Theory of being as such. It was originally called “first philosophy” by Aristotle. In the 18th century Christian Wolff contrasted ontology, or general metaphysics, with special metaphysical theories of souls, bodies, or God, claiming that ontology could be a deductive discipline revealing the essences of things. This view was later strongly criticized by David Hume and Immanuel Kant. Ontology was revived in the early 20th century by practitioners of phenomenology and existentialism, notably Edmund Husserl and his student Martin Heidegger. In the English-speaking world, interest in ontology was renewed in the mid-20th century by W.V.O. Quine; by the end of the century it had become a central discipline of analytic philosophy. See also idealism; realism; universal.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on ontology, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up ontology? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More