Ontology Quotes

Quotes tagged as "ontology" (showing 1-30 of 111)
George Orwell
“For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”
George Orwell, 1984

Michael Crichton
“The planet has survived everything, in its time. It will certainly survive us.”
Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

René Descartes
“I suppose therefore that all things I see are illusions; I believe that nothing has ever existed of everything my lying memory tells me. I think I have no senses. I believe that body, shape, extension, motion, location are functions. What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain.”
René Descartes

Michael Crichton
“All major changes are like death. You can't see to the other side until you are there.”
Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

Michael Crichton
“And that's how things are. A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there. . . . And at the end of your life, your whole existence has the same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day.”
Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

Philip K. Dick
“But—let me tell you my cat joke. It's very short and simple. A hostess is giving a dinner party and she's got a lovely five-pound T-bone steak sitting on the sideboard in the kitchen waiting to be cooked while she chats with the guests in the living room—has a few drinks and whatnot. But then she excuses herself to go into the kitchen to cook the steak—and it's gone. And there's the family cat, in the corner, sedately washing it's face."

"The cat got the steak," Barney said.

"Did it? The guests are called in; they argue about it. The steak is gone, all five pounds of it; there sits the cat, looking well-fed and cheerful. "Weigh the cat," someone says. They've had a few drinks; it looks like a good idea. So they go into the bathroom and weigh the cat on the scales. It reads exactly five pounds. They all perceive this reading and a guest says, "okay, that's it. There's the steak." They're satisfied that they know what happened, now; they've got empirical proof. Then a qualm comes to one of them and he says, puzzled, "But where's the cat?”
Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Slavoj Žižek
“Beyond the fiction of reality, there is the reality of the fiction.”
Slavoj Žižek, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism

Alain Badiou
“All resistance is a rupture with what is. And every rupture begins, for those engaged in it, through a rupture with oneself.”
Alain Badiou, Metapolitics

Grant Morrison
“From now on, I'm opting for ontological terrorism.”
Grant Morrison, The Invisibles, Vol. 6: Kissing Mister Quimper

John Shelby Spong
“What the mind cannot accept, the heart can finally never adore.”
John Shelby Spong

Michael Crichton
“And entertainment has nothing to do with reality. Entertainment is antithetical to reality.”
Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

Jean-Paul Sartre
“One can ask why the I has to appear in the cogito {Descartes’ argument “I think therefore I am.}, since the cogito, if used rightly, is the awareness of pure consciousness, not directed at any fact or action. In fact the I is not necessary here, since it is never united directly to consciousness. One can even imagine a pure and self-aware consciousness which thinks of itself as impersonal spontaneity.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

Isaac Asimov
“You see, proteins, as I probably needn't tell you, are immensely complicated groupings of amino acids and certain other specialized compounds, arranged in intricate three-dimensional patterns that are as unstable as sunbeams on a cloudy day. It is this instability that is life, since it is forever changing its position in an effort to maintain its identity--in the manner of a long rod balanced on an acrobat's nose.”
Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky

Peter Kreeft
“Like apes, we breed, sleep, and die. Yet like God we say, "I am." We are ontological oxymorons.”
Peter Kreeft, Jesus-Shock

Jeremy Bentham
“Bodies are real entities. Surfaces and lines are but fictitious entities. A surface without depth, a line without thickness, was never seen by any man; no; nor can any conception be seriously formed of its existence.”
Jeremy Bentham, The Panopticon Writings

Christopher Hitchens
“In ridiculing a pathetic human fallacy, which seeks explanation where none need be sought and which multiplies unnecessary assumptions, one should not mimic primitive ontology in order to challenge it. Better to dispose of the needless assumption altogether. This holds true for everything from Noah's flood to the Holocaust.”
Christopher Hitchens

Jeremy Bentham
“In the mind of all, fiction, in the logical sense, has been the coin of necessity;—in that of poets of amusement—in that of the priest and the lawyer of mischievous immorality in the shape of mischievous ambition,—and too often both priest and lawyer have framed or made in part this instrument.”
Jeremy Bentham, The Panopticon Writings

Umberto Eco
“This has nothing to do with realism (even if it explains also realism). A completely real world can be constructed, in which asses fly and princesses are restored to life by a kiss, but that world, purely possible and unrealistic, must exist according to structures defined at the outset (we have to know whether it is a world where a princess can be restored to life only by the kiss of a prince, or also by that of a witch, and whether the princess's kiss tranforms only frogs into princes or also, for example, armadillos).”
Umberto Eco, Postscript to the Name of the Rose

“He may actually have been existing in the past and approximating a conceivable future, which brought even the assumption of his immediate perceptions as being in the present into doubt. And thus, he couldn’t—beyond a hint of skepticism—say that he truly existed right now and in this moment, but instead it seemed more rational to assume that he simply existed and nothing more.”
Ashim Shanker, Don't Forget to Breathe

Christos Yannaras
“In humans (and humans alone), sexuality is embodied in desire--in the primordial desire for life-as-relation. That the sex drive serves the vital desire for relation--that on the level of the primordial process, the desire for life-in-itself clothes itself in the sex drive--belongs to the particularity of being human.”
Christos Yannaras, Relational Ontology

Thomas Mann
“... a secret and ardent stirring within the frozen chastity of the universal.”
Thomas Mann

Martin Heidegger
“This ground itself needs to be properly accounted for by that for which it accounts, that is, by the causation through the supremely original matter – and that is the cause as causa sui. This is the right name for the god of philosophy. Man can neither pray nor sacrifice to this god. Before the causa sui, man can neither fall to his knees in awe nor can he play music and dance before this god.”
Martin Heidegger

Thomas Ligotti
“And one thing we know is real: horror. It is so real, in fact, that we cannot be sure it could not exist without us. Yes, it needs our imaginations and our consciousness, but it does not ask or require our consent to use them. Indeed, horror operates with complete autonomy. Generating ontological havoc, it is mephitic foam upon which our lives merely float. And, all said, we must face up to it: horror is more real than we are.”
Thomas Ligotti, Songs of a Dead Dreamer

Martin Heidegger
“But how does it come about that while the ‘I think’ gives Kant a genuine phenomenal starting-point, he cannot exploit it ontologically, and has to fall back on the ‘subject’—that is to say, something *substantial*? The “I” is not just an ‘I think’, but an ‘I think something’. And does not Kant himself keep on stressing that the “I” remains related to its representations, and would be nothing without them?

For Kant, however, these representations are the ‘empirical’, which is ‘accompanied’ by the “I”—the appearances to which the “I” ‘clings’. Kant nowhere shows the kind of Being of this ‘clinging’ and ‘accompanying’. At bottom, however, their kind of Being is understood as the constant Being-present-at-hand of the “I” along with its representations. Kant has indeed avoided cutting the “I” adrift from thinking; but he has done so without starting with the ‘I think’ itself in its full essential content as an ‘I think something’, and above all, without seeing what is ontologically ‘presupposed’ in taking the ‘I think something’ as a basic characteristic of the Self. For even the ‘I think something’ is not definite enough ontologically as a starting-point, because the ‘something’ remains indefinite. If by this “something” we understand an entity *within-the-world*, then it tacitly implies that the *world* has been presupposed; and this very phenomenon of the world co-determines the state of Being of the “I,” if indeed it is to be possible for the “I” to be something like an ‘I think something’. In saying “I,” I have in view the entity which in each case I am as an ‘I-am-in-a-world’. Kant did not see the phenomenon of the world, and was consistent enough to keep the ‘representations’ apart from the *a priori* content of the ‘I think’. But as a consequence the “I” was again forced back to an *isolated* subject, accompanying representations in a way which is ontologically quite indefinite.

*In saying “I,” Dasein expresses itself as Being-in-the-world*. But does saying “I” in the everyday manner have *itself* in view *as* being-in-the-world [*in-der-Welt-seiend*]? Here we must make a distinction. When saying “I,” Dasein surely has in view the entity which, in every case, it is itself. The everyday interpretation of the Self, however, has a tendency to understand itself in terms of the ‘world’ with which it is concerned. When Dasein has itself in view ontically, it *fails to see* itself in relation to the kind of Being of that entity which it is itself. And this holds especially for the basic state of Dasein, Being-in-the-world."

―from_Being and Time_. Translated by John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson, pp. 367-370”
Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger
“What is the motive for this ‘fugitive’ way of saying “I”? It is motivated by Dasein’s falling; for as falling, it *flees* in the face of itself into the “they.” When the “I” talks in the ‘natural’ manner, this is performed by the they-self. What expresses itself in the ‘I’ is that Self which, proximally and for the most part, I am *not* authentically. When one is absorbed in the everyday multiplicity and the rapid succession [*Sich-jagen] of that with which one is concerned, the Self of the self-forgetful “I am concerned” shows itself as something simple which is constantly selfsame but indefinite and empty. Yet one *is* that with which one concerns oneself. In the ‘natural’ ontical way in which the “I” talks, the phenomenal content of the Dasein which one has in view in the "I" gets overlooked; but this gives *no justification for our joining in this overlooking of it*, or for forcing upon the problematic of the Self an inappropriate ‘categorial’ horizon when we Interpret the “I” ontologically.

Of course by thus refusing to follow the everyday way in which the “I” talks, our ontological Interpretation of the ‘I’ has by no means *solved* the problem; but it has indeed *prescribed the direction* for any further inquiries. In the “I,” we have in view that entity which one is in ‘being-in-the-world’.

Being-already-in-a-world, however, as Being-alongside-the-ready-to-hand-within-the-world, means equiprimordially that one is ahead of oneself. With the ‘I’, what we have in view is that entity for which the *issue* is the Being of the entity that it is. With the ‘I’, care expresses itself, though proximally and for the most part in the ‘fugitive’ way in which the “I” talks when it concerns itself with something. The they-self keeps on saying “I” most loudly and most frequently because at bottom it *is not authentically* itself, and evades its authentic potentiality-for-Being. If the ontological constitution of the Self is not to be traced back either to an “I”-substance or to a ‘subject’, but if, on the contrary, the everyday fugitive way in which we keep on saying “I” must be understood in terms of our *authentic* potentiality-for-Being, then the proposition that the Self is the basis of care and constantly present-at-hand, is one that still does not follow. Selfhood is to be discerned existentially only in one’s authentic potentiality-for-Being-one’s-Self—that is to say, in the authenticity of Dasein’s Being *as care*. In terms of care the *constancy of the Self*, as the supposed persistence of the *subjectum*, gets clarified. But the phenomenon of this authentic potentiality-for-Being also opens our eyes for the *constancy of the Self*, in the double sense of steadiness and steadfastness, is the *authentic* counter-possibility to the non-Self-constancy which is characteristic of irresolute falling. Existentially, “*Self-constancy*” signifies nothing other than anticipatory resoluteness. The ontological structure of such resoluteness reveals the existentiality of the Self’s Selfhood."

―from_Being and Time_. Translated by John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson, pp. 368-369”
Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger
“Dasein *is authentically itself* in the primordial individualization of the reticent resoluteness which exacts anxiety of itself. *As something that keeps *silent*, authentic *Being*-one’s-Self is just the sort of thing that does not keep on saying ‘I’; but in its reticence it ‘*is*’ that thrown entity as which it can authentically be. The Self which the reticence of resolute existence unveils is the primordial phenomenal basis for the question as to the Being of the ‘I’. Only if we are oriented phenomenally by the meaning of the Being of the authentic potentiality-for-Being-one’s-Self are we put in a position to discuss what ontological justification there is for treating substantiality, simplicity, and personality as characteristics of Selfhood. In the prevalent way of saying “I,” it is constantly suggested that what we have in advance is a Self-Thing, persistently present-at-hand; the ontological question of the Being of the Self must turn away from any such suggestion.

*Care does not need to be founded in a Self. But existentiality, as constitutive for care, provides the ontological constitution of Dasein’s Self-constancy, to which there belongs, in accordance with the full structural content of care, its Being-fallen factically into non-Self-constancy*. When fully conceived, the care-structure includes the phenomenon of Selfhood. This phenomenon is clarified by Interpreting the meaning of care; and it is as care that Dasein’s totality of Being has been defined.”

―from_Being and Time_. Translated by John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson, pp. 369-370”
Martin Heidegger

Huston Smith
“The scientific gauge is quantity: space, size, and strength of forces can all be reckoned numerically. The comparable "yardstick" in the traditional hierarchy was quality. It had, over the millennia, two distinct readings that overlapped. To the popular mind it meant essentially euphoria: better meant happier, worse less happy. Reflective minds, on the other hand, considered happiness to be only an aspect of quality, not its defining feature. The word "significance" points us in the direction of the feature they considered fundamental, but significance too was derivative. It was taken for granted that the higher worlds abounded in meaning, significance, and importance, but this was because they were saturated with Being and were therefore more real. *Sat*, *Chit*, *Ananda*: Being, Awareness, and Bliss. All three pertained, but Being, being basic, came first. In the last analysis, the scale in the traditional hierarchy was ontological."

—from_The Forgotten Truth_”
Huston Smith

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
“If my opinion that substance requires a true unity were founded only on a definition I had formulated in opposition to common usage, *then the dispute would be only one of words*. But besides the fact that most philosophers have taken the term in almost the same fashion, distinguishing between a unity in itself and an accidental unity, between substantial and accidental form, and between perfect and imperfect, natural and artificial mixtures, I take things to a much higher level, and setting aside the question of terminology, *I believe that where there are only beings by aggregation, there aren't any real beings*. For every being by aggregation presupposes beings endowed with real unity, because every being derives its reality only from the reality of those beings of which it is composed, so that it will not have any reality at all if each being of which it is composed is itself a being by aggregation, a being for which we must still seek further grounds for its reality, grounds which can never be found in this way, if we must always continue to seek for them. I agree, Sir, that there are only machines (that are often animated) in all of corporeal nature, but I do not agree that *there are only aggregates of substances, there must also be true substances from which all the aggregates result.
We must, then, necessarily come down to the atoms of Epicurus and Cordemoy (which are things you reject along with me), or else we must admit that we do not find any reality in bodies; or finally, we must recognize some substances that have a true unity. I have already said in another letter that the composite made up of the diamonds of the Grand Duke and of the Great Mogul can be called a pair of diamonds, but this is only a being of reason. And when they are brought closer to one another, it would be a being of the imagination or perception, that is to say, a phenomenon. For contact, common motion, and participation in a common plan have no effect on substantial unity. It is true that there are sometimes more, sometimes fewer, grounds for supposing that several things constitute a single thing, in proportion to the extent to which these things are connected. But this serves only to abbreviate our thoughts and to represent the phenomena.
It also seems that what constitutes the essence of a being by aggregation is only a mode (*maniére d'être*) of the things of which it is composed. For example, what constitutes the essence of an army is only a mode of the men who compose it. This mode therefore presupposes a substance whose essence is not a mode of substance. Every machine also presupposes some substance in the pieces of which it is made, and there is no plurality without true unities. To put it briefly, I hold this identical proposition, differentiated only by the emphasis, to be an axiom, namely, *that what is not truly* one *being is not truly one* being *either*. It has always been thought that one and being are reciprocal things. Being is one thing and beings are another; but the plural presupposes the singular, and where there is no being still less will there be several beings. What could be clearer? [[I therefore believed that I would be allowed to distinguish beings by aggregation from substances, since these beings have their unity in our mind only, a unity founded on the relations or modes [*modes*] of true substances. If a machine is one substance, a circle of men holding hands will also be one substance, and so will an army, and finally, so will every multitude of substances.]]."

—from_Letters to Arnauld_”
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
“If my opinion that substance requires a true unity were founded only on a definition I had formulated in opposition to common usage, *then the dispute would be only one of words*. But besides the fact that most philosophers have taken the term in almost the same fashion, distinguishing between a unity in itself and an accidental unity, between substantial and accidental form, and between perfect and imperfect, natural and artificial mixtures, I take things to a much higher level, and setting aside the question of terminology, *I believe that where there are only beings by aggregation, there aren't any real beings*. For every being by aggregation presupposes beings endowed with real unity, because every being derives its reality only from the reality of those beings of which it is composed, so that it will not have any reality at all if each being of which it is composed is itself a being by aggregation, a being for which we must still seek further grounds for its reality, grounds which can never be found in this way, if we must always continue to seek for them. I agree, Sir, that there are only machines (that are often animated) in all of corporeal nature, but I do not agree that *there are only aggregates of substances, there must also be true substances from which all the aggregates result.

We must, then, necessarily come down to the atoms of Epicurus and Cordemoy (which are things you reject along with me), or else we must admit that we do not find any reality in bodies; or finally, we must recognize some substances that have a true unity. I have already said in another letter that the composite made up of the diamonds of the Grand Duke and of the Great Mogul can be called a pair of diamonds, but this is only a being of reason. And when they are brought closer to one another, it would be a being of the imagination or perception, that is to say, a phenomenon. For contact, common motion, and participation in a common plan have no effect on substantial unity. It is true that there are sometimes more, sometimes fewer, grounds for supposing that several things constitute a single thing, in proportion to the extent to which these things are connected. But this serves only to abbreviate our thoughts and to represent the phenomena.

It also seems that what constitutes the essence of a being by aggregation is only a mode (*maniére d'être*) of the things of which it is composed. For example, what constitutes the essence of an army is only a mode of the men who compose it. This mode therefore presupposes a substance whose essence is not a mode of substance. Every machine also presupposes some substance in the pieces of which it is made, and there is no plurality without true unities. To put it briefly, I hold this identical proposition, differentiated only by the emphasis, to be an axiom, namely, *that what is not truly* one *being is not truly one* being *either*. It has always been thought that one and being are reciprocal things. Being is one thing and beings are another; but the plural presupposes the singular, and where there is no being still less will there be several beings. What could be clearer? [[I therefore believed that I would be allowed to distinguish beings by aggregation from substances, since these beings have their unity in our mind only, a unity founded on the relations or modes [*modes*] of true substances. If a machine is one substance, a circle of men holding hands will also be one substance, and so will an army, and finally, so will every multitude of substances.]]."

—from_Letters to Arnauld_”
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Hans Jonas
“In living things, nature springs an ontological surprise in which the world-accident of terrestrial conditions brings to light an entirely new possibility of being: systems of matter that are unities of a manifold, not in virtue of a synthesizing perception whose object they happen to be, nor by the mere concurrence of the forces that bind their parts together, but in virtue of themselves, for the sake of themselves, and continually sustained by themselves. Here wholeness is self-integrating in active performance, and form for once is the cause rather than the result of the material collections in which it successively subsists. Unity here is self-unifying, by means of changing multiplicity. Sameness, while it last, (and it does not last inertially, in the manner of static identity or of on-moving continuity), is perpetual self-renewal through process, borne on the shift of otherness. This active self-integration of life alone gives substance to the term “individual”: it alone yields the ontological concept of an individual as against a merely phenomenological one. The ontological individual, its very existence at any moment, its duration and its identity in duration is, then, essentially its own function, its own concern, its own continuous achievement. In this process of self-sustained being, the relation of the organism to its own concern, its own continuous achievement.
In this process of self-sustained being, the relation of the organism to its material substance is of a double nature: the materials are essential to its specifically, accidental individually; it coincides with their actual collection at the instant, but is not bound to any one collection in the succession of instants, “riding” their change like the crest of a wave and bound only to their form of collection which endures as its own feat. Dependent on their availability as materials, its is independent of their sameness as these; its own, functional identity, passingly incorporating theirs, is of a different order. In a word, the organic form stands in a dialectical relation of needful freedom to matter.”
Hans Jonas, The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical Biology

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