Something reminded me recently of how annoying I find the “information science” definition of ontology. For one thing, there is already a word (taxonomy) for this process of putting everything in order, and furthermore it’s a word that describes an epistemological process, so ontology don’t really enter into it. During my grumbling, however, I remembered that people would abuse “ontology” in a similar way at Hampshire to describe a theorist or philosopher’s overall understanding of the universe. The point of this coinage was basically to avoid attributing a cosmology (which was what people meant when they used the word in this way) to thinkers who were too contemporary for such tomfoolery. This made the whole thing feel a bit whimsical, so now I don’t mind the abuse of language as much.

(Here’s what does still annoy me: in computer terms, “synchronous” and “asynchronous” mean the exact opposite of what they do in real life.)

One thought on “Vocabulary”

  1. Maybe the kids at Hampshire were just messing with you. Tauntology. I used to love mispronouncing ‘Ecclesiastes’ in Sunday school.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *