Categories and foundational ontology: A medieval tutorial

Journal of Knowledge Structures and Systems 3 (1):1-56 (2022)
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Abstract

Foundational ontologies, central constructs in ontological investigations and engineering alike, are based on ontological categories. Firstly proposed by Aristotle as the very ur- elements from which the whole of reality can be derived, they are not easy to identify, let alone partition and/or hierarchize; in particular, the question of their number poses serious challenges. The late medieval philosopher Dietrich of Freiberg wrote around 1286 a tutorial that can help us today with this exceedingly difficult task. In this paper, I discuss ontological categories and their importance for foundational ontologies from both the contemporary perspective and the original Aristotelian viewpoint, I provide the translation from the Latin into English of Dietrich's De origine II with an introductory elaboration, and I extract a foundational ontology–that is in fact a single-category one–from this text rooted in Dietrich's specification of types of subjecthood and his conception of intentionality as causal operation.

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Luis M. Augusto
Independent Scientist

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