examples of other philosophical proposals or candidates as actual entities, in this view, are Aristotle's 'substances', Leibniz' monads, and Descartes ′res verae' , and the more modern 'states of affairs'. Aristotle's substances, such as Socrates, have behind them as more fundamental the 'primary substances', and in this sense do not satisfy Whitehead's criteria. Whitehead is not happy with Leibniz' monads as actual entities because they are "windowless" and do not cause each other. 'States of affairs' are often not closely defined, often without specific mention of extension in physical Minkowski space; they are therefore not necessarily processes of becoming, but may be as their name suggests, simply static states in some sense. States of affairs are contingent on particulars, and therefore have something behind them.[33] One summary of the Whiteheadian actual entity is that it is a process of becoming. Another summary, referring to its causal linkage to other actual entities, is that it is "all window", in contrast with Leibniz' windowless monads.

This view allows philosophical entities other than actual entities to really exist, but not as fundamentally and primarily factual or causally efficacious; they have existence as abstractions, with reality only derived from their reference to actual entities. A Whiteheadian actual entity has a unique and completely definite place and time. Whiteheadian abstractions are not so tightly defined in time and place, and in the extreme, some are timeless and placeless, or 'eternal' entities. All abstractions have logical or conceptual rather than efficacious existence; their lack of definite time does not make them unreal if they refer to actual entities. Whitehead calls this 'the ontological principle'.

Microcosmic ontology

There is an established and long philosophical history of the concept of atoms as microscopic physical objects.They are far too small to be visible to the naked eye. It was as recent as the nineteenth century that precise estimates of the sizes of putative physical atoms began to become plausible. Almost direct empirical observation of atomic effects was due to the theoretical investigation of Brownian motion by Albert Einstein in the very early twentieth century. But even then, the real existence of atoms was debated by some. Such debate might be labeled 'microcosmic ontology'. Here the word 'microcosm' is used to indicate a physical world of small entities, such as for example atoms.

Subatomic particles are usually considered to be much smaller than atoms. Their real or actual existence may be very difficult to demonstrate empirically.[34] A distinction is sometimes drawn between actual and virtual subatomic particles. Reasonably, one may ask, in what sense, if any, do virtual particles exist as physical entities? For atomic and subatomic particles, difficult questions arise, such as do they possess a precise position, or a precise momentum? A question that continues to be controversial is 'to what kind of physical thing, if any, does the quantum mechanical wave function refer?'.[8]

Ontological argument

The first ontological argument in the Western Christian tradition[35] was proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in his 1078 work Proslogion. Anselm defined God as "that than which nothing greater can be thought", and argued that this being must exist in the mind, even in the mind of the person who denies the existence of God. He suggested that, if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it only exists in the mind, then an even greater being must be possible—one which exists both in the mind and in reality. Therefore, this greatest possible being must exist in reality. Seventeenth century French philosopher René Descartes deployed a similar argument. Descartes published several variations of his argument, each of which centred on the idea that God's existence is immediately inferable from a "clear and distinct" idea of a supremely perfect being. In the early eighteenth century, Gottfried Leibniz augmented Descartes' ideas in an attempt to prove that a "supremely perfect" being is a coherent concept. A more recent ontological argument came from Kurt Gödel, who proposed a formal argument for God's existence. Norman Malcolm revived the ontological argument in 1960 when he located a second, stronger ontological argument in Anselm's work; Alvin Plantinga challenged this argument and proposed an alternative, based on modal logic. Attempts have also been made to validate Anselm's proof using an automated theorem prover. Other arguments have been categorised as ontological, including those made by Islamic philosophers Mulla Sadra and Allama Tabatabai.

Hintikka's locution for existence

Jaakko Hintikka puts the view that a useful explication of the notion of existence is in the words "one can find", implicitly in some world or universe of discourse.[36]

Prominent ontologists

See also

References

  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  2. ^ Present tense participle of the verb εἰμί, eimí, i.e. "to be, I am"
  3. ^ "ontology". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. ^ εἰμί. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  5. ^ Early English Books
  6. ^ Michaël Devaux and Marco Lamanna, "The Rise and Early History of the Term Ontology (1606–1730)", Quaestio.Yearbook of the History of the Metaphysics, 9, 2009, pp. 173–208 (on Leibniz pp. 197–198).
  7. ^ Griswold, Charles L. (2001). Platonic Writings/Platonic Readings. Penn State Press. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-271-02137-9.
  8. ^ a b Isham, C.J. (1995). Lectures on Quantum Theory: Mathematical and Structural Foundations, Imperial College Press, London, ISBN 1-86094-000-5, pp. 63–67.
  9. ^ Aristotle Categories Vol. 1, Loeb Classical Library, transl. H.P. Cooke, Harvard U.P. 1983
  10. ^ Vesselin Petrov (2011). "Chapter VI: Process ontology in the context of applied philosophy". In Vesselin Petrov, ed (ed.). Ontological Landscapes: Recent Thought on Conceptual Interfaces Between Science and Philosophy. Ontos Verlag. pp. 137ff. ISBN 978-3-86838-107-8.CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link)
  11. ^ GJ Larson, RS Bhattacharya and K Potter (2014), The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 4: Samkhya, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-60441-1, pp. 3–11
  12. ^ "The archaic ontology of Chändogya Upanisad VI. 2–5, for example, with its emphasis on primordial Being [sat) in its tripartite manifestations as fire (red), water (white), and food (black), correlated with speech, breath, and mind, probably foreshadows the later Sâmkhya ontological notions of prakrti, the three gunas, and the preexistence of the effect." The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 4: Samkhya, cit. p. 5.
  13. ^ "Sample Chapter for Graham, D.W.: Explaining the Cosmos: The Ionian Tradition of Scientific Philosophy". Press.princeton.edu. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  14. ^ "Ancient Atomism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)". Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
  15. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics, I, 4, 985
  16. ^ Lawson, Clive; Latsis, John Spiro; Martins, Nuno, eds. (2007). Contributions to Social Ontology. Routledge Studies in Critical Realism. London: Routledge (published 2013). ISBN 9781136016066. Retrieved 3 Mar 2019.
  17. ^ Nader El-Bizri, 'Avicenna and Essentialism, Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 54 (2001), pp. 753–778.
  18. ^ James, Paul (2006). Globalism, Nationalism, Tribalism: Bringing Theory Back In —Volume 2 of Towards a Theory of Abstract Community. London: Sage Publications.
  19. ^ James, Paul (2014). "Urban Design in the Global South: Ontological Design in Practice". In Tony Fry and Eleni Kalantidou (ed.). Design in the Borderlands. London: Routledge.
  20. ^ a b Hyde, R. Bruce. "Listening Authentically: A Heideggerian Perspective on Interpersonal Communication". In Interpretive Approaches to Interpersonal Communication, edited by Kathryn Carter and Mick Presnell. State University of New York Press, 1994. ISBN 0-7914-1847-2
  21. ^ Mead, G.H. The individual and the social self: Unpublished work of George Herbert Mead (D.L. Miller, Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982. (p. 107). ISBN 0-226-51673-3
  22. ^ Barry Smith: Objects and Their Environments: From Aristotle to Ecological Ontology The Life and Motion of SocioEconomic Units (GISDATA 8), London: Taylor and Francis, 2001, 79-97.
  23. ^ Heidegger, Martin, On the Way to Language Harper & Row, New York 1971. German edition: Unterwegs zur Sprache Neske, Pfullingen 1959.
  24. ^ Eldred, Michael, Social Ontology: Recasting Political Philosophy Through a Phenomenology of Whoness ontos, Frankfurt 2008 xiv + 688 pp. ISBN 978-3-938793-78-7
  25. ^ Carvalko, Joseph (Summer 2005). Introduction to an Ontology of Intellectual Property. The Scitech Lawyer, ABA.
  26. ^ Davidson refers to a 'ketch' and a 'yawl'; see p. 18 in Donald Davidson (1974). "On the very idea of a conceptual scheme" (PDF). Proceedings and Address of the American Philosophical Association. 47: 5–20.
  27. ^ Uriah Kriegel (2011). "Two defenses of common-sense ontology" (PDF). Dialectica. 65 (2): 177–204. doi:10.1111/j.1746-8361.2011.01262.x.
  28. ^ Hirsch, Eli (2011). "Chapter 9: Physical-object ontology, verbal disputes and common sense". Quantifier Variance and Realism: Essays in Metaontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 144–177. ISBN 978-0-19-973211-1. First published as "Physical-Object Ontology, Verbal Disputes, and Common Sense"
  29. ^ a b c Hirsch, Eli (2011). "Chapter 5: Quantifier variance and realism". Quantifier Variance and Realism: Essays in Metaontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 68–95. ISBN 978-0-19-973211-1. First published as "Quantifier variance and realism"
  30. ^ Hirsch, E. (2004). "Sosa's Existential Relativism". In John Greco, ed (ed.). Ernest Sosa and His Critics. Blackwell. pp. 224–232. ISBN 978-0-470-75547-1.CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link)
  31. ^ Harvey, F. (2006). Ontology. In B. Warf (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Geography. (pp. 341–343). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc
  32. ^ Whitehead, A.N. (1929). Process and Reality, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, passim.
  33. ^ Armstrong, D.M. (1997). A World of States of Affairs, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, ISBN 0-521-58064-1, p. 1.
  34. ^ Kaiser, D. (1994). Niels Bohr's legacy in contemporary particle physics, pp. 257–268 of Niels Bohr and Contemporary Philosophy, edited by J. Faye, H.J. Folse, Springer, Dordrecht, ISBN 978-90-481-4299-6, Section 4, Questions of ontology and particle physics phenomenology, pp. 262–264.
  35. ^ "There are three main periods in the history of ontological arguments. The first was in 11th century, when St. Anselm of Canterbury came up with the first ontological argument." Miroslaw Szatkowski (ed.), Ontological Proofs Today, Ontos Verlag, 2012, p. 22.
  36. ^ Hintikka, J. (1998), Paradigms for Language Theory and Other Essays, Springer Science + Business Media, Dordrecht, ISBN 978-90-481-4930-8, p. 3.

External links

Abstract and concrete

Abstract and concrete are classifications that denote whether the object that a term describes has physical referents. Abstract objects have no physical referents, whereas concrete objects do. They are most commonly used in philosophy and semantics. Abstract objects are sometimes called abstracta (sing. abstractum) and concrete objects are sometimes called concreta (sing. concretum). An abstract object is an object that does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing—i.e., an idea, or abstraction. The term abstract object is said to have been coined by Willard Van Orman Quine. The study of abstract objects is called abstract object theory.

ChEBI

Chemical Entities of Biological Interest, also known as ChEBI, is a database and ontology of molecular entities focused on 'small' chemical compounds, that is part of the Open Biomedical Ontologies effort. The term "molecular entity" refers to any "constitutionally or isotopically distinct atom, molecule, ion, ion pair, radical, radical ion, complex, conformer, etc., identifiable as a separately distinguishable entity". The molecular entities in question are either products of nature or synthetic products which have potential bioactivity. Molecules directly encoded by the genome, such as nucleic acids, proteins and peptides derived from proteins by proteolytic cleavage, are not as a rule included in ChEBI.

ChEBI uses nomenclature, symbolism and terminology endorsed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and Nomenclature Committee of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NC-IUBMB).

Foundational Model of Anatomy

The Foundational Model of Anatomy Ontology (FMA) is a reference ontology for the domain of anatomy. It is a symbolic representation of the canonical, phenotypic structure of an organism; a spatial-structural ontology of anatomical entities and relations which form the physical organization of an organism at all salient levels of granularity.

FMA is developed and maintained by the Structural Informatics Group at the University of Washington.

Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development

The Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, also called Framework Programmes or abbreviated FP1 to FP7 with "FP8" being named "Horizon 2020", are funding programmes created by the European Union/European Commission to support and foster research in the European Research Area (ERA). The specific objectives and actions vary between funding periods. In FP6 and FP7 focus was still in technological research, in Horizon 2020 the focus is in innovation, delivering economic growth faster and delivering solutions to end users that are often governmental agencies.

Gene ontology

Gene ontology (GO) is a major bioinformatics initiative to unify the representation of gene and gene product attributes across all species. More specifically, the project aims to: 1) maintain and develop its controlled vocabulary of gene and gene product attributes; 2) annotate genes and gene products, and assimilate and disseminate annotation data; and 3) provide tools for easy access to all aspects of the data provided by the project, and to enable functional interpretation of experimental data using the GO, for example via enrichment analysis. GO is part of a larger classification effort, the Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO).Although gene nomenclature itself aims to maintain and develop controlled vocabulary of gene and gene products, the Gene Ontology extends the effort by using markup language to make the data (not only of the genes and their products but also of all their attributes) machine readable, and to do so in a way that is unified across all species (whereas gene nomenclature conventions vary by biologic taxon).

Geopolitical ontology

The FAO geopolitical ontology is an ontology developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to describe, manage and exchange data related to geopolitical entities such as countries, territories, regions and other similar areas.

Glossary

A glossary, also known as a vocabulary or clavis, is an alphabetical list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms. Traditionally, a glossary appears at the end of a book and includes terms within that book that are either newly introduced, uncommon, or specialized. While glossaries are most commonly associated with non-fiction books, in some cases, fiction novels may come with a glossary for unfamiliar terms.

A bilingual glossary is a list of terms in one language defined in a second language or glossed by synonyms (or at least near-synonyms) in another language.

In a general sense, a glossary contains explanations of concepts relevant to a certain field of study or action. In this sense, the term is related to the notion of ontology. Automatic methods have been also provided that transform a glossary into an ontology or a computational lexicon.

ISO 15926

The ISO 15926 is a standard for data integration, sharing, exchange, and hand-over between computer systems.

The title, "Industrial automation systems and integration—Integration of life-cycle data for process plants including oil and gas production facilities", is regarded too narrow by the present ISO 15926 developers. Having developed a generic data model and Reference Data Library for process plants, it turned out that this subject is already so wide, that actually any state information may be modelled with it.

Integrated Authority File

The Integrated Authority File (German: Gemeinsame Normdatei; also known as the Universal Authority File) or GND is an international authority file for the organisation of personal names, subject headings and corporate bodies from catalogues. It is used mainly for documentation in libraries and increasingly also by archives and museums. The GND is managed by the German National Library (German: Deutsche Nationalbibliothek; DNB) in cooperation with various regional library networks in German-speaking Europe and other partners. The GND falls under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licence.The GND specification provides a hierarchy of high-level entities and sub-classes, useful in library classification, and an approach to unambiguous identification of single elements. It also comprises an ontology intended for knowledge representation in the semantic web, available in the RDF format.The Integrated Authority File became operational in April 2012 and integrates the content of the following authority files, which have since been discontinued:

Name Authority File (German: Personennamendatei; PND)

Corporate Bodies Authority File (German: Gemeinsame Körperschaftsdatei; GKD)

Subject Headings Authority File (German: Schlagwortnormdatei; SWD)

Uniform Title File of the Deutsches Musikarchiv (German: Einheitssachtitel-Datei des Deutschen Musikarchivs; DMA-EST)At the time of its introduction on 5 April 2012, the GND held 9,493,860 files, including 2,650,000 personalised names.

Knowledge base

A knowledge base (KB) is a technology used to store complex structured and unstructured information used by a computer system. The initial use of the term was in connection with expert systems which were the first knowledge-based systems.

Ontology (information science)

In computer science and information science, an ontology encompasses a representation, formal naming and definition of the categories, properties and relations between the concepts, data and entities that substantiate one, many or all domains of discourse.

Every field creates ontologies to limit complexity and organize information into data and knowledge. As new ontologies are made, their use hopefully improves problem solving within that domain. Translating research papers within every field is a problem made easier when experts from different countries maintain a controlled vocabulary of jargon between each of their languages.Since Google started an initiative called Knowledge Graph, a substantial amount of research has used the phrase knowledge graph as a generalized term. Although there is no clear definition for the term knowledge graph, it is sometimes used as synonym for ontology. One common interpretation is that a knowledge graph represents a collection of interlinked descriptions of entities – real-world objects, events, situations or abstract concepts. Unlike ontologies, knowledge graphs, such as Google's Knowledge Graph, often contain large volumes of factual information with less formal semantics. In some contexts, the term knowledge graph is used to refer to any knowledge base that is represented as a graph.

Ontology language

In computer science and artificial intelligence, ontology languages are formal languages used to construct ontologies. They allow the encoding of knowledge about specific domains and often include reasoning rules that support the processing of that knowledge. Ontology languages are usually declarative languages, are almost always generalizations of frame languages, and are commonly based on either first-order logic or on description logic.

Philosophy of film

The philosophy of film is a branch of aesthetics within the discipline of philosophy that seeks to understand the most basic questions regarding film. Philosophy of film has significant overlap with film theory, a branch of film studies.

Process Specification Language

The Process Specification Language (PSL) is a set of logic terms used to describe processes. The logic terms are specified in an ontology that provides a formal description of the components and their relationships that make up a process. The ontology was developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and has been approved as an international standard in the document ISO 18629.

The Process Specification Language can be used for the representation of manufacturing, engineering and business processes, including production scheduling, process planning, workflow management, business process reengineering, simulation, process realization, process modelling, and project management. In the manufacturing domain, PSL's objective is to serve as a common representation for integrating several process-related applications throughout the manufacturing process life cycle.

Reality

Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent, as opposed to that which is merely imaginary. The term is also used to refer to the ontological status of things, indicating their existence. In physical terms, reality is the totality of the universe, known and unknown. Philosophical questions about the nature of reality or existence or being are considered under the rubric of ontology, which is a major branch of metaphysics in the Western philosophical tradition. Ontological questions also feature in diverse branches of philosophy, including the philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophical logic. These include questions about whether only physical objects are real (i.e., Physicalism), whether reality is fundamentally immaterial (e.g., Idealism), whether hypothetical unobservable entities posited by scientific theories exist, whether God exists, whether numbers and other abstract objects exist, and whether possible worlds exist.

Sequence Ontology

The Sequence Ontology (SO) is an ontology suitable for describing biological sequences. It is designed to make the naming of DNA sequence features and variants consistent and therefore machine-readable and searchable.

Subjectivity

Subjectivity is a central philosophical concept, related to consciousness, agency, personhood, reality, and truth, which has been variously defined by sources. Three common definitions include that subjectivity is the quality or condition of:

Something being a subject, narrowly meaning an individual who possesses conscious experiences, such as perspectives, feelings, beliefs, and desires.

Something being a subject, broadly meaning an entity that has agency, meaning that it acts upon or wields power over some other entity (an object).

Some information, idea, situation, or physical thing considered true only from the perspective of a subject or subjects.These various definitions of subjectivity are sometimes joined together in philosophy. The term is most commonly used as an explanation for that which influences, informs, and biases people's judgments about truth or reality; it is the collection of the perceptions, experiences, expectations, personal or cultural understanding, and beliefs specific to a person.

Subjectivity is contrasted to the philosophy of objectivity, which is described as a view of truth or reality that is free of any individual's biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings.

Substance theory

Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.Substance is a key concept in ontology and metaphysics, which may be classified into monist, dualist, or pluralist varieties according to how many substances or individuals are said to populate, furnish, or exist in the world. According to monistic views, there is only one substance. Stoicism and Spinoza, for example, hold monistic views, that pneuma or God, respectively, is the one substance in the world. These modes of thinking are sometimes associated with the idea of immanence. Dualism sees the world as being composed of two fundamental substances (for example, the Cartesian substance dualism of mind and matter). Pluralist philosophies include Plato's Theory of Forms and Aristotle's hylomorphic categories.

Web Ontology Language

The Web Ontology Language (OWL) is a family of knowledge representation languages for authoring ontologies. Ontologies are a formal way to describe taxonomies and classification networks, essentially defining the structure of knowledge for various domains: the nouns representing classes of objects and the verbs representing relations between the objects. Ontologies resemble class hierarchies in object-oriented programming but there are several critical differences. Class hierarchies are meant to represent structures used in source code that evolve fairly slowly (typically monthly revisions) whereas ontologies are meant to represent information on the Internet and are expected to be evolving almost constantly. Similarly, ontologies are typically far more flexible as they are meant to represent information on the Internet coming from all sorts of heterogeneous data sources. Class hierarchies on the other hand are meant to be fairly static and rely on far less diverse and more structured sources of data such as corporate databases.The OWL languages are characterized by formal semantics. They are built upon the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) XML standard for objects called the Resource Description Framework (RDF). OWL and RDF have attracted significant academic, medical and commercial interest.

In October 2007, a new W3C working group was started to extend OWL with several new features as proposed in the OWL 1.1 member submission. W3C announced the new version of OWL on 27 October 2009. This new version, called OWL 2, soon found its way into semantic editors such as Protégé and semantic reasoners such as Pellet, RacerPro, FaCT++ and HermiT.The OWL family contains many species, serializations, syntaxes and specifications with similar names. OWL and OWL2 are used to refer to the 2004 and 2009 specifications, respectively. Full species names will be used, including specification version (for example, OWL2 EL). When referring more generally, OWL Family will be used.

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