Physical ontology  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The ontology term brings the literal meaning of " study of the being ", where being is " that is " or "that exists ". The original Greek expression to the base of the ontology term is in fact τά όντα , that means " what actually exists ", and this correct lexical meaning is paraphrasing in " study on the reality ". Besides όντως , anterior origin, has the exact adverbial meaning of " actually " as " ontically” and that is evidently non concerning metaphysics. Instead, the word " ontology ", that correctly concern the effective physical reality, that is the " material ", became in the history of the philosophy a subject of metaphysics or the metaphysics same, so swerving entirely from its appropriate meaning.

The metaphysics in fact (translation of Andronicus of Rhodes of the Aristotelian expression " first philosophy " ) concerns a supposititious "not-physical" foundation, or substance of the " physical ", that is of the not-material: of the spiritual, of the ideal, of the divine. Lexical and philosophical correctness wants then when we use the word ontology, we speak primarily of a "materialistic ontology " and only secondarily of a "metaphysical ontology " concerning the not-material and not-physical.

We must even remember that already Parmenides the being is thought and conceived as a "spiritual base " of matter "and not " the matter and its actual entities, what is actually perceivable, objectifying and able o be studied. For Parmenides “the actual physical world”, as mutable, was considered a mere " not-being ". Thus, from then onward (with the only exception of Atomists) to speak of being means speak of not-physical, and ontology, instead of "study on the being " or " of the being ", became totally intrinsic to metaphysics and so outside its proper meaning, as proper of theology. Just Aristotle specified (Metaphysics, VI [Ε], 1, 1026a, 17-21 ):

Then, will be three kind of theoretical philosophy, that are the mathematics, the physics and the theology, being enough clear that, if the divinity is present in some place, it is present in a such nature that is essentially the more venerable science deals of the most venerable object.

And five chapter later (Metaphysics, XI [Κ], 7, 1064 b, 39-45 ):

It is clear, therefore, that exist three categories of theoretical sciences: physics, mathematics and theology. Superior to the other is, therefore, the most noble kind of theoretical sciences is the last, , because it deals of the greatest being, and each science is better considered or worse in accordance with the object on which concerns peculiarly its cognitive investigation.

On this base of theology as " first science " all posterior philosophy moved on that line fixed by Aristotle, and thence the appropriation of the ontology by metaphysics, with the theology as basic science, became fixed. When the word " ontology " appears, to the beginnings of the XVII century by Jacob Lorhard, in the first edition of his Ogdoas Scholastica ( 1606 ), subsequently used by Rudolph Göckel in his Philosophical Lexicon ( 1613 ), it is already indissolubly joined with theology and reduced to a metaphysical meaning.

But, if ontology has to considered " study of the real being ", or of " that actually is " and in physical sense, evidently we are lacking a term to point out “physical being” and from that the necessity to set a physical ontology. That above all because nowadays some disciplines nothing having to do with philosophy has already coined and fixed adjectives coupled with ontology that denaturalize its philosophical meaning. . In this way, today, the ontology sinks in a great confusion and at the same time lacks a term to point out the " study of physical being " from a close philosophical point of view, while they are current terms of the type " mathematical ontology ", "ontology of the information ", "computer ontology " and so on.

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