On Ontology

Nice posting on the Empyre list from Eugene Thacker (23 October 2007)

Ontology, what ontology?:


The question of being thus aims at an a priori condition of the possibility not only of the sciences which investigate beings of such and such a type – and are thereby already involved in an understanding of being; but it aims also at the condition of the possibility of the ontologies which precede the ontic sciences and found them. All ontology, no matter how rich and tightly knit a system of categories it has at its disposal, remains fundamentally blind and perverts its innermost intent if it has not previously clarified the meaning of being sufficiently and grasped this clarification as its fundamental task.

– Heidegger, Being and Time


We commit ourselves to an ontology containing number when we say there are prime numbers larger than a million; we commit ourselves to an ontology containing centaurs when we say there are centaurs; and we commit ourselves to an ontology containing Pegasus when we say Pegasus is. But we do not commit ourselves to an ontology containing Pegasus or the author of ‘Waverly’ or the round square cupola on Berkeley College when we say that Pegasus or the author of ‘Waverly’ or the cupola in question is *not*. We need no longer labor under the delusion that the meaningfulness of a statement containing a singular term presupposes an entity named by the term. A singular term need not name to be significant…To be assumed as an entity is, purely and simply, to be reckoned as the value of a variable.

– Quine, On What There Is


It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.

– Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

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