Terrapin Station wrote: ↑
May 16th, 2020, 6:06 pm
Consul wrote: ↑
May 16th, 2020, 5:18 pm
"The principal task of ontology is the provision of a Kategorienlehre
Thanks for answering. Okay, so the follow-up question is why
you think this.
Because it's very important to have and work with a system of ontological categories
"If you really want to know what you are talking
about, you need to know what
you are talking about. This seeming truism can be given a logico-epistemological slant, as the maxim ‘Define your terms!’ As such, it is clearly doomed to fail, since not everything can be defined. Some terms cannot be given definitions: but we can try to reach an understanding with others, what Bolzano calls a Verständigung
(Bolzano 1837, § 668), about the meaning of the term in question, with all the pitfalls that ensue, and aspire down the line to capture prime aspects of that meaning in accepted principles or meaning postulates restricting and governing the term.
The slant I give to the truism is however ontological, …namely the Aristotelian view that discourse which is not anchored in a proper ontology is not fully serious, and that metaphysics therefore enjoys a primacy among the sciences which is neither linguistic nor epistemological, but reflects a fundamentally realistic view. According to this, the world of things comes self-differentiated into different fundamental kinds, and these things combine and interact in their own ways, mostly without input from ourselves.
The critical turn in philosophy, starting with Descartes and Locke, and leading to the metaphysical deflationism of Hume, pushed metaphysics away from its regal position in philosophy. Kant strove to rescue metaphysics from Hume’s criticisms by confining it to the sphere of our cognition, leaving mind-independent reality outside the pale. History repeated itself over a century later when Quine, Strawson, and Dummett strove to rehabilitate metaphysics after the positivist onslaught by making it an adjunct to semantics. The result was in each case the same: to relativize what exists to our linguistic or conceptual scheme, and so to approach that most evil of philosophical positions: idealism.
There is no such thing as a safe metaphysics or an innocent metaphysics, or an easy a priori
metaphysics which can be established by armchair methods, or by reflection on pure reason alone. It makes bold, speculative, and shaky conjectures. Serious metaphysics risks refutation by empirical discovery; it courts inconsistency and incoherence; it is subject to historical, cultural, and personal biases; and it is bound to be perpetually provisional. Saving a beatific vision, this is both what we must expect and that to which we must be reconciled. Yet metaphysics is inescapably a philosopher’s business, since it is universal: as Aristotle says, all the special sciences cut off a portion of being. When philosophers ignore metaphysics, others move in and do their job for them, usually badly.…
The scope and tasks of metaphysics were conceived and outlined by Aristotle, continued by medieval scholastics, and elaborated by Wolff, Husserl, Whitehead, and D. C. Williams. They consist in two parts. One part consists in the careful elaboration of a scheme of fundamental kinds or categories, their justification, connection, and governing principles or archai
: an ontologia sive metaphysica generalis
including a Kategorienlehre
. Husserl called this formal ontology
; Williams called it analytic ontology
. The other part is a broader enterprise of showing how these categories and principles apply to a wide range of things in the world, what Williams called speculative cosmology
and Husserl regional ontology
, but which I prefer to call systematics
. Without a view to its application, ontology remains a detached glass-bead game, but without a view to ontology, systematics remains at best a haphazard congeries of disconnected insights. Both sides of metaphysics require and reinforce one another. Metaphysical problems may up to a point be tackled piecemeal, but metaphysics as a whole must aspire to be systematic. That requirement is part of what makes metaphysics difficult to do well, something that Jonathan rightly emphasized in the face of those easy critics who scorn metaphysics as little more than hot air or think it is something a ‘real’ scientist could knock out on a Sunday afternoon.…
Williams’s adjective ‘speculative’, emphasized also by Whitehead, reminds us of the unavoidably conjectural and fallible nature of metaphysics. We cannot avoid going beyond the evidence in postulating the applicability of metaphysical categories and principles, and because of their highly abstract nature, correction through experience is indirect, haphazard, and slow."
(Simons, Peter. "Lowe, the Primacy of Metaphysics, and the Basis." In Ontology, Modality, and Mind: Themes from the Metaphysics of E. J. Lowe
, edited by Alexander Carruth, Sophie Gibb, and John Heil, 37-47. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. pp. 37-9)