study of the nature of being, becoming, existence or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations (philosophy)

Ontology is the branch of philosophy that studies concepts such as existence, being, becoming, and reality. It is sometimes referred to as the science of being and belongs to the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics.

Parmenides proposed
an ontological
characterization of nature


  • Antoine Meillet also noted that imperatives in European languages are typically the morphological root of the verb, and hypothesised that the imperative was the primitive form of a verb: “walk!” precedes “to walk” or “he walks”. This opens up the possibility of an alternative ontology, or pre-ontology, based on commandment rather than assertion, on “be!” rather than “is”. While philosophical or scientific statements would fall under the ordinary “is”-based ontology, fields like law, religion or magic would operate in the imperative mode: “let there be…”
  • On bourgeois ground... change is impossible anyway even if it were desired. In fact, bourgeois interest would like to draw every other interest opposed to it into its own failure; so, in order to drain the new life, it makes its own agony apparently fundamental, apparently ontological. The futility of bourgeois existence is extended to be that of the human situation in general, of existence per se.
    • Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope (1959), Tr. N. Plaice (1986) p. 4.
  • The broader ontology typically associated with atheism is naturalism—there is only one world, the natural world, exhibiting patterns we call the "laws of nature," and which is discoverable by the methods of science and empirical investigation. There is no separate realm of the supernatural, spiritual, or divine; nor is there any cosmic teleology or transcendent purpose inherent in the nature of the universe or in human life. “Life” and “consciousness” do not denote essences distinct from matter; they are ways of talking about phenomena that emerge from the interplay of extraordinarily complex systems. Purpose and meaning in life arise through fundamentally human acts of creation, rather than being derived from anything outside ourselves. Naturalism is a philosophy of unity and patterns, describing all of reality as a seamless web.
    • Sean M. Carroll, The Big Picture (2016) Chap. 1: The Fundamental Nature of Reality.
  • Why do I think that Turing's paper "On computable numbers" is so important? Well, in my opinion it's a paper on epistemology, because we only understand something if we can program it, as I will explain in more detail later. And it's a paper on physics, because what we can actually compute depends on the laws of physics in our particular universe and distinguishes it from other possible universes. And it's a paper on ontology, because it shows that some real numbers are uncomputable, which I shall argue calls into question their very existence, their mathematical and physical existence.
  • A sample of the modern debate, which neatly summarizes the anti-reductionist position is provided by Grene (1974). She points out that in principle a one-level ontology—the belief, for example, that with increasing knowledge all science will become an account of the world in the language of, say, atomic events—contradicts itself. This is so because such a belief, to be meaningful, requires an ontology which admits both atomic events and cognition. Here at once a second level is smuggled in! It is logically possible... that there might be no levels in between those of atomic events and cognition (that in essence is Descartes's position) but the sciences of chemistry and biology consist of some well-tested conjectures that there are such intermediate levels as are represented by molecules, cells, organelles, organs, and organisms.
    • Peter Checkland, Systems Thinking, Systems Practice (1981) p. 80. Ref: Marjorie Grene, The Understanding of Nature: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology (1974).
  • Systems is an epistemology (making a statement of the kind: 'A certain type of knowledge may be expressed in systems language') before it is an ontology (which would make a statement of the kind: 'The world is systemic'); and in the case of work whose concern is social reality it may never be possible to make ontological statements in systems terms.
  • Eliminative materialism is the thesis that our common sense conception of psychological phenomena constitutes a radically false theory, a theory so fundamentally defective that both the principles and ontology of that theory will eventually be displaced, rather than smoothly reduced, by completed neuroscience.
    • Paul Churchland, "Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes" (1981) p. 67; As quoted in: Paul K. Mose, Contemporary Materialism: A Reader (2002) p. 21.
  • [Women's Liberation] ... is an ontological, spiritual revolution, pointing beyond the idolatries of sexist society and sparking creative action in and toward transcendence. The becoming of women implies universal human becoming. It has everything to do with the search for ultimate meaning and reality which some would call God.
    • Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation (1973) p. 6.
  • I suggest that the rejection of ontological final causality ... has often really been a kind of metaphysical rebellion, even on the part of those philosophers who have been most disdainful of metaphysics. It has been an effort to overthrow the tyranny of the allegedly 'supernatural end' that seemed to block the dynamics of thought and action. But this 'block' was often a shallow and reified conception of the final cause. When those doing the rejecting have had no deep awareness of the dynamism in being, that is of the ontological force of final causality, the reified Block has not wholly disappeared. It has tended to reappear in various ways.
    • Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation (1973) pp. 186-187.
  • The scientific world-view is surely a good deal less intelligible now than it was during the century or two following Newton. ...[A]lthough the Newtonian picture was that of a universe unfolding mechanically, it was underpinned by the theological concept of a Deity who had set the world in motion at the beginning. The two concepts went together and provided a satisfactory ontology for as long as the basic assumptions were acceptable. Modern science, by contrast, has no comprehensive metaphysical foundation. Indeed the paradox of modern science is this: it is a system of thought which amply displays man’s creative powers and which yet makes him appear as a 'thing'—that is, as an object which science believes can have no such powers.
    • K. G. Denbigh, An Inventive Universe (1975) Note 22, Notes and References, p. 212
  • The point at issue... is whether 'time' really is, in some deep ontological sense, differentiated into past, present and future. ...Reichenbach and Whitrow propose that there is... such a type of event and this is the 'becoming', or 'coming into being' of factual states-of-affairs in the physical world.
    Reichenbach ...claimed that 'becoming' is in fact made manifest through the Uncertainty Principle of Heisenberg: "The concept of becoming, he wrote, acquires a meaning in physics: The present, which separates the future from the past, is the moment when that which was undetermined becomes determined, and 'becoming' means the same as 'becoming determined' ".
    Whitrow expressed ..."The past is the determined, the present is the moment of 'becoming' when events become determined, and the future is as-yet undetermined.
    Although neither Reichenbach nor Whitrow developed their thesis at any length, the general purport of what they meant is clear: there is a basic chance element in nature, at least at the micro-level, and the moment of 'becoming', which they identify with 'the present', is marked by a transition from what is merely possible to what is factual. However... this important attempt to provide a physical basis for the ...theory is by no means immune from criticism.
  • [W]e are tempted to draw a problematic conclusion: there could be entities who do have minds but who cannot tell us what they are thinking... because they have no capacity for language... [M]inds are the ultimate terra incognita, beyond the reach of all science and—in the case of languageless minds—beyond all empathetic conversation as well. ...[H]umility ought to temper our curiosity. Don't confuse ontological questions (about what exists) with epistemological questions (about how we know about it). We must grow comfortable with this wonderful fact about what is off-limits to inquiry.
    • Daniel C. Dennett, Kinds Of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness (1996) Ch. 1. What Kinds of Minds Are There? 'The Problem of Incommunicative Minds' pp. 12-13.
  • Science doesn’t give authentically access to the Real in the ontological meaning of the word, but only to the links between phenomena.
    • Bernard d'Espagnat, Une réouverture des chemins du sens, Science et quête de sens (2005) ed. Jean Staune, p. 26.
  • The British intellectual tradition is empirical and liberal, the French is rationalist and aristocratic, and the German is idealist and conservative. ...In the great ontological debate between mind and matter, German philosophy comes down solidly on the side of mind. Its emphasis is intuition as opposed to reason, ideas as opposed to facts.
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 2. German and Viennese Intellectual Thought.
  • The free market system is implied, Hayek felt, by his ontology in order to attain maximum human productivity, the highest standard of living for all—the utilitarian-liberal-socialist-communist-libertarian goal. The division and paucity of individual knowledge renders a market economy necessary for optimal economic productivity. The utilization and communication of information and knowledge are critical.
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 10. Epistemology, Psychology, and Methodology.
  • Hayek’s early work as a student in psychology (mostly before Wittgenstein’s Tractatus was published) led him to ask himself the questions: "What is mind?" and "What is the place of mind in the realm of nature?" Hayek essentially adopted a Kantian view of the nature of the world. He saw mind as implanting order on the world rather than the world necessarily having any properties of, as it were, itself.
    In The Sensory Order, Hayek wrote that if the "account of the determination of mental qualities which we have given is correct, it would mean that the apparatus by means of which we learn about the external world is itself the product of a kind of experience." Hayek did not ultimately ascribe much significance to the brain as an accurate (whatever, in this circumstance, accuracy would be) receptacle of reality. Reality, such as it is, is what brain makes of it.
    This Kantian ontological (theory of being) perspective had, in Hayek’s view, significant philosophical consequences or repercussions for epistemology. Since there is no ultimate reality apart from what brain makes of it, knowledge is not of ultimate essences but merely of mental states that themselves are liable to change during the lifetime of an organism or over the evolution of a species. Hayek’s ontology ultimately reduces the role of absolute knowledge absolutely.
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 10. Epistemology, Psychology, and Methodology.
  • The three basic principles of Plotinus' metaphysics are called by him 'the One' (or, equivalently, 'the Good'), Intellect, and Soul... These principles are both ultimate ontological realities and explanatory principles. Plotinus believed that they were recognized by Plato as such, as well as by the entire subsequent Platonic tradition.
    The One is the absolutely simple first principle of all. It is both 'self-caused' and the cause of being for everything else in the universe.
  • Generally, position measurements sometimes reveal information about Bohmian positions, but never full information and sometimes none at all. Simple and handy criteria for determining when the Bohmian position measurements of a particle under test highly correlate with the position of the center of mass of some large pointer are still missing. Bohmian mechanics is attractive to philosophers because it provides a clear ontology. However, it is not as attractive to researchers in physics. This is unfortunate because it could inspire brave new ideas that challenge quantum physics.
    • Nicolas Gisin, "Why Bohmian Mechanics? One- and Two-Time Position Measurements, Bell Inequalities, Philosophy, and Physics", Entropy (2018)
  • Once knowing is no longer understood as the search for an iconic representation of ontological reality but, instead, as a search for fitting ways of behaving and thinking, the traditional problem disappears. Knowledge can now be seen as something which the organism builds up in the attempt to order the as such amorphous flow of experience by establishing repeatable experiences and relatively reliable relations between them. The possibilities of constructing such an order are determined and perpetually constrained by the preceding steps in the construction. That means that the “real” world manifests itself exclusively there where our constructions break down. But since we can describe and explain these breakdowns only in the very concepts that we have used to build the failing structures, this process can never yield a picture of a world that we could hold responsible for their failure.
    • Ernst von Glasersfeld, "An Introduction to Radical Constructivism" (1984) as quoted in Frederick Burwick & Walter Pape, Aesthetic Illusion: Theoretical and Historical Approaches (1990) pp.26-27.
  • Do we call the claim perception, whether it succeeds or no? Or is 'perception' a 'success word'? J. J. Gibson in his important book, The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems, defends the view that our senses are systems for information-input from the world. ...Gibson ...interpreted his ...theory as a defence of realism. Hintikka ...objects ...that the claim for 'realism' is merely empirical; the 'logic of perception', he argues, does not demand that the actual world contain the realities of which perception informs, or seems to inform us. ...I cannot go into this argument, since it is based on the articulation of a 'possible-world ontology' which I ...find much too contrived to serve as a philosophical approach to so fundamental a feature of our experience as perceiving ...Gibson’s realistic claim ...and Hintikka’s counterclaim need to be taken seriously—with paradoxical results. 'Perception' is sometimes, justifiably, a success-word, sometimes, justifiably, not.
    • Marjorie Grene, The Understanding of Nature: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology (1974) pp. 23-24.
  • The fundamental commitment behind Abelard's nominalism, that there is nothing that is not individual (or at least particular), is the conceptual core of all his metaphysical thought. Abelard held that the individual is primary, ontologically basic, and requires no explanation. It is notoriously difficult to prove such a claim. If Abelard could be said to have a metaphysical project it would be to show that other "items" that more promiscuous philosophers would add to their ontology can be reductively explained in terms of individuals (or at least of particulars).
  • [M]ethodological naturalism would then lead to extreme conservatism about ontology: no new entities should be introduced in science.
    • Hans Halvorson, "Why Methodological Naturalism?" The Blackwell Companion to Naturalism (2016) ed. Kelly James Clark.
  • Beings can be determined in their being without the explicit concept of the meaning of being having to be already available. If this were not so there could not have been as yet any ontological knowledge.
  • Heidegger's Sein und Zeit [Being and Time]... develops a "fundamental ontology" according to the modes in which the self "exists,"... and originates... several meanings of Being...explicated in a number of fundamental categories... [i.e.,] "existentials"... functional structures of the active movement of inner time by which a "world" is entertained and the self [is] originated as a continuous event. The "existentials" have... a profoundly temporal meaning... [i.e.,] categories of internal or mental time, the true dimension of existence... must exhibit, and distribute between them, the three horizons of time—past, present, and future... [I]n the classical... "table of categories"... the column under... "present" remains practically empty... For the existentially "genuine" present is the present of the "situation," which is wholly defined in terms of the self's relation to its "future" and "past." It flashes up... in the light of decision, when the projected "future" reacts upon the given "past" (Geworfenheit) and in this meeting constitutes what Heidegger calls the "moment" (Augenblick): moment, not duration, is the temporal mode of this "present"—a creature of the other two horizons of time, a function of their ceaseless dynamics, and no independent dimension to dwell in. ...a derivative and "deficient" mode of existence. ...[A]ll the relevant categories of existence... having to do with the possible authenticity of selfhood, fall in correlate pairs under... either past or future... No present remains for genuine existence to repose in. Leaping off... from its past, existence projects itself into the future; faces its ultimate limit, death; returns from this eschatological glimpse of nothingness... [T]here is no present to dwell in, only the crisis between past and future... balanced on the razor's edge of decision which thrusts ahead.
  • ...If we had the time we should now go on to present the ingenious theory of organism with which Spinoza focused the general ontological scheme specifically on the biological sphere, where mentality is ordinarily seen to be conjoined to physical fact, and particularly on the case of man. It must be enough to say that Spinoza makes it beautifully intelligible from his general premises that the quality and power of a mind are proportionate to the complexity of the body to which it corresponds, so that the perfection of the human body as a piece of physical organization is a direct yardstick for the perfection of the human mind which, as it were, conformally (or: isomorphously) duplicates the body's physical performance on the plane of thought.
  • The infinite Universe of the New Cosmology, infinite in Duration as well as Extension, in which eternal matter in accordance with eternal and necessary laws moves endlessly and aimlessly in eternal space, inherited all the ontological attributes of Divinity. Yet only those — all the others the departed God took with him... The Divine Artifex had therefore less and less to do in the world. He did not even have to conserve it, as the world, more and more, became able to dispense with this service...
  • A scientific theory is usually felt to be better than its predecessors not only in the sense that it is a better instrument for discovering and solving puzzles but also because it is somehow a better representation of what nature is really like. One often hears that successive theories grow ever closer to, or approximate more and more closely to, the truth. Apparently generalizations like that refer not to the puzzle-solutions and the concrete predictions derived from a theory but rather to its ontology, to the match, that is, between the entities with which the theory populates nature and what is “really there.”
    Perhaps there is some other way of salvaging the notion of ‘truth’ for application to whole theories, but this one will not do. There is, I think, no theory-independent way to reconstruct phrases like ‘really there’; the notion of a match between the ontology of a theory and its “real” counterpart in nature now seems to me illusive in principle. Besides, as a historian, I am impressed with the implausability of the view. I do not doubt, for example, that Newton’s mechanics improves on Aristotle’s and that Einstein’s improves on Newton’s as instruments for puzzle-solving. But I can see in their succession no coherent direction of ontological development. On the contrary, in some important respects, though by no means in all, Einstein’s general theory of relativity is closer to Aristotle’s than either of them is to Newton’s.
    • Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd ed. (1996), Postscript—1969.
  • Chronology, the time which changes things, makes them grow older, wears them out, and manages to dispose of them, chronologically, forever.
    Thank God there is kairos too: again the Greeks were wiser than we are. They had two words for time: chronos and kairos.
    Kairos is not measurable. Kairos is ontological. In kairos we are, we are fully in isness, not negatively, as Sartre saw the isness of the oak tree, but fully, wholly, positively. Kairos can sometimes enter, penetrate, break through chronos: the child at play, the painter at his easel, Serkin playing the Appassionata are in kairos. The saint in prayer, friends around the dinner table, the mother reaching out her arms for her newborn baby are in kairos. The bush, the burning bush, is in kairos, not any burning bush, but the particular burning bush before which Moses removed his shoes; the bush I pass by on my way to the brook. In kairos that part of us which is not consumed in the burning is wholly awake.
  • Descartes, by means of intuition and abstraction, seeks to establish the ultimate features of things as they are in themselves; that is, he seeks to establish an objective ontology of natures that compose material bodies.
  • If the Good and the Beautiful, Peace and Justice cannot be derived either from ontological or scientific-rational conditions, they cannot logically claim universal validity and realization. In terms of scientific reason, they remain matters of preference, and no resuscitation of some land of Aristotelian or Thomistic philosophy can save the situation... the ideas become mere ideals, and their concrete, critical content evaporates into the ethical or metaphysical atmosphere.
  • It is enough that things exist for God to be unavoidable. Let us but grant to a bit of moss or the smallest ant its due nature as an ontological reality, and we can no longer escape the terrifying hand that made us.
  • Existential psychotherapy is the movement which, although standing on one side on the scientific analysis owed chiefly to the genius of Freud, also brings back into the picture the understanding of man on the deeper and broader level — man as the being who is human. It is based on the assumption that it is possible to have a science of man which does not fragmentize man and destroy his humanity at the same moment as it studies him. It unites science and ontology.
    • Rollo May, Existence (1958), p. 36; also in The Discovery of Being: Writings in Existential Psychology (1983) Part II, Ch. 5, p. 87.
  • Our ability to destroy ourselves is the mirror image of our ability to save ourselves, and what is lacking is the clear vision of what should be done... What needs to be done is that fundamental, ontological conceptions of reality need to be redone. We need a new language, and to have a new language we must have a new reality... A new reality will generate a new language, a new language will fix a new reality, and make it part of this reality.
    • Terence McKenna, "Psychedelic Society" (June, 1984) speech at the Esalen Institute.
  • Oriental religions had proposed the idea of a supreme Being beyond the grasp of language. But Greek thinkers were so wont to identify the real and the conceivable with what can be said that they dared not state there is an unintelligible reality; therefore, they made it into a non-being, thus originating the ontology of absence whose latest versions are Heidegger’s Being (always placed beyond positive existence) and its semiotic child, Derridian difference or 'trace,' forever avoiding presence and identity.
    The usefulness of such comparisons show that, for all the novelty of his terminology, the thought structure of Derrida is a philosophical antique with a more theological than epistemological origin—something that may remain concealed to those who broach deconstruction theory as though it were just conceptually sharpened semiotics.
    • J.G. Merquior, From Paris to Prague: A Critique of Structuralist and Poststructualist Thought (1986) p. 224.
  • Man's being... is an unending struggle to accommodate himself to it. The stone... need not fight for being what it is... Man... has to make his existence at every moment. He is given the abstract possibility of existing, but not the reality. ...Man must earn his life, not only economically but metaphysically. ...because man's being and nature's being do not fully coincide. Because man’s being is made of such strange stuff as to be partly akin to nature and partly not, at once natural and extranatural, a kind of ontological centaur, half immersed in nature, half transcending it.
    • José Ortega y Gasset, History as a System: and other Essays Toward a Philosophy of History (1962) Ch. 3: Man the Technician, "Excursion to the Substructure of Technology".
  • For to be aware and to be are the same....And it is all one to me
    Where I am to begin; for I shall return there again. ...It is necessary to speak and to think what is; for being is, but nothing is not. ...Helplessness guides the wandering thought in their breasts; they are carried along deaf and blind alike, dazed, beasts without judgment, convinced that to be and not to be are the same and not the same, and that the road of all things is a backward-turning one. ...Nor was once, nor will be, since is, now, all together,
    One, continuous; for what coming-to-be of it will you seek?
    In what way, whence, did grow? Neither from what-is-not shall I allow
    You to say or think; for it is not to be said or thought
    That is not. And what need could have impelled it to grow
    Later or sooner, if it began from nothing? Thus must either be completely or not at all. ...For this view, that That Which Is Not exists, can never predominate. You must debar your thought from this way of search, nor let ordinary experience in its variety force you along this way, ...the eye, sightless as it is, and the ear, full of sound, and the tongue, to rule; but ...judge by means of the Reason ...the much-contested proof which is expounded by me. ...[I]s now, all at once, one and continuous... Nor ...divisible, since ...all alike; nor ...any more or less ...in one place which might prevent ...holding together, but all is full of what is. ...How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being, it is not; nor is it... ever... going to be. Thus coming into being is extinguished, and destruction unknown. ...Thinking and the thought that it is are the same; for you will not find thinking apart from what is... The mortals lay down and decided well to name two forms (...the flaming light and obscure darkness of night), out of which it is necessary not to make one, and in this they are led astray.
  • Math, like diamonds, truly seems to be forever.
    If one 'goes Platonic' with math, one has to face... philosophical consequences... the notion of physicalism goes out the window. Physicalism is the position that the only things that exist are those that have physical extension... and last time I checked, the idea of circle, or Fermat’s theorem, did not have physical extension. It is true that physicalism is now a sophisticated doctrine that includes not just material objects and energy, but also, for instance, physical forces and information. But it isn’t immediately obvious to me that mathematical objects neatly fall into even an extended physicalist ontology.
  • How are we to adjudicate among rival ontologies? Certainly the answer is not provided by the semantical formula "To be is to be the value of a variable"; this formula serves rather, conversely, in testing the conformity of a given remark or doctrine to a prior ontological standard.
  • The genius of culture is to create an ontological system so compelling that what is inside and outside of a person are viewed as of a piece, no seams and patches noticeable.
    • Richard Shweder, "Cultural psyschology-What is it?" Cultural Psychology (1990)
  • The word ontology comes from the Greek ontos for being and logos for word. It is a relatively new term in the long history of philosophy, introduced by the 19th century German philosophers to distinguish the study of being as such from the study of various kinds of beings in the natural sciences. The traditional term for the types of beings is Aristotle's word category, which he used for classifying anything that can be said or predicated about anything.
  • Each new ontological theory, propounded in lieu of previous ones shown to be untenable, has been followed by a new criticism leading to a new scepticism. All possible conceptions have been one by one tried and found wanting; and so the entire field of speculation has been gradually exhausted without positive result: the only result reached being the negative one... that the reality existing behind all appearances is, and must ever be, unknown.
    • Herbert Spencer, First Principles (1862) Pt. I, The Unknowable Ch. IV: The Relativity of All Knowledge
  • Talk can neither be verified nor falsified in any rigorous sense. This is an open secret which hermeneutics and aesthetics, from Aristotle to Croce, have laboured to exorcise or to conceal from themselves and their clients. This ontological, which is to say both primordial and essential axiom (or platitude) of ineradicable undecidability needs, none the less, to be closely argued.
  • We think of the world as containing particular things some of which are independent of ourselves; we think of the world's history as made up of particular episodes in which we may or may not have a part; and we think of these particular things and events as included in the topics of our common discourse, as things about which we can talk to each other. These are remarks about the way we think of the world, about our conceptual scheme. A more recognizably philosophical, though no clearer, way of expressing them would be to say that our ontology comprises objective particulars. It may comprise much else besides.
  • One of the first major steps in the direction of modern skepticism came through the victory of Occam over Aquinas in a controversy about language. The statement that modi essendi were replaced by modi significandi et intelligendi, or that ontological referents were abandoned in favor of pragmatic significations, describes broadly the change in philosophy which continues to our time. From Occam to Bacon, from Bacon to Hobbes, and from Hobbes to contemporary semanticists, the progression is clear: ideas become psychological figments, words become useful signs. ...
    To one completely committed to this realm of becoming, as are the empiricists, the claim to apprehend verities is a sign of psychopathology. Probably we have here but a highly sophisticated expression of the doctrine that ideals are hallucination and that the only normal, sane person is the healthy extrovert, making instant, instinctive adjustments to the stimuli of the material world.
    • Richard Weaver, Language is Sermonic: R. M. Weaver on the Nature of Rhetoric (1970) ed. R. Johannesen, R. Strickland & R. T. Eubanks, p. 37.
  • The Western World has been brainwashed by Aristotle for the last 2,500 years. The unconscious, not quite articulate, belief of most Occidentals is that there is one map which adequately represents reality. By sheer good luck, every Occidental thinks he or she has the map that fits. Guerrilla ontology, to me, involves shaking up that certainty. I use what in modern physics is called the "multi-model" approach, which is the idea that there is more than one model to cover a given set of facts. … It's important to abolish the unconscious dogmatism that makes people think their way of looking at reality is the only sane way of viewing the world. My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about everything. If one can only see things according to one's own belief system, one is destined to become virtually deaf, dumb, and blind. It's only possible to see people when one is able to see the world as others see it. That's what guerrilla ontology is — breaking down this one-model view and giving people a multi-model perspective.
  • Today’s smut is tomorrow’s fine art. The profane, with the passage of time becomes sacred. Having suffered under a reactionary ontological hermeneutics for the last fifty years, the extremist movement constitutes an emergent phenomenon which is more than the sum of the processes from which it has emerged. Interpretation theory rewarded by dominant culture would have us believe that history is objective when in fact its subjective nature is based on hierarchical systems of exploitation benefiting a global elite.

See also

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  • Ontology Encyclopædia Britannica (1911).
  • Logic and Ontology by Thomas Hofweber, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (October 11, 2017)
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