Language and Ontology

Language and Ontology

Language and Ontology

Language and Ontology

Excerpt

ONE of the important questions in contemporary philosophy is whether the advent of formalistic logical and linguistic techniques has eliminated all significant ontological presuppositions. According to certain philosophers, traditional philosophical speculation is permeated by linguistic ambiguities and by ignorance of important logical truisms, and as a result it has expounded various metaphysical beliefs which are no longer tenable in a modern analytic age. In this book I shall examine these issues.

To begin with I should like to make clear what I take an ontological commitment to be. An ontological commitment is any statement purporting either I] to express a language form which, like a traditional Kantian form, is a necessary part of any nonanalytic language or 2] to designate a kind of nonconcrete, i.e., abstract entity, required as a value for a quantified variable or as a designatum for a descriptive term.Thus if it turns out that a necessary condition for any meaningful language is that it contain a language form consisting of individual and predicate terms, then this form is an ontological commitment in the language. In other words, a necessary condition for any communication dealing with an extralinguistic subject matter would be that it contain a particular linguistic form. But this means that if the form is one of individual and predicate terms, then the universe described by this language will be one of individuals and properties. And if our predicates must be polyadic as well as monadic, then our universe will contain not only ordinary properties of individuals but also relations between two or more individuals. Our ontology will be derived from the kind of language forms required if any communication is to occur.

Here then is an ontological commitment, only now we no longer speak of it in Kantian terms.That is, we no longer speak of the . . .

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