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Ontological Hierarchy of Differentiation

[This is the first of four parts—this part introduces the basic concepts, the second part covers the first three levels of the hierarchy, position, motion, and acceleration; the third part covers the next level, life, and the final part covers the final two levels, consciousness and volition.]

Philosophy, if it is correct, is knowledge. It is neither the simplest or easiest knowledge to gain, but it is the most important and fundamental. All other knowledge, implicitly rests on the truths of philosophy.

As a branch of philosophy, therefore, ontology is knowledge, particularly, knowledge about the ultimate nature of material existence. The study of material existence, at least the physical aspects of it, belongs to the sciences. The purpose of ontology is to discover those principles by which the nature of material existence can be integrated, non-contradictorily, into the hierarchy of all knowledge, including that knowledge which is gained through the sciences.

The reason I emphasize that ontology is a kind of knowledge is to avoid one of the most common mistakes made in both science and philosophy called reification or hypostatization.

Reification fallacy - Treating abstractions as actual existing entities or regarding them as causally efficacious and ontologically prior and superior to their referents. Similar to hypostatization, except the kinds of abstractions involved are usually philosophical or ideological, such as "universals," "existence," "good," and "justice."

Hypostatization fallacy - Attributing actual existence or qualities of actual existents to something that is only a name, a relationship, or abstraction; or attributing qualities of one kind of existents to different kinds of existents, for example, anthropomorphism.

Ultimate Nature of Material Existence

This ontology is a description of how all of material existence can be understood objectively. It is not a description of some, "ultimate stuff," or, "universal being," or any other, "thing;" it is a description of the ultimate nature of material existence.

Everything that exists must be different from everything else that exists, and the difference in all existents is the result of differences in the qualities which identify them and determined their nature. Since existence is only all of the existents there are, the ultimate nature of existence itself is determined by the qualities that differentiate existents from one another. To discover the ultimate nature of existence the ultimate or primary qualities that differentiate existence must be identified. The ultimate or primary qualities of existence are those in terms of which all other qualities and characteristics of all existence can be described and understood.

[NOTE: It is not to be supposed the primary differentiating qualities have some kind of metaphysical efficiency by which they bring things into existence. The differentiating qualities are only descriptive, a way of comprehending the nature of existents, not a description of what "makes them that way." In an important sense, nothing makes existents what they are, they simply are. Discovering and existent's qualities is only discovering what an existent is.]

[NOTE: My use of the word differentiation must not be confused with that same word used in the field of mathematics, particularly, in the Calculus. I use the word differentiation only in the sense of, "to make different."]

The following is an outline of the hierarchy of differentiation. It consists of six essential qualities or characteristics of existence, by which I mean that existence described under, "The Existence We Actually Live In."

—Reginald Firehammer (02/07/05)

Summary

  1. This ontology is a description of how all of material existence can be understood objectively. It is not a description of some, "ultimate stuff," or, "universal being," or any other, "thing;" it is a description of the ultimate nature of material existence.