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Smith , — and Smith , — Thus far I have been describing the formal ontological categories, the correlates of the different meaning categories distinguishable by the nonsense test. The highest material categories are the three regions: nature including physical objects and events , culture including artifacts, social entities, and values , and consciousness cf. Smith While formal and material category systems each form a hierarchy , 64 , considered jointly their categories are not mutually exclusive, since one and the same entity may be categorized either in terms of its material nature or its form.
Husserl is nowhere explicit about the proper method for distinguishing material ontological categories, but he does distinguish material absurdity from formal absurdity, and from the formal nonsense that marks the difference in meaning categories , Expressions are formally absurd if it is a priori that no object could correspond to them, based purely on formal, logical laws, without regard to which particular material concepts are employed, e.
On the other hand, expressions are materially absurd if the impossibility of there being any corresponding object is based in the particular material concepts employed, e.
- The Legacy of Nazi Occupation: Patriotic Memory and National Recovery in Western Europe, 1945–1965 (Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare).
- Function Reference/the category.
- 1 out of 6 Billion (Separating the Voices);
While any conceivable entity should be uniquely locatable in a single category of each dimension, the three sorts of ontology are mutually orthogonal, providing different most abstract ways of considering the putative entity in question. Thus, e. One important exception to this comes in the work of Samuel Alexander, who, in his work Space, Time and Deity develops a theory of categories in the realist spirit. Alexander defends a monist ontology in which he posits Space-Time as "the one monistic entity that encompasses every entity and every feature in reality" Fisher , He sees the categories as grounded on the intrinsic nature of Space-Time, and posits as categorial features only those which are 'pervasive', that is, instantiated by every entity.
The categories he identifies come in three 'grades' or ranks of increasing complexity, in which the latter grades presuppose the former , giving us the following system:. In recent years there have also been several notable attempts to offer new systems of categories in either the realist or descriptivist spirit, although little agreement exists about what the categories are or how one could decide among competing systems.
Ingvar Johansson and Roderick Chisholm both take a neo-Aristotelian realist approach to categories, attempting to lay out a complete system of the categories, where this is understood as providing a list of categories of real entities in the world. His list , 20 includes nine main categories some of which subdivide further :.comprachamri.tk
Unlike Aristotle, Johansson makes no explicit use of language in discerning ontological categories, instead appealing to the method of successive abstraction Johansson , 1—2. Unlike them, however, Chisholm , 3 lays out categories in the form of a porphyrian tree starting from a single most general category comprising everything, but divided into successively narrower genera at lower levels of branching.
Other contemporary authors have approached the issue of categories in a purely descriptive spirit. Reinhardt Grossman, for example, distinguishes eight highest categories , xvi :. They, too, explicitly offer their system of categories in the spirit of categorial description, as offering an analysis of the various possible categories of being, rather than making any claims about which of these categories is non-empty , 7—8.
But although he argues that there are exactly four fundamental categories, Lowe nonetheless takes a hierarchical approach to arranging categories. His fuller chart of categories appears as follows:. Others, taking the project of developing categories in an explicitly realist spirit and driven by the goal of offering a parsimonious ontology, have aimed to offer a more minimal system of fundamental ontological categories. Both realist and descriptivist category systems, at least as traditionally presented, seem to presuppose that there is a unique true answer to the question of what categories of entity there are — indeed the discovery of this answer is the goal of most such inquiries into ontological categories.
Grossman, for example, argues that a list of categories must be complete, contain everything, with everything in its proper place , 4. Arguments about which of the many systems of categories offered is correct likewise seem to presuppose that there is a uniquely correct list of categories. But actual category systems offered vary so much that even a short survey of past category systems like that above can undermine the belief that such a unique, true and complete system of categories may be found. Given such a diversity of answers to the question of what the ontological categories are, by what criteria could we possibly choose among them to determine which is uniquely correct?
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Some minimal standards of adequacy immediately suggest themselves Butchvarov , Whether one takes a realist or descriptivist approach to providing a system of categories, if that system is supposed to be comprehensive, it clearly must meet at least the standard of being exhaustive — providing a category for everything there is on the realist approach or might be on the descriptive approach. Nonetheless, one may, as Hoffman and Rosenkrantz , do, present a system of some fundamental categories without taking it to be exhaustive. Another minimal criterion of adequacy is generally taken to be that the highest categories or, for tree systems, the categories at each level of branching be mutually exclusive, ensuring that whatever there is or might be finds its place in exactly one highest category, or one category at each level Chisholm , This still allows for nested categories, so that something may belong to both a more specific category like substance and a more general category like individual.
But these criteria are not enough to provide the needed reassurance. First, we lack assurance that most proposed category systems meet even these minimal conditions. As mentioned above, Aristotle drew out his categories largely by considering the types of question that could be asked and the types of answer appropriate to them. It is difficult to know, however, how one can be assured that all kinds of questions have been surveyed, and so difficult to know that an exhaustive list of categories has been offered — a point Aristotle does not attempt to demonstrate Ackrill , 80— Indeed, the fact that Aristotle provides different lists of categories in different places suggests that he did not consider his list final and exhaustive.
Johansson, as we have seen, instead uses the method of successive abstraction. But it is not clear how following such a method could ensure either that the categories thereby distinguished are exhaustive how do we know we have considered something of each highest kind if we do not yet know what the highest kinds are?
Secondly, even if we can verify that the standards of mutual exclusivity and exhaustiveness are met, these conditions alone are far too weak to uniquely pick out a system of categories. Provided one accepts the law of the excluded middle, an endless supply of mutually exclusive and exhaustive classifications can be generated at will: we can divide things into the spatio-temporally located and the not-spatio-temporally-located, the intentional and the non-intentional, the extended and the non-extended, to name but a few of the more relevant ways in which things could be divided.
Indeed one of the sources of puzzlement about categories comes from the fact that philosophers have selected so many different sorts of divide as the fundamental category difference — for Descartes, the extended and the thinking unextended , for Chisholm the contingent and the necessary, for Hoffman and Rosenkrantz the concrete and the abstract, and so on.
Thus another reason for skepticism about the existence of a unique set of categories comes from the fact that categories are supposed to be the most abstract genera under which things may fall. But from any given entity, abstraction may apparently be done in a variety of ways — even if we are careful to do so in ways that ensure mutual exclusivity and exhaustiveness. Doubts about possibilities for discovering the one true category system have led many to eschew talk of category systems altogether, and others to adopt some kind of relativism about category systems that ceases to take systems of categories seriously as candidate lists of the single set of highest genera under which anything falls or could fall.
Jan Westerhoff , for example, argues that there is no unique, absolute set of ontological categories. On his view categories in metaphysics turn out to be analogous to axioms in mathematical theories; in each case, there may be more than one way to systematize our knowledge from a relatively simple basis. Others have taken the variety of category systems explicitly offered or presupposed by philosophers as mere evidence of the particular presuppositions of their thought, or prejudices of their age — not as evidence about anything to do with the world and its divisions.
The specific worries about 1 guaranteeing the mutual exclusiveness and joint exhaustiveness of the categories, and 2 whether or not any single system of categories could purport to be uniquely correct, can, however, be met by certain ways of formulating ontological categories.
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The first sort of worry can be met by ensuring that categories of the same level are defined in ways that guarantee mutual exclusiveness and exhaustiveness. In principle, multi-dimensionalists may even accept that there is no fixed number or limit on how many one-dimensional lists of categories there may be, though each such list may purport to provide a unique, correct, exhaustive categorization of entities considered in the chosen respect. Working from within a categorial framework can help ensure that whatever ontology we provide is principled and unified, avoiding ad hoc and piecemeal decisions.
Another important use of systems of categories is that, with a proposed set of categories laid out, we can, as Daniel Nolan suggests, go on to investigate questions about the relationships among entities that are placed in different categories: for example, questions about whether events depend on or are grounded in things, or as Nolan suggests whether things and events may ultimately be identified as belonging to a single category.
Assumptions about categorizations play such a strong role in philosophical discussions e. For those who approach categories in a descriptive spirit, as a matter of determining the categories of our language or thought, it is natural to turn to linguistics or cognitive science for assistance. A prominent approach to determining the ontological categories that are implicit in the use of natural language is via Natural Language Ontology, which provides one way of undertaking a descriptivist approach to categories.
As Friederike Moltmann makes clear, however, the methodology for doing natural language ontology is importantly different from attempts to determine a common sense ontology by simply asking what ontological claims or categories people explicitly accept or would accept on reflection. Instead, natural language category distinctions are revealed by uncovering the presuppositions of sentences used by ordinary speakers. A question that remains is whether there will be a uniform ontology found across all natural languages, perhaps one fixed by our cognitive structure.
One might, of course, turn to cognitive science to attempt to address the question of whether there is a fixed system of categories determined by our cognitive structure. And indeed, discussions of categories also play an important role in cognitive science, where the goal is not to discover the fundamental categories of being, but rather the means by which experiencers come to categorize their world. Here, debates have centered on how humans in fact come to group things into categories — whether this involves lists of definitional observable or hidden features, resemblance to prototypes, prominent features weighted probabilistically, etc.
Debates also concern the relation between conceptual and linguistic categories, which levels of category are more basic, whether there is a most basic set of categories, whether or to what extent categorizations are consistent across cultural groups, and whether or not some fundamental categories are innate. These include the concept of object taken as a sortal concept that makes use of boundedness and spatio-temporal continuity in individuation , quantity, intentional agency, and causation.
For further discussion of the debates about categorization in cognitive science see Lakoff and Rakison and Oakes Recently, work on ontological categories has attracted interest not only among philosophers, but also in information science and the biomedical sciences, where ontologies are used to organize the knowledge represented in information systems Smith In some cases, the ontologies developed are domain-specific e.
It is such top-level ontologies that draw upon philosophical work on ontological categories most directly, although categorial distinctions also play a crucial role in domain-specific ontologies. They are "perhaps the single most heavily discussed of all Aristotelian notions". The Categories places every object of human apprehension under one of ten categories known to medieval writers as the Latin term praedicamenta. Aristotle intended them to enumerate everything that can be expressed without composition or structure, thus anything that can be either the subject or the predicate of a proposition.
The text begins with an explication of what is meant by Aristotle " synonymous ," or univocal words, what is meant by " homonymous ," or equivocal words, and what is meant by " paronymous ," or denominative sometimes translated "derivative" words. Next, he distinguishes between what is said "of" a subject and what is "in" a subject. What is said "of" a subject describes the kind of thing that it is as a whole, answering the question "what is it? The latter has come to be known as inherence. Then we come to the categories themselves, whose definitions depend upon these four forms of predication.