Monday, 8 March 2010

Ontology

The dictionary definition of ontology says that it is "the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being" (The concise Oxford dictionary). An internet source defines it as "the nature and relations of being; a particular system according to which problems of the nature of being are investigated." This internet source adds a second definition - "a theory concerning the kinds of entities and specifically the kind of abstract entities that are to be admitted to language system." This second internet definition relates to the use of ontology within the knowledge-management community.

However, my first experience of the terminology "ontology" was in relation to Christian ontological understanding particularly in relation to Christ and the resurrection. Did Christ exist and did the resurrection happen? These questions relate more to the nature of being.

What brought me to this review of ontology was a discussion about my grandma not believing that someone had achieved a certain objective. The reality of what the person had achieved has little to do with what my grandma believed. The ontological view would be that the reality of this event is in the records, the certificate issued for the achievement and the related records. The person who raised this issue seemed to base their reality on whether grandma accepted what had been achieved.

A person can become so preoccupation with what others believe to be true that they become disabled from doing things. If we can accept reality as we have experienced it or believed it and move on then life would be more positive. The question in my mind is how do I influence a person's reality so that what others think and say has less impact on them. What are the variations in perception that would help a person change their thinking without upsetting them.

With my thesis, I argued for a disconnect between existence or the nature of being, and the awareness or experience of reality. In my ontology, awareness or belief doesn't define existence; it doesn't even define the nature of existence. Our perception of a phenomenon simply expresses a way in which the phenomenon has been experienced. Knowledge doesn't define existence. Existence doesn't define how a phenomenon is experienced.

In my ontology, God can exist even if no one claims knowledge or experience of Him. However, God is not defined by any particular perception, belief, or awareness of Him. What I believe or claim to believe about God doesn't define God's existence or his nature. In my belief system, I leave room for changes in my perception and understanding as I experience more of and learn to walk more in his presence.

The question becomes what certainty do we have that our perception or experience represents reality. This can only be verified by shared experience. This is the basis for research. We lay a foundation for sharing, verifying and agreeing on our perceptions and experiences of reality.

The ontological journey in an ongoing journey. Along with our ontological journey, there is an ongoing epistemological journey.

No comments: