Ontology: Catagories of Being

Physical objects

Physical objects are beings; certainly they are said to be in the simple sense that they exist all around us. So a house is a being, a person’s body is a being, a tree is a being, a cloud is a being, and so on. They are beings because, and in the sense that, they are physical objects. One might also call them bodies, or physical particulars, or concrete things, or matter, or maybe substances (but bear in mind the word ‘substance’ has some special philosophical meanings).

Minds

Minds — those “parts” of us that think and perceive—are considered beings by some philosophers. Each of us, according to common sense anyway, “has” a mind. Of course, philosophers rarely just assume that minds occupy a different category of beings from physical objects. Some, like René Descartes, have thought that this is so (this view is known as dualism, and functionalism also considers the mind as distinct from the body), while others have thought that concepts of the mental can be reduced to physical concepts (this is the view of physicalism or materialism).

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