Today a friend of mine told me that her six year old daughter said that when she grows up she wants to either be someone who rescues animals that are in trouble, or else a paleontologist. Both seem like very reasonable choices, but my friend was very impressed and delighted to discover that her six year old daughter actually knows an impressive six syllable word like “paleontologist”, let alone actually knowing what a paleontologist does.

But that got me thinking – “paleontologist” is such a long word, but what about a nice short word like “ontologist”. Wouldn’t it be cool to be a professional ontologist? Imagine if your job was simply to ponder the meaning of existence. I wonder what the actual job description would be. How would you structure your work day? Would there be time off for lunch? And what would qualify as prerequisites for such a position? Is it highly competitive, dog eat dog and all that? And is there an affordable dental plan?

I realize that (as far as I know) I’ve never met a professional ontologist. How many ontologists are there out there, and who do they work for? It would be so ironic, all things considered, if it turned out that they don’t actually exist.

6 thoughts on “Ontologist”

  1. My brother applied to Cycorp (an AI company) for a professional ontologist position once. They were trying to build an ontology to answer common sense questions.

  2. Probably because I’m so poorly versed in philosophy, I’d think of Bayes as the modern forebear, though he’s of course long gone. The scope of his theorem is so broad that it does not make a web of assumptions that obscure holes and construct error. Of course there’s the Russell/Whitehead/Husserl/Wittgenstein/Cantor/etc brand, but it seems to me (could be wrong) that the common person today doesn’t have a grasp of what goes into defining the objects of the world around h.self. Ontology seems to be newly defined. Or is considering methodological issues concerning such questions considered something different (metaontology?) these days?

  3. You should read Heidegger if you are serious about fundamental ontology. A good start would be “Conversations on a Country Path” (Discourse on Thinking/Glassenheit), proceed to “Being & Time”.

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