Philosophy East and West 49 (1):45-62 (1999)
|Abstract||Through a comparative case analysis regarding the Chinese language, it is discussed how the structure and functions of a natural language would bear upon the ways in which some philosophical problems are posed and some ontological insights shaped. Disagreeing with Chad Hansen's mass-noun hypothesis, a collective-noun hypothesis is argued for: (1) the denotational semantics and relevant grammatical features of Chinese nouns are like those of collective nouns; (2) their implicit ontology is a mereological ontology of collection-of-individuals with both part-whole and member-class structure; and (3) encouraged and shaped by the folk semantics of Chinese nouns, classical Chinese theorists of language take this kind of mereological nominalism for granted|
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