According to Heidegger (2006, p. 48), the term ontology has attracted various definitions from various scholars. However, all these definition share the fact that ontology basically means existence or state of being or a reality. Ontology as a name was developed from a Greek word ‘onto’ which means ‘being’ or ‘that which is.’
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Ontology is a branch of metaphysics that deals with issues about the existence of entities, and how these entities may possibly be grouped based on their similarities and differences and on their hierarchy. Ontology has been very popular in philosophy. It helps in defining existence of various beings in the world.
Philosophers have been trying to explain the existence of various beings and how they are related to each other in the world. It is interesting to understand the existence of various being and the hierarchical relationship with other beings. It is through ontology that this can be brought to a clear focus for one to understand this existence and the relationships they have.
Ontology can be classified into a number of ways using various criteria such as field of application or degree of abstraction (Hacking 2004, p. 84). This scholar emphasizes that the criteria used in this classification may vary depending on the approach one gives to this analysis or what one seeks to obtain from the process.
Plato is one of the philosophers who have been lauded to have helped in the development of ontology. Ontology can be classified as upper ontology, domain ontology, interface ontology and process ontology. Each class has specific states of being as described below.
Upper ontology involves the concepts which support the development of a given ontology. Domain ontology involves concepts which are relevant to a particular area of interest such as science, computer languages, and information technology among others. Interface ontology is always used when dealing with a scenario where two disciples are involved.
Process ontology on the other hand involves the inputs, outputs, the constraints, information among other factors in a business process. These classifications are important in helping understand ontology and how it is relevant in analyzing various states of being.
Plato was concerned of with making the society understand reality from illusion. According to Plato, sometimes an illusion can be so real that it may be considered a reality (Hacking 2004, p. 76). Using ontology, Plato was interested in bringing forth ways through which illusions could be distinguished from realities. This is because the state o mind can be very deceptive at times. The mind can transform an illusion into what appears to be a reality, especially if the involved party has an obsession over the issue.
The mind is an engine that knows how to create a leveled ground when there is a dire need for it. However, Plato insisted that realities are eternal and cannot change, while illusions can easily be changed based on what is desired because they are fake. Aristotle further enhanced ontology by bringing four ontological dimensions that is slightly different from what his teacher Plato, had given before.
The first category is based on ways or categories in which a being is addressed. The second category is the truthfulness or falsity of a being or state such as counterfeit gold. The third category is the possibility of a state existing independently or by chance. The last category is the potency of the state or its presence.
List of References
Hacking, I 2004, Historical ontology, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
Heidegger, M 2006, Ontology: The hermeneutics of facticity, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.