Ontology, Language and Existence
In the title page of Word and Object Quine quotes an epigram from James Grier Miller: ‘Ontology recapitulates philology’, obviously fashioned after the well-known epigram, ‘Ontology recapitulates philogeny’, meaning that the development of the individual reduplicates the development of the species. Likewise, Quine believes, our views regarding what exists in nature, or ‘the ultimate furniture of the world’ as Russell once put it, evolve with the language that we speak. It is Quine’s view that this evolution of which ‘ontology’ and ‘philology’ are the two aspects, like the two sides of a coin, is subject to investigation and, therefore, responsive to reason. He holds, as we have seen, that since our ontology is internal to the language we speak and since we cannot step outside language altogether, we can only appraise our ontology in a piece-meal way, as Neurath’s captain renewed his ship plank by plank without putting ashore.
KeywordsPhysical Object Existential Statement Philosophical Theory Material Thing Ontological Question
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