The Ontological Elephant

 

bill-clinton
‘It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is’. President Bill Clinton explaining the teleology of a cigar at the Monica Lewinsky hearings. I liked Bill; still do.

Existence, from the Latin ‘ex-sistere‘: ‘to stand forward, manifest’.

We are making an implicit ontological assignment, granting the status of ‘Being’ [Existence, ‘Is-ness’] anytime and every time we use the little word ‘Is’.

‘Is’ is arguably the most used grammatical link in the English Language.

The clutter and gossip of the world would die down nicely if a rule was passed that no man or woman on the planet may use the word ‘Is’ for a period of 24-hours.

Try it. Try and speak on your cell-phone for 10 minutes without using the word ‘Is’. Try and write a page in English without using any of its variants [was, will be, etc].

Its hard; but here is the strangest thing. This ubiquitous word, this word we use a hundred times a day in all its variations, has no formal definition, is in fact undefinable.

Very wise men have been trying to define it for a few thousand years and no one has scored anything more than a Wise-Gentleman’s ‘C’.

But that has not stopped our enterprising Universities from building a Subject out of it. A Subject called Ontology. In the same way that not having an honest definition for ‘Know’ did not discourage them from starting a Subject called Epistemology.

Just as Epistemology studies ‘Knowing’ while already in a state of Knowing, Ontology studies ‘Being’ while firmly resident in a state of Being. It is the Elephant in the Room, the one we all agree to ignore.

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