Making ontology sensitive

Continental Philosophy Review 45 (3):411-424 (2012)
Abstract
The characteristic feature of phenomenology is the phenomenological constraint it exerts on its concepts: they should be embodied in concrete cases. Now, one might take that that possible match between concepts and the given would require some ontological foundation: as if the general determination provided by the concept should correspond to a particular piece of given to be found in the object itself as an abstract ‘moment’. Phenomenology would then call for an ontology of abstract particulars. Against such view, the author advocates that such ontological foundation is flawed in principle, and that phenomenology as such does not call for any particular ontology: phenomenology rather introduces some kind of phenomenological constraint on the very way of ontological analysis. In order to determine what one can say to be in particular circumstances, one has to consider what one usually says to be in that kind of circumstances: on this alternative view, ontology rests on examples, as paradigmatic applications of concepts. The phenomenological move consists in disclosing how the very content of concepts depends on the ways they are applied, rather than what would be supposed to ‘correspond’ to them would depend on their alleged content—as if the latter was independent of any previous connection with the given
Keywords Phenomenology  Ontology  Concepts  Experience  Merleau-ponty
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    John Austin (1961). Compiled by JO Urmson and GJ Warnock. In J. O. Urmson & G. J. Warnock (eds.), Philosophical Papers. Clarendon Press.
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