What is ontology?

What is ontology? Ontology is a derivation of philosophy, sometimes considered a science, or also a discipline, which is responsible for studying the being, resorting to the analysis of entities as a concept, thus understanding the way in which it is schematized with others.

What is ontology?
What is ontology?

Understanding ontology is a complex task, but not impossible. Above all, when we talk about a body of knowledge that has managed to diversify into multiple areas such as law, research, ethics, among others. In this reading, we are going to develop the ontology from its different areas.

To start, we must start from its base, and in this case, we will refer to its etymological origin respectively.

Etymology: What is ontology?

The term ontology is made up of elements from the Greek, specifically, from the lexicon “ontos”, which refers to being and being, together with the lexicon “logy”, referring to knowledge, science and knowledge. This is how ontology symbolizes the study of entities.

The application of ontology is aimed at creating and defining the basic categories to understand “being as for being”, so it is dedicated to the study of its reality and its existence, with the aim of approaching increasingly complex categories .

Of language

The ontology of language is a term proposed by Rafael Echeverría, a Chilean philosopher and sociologist, who was in charge of defining this term in his book “Ontology of Language”, in which he develops a series of postulates about this concept for its understanding.

Echeverría’s objective has been to define the human being as an intrinsically linguistic species, which he argues from the following explanations:

  1. Language is a generative act: It explains that language is not only a process in which we make references to a certain thing. It is a generative action, since we can create consequences with our expressions, whether we make promises, indicate an order, make an affirmation, etc. No matter what language it is, language is capable of action, which is why it is considered a generative and universal act.
  1. The human being is linguistic by nature: Humans have a complex language, which allows them to elaborate equally complex ideas. It is an essential element in the socialization process, to generate agreements, transmit ideas or build a reality. Without language, the human being would not be the same, finding a lot of limitations in their processes.
  1. Language is a creative process: Language is capable of shaping the future, as well as the identity of the human being. Therefore, it is attributed as a process that is capable of defining a reality, either through what is said or what is not said. It is not possible to reduce language to a simple vociferation, since it is an action that determines the future.

In this way, the ontology of language refers to a thesis that aims to argue the human as a being of a linguistic nature, defining the way in which this process has completely defined its reality.


Legal ontology is an area of study originating from the philosophy of law, which is responsible for determining the being of law, managing to specify what will be the object of which certain reflections will be made.

In this context, this object is prior to applied knowledge, therefore, there is an intrinsic reality before the study. Through legal ontology, use will be made of concepts from law as a branch from which to start to obtain a philosophical reflection in later scenarios.

In ethics

Ontology in ethics can be defined as the categorization of all those principles and values that define what is morally correct in human behavior. In this regard, ontology in ethics would be in charge of studying all the abstractions that define such behaviors.

Ontology and ethics tend to be defined separately, recognizing ontology as the study of all entities in the universe, and ethics as a discipline based on the reflection of what a person does in contrast to what he should do according to human morality.

When we speak of ontology in ethics, we cannot establish a hybrid conceptualization. However, we can find an intersection like the one explained in principle, where we can establish that, in ethics, ontology is responsible for understanding all those categories that make up the ethical values of the human being respectively.


We find a synonym for what we have previously described as legal ontology. In this sense, ontology in law is nothing more than the study of the being of law prior to its application on an object in question. With this, it is intended to obtain a conceptualization of the legal norms applied to this purpose.


In its most basic essence, ontology is known as a branch of philosophy, since it is based on the study of being, under the objective of creating applicable categories of knowledge, capable of being elaborated in an increasingly complex way, in order to to consolidate knowledge.

It is the study of “being as for being”, according to Aristotle, which explains his approach aimed at understanding all entities in the same way. However, there are different postulates regarding its object of study, or what could be, its premise under study.

For example, some theorists like Berkeley claim that “being is being perceived”, although this premise has not been of the type accepted by the community. Meanwhile, there is no definitive or consensual quality when it comes to the study of being, so it is not possible to have an objective perspective on the study of being.

The so-called entities, for their part, are nothing more than the sum of the categories, allowing to obtain a classification of them, and thus, elaborating the information that makes up the knowledge. However, we find ourselves once again with a problem in the taxonomy, since there is no definitive classification of the categories.

In research

For the research area, ontology is in charge of providing a coherent and useful classification of the objects of study, allowing to make research, particularly qualitative, a mechanism of important scopes in terms of obtaining its results.

Thanks to the application of ontology in research, it is possible to understand the phenomena studied. A quality that has been of great help for the social approach in research, allowing us to understand all those constructs that are used to define agents of the social type, such as values, culture, concepts, etc.

It could be said that ontology in research has developed increasingly optimal investigative competencies, approaching results of great contribution, finding a solid understanding of the phenomena in the qualitative area.


  1. (S/F). Simons, P. Ontology. Britannica. Recovered from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/ontology-metaphysics
  2. (2021). Ontology. Wikipedia. Recovered from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology
  3. (2003). Charles, T. Ethics and Ontology. Jstor. Recovered from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3655731

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