Being, Ontology, and Reality
Williams (Christopher)
Source: Williams (Christopher) - Being, Identity, and Truth, Chapter 9
Paper - Abstract

Paper SummaryText Colour-Conventions


Analytical TOC1

  1. The verb 'be' is in some contexts equivalent to 'exist', but in others its function is that of the copula. This dual function needs to be explained.
  2. Sentences formed by combining 'there is' with a mass-noun are not construable as existential generalizations.
  3. Just as 'is' converts an adjective or a count-noun into a one-place predicable, so 'there is' converts a mass-noun into a no-place predicable.
  4. Such sentences come to have the sense of existential generalizations when words like 'dog' develop from being mass-nouns to being count-nouns.
  5. 'Some' and 'none' share with 'there is' this ability to combine with both mass-nouns and count-nouns.
  6. The word 'ontology' shares this double aspect with 'be'. Ontology is most often supposed to be concerned with answers to the question 'What exists?'
  7. Further extensions to the vocabulary of 'some'-words can resolve 'ontological' disputes about universals2.
  8. 'Somewhere' and 'there' are already available to forestall ontological extravagance with places.
  9. 'Ontological' questions of this sort are questions about linguistic redundancy.
  10. 'Ontological' questions in another sense are concerned with what is so-and-so as opposed to what ought to be, or is known to be, or ... : 'is' here is used in the copulative sense.
  11. What is is the zero case of the modifications involved in what ought to be, what appears to be, etc. Reality and actuality have to be explained in the same way.
  12. The fundamental role of the verb 'be' is to act as a 'verbalizer'. This explains both its multiplicity of uses and its occasional redundancy.
  13. What at first sight we seem to be unable to think with less than three concepts, being, identity, and truth, turns out to be thinkable with the help of no more than two: that expressible by 'some'-words and that expressible by 'th'-words.



In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Williams (Christopher) - Being, Identity and Truth: Analytical Table of Contents". The numbering corresponds to Williams’s section-numbering, though I have not yet supplied his section titles.


Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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