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Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that consider the nature of reality and physical universe. It is further divided into two sub-classes such as

  • Ontology
  • Cosmology

Ontology defined

In philosophy, ontology, the most fundamental branch of metaphysics, is the study of the nature of being or existence as well as the basic categories thereof. It tries to answer questions like “what is existence”, “what properties can explain the existence” etc.

Concept of Being

A being is anything that can be said to ‘be’ in various senses of the word ‘be’. The verb to be has many different meanings and can therefore be rather ambiguous. Because “to be” has so many different meanings, there are, accordingly, many different ways of being.

Aristotle defined ontology as the science of being as such. Unlike the special sciences, each of which investigates a class of beings and their determinations, ontology regards “all the species qua being and the attributes that belong to it qua being”. In this sense the philosophical ontology tries to answer the question “what is the being?” or, in a meaningful reformulation what are the features common to all beings?

Concept of Reality

Ontology is originally a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and the organization of reality. Different societies, for example, perceive reality in quite different ways as do the individuals who constitute those societies. In medieval society, for example, it was accepted as real that the earth was flat but today we would regard that as nonsense. Similarly, one society may regard the use of chemical fertilizers as essential, while to another the reality consists of waste products of animals.

Thus what is real to the society is very important when constructing a curriculum that will perpetuate the sense of reality. Indeed, it may well be that some curriculum developers see their role as re-creating reality in society be using the school curriculum as a vehicle for change.

Typical Ontological/Metaphysical Questions

  • What is being?
  • What is existence?
  • What properties can explain the existence?
  • Does God exist, and if so, can we prove it?
  • Are human actions free, or are they determined by some forces outside of our control?
  • Do minds/souls exist, or are humans’ simply complex physical objects?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Is there life after death?
  • What is reality?

Forms of Ontology

  • Ontology as a domain is the outcome or subject matter of ontology as a discipline.
  • Ontology as a discipline is a method or activity of inquiry into philosophical problems about the concept or facts of existence.
  • Applied scientific ontology construed as an existence domain can be further subdivided as the theoretical commitment to a preferred choice of existent entities, or to the real existent entities themselves, including the actual world considered as a whole, also known as the extant domain.
  • Ontology as a theoretical domain is thus a description or inventory of the things that are supposed to exist according to a particular theory, which might but need not be true.
  • Ontology as the extant domain, in contrast, is the actual world of all real existent entities, whatever these turn out to be, identified by a true complete applied ontological theory.

In short, it is the area of philosophy which deals with the nature of reality. It asks questions what is real. What exists and what is the nature of human being and especially the word ‘ontology’ is used to refer to philosophical investigation of existence, or being. Such investigation may be directed towards the concept of being, asking what ‘being’ means, or what it is for something to exist; it may also (or instead) be concerned with the question ‘what exists?’, or ‘what general sorts of things are there?

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