I was in a conversation relatively recently where someone defined ontology as the study of what is. That’s a bad definition. Here’s one reason why: any act of study studies something that is, in some way. Even studying a fictional characters is a study of something that is, in one sense of ‘is’. After all, one could not study things that don’t exist. Try to imagine studying something that is not. What would you be studying? If you’re able to study something it must have at least the quality of being study-able, and thus must, in at least one sense of the word ‘is’, be something about which one could say “that thing is.” Let me leave that aside, though, maybe a fictional character is not, such that studying it really does mean one studies something that is not, such that studying a fictional character does not fall under “the study of what is.” Even so, anyone who studies anything that is … umm … engages in the study of what is. When I ponder winter squash at the co-op, I study what is (they’re ugly, but delicious…). People are welcome to use the word ontology in that expansive sense, but it’s so expansive as to be nearly empty. I think it’s better to use the term to talk about the study of the is-ness of something that is, or rather, the is-ness of all that is. (I also think it’s better to not engage in that study but that’s another matter.)

In other news, I got four delicious tea cakes at the bakery today. Tea cake is good. Tea cake dunked briefly in a cup of strong black tea is amazing.

What do you say to a cup?

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