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What on earth are Ontology and Epistemology?

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❶Parmenides was among the first in the Greek tradition to propose an ontological characterization of the fundamental nature of existence.




In his Categories , Aristotle identifies ten possible kinds of things that may be the subject or the predicate of a proposition. For Aristotle there are four different ontological dimensions: According to Avicenna , and in an interpretation of Greek Aristotelian and Platonist ontological doctrines in medieval metaphysics , being is either necessary, contingent qua possible, or impossible.

Necessary being is that which cannot but be, since its non-being entails a contradiction. Contingent qua possible being is neither necessary nor impossible for it to be or not to be. It is ontologically neutral, and is brought from potential existing into actual existence by way of a cause that is external to its essence.

Its being is borrowed unlike the necessary existent, which is self-subsisting and is impossible for it not to be. As for the impossible, it necessarily does not exist, and the affirmation of its being is a contradiction. The concept of 'ontological formations' refers to formations of social relations understood as dominant ways of living. Temporal, spatial, corporeal, epistemological and performative relations are taken to be central to understanding a dominant formation.

That is, a particular ontological formation is based on how ontological categories of time, space, embodiment, knowing and performing are lived—objectively and subjectively.

Different ontological formations include the customary including the tribal , the traditional, the modern and the postmodern. In the engaged theory approach, ontological formations are seen as layered and intersecting rather than singular formations. They are 'formations of being'. This approach avoids the usual problems of a Great Divide being posited between the modern and the pre-modern. From a philosophical distinction concerning different formations of being, the concept then provides a way of translating into practical understandings concerning how humans might design cities and communities that live creatively across different ontological formations, for example cities that are not completely dominated by modern valences of spatial configuration.

Here the work of Tony Fry is important. Descartes argued further that this knowledge could lead to a proof of the certainty of the existence of God , using the ontological argument that had been formulated first by Anselm of Canterbury.

Certainty about the existence of "the self" and "the other", however, came under increasing criticism in the 20th century. Sociological theorists, most notably George Herbert Mead and Erving Goffman , saw the Cartesian Other as a "Generalized Other", the imaginary audience that individuals use when thinking about the self. According to Mead, "we do not assume there is a self to begin with.

Self is not presupposed as a stuff out of which the world arises. Rather, the self arises in the world". Schools of subjectivism , objectivism and relativism existed at various times in the 20th century, and the postmodernists and body philosophers tried to reframe all these questions in terms of bodies taking some specific action in an environment.

This relied to a great degree on insights derived from scientific research into animals taking instinctive action in natural and artificial settings—as studied by biology , ecology , [19] and cognitive science.

The processes by which bodies related to environments became of great concern, and the idea of being itself became difficult to really define.

Others, mostly philosophers, tried to dig into the word and its usage. Martin Heidegger distinguished human being as existence from the being of things in the world.

Heidegger proposes that our way of being human and the way the world is for us are cast historically through a fundamental ontological questioning. These fundamental ontological categories provide the basis for communication in an age: Because these basic ontological meanings both generate and are regenerated in everyday interactions, the locus of our way of being in a historical epoch is the communicative event of language in use.

Some philosophers suggest that the question of "What is? Suppose a person refers to a 'cup' as a 'chair' and makes some comments pertinent to a cup, but uses the word 'chair' consistently throughout instead of 'cup'. One might readily catch on that this person simply calls a 'cup' a 'chair' and the oddity is explained. The question of What is?

Hirsch interprets Hilary Putnam as asserting that different concepts of "the existence of something" can be correct. Common to all Indo-European copula languages is the double use of the verb "to be" in both stating that entity X exists "X is.

It is sometimes argued that a third use is also distinct, stating that X is a member of a class "X is a C". In other language families these roles may have completely different verbs and are less likely to be confused with one another. For example they might say something like "the car has redness" rather than "the car is red".

Hence any discussion of "being" in Indo-European language philosophy may need to make distinctions between these senses. In human geography there are two types of ontology: The other "o", or big "O", systematically, logically, and rationally describes the essential characteristics and universal traits. This concept relates closely to Plato's view that the human mind can only perceive a bigger world if they continue to live within the confines of their "caves".

However, in spite of the differences, ontology relies on the symbolic agreements among members. That said, ontology is crucial for the axiomatic language frameworks. Whitehead , for ontology, it is useful to distinguish the terms 'reality' and 'actuality'. In this view, an 'actual entity' has a philosophical status of fundamental ontological priority, while a 'real entity' is one which may be actual, or may derive its reality from its logical relation to some actual entity or entities.

For example, an occasion in the life of Socrates is an actual entity. But Socrates' being a man does not make 'man' an actual entity, because it refers indeterminately to many actual entities, such as several occasions in the life of Socrates, and also to several occasions in the lives of Alcibiades, and of others.

But the notion of man is real; it derives its reality from its reference to those many actual occasions, each of which is an actual entity. An actual occasion is a concrete entity, while terms such as 'man' are abstractions from many concrete relevant entities. According to Whitehead, an actual entity must earn its philosophical status of fundamental ontological priority by satisfying several philosophical criteria, as follows.

Whitehead proposed that his notion of an occasion of experience satisfies the criteria for its status as the philosophically preferred definition of an actual entity. From a purely logical point of view, each occasion of experience has in full measure the characters of both objective and subjective reality.

Subjectivity and objectivity refer to different aspects of an occasion of experience, and in no way do they exclude each other. Aristotle's substances, such as Socrates, have behind them as more fundamental the 'primary substances', and in this sense do not satisfy Whitehead's criteria. Whitehead is not happy with Leibniz' monads as actual entities because they are "windowless" and do not cause each other. States of affairs are contingent on particulars, and therefore have something behind them.

Another summary, referring to its causal linkage to other actual entities, is that it is "all window", in contrast with Leibniz' windowless monads. This view allows philosophical entities other than actual entities to really exist, but not as fundamentally and primarily factual or causally efficacious; they have existence as abstractions, with reality only derived from their reference to actual entities.

A Whiteheadian actual entity has a unique and completely definite place and time. Whiteheadian abstractions are not so tightly defined in time and place, and in the extreme, some are timeless and placeless, or 'eternal' entities.

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Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. This page was last edited on 21 August , at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Library and information science portal. Includes visual editors, inference engines, export to standard formats. Allows Python scripting and pattern-based data analysis. Osaka University and Enegate Co, ltd.

Supports creation of communities where members can collaboratively import, create, discuss, document and publish ontologies. An ontology engineering tool for dealing with OntoUML. Able to work with very large OWL files e. Cyc and has extensive import and export capabilities inc. OWL support, several import mechanisms, support for reuse and management of networked ontologies, visualization, etc.

Collaborative web application for managing ontologies and knowledge engineering, web-browser-based graphical rules editor, sophisticated search and export interface. Web service available to link ontology information to existing data. Semantic Turkey [29] [30]. My purpose in writing is to explain in more depth the terms ontology and epistemology , and encourage you to reflect on your own philosophical position in research.

Ontology and Epistemology are words very commonly used within academia, and although they can seem daunting when first encountered, their meaning for NLP research is simple. The choice of view in the research field is linked with the preferences of the researcher and the varieties and validities of the knowledge currently applied within NLP research. Some initial enquiries to probe, include;. NLP is not an exclusive study so it helps to understand the possibilities for further exploration so as to have the best possible background for making decisions about the approach.

It is important to remember that Research Design and Research Methods are different and will be discussed later in this series. Something is going on which we refer to as the phenomenal flow Jankowicz, and what some of us choose to explore depends on our own ontological position. Others may disagree and choose something else. It is useful to note here that phenomenology can be confusingly used both to define a philosophical approach and also as a methodology Denzin and Lincoln, Bryman talks about an organisation as a tangible object, with rules, regulations and procedures, with people appointed to different jobs under a division of labour with a hierarchy, mission statement etc.

He suggests that the organisation has a reality which is external to those within in and it represents a social order that requires individuals to conform to the rules and regulations. It is a restraining force that both acts on and inhibits its members.

Bryman also suggests that the same is true of culture, which can be seen as a collection of shared values and customs into which people are socialized to conform.

In essence, positivism says that social phenomena have an existence that is independent or separate from the actors within it. Examples of this are Virgin or GEC where the CEO Branson or Welch have clearly defined the cultural norms albeit in very different ways and new employees conform very quickly because the culture is so strong and dictated by charismatic leaders who are aligned with their strong brand.

Truth only happens in the moment. He goes on to give the example that human beings construct the organisation and the culture instead of the organisation and culture being pre-given categories which affect behaviours. This will often happen with start up companies where the culture evolves as the organisation grows and the product or service develops. Often this development is aligned to the intellectual and experiential growth of the founding team. Microsoft and Apple where the leaders have empowered their teams and the organic internal growth evolves the brand and therefore could cause it to be more enduring and of course this is my experience and may not be true!


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Ontology and epistemology are two different ways of viewing a research philosophy. Ontology in business research can be defined as “the science or study of being” and it deals with the nature of reality. Ontology is a system of belief that reflects an interpretation by an individual about what constitutes a fact.

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Epistemology, Ontology & Research Practice! 4 key items in the construction and process of research: 1. Methods - techniques or procedures.

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Oct 29,  · The fundamental difference between ontology and epistemology is that ontology is the study of being, and epistemology is the study of knowledge. This difference has everything to do with how they are related, so the original answer does still apply. ———————————————————————————————————————-A . Nevertheless, a distance between the knower and the known, rendering the former "an impartial observer and the other to be subject to the observer's gaze" (SAVAGE, , p), often persists in those who, despite carrying out qualitative research, cannot get rid of an empiricist ontology and epistemology.

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I have put together this post to explain what a research paradigm is, which includes ontology, epistemology, theoretical framework and methodology, and why it is important for your research or PhD. What on earth are Ontology and Epistemology? Dr Sally Vanson. I am an NLP Master Trainer, sit on the accreditation panel of ANLP, the Research Committee of ICF and am CEO of The Performance Solution where as well as training professional coaches to get accreditation through ICF, we have designed, developed and run the world’s first NLP based Masters’ degree.