• Yohan
    679
    Why do we discuss it? Does it have any effect on how we live? All is mind, or all is matter, or is all information? Does it matter? Do you mind? Does it inform you about anything important?
  • Echarmion
    2.5k


    Yes and no.

    I am assuming that instead of speculating about ontology, your approach would be to simply focus on the epistemological universe, that is what can be known.

    The problem is how you are going to arrive at an epistemology with no notion whatsoever of ontology. While I agree that speculating on ontology in detail isn't useful, we need to at least consider the question of what information is. If we don't want to conclude that information isn't real (which would lead to Solipism) then there must be something ontological to this information.

    So the one ontological "fact" we must establish is that there is something that interacts with us in a specific way to generate experience, which includes information.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    And what exactly do you think ontology is, or what the word means - that makes a difference. The word itself appears from its roots to mean knowledge of being - so far so good. But being itself has no differentia. And thus it is more than a little difficult to figure out just what "knowledge" of being is knowledge of. What do you say?
  • Yohan
    679
    The problem is how you are going to arrive at an epistemology with no notion whatsoever of ontology. While I agree that speculating on ontology in detail isn't useful, we need to at least consider the question of what information is. If we don't want to conclude that information isn't real (which would lead to Solipism) then there must be something ontological to this information.Echarmion
    I have no idea how to go about determining the "nature of being". I don't really even know what "nature of being" means (going by a simple definition of what ontology is supposed to be about?). I'm not even sure there is anything really there, in the way I experience things. Not that I think there is absolutely nothing, or just nihilistic solipsism. I'm just not sure if 'existence' is an added quality to...things....labelling things as 'experiences' may also just be a label/addition.
    But I have to determine IF something exists, before I can go about asking about the nature of something's existence is. I don't even know what 'existing' means, or 'thing' exactly. At most I can only define it negatively, as 'not nothing'. I don't know if i'm uniquely ignorant about the nature of being, or how to determine it, or if i'm just more conscious of my ignorance? I don't get the impression most philosophers have figured out what 'stuff is'? Also, I don't know if it makes any sense to simply say 'it is what it is'? It's kind of a non-answer, but maybe there isn't an answer? Do things have to be something? I guess if there isn't things, then there should at least be an explanation for how things appear to be. But I think the key is to doubt things fundamentally, rather than starting with the assumption that things are as they appear to be and trying to find an explanation that fits the appearance.

    ↪Yohan And what exactly do you think ontology is, or what the word means - that makes a difference. The word itself appears from its roots to mean knowledge of being - so far so good. But being itself has no differentia. And thus it is more than a little difficult to figure out just what "knowledge" of being is knowledge of. What do you say?tim wood
    It's really mind boggling for me personally. I kind of have a sense of what knowledge is...or knowing. Seems the same as awareness or experience, or at least in that area. But 'being' I don't know. I'm leaning toward it being some kind of illusion. 'Being' doesn't seem self evident to me in the same way knowing does.

    (thanks for the replies)
  • Pfhorrest
    4.6k
    For a very quick example, ontology has an impact on the possibility of the existence of God which has an impact on people’s ethical views and thereby their politics and their impact on many people’s lives.
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    Ontology is the study of various ideas about the nature of reality. So materialism (or more commonly these days physicalism) is an ontology. So, science has a tendency towards one onotological position. Is it a monism? Is it really information? Most people don't think about the subject much, though they all have ontologies (perhaps often mixed contradictory ones).
  • Mww
    4.7k


    From the human perspective.....the only one from which anything comprehensible follows.......whatever ontology entails presupposes the possibility of knowing about it. So it makes perfect sense to understand the epistemological domain before attempting to understand the ontological domain. One cannot argue with respect to the reality of his own thoughts, so it is much more parsimonious to know how he knows anything given the nature of the only cognitive system he can use, before he can claim to know something about that which he finds outside it.

    So....no, ontology is irrelevant; that a thing has an actual nature is given, even without the possibility of ever knowing the irrefutable truth of what it is. Granting the validity of an ontological domain does not at the same time grant apodeitic knowledge of it, and the human cognitive system in fact prohibits it.
    (Prohibits iff the human system is representational, which would seem to be the case)
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    So....no, ontology is irrelevant;Mww
    Doesn't your position depend on ontological conclusions about the way things fundamentally are? Doesnt' any epistemological position?
  • Octopus Knight
    10
    In a positivist or purely descriptive mode one can get by without feeling the weight (or the unbearable lightness) of Being. One might insist that Being is just another attribute like any other but consider that due to the ubiquity and importance of this particular attribute, or it's negation, existential quantifiers were introduced into first-order logic. I suppose we don't really get ontological unless we pause to reflect upon this and the strict positivist will shun such reflection as a rule.

    It is in the aesthetic or purely subjective mode that we encounter being. In this mode we can reflect upon being and then allow our reflection to give way to the immediacy of being. I see no harm in speaking of Being but how do we speak of it? Heidegger began with ontology and ended with poetry.

    Finally, in a normative or evaluative mode one is faced with the question of whether Being or Existence is good or bad. Or, as the original post basically asks "Does it matter?" and "Does it inform you about anything important?"
  • Mww
    4.7k
    Doesn't your position depend on ontological conclusions about the way things fundamentally are?Coben

    Ontological conclusions....not so much, other than, yes, there are things. Ontological conclusions about the fundamental way things are? Not a chance; I don’t know how things fundamentally are, but only as I think them to be. There is nothing in my determinations which promise the correctness of them, except the laws of logic. Which are, coincidentally enough, epistemological conditions which belong to me, and rational agency in general, but not to the object itself. If I am responsible for the methodology which tells me about things (reason) and at the same time responsible for the regulatory system justifying the validity of that same methodology (logic)....what means do I have to claim anything with apodeictic certainty outside of it, including the fundamental nature of things I want to know about?

    And no, I have no more idea about the fundamental nature of my thoughts any more than the fundamental nature of things. That I seemingly create them from my own fundamental nature is entirely sufficient, if not conclusive, for their true nature, whereas, on the other hand, I have nothing whatsoever to do with the creation, hence the fundamental nature, of objects external to myself.

    So saying, reductionism to a point is necessary; reductionism too far is self-defeating. I don’t need to know the fundamental nature of objects, as long as my thought of it is logically consistent with how it appears a priori, and susceptible to moderation by experience a posteriori.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    Doesn't your position depend on ontological conclusions about the way things fundamentally are? Doesn't any epistemological position?Coben
    Several ways to go here. This one seems best: can you provide an example of an ontological conclusion? Beyond the obvious one of course: which I am thinking is the only possible one, namely that the thing considered is. ,
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    @OP - "Does ontology matter?"

    Is there a difference between reflecting and explicating and problematizing the fundamental presuppositions of - conceptual/factual commitments required by - our most comprehensive, or global, suppositions (e.g. scientific paradigms, political-economic ideologies, cultural-symbolic metanarratives, etc) and obliviously taking these presuppositions ... for granted? If there isn't a difference, then ontology doesn't "matter" because ontology, as I understand it, consists in (that) difference.
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    Well, one ontological conclusion held by many scientists gets packaged under materialism (physicalism). Another set of ontological conclusions have to do with all perception being mediated and filtered. IOW empiricism being derived from perception of a subject separated from objects - no rationalism, no direct contact. This could also be, and often is, a materialism, though i don't think it has to be. The universe is such that things are always separate or in physics you might call it inherent locality.
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    I don’t know how things fundamentally are, but only as I think them to be.Mww
    You're not a physicalist? Now perhaps you're not, but physicalism is an ontological monism. One that has been part of science for quite a while. One would hope that do some degree they do not claim to KNOW it is correct, but believe in it and it is part of the foundational assumptions that support their work. (of course scientists can have and do have other ontologies) If you think they are incorrect for having this as an ontology, it would seem to me you have two approaches: one epistemological, the other ontological. I don't think one have an epistemology without an ontology. You have to be taking a stand, say an empiricist one, or a rationalist one, that has inherent it it how subjects relate to objects, what perception is (given what the universe is), what subjects and objects are, etc. So, I think one is fighting fire with fire. This is obviously more clear if one differs from the scientists on ontological grounds directly.

    And just to repeat one can have an ontology and work with it, without necessarily claiming one is completely sure.

    One can be skeptical of a specific ontology, remain unconvinced. But once one starts to make proclamations, one it staking ones flag in some ontology or another.
    There is nothing in my determinations which promise the correctness of them, except the laws of logic.Mww
    One does not need to be certain of an ontology to have an ontology. Scientists may be physicalists without assuming that it will in a thousand years be the accepted ontology of science.

    Most people have, for example, some kind of model of perception that has ontologies in it. The very reasons you think one cannot know for certain what reality is made of or what your thoughts are has an ontology in it. Or how could you rule out knowing. Or even having a working ontology that you believe in but are not certain of?
  • Octopus Knight
    10
    To Dasein or not to Dasein, that is the question:
    Whether 'tis nobler to become open to the disclosure of being as such
    Or to take up arms against a sea of ontological claims
    And by opposing end them. To remain pre-ontological.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    I know you thought you were in good faith answering my question, but I think if you look back you will see that you did not.

    If ontology is knowledge of being, as the word says, functioning as so many other -ology words function, then, it would seem to me, all you can affirm is that something is. In addition the something may be red, loud, fast, and sexy, but those are not species of being. In fact, it is not clear to me that being has any species.

    Or, asking what ontology is, is like asking what the man in the mirror looks like. Ans., it depends on who's looking.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    the ontology of ontology?
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    That's a good straight line for a joke; I leave it for you to finish.
  • Mww
    4.7k
    I don’t know how things fundamentally are, but only as I think them to be.
    — Mww
    You're not a physicalist?
    Coben

    That I think a way for an object to be necessarily presupposes the reality of it, which makes explicit my acceptance of the physicalist domain.
    ————-

    I don't think one have an epistemology without an ontology. You have to be taking a stand, say an empiricist one, or a rationalist one, that has inherent it it how subjects relate to objects,Coben

    The manner by which subjects and objects relate to each other is a logical condition, and no determination of the fundamental nature of either is given by their mere relation. Truth be told, one cannot take an empiricist or a rationalist stand on anything, for if the prerequisite is how a subject relates to an object, then both paradigms are required simultaneously. It’s just the way the human cognitive system works. Theoretically.

    We’re getting off track; the question is ontology, the fundamental nature of things and whatever knowledge is possible from it.
    —————-

    The very reasons you think one cannot know for certain what reality is made of or what your thoughts are has an ontology in it....

    .....Most people have, for example, some kind of model of perception that has ontologies in it.
    Coben

    Please explain, bearing in mind the keyword fundamental.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    I didn't mean it as a joke. I was simply pointing out how its impossible for meaningful language to not be about the nature of something.

    Any time you intend to say something meaningful, or the way something is or is not, you are committing to an ontology.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    you are committing to an ontology.Harry Hindu
    Sure, that it is. But what else, as ontology?
    or the way something is or is not,Harry Hindu
    But not this, unless you can provide some examples of how - that is, educate.

    I agree (with the proposition, if it's being made) that "ontology" is a term of art in various pursuits and enterprises. As such, it means exactly and nor more nor less what those people say it means. Our question - my question - goes to what it means by itself. I assume it has a meaning. And the meaning I find isn't all that much. And as to things, in the asking being is always already asserted (to be affirmed, denied, or clarified), as with bricks, unicorns, seven. And that's it for ontology!
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    To Dasein or not to Dasein, that is the question:
    Whether 'tis nobler to become open to the disclosure of being as such
    Or to take up arms against a sea of ontological claims
    And by opposing end them. To remain pre-ontological.
    Octopus Knight
    Wilkommen zu das Lichtung (aka "TPF"). :mask:
  • deletedmemberdp
    88
    Max Planck said: “there is a metaphysical reality behind everything that human experience shows to be real.”
    Doesn't ontology free you from the shackles of just being? Or am I ontologically challenged?
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    I don’t know how things fundamentally are, but only as I think them to be.
    — Mww
    You're not a physicalist?
    — Coben

    That I think a way for an object to be necessarily presupposes the reality of it, which makes explicit my acceptance of the physicalist domain.
    Mww
    You could be an idealist, for example, instead.
    The manner by which subjects and objects relate to each other is a logical condition, and no determination of the fundamental nature of either is given by their mere relation.Mww
    The mere assumption/conclusion that there are subjects and objects is an onlological assumption/conclusion. Perhaps there is just a kind of phenomenalism or experiencism. That the whole idea of subject -> perception -> external world is not correct. Whether it is or not is an ontological conclusion/assertion.
    Please explain, bearing in mind the keyword fundamental.Mww
    I gave a short shot at that above.
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    If ontology is knowledge of being, as the word says, functioning as so many other -ology words function, then, it would seem to me, all you can affirm is that something is.tim wood
    I am not sure if we are talking past each or not. Let me go back a step.
    Several ways to go here. This one seems best: can you provide an example of an ontological conclusion? Beyond the obvious one of course: which I am thinking is the only possible one, namely that the thing considered is.tim wood
    Could you be specific here with an example?

    It seems to me that scientists, for example, work with ontological consclusions. Not merely that things are - and even the use of the word 'thing' and 'things' it seems to me will carry with it ontological conclusions - but what they are. Is reality a monism or not? What are subjects? A common ontology is the subject ->perceives->external reality that is matter. Idealists and some phenomenalists often disagree with this model. Physicists deal with a few different kinds of ontologies.

    From Stanford's Encyc of Philosophy....
    But we have at least two parts to the overall philosophical project of ontology, on our preliminary understanding of it: first, say what there is, what exists, what the stuff is reality is made out of, secondly, say what the most general features and relations of these things are.

    Now there are other ways people define ontology as the same article says, but that is what I am working with.
  • Mww
    4.7k
    You could be an idealist, for exampleCoben

    Yes, but the question inquires after what I am not, not what I might be. Any rational agency demonstrating a faculty for discursive understanding is an idealist.
    —————

    The mere assumption/conclusion that there are subjects and objects is an onlological assumption/conclusion.Coben

    If you say so.

    But it isn’t; one cannot assume anything without thinking something antecedent to it, and one cannot conclude anything that isn’t a judgement about something antecedent to it. Both thought and judgement are members of the epistemological domain, insofar as knowledge is its end. The only reason for there to even be an ontological domain at all, is, initially, because the discursive understanding requires external objects to which its conceptions relate despite the impossibility of knowing the fundamental nature of such objects, and, more importantly, from post-modern academics, the invalid representation of the ding an sich as the unknowable aspect of any external object.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    Could you be specific here with an example?.... It seems to me that scientists, for example, work with ontological conclusions. Not merely that things are -Coben

    Ontological proposition: Jupiter is. Going beyond that is going beyond ontology in terms of what "ontology" says. If you do go beyond, I suppose you can call it what you want, even ontology. But I think a better generic name is science, and perhaps even astronomy.

    Example. Geology is the study of the earth itself. But not bridges or buildings themselves; those would be architecture and maybe engineering.

    .
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    Ontological proposition: Jupiter is. Going beyond that is going beyond ontology in terms of what "ontology" says.tim wood

    Not according to most definitions I find, including the one I quoted.
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    Yes, but the question inquires after what I am not, not what I might be. Any rational agency demonstrating a faculty for discursive understanding is an idealist.Mww
    Do you mean every philosopher is an idealist, in the philosophical sene?
    But it isn’t; one cannot assume anything without thinking something antecedent to it, and one cannot conclude anything that isn’t a judgement about something antecedent to it. Both thought and judgement are members of the epistemological domain, insofar as knowledge is its end.Mww
    You really think you can have a language including categories of things (like judgments) without already having some kind of ontology? I can't see how that works. I don't see how you can decide how you can have knowledge of things, if you have no idea what things are. Since any epistemology is going to be designed to work GIVEN the way things are and how subjects relate to them and then what subjects are. There are chicken and egg aspects to this, and both likely came into being together and influenced each other.
    The only reason for there to even be an ontological domain at all, is, initially, because the discursive understanding requires external objects to which its conceptions relate despite the impossibility of knowing the fundamental nature of such objects, and, more importantly, from post-modern academics, the invalid representation of the ding an sich as the unknowable aspect of any external object.Mww
    If by 'from post-modern academics' you mean they consider he ding an sich the unknowable aspect ofthe external object, I am not sure why we need to assume they are right. But even that formulation has problems, since it posits external objects with aspects that are unknowable and then, ti would seem, other aspects that are knowable.

    But beyond that it's a postion in ontology (and epistemology). Reality is such that there are aspects of objects one cannot know anything about. That is an ontological conclusion/assertion. Whether you arrived at it before or after deciding on your epistemology, here you have an epistemological conclusion. And one that has asserted knowledge about perception, objects, subjects.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    Not according to most definitions I find, including the one I quoted.Coben
    Yes. As noted above. There is the word, and how some people define the word. Two different things. And to my way of thinking, a good thing to remember when when people doing "ontology" claim that they're doing ontology.
  • deletedusercb
    1.7k
    I don't see how there is any room for determining if something is in what your version of ontology is, since 'is' would have no meaning, nor would thing.. Your definition sounds like a part of epistemologyt. Determining whether a this is. But then since we can't discuss what a thing is in ontology - since for you that is outside the scope of ontology - the word 'thing' means nothing, so nearly every philosopher who ever engaged in discussions of ontology was actually discussing something else.
    a good thing to remember when when people doing "ontology" claim that they're doing ontology.tim wood
    I don't get the scare quotes, how would you know, given what you've said, is going on in the external word. Those people would be part of the ding an sich. And also what they are doing is. And then even 'is' is utterly empty. I can understand a skeptical position not being convinced. I don't get on what ground you make assertions about things and people that are not you.
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