Ontology is an organizational system designed to categorize and help explain the relationships between various concepts of science in the same area of knowledge and research.
Functions of Ontology
- It provides a common background and understanding of a particular domain, or field, of study, and ensures a common ground among those who study the information.
- It is a way of organizing concepts, information, and ideas that is meant to be universal within the field, and allows for a common language to be spoken.
- It is a structural framework that allows the concepts to be laid out in a way that makes sense.
- It helps show the connections and relationships between concepts in a manner that is generally accepted by the field.
An example of ontology is when a physicist establishes different categories to divide existing things into in order to better understand those things and how they fit together in the broader world.
- the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being, reality, or ultimate substance
- pl. ontologies a particular theory about being or reality
Origin of ontologyModern Latin ontologia: see onto- and amp; -logy
- (uncountable, philosophy) The branch of metaphysics that addresses the nature or essential characteristics of being and of things that exist; the study of being qua being.
- (countable, philosophy) The theory of a particular philosopher or school of thought concerning the fundamental types of entity in the universe.
- (logic) A logical system involving theory of classes, developed by Stanislaw Lesniewski (1886-1939).
- (computer science, information science) A structure of concepts or entities within a domain, organized by relationships; a system model.
In the field of philosophy there is some variation in how the term ontology is used. Ontology is a much more recent term than metaphysics and takes its root meaning explicitly from the Greek term for being. Ontology can be used loosely as a rough equivalent to metaphysics or more precisely to denote that subset of the domain of metaphysics which is focused rigorously on the study of being as being.
Originally Latin ontologia (1606, Ogdoas Scholastica, by Jacob Lorhard (Lorhardus)), from Ancient Greek ὤν (ōn, “on”), present participle of εἰμί (eimi, “being, existing, essence”) + λόγος (logos, “account”).
First known English use 1663: Archelogia philosophica nova; or, New principles of Philosophy. Containing Philosophy in general, Metaphysicks or Ontology, Dynamilogy or a Discourse of Power, Religio Philosophi or Natural Theology, Physicks or Natural philosophy, by Gideon Harvey (1636/7-1702), London, Thomson, 1663.
Popularized as a philosophical term by German philosopher Christian Wolff (1679–1754).
ontology - Computer Definition
The structure of a system. A system model. The word refers to the branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of reality or being. It therefore refers to "what exists" in a system: all elements within all category hierarchies and the relationships between them.