On the side of our little fiberglass bubble we light heartedly placed this little tag to guide is in our travels. It has some noticeable side effects. First, like all little meditations, it brings our attention back to why we are roaming around in this reality. Second, it gets a lot of questions at gas stations and parking lots about "Just what the hell does that mean?" Apparently, 'Ontology' is not in a lot of people's vocabulary and I can find no fault in that. But it makes
for a good start for an interaction with a stranger. It is a subset of Epistemology, which is a bit more known, but still a little stuffy and you would probably not find either of them used in conversation except by college professors at a cocktail party trying to impress each other.
Wikipedia gives this definition and some questions that come up in it's study.
"Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations."
- "What can be said to exist?"
- "What is a thing?"
- "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?"
- what it is (its 'whatness', quidditas or essence)
- how it is (its 'howness' or qualitativeness)
- how much it is (quantitativeness)
- where it is, its relatedness to other beings
- 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?
Long ago I gave up "understanding " the Nature of Existence with words. Words are like the old Zen Buddhist would say, simply fingers pointing at the moon and not the moon itself". So the only remaining way to study Existence is to simply immerse yourself in it and "experience". Yeah I know, all of us are wiggling around in Existence but are we all aware of it? So to me, Ontological Research is a mantra to "look around", Don't miss any of this wondrous world. I don't believe the human mind will ever rationally understand existence, but the human body is capable of experiencing it.
Enjoy the Ride.