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being


Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


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M etaphysics, logic A participle from the verb “to be.” Its Greek equivalence is on , so ontology means a theory of being. Being can be ascribed to everything that can be talked about. Whatever we say using language must involve the verb “to be” in some form, and in this sense, as Hegel says, it is the widest but also the emptiest of all notions. Merely to say that something is amounts to saying nothing about it. But when Parmenides took being as a kind of subject-matter, his speculation about the nature of being was an attempt to locate the object of knowledge and to explain that it is the simple and unchanging ultimate reality behind the changing sensible world. Starting from Parmenides, metaphysics takes “what being is” as its central question. Different metaphysical systems can be viewed as different answers to this question. Plato claimed that only the universal forms are beings, while sensible things are both being and not being. His distinction initiates the lasting dichotomies between reality and phenomenon and between universal and particular . He eventually identified being in the truest sense with the Good. Aristotle thought that being is not a genus divisible into species, but rather that it has many senses. In his Categories , he discusses ten senses of being and argues that substance is the primary sense, while other categories such as quality, quantity, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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