Encyclopedia > Ontology

  Article Content


In philosophy, ontology, the most fundamental branch of metaphysics, is the study of being or existence as well as the basic categories thereof. A being is anything that can be said to 'be' in various senses of the word 'be'. The verb to be has many different meanings and can therefore be rather ambiguous. Because "to be" has so many different meanings, there are, accordingly, many different ways of being.

Aristotle described ontology as "the science of being qua being." The word 'qua' means 'with regard to the aspect of'. According to this theory, then, ontology is the science of being with regard to the aspect of being, or the study of beings insofar as they exist. More precisely, ontology concerns determining what categories of being are fundamental and asks whether, and in what sense, the items in those categories can be said to "be."

Different philosophers make different lists of the fundamental categories of being; one of the basic questions of ontology is: "What are the fundamental categories of being?"

Here are a few more examples of ontological questions:

  1. What is existence
  2. What are physical objects[?]?
  3. Is it possible to give an account of what it means to say that a physical object exists?
  4. What are an object's properties or relations and how are they related to the object itself?
  5. Is existence a property?
  6. When does an object go out of existence, as opposed to merely changing?

A few quintessential ontological concepts are:

See also:

External Links Aristotle's definition of a science of Being qua Being: ancient and modern interpretations (http://www.formalontology.it/being-qua-being.htm)

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article

... by a retinue including Pain, Panic, Famine and Oblivion. Though immortal, he was very sensitive to pain and went running to his father, Zeus, whenever he got wounded. He ...