Natural Language Ontology: A Developing Discipline

Natural Language Ontology is a new discipline that integrates metaphysics and natural language semantics and syntax. The aim of this project is to develop the foundations and methodology of natural language ontology, to set out new aims and perpectives of research within it, and to relate it to contemporary and historical pursuits in metaphysics as well as in in generative linguistics.

I consider this field of research extremely promising and exciting, given the developments in both empirical and theoretical linguistics (including syntax!) and contemporary as well as historical perspectives in metaphysics. I also consider the fondational work crucial for setting out specific research perspectives that can yielding important result, such as the distinction between core and periphery of language.

Here are my own publications focusing on natural language ontology and its foundations as such, or having a significant part that does so:

A lot of my work falls within natural language metaphysics, in particular my books Parts and Wholes in Semantics and Abstract Objects and the Semantics of Natural Language, but so does work by other semanticists, and so do particular types of philosophical analyses throughout the history of philosophy. Natural language ontology is both a developing field and a practice that had been pursued throughout the history of philosophy.

My 42hrs course 'Language and Ontology' at the University of Padua in the spring 2016 covered a lot of topics within this project, as did my course in Dusseldorf in the summer of 2018. I gave a series of compact seminars in Paris (IHPST) on natural language ontology (May and September 2017) and well as a tutorial at the colloquium Semantics and Philosophy in Europe in Padua (September 4-9, 2017). I taught advanced courses on the topic in Sofia (ESSLLI) and in Munich (Summer School for Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students) in the summer of 2018. In 2021, I will teach an intensive weekend course on natural language ontology at NASSLLI at Brandeis University.

Work in progress:

  • 'Events and the Mass-Count Distinction'. Version April 27, 2020
  • 'Ontology as Part of Grammar'. In progress, 2020.
    • Abstract: This paper argues that the ontology of natural language is the object of tacit knowledge, rather than of acceptance (a form of belief) and possible rejection. As a selective ontology of the real (in a permissive or maximalist sense), it should be regarded as part of grammar in an extended sense.
  • 'Object Mass Nouns and Collective Nouns', in progress, 2020


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