Seyn, ἕν, 道: Brevis tractatus meta-ontologicus de elephantis et testudinibus

Revue Philosophique De Louvain 119 (1):1-51 (2022)
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The question of ontological foundation has undergone a noteworthy revival in recent years: metaphysicians today quarrel about how exactly to understand the asymmetrical and hyperintensional relationship of grounding. One of the reasons for this revival is that the old quantificationalist meta-ontology inherited from Quine has been effectively criticised by leading philosophers favourable to a meta-ontology, the aim of which is to come to know “which facts/items ground (constitute the base of) which other facts/items”, thus to examine the relation of ontological dependence between beings (e.g. chemical properties depend on physical properties, the economic situation on the behaviour of individuals etc.), i.e. to explore the hierarchical structure of reality. I shall not discuss here the relationship of grounding in itself, but make some historical-formal remarks on the properties of the ultimate ontological foundational item itself and its aporetic nature. To do so I explore various more or less exotic philosophical ecosystems in the following order: Heidegger (Seyn), Plato (ἕν), Wáng Bi (道, dào). On the way I shall propose a new interpretation both of certain hypotheses in the Parmenides and of the nature of the opposition between Wáng Bì and Guō Xiàng in regard to the logical grammar of the expression “nothing (無, wú)” (transl. J. Dudley).

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Florian Marion
Université Catholique de Louvain


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