Ontology

metaphysics

metaphysics (mĕtəfĬz´Ĭks), branch of philosophy concerned with the ultimate nature of existence. It perpetuates the Metaphysics of Aristotle, a collection of treatises placed after the Physics [Gr. metaphysics=after physics] and treating what Aristotle called the First Philosophy. The principal area of metaphysical speculation is generally called ontology and is the study of the ultimate nature of being. However, philosophical theology and cosmology are also usually considered branches of metaphysics. In the history of philosophy there have been many great metaphysical systems. One of the most carefully constructed systems is that of the scholastic philosophy (see scholasticism), which essentially is based on Aristotle's metaphysical system. In the 17th cent. the great rationalistic systems of René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Nicolas Malebranche, and G. W. von Leibniz were developed. They were followed in the 18th cent. by Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy, which demonstrated the impossibility of a scientific metaphysics. This was in turn succeeded by the metaphysics of German idealism (of J. G. Fichte, Friedrich von Schelling, and G. W. F. Hegel). Since the middle of the 19th cent. the dominant philosophical trend has been in the direction of positivism, which denies the validity of any metaphysical assertion. This is clearly reflected in the contemporary movement called logical positivism. A revival of interest in metaphysics since 1950 has been sparked by P. F. Strawson, whose descriptive metaphysics is an attempt not to construct a new metaphysical system but to analyze the metaphysical systems that already inform prevailing modes of thought.

See D. W. Hamlyn, Metaphysics (1984); B. Aune, Metaphysics (1985); D. H. Mellor, Matters of Metaphysics (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Ontology: Selected full-text books and articles

The Ontology of Mind: Events, Processes, and States
Helen Steward.
Clarendon Press, 1997
Existence and Freedom: Towards an Ontology of Human Finitude
Calvin O. Schrag.
Northwestern University Press, 1961
From an Ontological Point of View
John Heil.
Clarendon, 2003
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Robert D'Amico.
Westview Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Ontology"
Being, Identity, and Truth
C. J. F. Williams.
Clarendon Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IX "Being, Ontology, and Reality"
World without Design: The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism
Michael C. Rea.
Clarendon, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Part II "Ontology"
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
Ted Honderich.
Oxford University Press, 1995
Realism and Appearances: An Essay in Ontology
John W. Yolton.
Cambridge University Press, 2002
Realism and Sociology: Anti-Foundationalism, Ontology, and Social Research
Justin Cruickshank.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "The Influence of Empiricism on Social Ontology: Methodological Individualism and Methodological Collectivism"
Dividing Reality
Eli Hirsch.
Oxford University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Ontology and the Division Problem"
Radical Phenomenology, Ontology, and International Political Theory
Odysseos, Louiza.
Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol. 27, No. 3, July-September 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Functional Origins of Religious Concepts: Ontological and Strategic Selection in Evolved Minds [*]
Boyer, Pascal.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 6, No. 2, June 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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