Theory and History of Ontology

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Selected bibliography on the definition of "Being"


A lot of material can be found in the six volumes series: The Verb 'Be' and Its Synonyms. Philosophical and Grammatical Studies, edited by John W. M. Verhaar, Dordrecht: Reidel Publishing Co. (1966-1973).

From the Editorial Preface to the sixth volume by John W. M. Verhaar: "The present volume is the sixth of a series of studies analyzing the verb 'to be' and/or synonyms in a number of language; in contrast to preceding volumes, it is devoted to one language only: Ancient Greek. It is expected that these studies will provide some of the necessary foundational research in logic, the theory of knowledge, and ontology; and possibly in other philosophical disciplines."

Two projected volumes were never published in this series: a study on 'to be' in biblical Hebrew and biblical Greek by James Barr (*) and a concluding volume with an attempt to asses the linguistic and philosophical impact of all the contributions).

(*) On the subject see: James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961: Chapter 4. Verbs, action and time - (d) - The Verb 'To Be' - pp. 58-71.

Table of Contents of the original edition of the sixth volume of the series, Charles H. Kahn, The Verb 'Be' in Ancient Greek (Reprinted Indianapolis, Hackett Publishing, 2003 with a new introduction)

Editorial Preface VII; Preface IX; Analytic Table of Contents XVII; Chapter I. The problem of the verb 'Be' 1; Chapter II. Subject, predicate, copula 38; Chapter III. Application of the transformational analysis to Greek 60; Chapter IV. Description of the copula uses 85; Chapter V. The theory of the copula 184; Chapter VI. The verb of existence 228; Chapter VII. The veridical use 331; Chapter VIII. The unity of the system of 'Be' in Greek 371; Appendix A. On the accent of esti and its position in the Sentence 420; Appendix B. On the theory of nominal sentence 435; Appendix C. The nominalized forms of the verb: to ón and ousía 453; Bibliography 463; Index 468.

General studies

  1. Adamson, Peter. 2002. "Before essence and existence: al-Kindi's conception of Being." Journal of History of Philosophy no. 40:297-312.

  2. Alonso, Alonso Manuel. 1957. ""al-Qiwam" y "al-Anniyya" en las traducciones de Gundisalvo." Al-Andalus no. 22:377-405.

  3. Alverny, Marie-Therèse d'. 1959. "Anniyya - Anitas." In Mélanges offerts à Étienne Gilson, de l'Académie française, 59-91. Paris: Vrin.

  4. Baldwin, Thomas. 1996. "There Might Be Nothing." Analysis no. 56:231-238.

  5. Bashiri, Iraj. 1973. 'To be' as the Origin of Syntax: a Persian Framework. Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica.

  6. Bos, Egbert Peter. 2000. "Nature and number of the Categories and the division of Being according to Domingo de Soto." In Medieval and Renaissance Logic in Spain, edited by Angelelli, Ignacio and Pérez-Ilzarbe, Paloma, 327-353. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

  7. Bos, Egbert Peter, and van der Helm, A.C. 1998. "The Division of Being over the categories according to Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus." In John Duns Scotus (1265/6-1308): Renewal of Philosophy, edited by Bos, Egbert Peter, 183-196. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
    Acts of the Third Symposium organized by the Dutch Society for Medieval Philosophy Medium Aevum (May 23 and 24, 1996).

  8. Caster, Kevin Joseph. 1996. "The Distinction between Being and Essence According to Boethius, Avicenna, and William of Auvergne." Modern Schoolman no. 73:309-332.

  9. ———. 1996. "The Real Distinction in Creatures between Being and Essence according to William of Auvergne." Traditio no. 51:201-223.
    Abstract: "Scholars agree that the distinction between being and essence plays a pivotal role in the metaphysics of William of Auvergne. They differ radically, however, in their views of what the exact nature of this distinction is for William. For instance, M.-D. Roland-Gosselin holds that William saw the being of a thing as received from another and as really distinct from the essence. Amato Masnovo, on the other hand, considers that, for William, the being of created things is God himself. Of the various interpretations, the most influential has been that of Etienne Gilson; Gilson argues that being and essence are not, according to William, components in the metaphysical structure of the concrete object and that there is not a real distinction between them. To reach a clear understanding of William's distinction between being and essence and to settle the serious disagreement amongst scholars concerning his doctrine, this dissertation provides a thorough examination of William's relevant texts. From this examination, the dissertation concludes that the textual evidence strongly supports the position that, according to William, being and essence are real components in the metaphysical structure of the concrete object and that, moreover, there is a real distinction between being and essence. The dissertation also discusses the distinction between being and essence in William's sources, namely, Boethius and Avicenna, and in St. Thomas Aquinas. The discussion of Boethius and Avicenna enables us to answer the question of whether or not William's teaching represents an advance over his predecessors. But it also supplies material for the examination of William's doctrine itself since, as William's chief sources, Boethius and Avicenna obviously influenced William's position. The discussion of St. Thomas allows us to state whether or not William's teaching may be said to anticipate that of St. Thomas. This dissertation argues that William not only maintains a real distinction between being and essence, but that he represents an advance over Boethius and Avicenna and also anticipates St. Thomas."

  10. ———. 2004. "William of Auvergne and St. Thomas Aquinas on the Real Distinction between Being and Essence." In Being and Thought in Aquinas, edited by Hackett, Jeremiah, Murnion, William E. and Still, Carl N., 75-108. New York: Stte University of New Yok Press.

  11. Chauvier, Stéphane. 2006. "L'étant sans l'être." Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale:495-513.

  12. Conti, Alessandro D. 1989. "Essenza ed essere nel pensiero della tarda Scolastica." Medioevo.Rivista di Storia delle filosofia Medievale no. 15:235-260.
    Appendice: Paulus Venetus, Summa philosophiae naturalis (pars VI:Metaphysics, cap. 1) ed. Venetiis, 1503; ff. 92vb.93a, pp. 261-270.

  13. Dumont, Stephen. 1987. "The univocity of the concept of Being in the Fourteenth Century: John Duns Scouts and William of Alnwick." Mediaeval Studies no. 49:1-75.

  14. Fabro, Cornelio. 1983. "Intorno al fondamento dell'essere." In Graceful Reason. Essays in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Presented to Joseph Owens, CSSR on the Occasion of His Seventy-Fifth Birthday and the Fiftieth Anniversary of his Ordination, edited by Gerson, Lloyd, 229-237. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

  15. Fitzpatrick, Noel. 1971. "Walter Chatton on the univocity of Being: a reaction to Peter Aureoli and William Ockham." Franciscan Studies no. 31:88-177.

  16. Floyd, Juliet. 2006. "On the Use and Abuse of Logic in Philosophy: Kant, Frege and Hintikka on the Verb 'To Be'." In The Philosophy of Jaakko Hintikka, edited by Auxier, Randall E. and Hahn, Lewis E., 137-188. Chicago: Open Court.
    "Jaakko Hintikka is a radical and wildly ambitious philosopher. Over the course of more than forty years he has attempted to refashion the whole of logic and philosophy in his own image, urging the overthrow of most everything analytic philosophy inherited from Frege and Russell. He argues that the correct philosophical Logic (with a capital "L" to designate "the real Logic") is his "independence-friendly" logic, wedded to his construals of modal and epistemic logic in the context of game-theoretic semantics, and he calls for a reappraisal of every philosophical problem in light of this conception. Hintikka thereby rejects what became for philosophers (after Hilbert, Gōdel, and Quine) the standard answer to the question, What is Logic?, viz., first-order logic, unmoved by its commonly supposed advantages: topic-neutrality, wide curricular, mathematical, and philosophical acceptance, general (if not universal) applicability, recursively axiomatizable completeness with respect to deductive validity, and classical syntax and semantics for negation. He is not swayed either by the expressive power of second-order logic. He wants a system that is, expressively speaking, somewhere in between. To understand him as a philosopher is to be able to fathom why.

    It is not the aim of this essay to come fully to grips with Hintikka's persistent campaign to overthrow the present order of things. Instead, I shall try to characterize his self-conception in broad brushstrokes. Section 1 of the essay aims to situate Hintikka's thought within the context of recent analytic philosophy. Section 2 canvasses his criticisms of Frege's and Russell's fundamental logical notions. Section 3 assesses his treatment of the classical Ontological Argument for God's existence in light of these criticisms. First, I contrast his treatment of the argument with that of Michael Dummett. Next, I consider what Hintikka has left out of philosophical account in his particular reconstruction of the argument, suggesting that it is precisely this which is most telling with respect to his own philosophy. In section 4 I delve into a more detailed analysis of Hintikka's treatment of Kant's philosophy of logic, with the aim of showing how his own philosophical preconceptions shape his historical readings." (pp. 137-138)

  17. Franck, Didier. 2004. "La question de l'être: sens de la question et question du sens." In Heidegger l'enigme de l'être, edited by Mattéi, Jean-François, 71-103. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

  18. Frank, Richard MacDonough. 1956. "The origin of the Arabic philosophical term "anniyya"." Cahiers de Byrsa no. 6:181-201.

  19. Gál, Gedeon. 1992. "Geraldus Odonis on the univocity of the concept of being." Franciscan Studies no. 52:23-30.

  20. Gilson, Étienne. 1952. Being and Some Philosophers. Toronto: Pontifical Insitute of Mediaeval Studies.
    Second edition corrected and enlarged (First edition 1949).

    Contents: Preface VII-XI; I. On Being and the One 1; II. Being and Substance 41; III. Essence and Existence 74; V. Being and Existence 154; VI. Knowledge and Existence 190; Appendix - On Some Difficulties of Interpretation 216; Index 233-235.

  21. Graham, Angus Charles. 1965. "'Being' in linguistics and philosophy: a preliminary inquiry." Foundations of Language no. 1:223-231.

  22. ———. 1967. "'Being' in Classical Chinese." In The verb "be" and its synonyms, edited by Verhaar, John W.M., 1-39. Dordrecht: Reidel.
    Precedent version published as: Being in Western philosophy compared with shih/fei and yu/wu in Chinese philosophy - Asia Major (NS) 7 (1959) 79-112; reprinted in: A. C. Graham, Studies in Chinese Philosophy and Philosophical Literature, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990, pp. 322-359.

  23. Haaparanta, Leila. 1985. Frege's Doctrine of Being. Helsinki: Acta Philosophica Fennica.

  24. Hadot, Pierre. 1973. "L'être et l'étant dans le néoplatonisme." Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie:101-115.

  25. Heidegger, Martin. 2005. En guise de contribution à la grammaire et à l'étymologie du mot 'être' (Introduction à la métaphysique, chap. II). Paris: Éditions du Seuil.
    Édité, traduit de l'allemand et commenté par Pascal David.

  26. Hugonnard-Roche, Henri. 2006. "Le vocabulaire philosophique de l'être en syriaque d'aprés des texts de Sergius de Res'aina et Jacques d'Édesse." In Arabic Theology, Arabic Philosophy. From the Many to the One: essays in celebraion of Richard M. Frank, edited by Montgomery, James E., 101-125. Leuven: Peeters.

  27. Husain, Martha. 1976. "The question 'What is Being' and its Aristotelian answer." New Scholasticism no. 50:293-309.
    "This paper takes its point of departure from a recent article by Joseph Owens: "The content of existence," (*) which argues that being is unknowable in terms of concepts since it either has all cognitive (when contrasted with not-being) or none at all (when contrasted with beings). These dilemmas can be resolved by means of Aristotle's categories as the intrinsic formal structure of being, and as constituting the cognitive content of being "qua" being. In terms of this cognitive content, being is conceptualized, becomes knowable, and can be meaningfully contrasted with both not-being and beings. Beyond the resolution of Owens' dilemmas, the paper goes on to examine the need for meaningful contrasts in all knowledge as well as the adequacy and relevance of Aristotle's categories in relation to modern science."

    (*) Joseph Owens, "The content of existence", in: Milton K. Munitz (ed.), Logic and Ontology, New York: New York University Press 1973, pp. 21-36.

  28. Jordan, Mark D. 1980. "The Grammar of Esse. Re-reading Thomas on the Transcendentals." Thomist no. 44:1-26.

  29. Kagame, Alexis. 1956. La philosophie bantu-rwandaise de l'Ëtre. Bruxelles: Éditions Duculout.
    Repris par New York: Johnson Reprint Corp. 1966.

  30. Kearney, Richard. 1992. "Between Kant and Heidegger. The Modern Question of Being." In At the Heart of the Real. Philosophical Essays in Honour of the Most Reverend Desmond Connell, Archbishop of Dublin, edited by O'Rourke, Fran, 271-283. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.

  31. Kenny, Anthony. 2002. Aquinas on Being. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  32. Knuuttila, Simo, and Hintikka, Jaakko, eds. 1986. The Logic of Being. Historical Studies. Dordrecht: Reidel.
    Contents: Acknowledgements VII; Introduction IX; Charles H. Kahn: Retrospect on the verb 'to be' and the concept of Being 1; Benson Mates: Identity and predication in Plato 29; Russell M. Dancy: Aristotle and existence 49; Jaakko Hintikka: The varieties of Being in Aristotle 81; Sten Ebbesen: The Chimera's Diary 115; Klaus Jacobi: Peter Abelard's investigations into the meaning and functions of the speech sign 'Est' 145; Hermann Weidemann: The logic of Being in Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus 201; Simo Knuuttila: Being qua Being in Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus 201; Lilli Alanen: On Descartes' argument for dualism and the distinction between different kinds of Beings 223; Jaakko Hintikka: Kant on existence, predication, and the ontological argument 249; Leila Haaparanta: On Frege's concept of Being 269; Index of names: 291; Index of subjects: 297-300.

  33. Llamzon, Benjamin. 1964. "The specification of 'Esse'; a study in Bañez." Modern Schoolman no. 41:123-144.

  34. Locker, Ernst. 1954. "Etre et Avoir. Leurs expressions dans les langues." Anthropos no. 49:481-510.

  35. Lovejoy, Arthur O. 1936. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
    Reprinted with a new introduction by Peter J. Stanlis New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Publishers 2009.

  36. Maritain, Jacques. 1939. A Preface to Metaphysics: Seven Lectures on Being. New York: Sheed & Ward.

  37. Maurer, Armand. 1954. "Henry of Arclay's Question on the univocity of Being." Mediaeval Studies no. 16:18.

  38. ———. 1966. "Cajetan's notion of Being in his commentary on the Sentences." Mediaeval Studies no. 28:268-278.

  39. Moro, Andrea. 2010. Breve storia del verbo essere. Viaggio al centro della frase. Milano: Adelphi.

  40. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. 1977. "Post-Avicennan Islamic philosophy and the study of Being." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 17:265-271.
    "In this article, after a brief discussion of the position of Ibn Sina concerning the distinction between existence and essence, a survey is made of the views of later Islamic thinkers of various schools including "Kalam", "Ishraqi" theosophy and theoretical sufism of the school of Ibn Arabi concerning ontology. The study culminates with Mulla Sadra who brought the discussion of being among Muslim thinkers to full fruition. After this chronological survey, the distinction between the study of being in later Schools of Islamic thought and those of the West is made clear and it is shown how despite a similar background, Islamic and Western thought part ways on this basic issue. Later Islamic students of ontology emphasized that the subject of philosophy is the study of the act of existence, the "actus essendi", while Western thought became ever more concerned with the existent or "ens". In conclusion the relation between the theoretical study of being and practical and operative spiritual methods for the realization of being in the Islamic world is indicated."

  41. O'Meara, Dominic. 1976. "Being in Numenius and Plotinus. Some points of comparison." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 21:120-129.
    Reprinted in: D. O' Meara - The structure of Being and the search for the Good. Essays on ancient and early medieval Platonism - Aldershot, Asgate Variorum, 1998 Essay V.

  42. ———. 1990. "La question de l'être et du non-être des objets mathématiques chez Plotin et Jamblique." Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie no. 122:405-416.
    Reprinted in: D. O' Meara, The structure of Being and the search for the Good. Essays on ancient and early medieval Platonism, Aldershot: Asgate Variorum, 1998 Essay XV.

  43. Owens, Joseph. 1963. An Elementary Christian Metaphysics. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing.
    Reprinted Houston, Center for Thomistic Studies, 1985.

  44. Paprzycka, Katarzyna. 1993. "Carnap and Leibniz on the Problem of Being." In Possible Ontologies, edited by Augustynek, Zdzislaw and Jadacki, Jacek Juliusz, 163-177. Rodopi: Amsterdam.
    "The title of the present paper appears provocative as it brings together one of the most prominent fighters of metaphysics, R. Carnap, a famous metaphysician and a very difficult metaphysical problem. In fact, Leibniz, whose stance on that very issue we have chosen to relate to that of Carnap's, has not written about the problem of being explicitly either. We will thus ask the reader for some patience as we will try to demonstrate that they both do so implicitly.

    Our task is perhaps even more complex with respect to Carnap for aside of being an extraordinarily consistent and systematic thinker, he has also been very self-conscious methodologically. It is remarkable that the system of Aufbau, to which we will restrict our attention, was supposed to be a mere illustration of some methodological principles developed in the so-called construction theory. Accordingly, almost none of the moves in his system lacks a justification. As a result, there are not too many degrees of interpreter's freedom." (p. 163)

  45. Pécharman, Martine. 1992. "Le vocabulaire de l'être dans la philosophie première: ens, esse, essentia." In Hobbes et son vocabulaire, edited by Zarka, Yves Charles, 31-59. Paris: Vrin.

  46. Perreiah, Alan. 1968. "De conceptu entis, a reconsideration." Modern Schoolman no. 46:50-56.

  47. Price, Robert. 1970. "Richard of Middleton O.F.M. on 'esse and essence'." Franciscan Studies no. 30:49-76.

  48. Principe, Walter H. 1967. Alexander of Hales' Theology of the Hypostatic Union. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.
    See Chapter I. The Philosophical Background (pp. 21-72), in particular § 2. Ens, Esse, and Existere (pp. 23-42).

  49. Ramon, Rafael. 1994. "Al-Farabi: el concepto del ser." Revista de Filosofía (Madrid) no. 7:27-49.

  50. Rijk, Lambertus Maria de. 1981. "Boèce logicien et philosophe: ses positions sémantiques et sa métaphysique de l'ëtre." In Atti del Congresso Internazionale di studi Boeziani (Pavia, 5-8 Ottobre 1980), edited by Obertello, Luca, 141-156. Roma: Herder.

  51. Rosen, Stanley. 1991. "Is metaphysics possible?" Review of Metaphysics no. 45:235-257.

  52. Rundle, Bede. 2004. Why is There Something Rather than Nothing? New York Oxford University Press.

  53. Schnädelbach, Herbert. 1984. "Being." In Philosophy in Germany 1831-1933, 192-218. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    "If, in what follows under the general title of 'Being', we are to give an outline of the rebirth of metaphysics as ontology, we cannot avoid giving an account in detail of the various ontological projects of that time. What is to be clarified can be described as a rehabilitation of the 'problem of being' as a genuinely philosophical problem. This 'problem of being' must obviously be posed in such a way that it cannot be solved by any of the procedures of the empirical sciences; otherwise, any philosophical theory of being would be superfluous. On the other hand, the 'problem of being' should also not be reducible to the problem of knowledge, as the whole of Criticism had taught, since then the attempt to break out of the epistemological ghetto would fail. A third general condition, accepted by all the new ontologists, is that modern ontology should not proceed in a dogmatic fashion in Kant's sense; this also rules out simple reference back to pre-Kantian traditions. The rehabilitation of philosophy as theory of knowledge also remains decisive for the new ontology, to the extent that it regards an epistemological self-justification as absolutely indispensable. The priority of the question of being over that of knowledge, which is the general characteristic of the new ontology, should itself he seen as the result of epistemological reflection: since the time of Lotze, the argument that the subject is him: self an existent and the knowledge-relation a relation of, being had played a central role in that connexion. In Hegel's words, the new ontology saw itself as an immanent critique of epistemology, not as its simple opposite. The success of this critique was then felt as the great liberation 'to things themselves'." (pp. 194-195)

  54. Schönberger, Rolf. 1986. Die Transformation des klassischen Seinsverständnisses. Studien zur Vorgeschiche des neuzeitlichen Seinsbegriffs im Mittelalter. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  55. Seigfried, Hans. 1972. "Kant's thesis about Being anticipated by Suarez." In Proceedings of the Third International Kant Congress, edited by Beck, Leslie, 510-520. Dordrecht: Reidel.

  56. Simons, Peter M:. 2001. "L'être: une petite histoire autrichienne." In La philosophie autrichienne de Bolzano à Musil, edited by Cometti, Jean-Pierre and Mulligan, Kevin, 29-42. Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin.

  57. Sprung, Mervyn, ed. 1978. The Question of Being. East-West Perspectives. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
    Each chapter in this book (except the first) originated at a symposium arranged by the philosophy department of Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario.

    Contents: Mervyn Sprung: The Question of Being as comparative philosophy 1; Some Western Perspectives: Joseph Owens: Being in early Western tradition 17; Charles H. Kahn: Linguistic relativism and the Greek project of ontology 31; Hans Georg Gadamer: Plato and Heidegger 45; Zygmunt Adamczewski: Questions in Heidegger's thought about Being 55; Robert C. Schaff: Heidegger's path of thinking and the Way of Meditation in the early Upanisads 67; Some eastern perspectives: Wilhelm Halbfass: On Being and What There Is: Indian perspectives on the Question of Being 95; J. G. Arapura: Some special characteristics of Sat (Being) in Advaita Vedanta 111; Mervyn Sprung: Being and the Middle Way 127; Jitendra Nath Mohanty: Some aspects of Indian thinking on Being 141; Index 159-161.

  58. Szaif, Jan. 2003. Der Sinn von "Sein": Grundlinien einer Rekonstruktion des philosophischen Begriffs des Seienden. Freiburg: Alber.
    Inhalt: Vorbemerkung 7;

    Der Sinn von "sein". Grundlinien einer Rekonstruktion des philosophischen Begriffs des Seienden. Einleitung 13

    Teil I

    Gibt es eine philosophisch relevante Antwort auf die Frage nach dem Sinn von "sein"?

    a) Die Formulierung der ontologischen Grundfrage als Frage nach dem Sinn von "sein" 16; b) Zur Geschichte der ontologischen Grundfrage 18; c) Die Zielsetzung der Wiederaufnahme der ontologischen Grundfrage 20; d) Ergänzende Bemerkungen zur Methode 22; e) Vier semantische Grundfunktionen von "sein": i) Die Kopula als "offene Prädikatsform" 25; ii) Das "ist" in identifizierenden Aussagen 32; iii) Existenz 32; iv) Veritatives Sein 37; f) Die Antwort: Der Sinn von "sein" -- eine in aller gegenständlichen Bezugnahme immer schon vorausgesetzte semantische Verweisungsstruktur 39; g) Ist diese Sinnstruktur nur ein sprachgeschichtlicher Zufall? 45;

    Teil II

    Die mögliche Rolle der ontologischen Grundfrage für eine (heute noch durchführbare) Metaphysik

    a) Das Problem der thematischen Eingrenzung der Metaphysik als philosophischer Disziplin 47; b) Metaphysik als "transphysica" - zwei Deutungstypen 49; c) Die Differenz von positionalem und formalem Seinssinn als Grund zweier fundamentaler ontologischer Fragedimensionen 52; d) Die Entfaltung der ontologischen Grundfrage als Organisationsprinzip für eine philosophische Metaphysik; die Rolle erkenntnis- und sprachkritischer Erörterungen 56; e) Das Verhältnis der ontologisch-metaphysischen Fragestellung zu anderen philosophischen Grundfragen 65; Anmerkungen 72;


    Ernst Tugendhat über die 'Seinsfrage' als fundamentalphilosophische Fragestellung 91.

  59. Theron, Stephen. 1979. "ESSE." New Scholasticism no. 53:206-220.

  60. Thom, Paul. 2002. "The pervasiveness of Being." In Presocratic Philosophy. Essays in honour of Alexander Mourelatos, edited by Caston, Victor and Graham, Daniel W., 293-302. Aldershot: Ashgate.
    "The pervasiveness of Being is the doctrine that everything is. This doctrine would he false if something was not. That being is pervasive is not a trivial claim. An ontology might he motivated by the desire to quantify over non-beings in such a way that we can say that something is a flying man without implying that some being is a flying man. If such a distinction is allowed, then it might be thought that something is not, even though no being is not. Pervasiveness then would be true for beings but not for 'somethings.'

    This chapter explores the different positions that philosophers from Parmenides to Aristotle take on the question of the pervasiveness of Being, and traces some of the relations linking those positions to one another."

  61. Toccafondi, Fiorenza. 2000. L'essere e i suoi significati. Bologna: Il Mulino.

  62. Verhaar, John W.M., ed. 1967. The Verb 'Be' and its Synonyms. Philosophical and Grammatical Studies. Dordrecht: Reidel.
    Six volumes.

    Vol. 1: Classical Chinese. Athapaskan. Mundari, 1967, pp. viii+100; Vol. 2: Eskimo. Hindi. Zuni. Modern Greek. Malayalam. Kurukh. 1968, pp. ix+ 148; Vol. 3: Japanese. Kashmiri. Armenian. Hungarian. Sumerian. Shona. 1968, pp. viii+ 125; Vol. 4: Twi. Modern Chinese. Arabic. 1969, pp. viii+ 125; Vol. 5: 1972, pp. vii+ 232; Vol. 6: The Verb 'Be' in Ancient Greek. By Charles H. Kahn. 1973, pp. xxxiii + 486.

  63. Wippel, John F., ed. 2011. The Ultimate Why Question. Why Is There Anything at All Rather than Nothing Whatsoever? Washington, D.C:: The Catholic University of America Press.

  64. Yu, Jiyuan. 1999. "The Language of Being: Between Aristotle and Chinese Philosophy." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 39:439-454.

  65. Yuasa, Yasuo. 2005. "Image-Thinking and the Understanding of "Being": The Psychological Basis of Linguistic Expression." Philosophy East and West no. 55:179-208.

  66. Zaslawsky, Denis. 1982. Analyse de l'être. Essai de philosophie analytique. Paris: Éditions de Minuit.

Ancient Greek philosophy

  1. "Le problème du non-être dans la philosophie antique." 1990. Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie no. 122.

    Actes du Colloque international de philosophie antique tenu à Genève les 2 et 3 novembre 1989. À la mémoire d'Henri Joly.

    Sommaire: Jacques Bouveresse: Hommage à Henri Joly 297; Jean Rudhardt: Dans quelle mesure et par quelles images les mythes grecs ont-ils symbolisé le néant? 303; Françoise Létoublon: La notion de non-être dans l’histoire de la langue grecque archaïque 313;

    Lambros Couloubaritsis: La logique du mythe et la question du non-être 323; André-Jean Voelke: Vide et non-être chez Leucippe et Démocrite 334; Curzio Chiesa: Idées de négations 353; Enrico Berti: Etre et non-être chez Aristote: contraires ou contradictoires? 365; André: de Muralt: L’être du non-être en perspective aristotélicienne 375; Jacques Brunschwig: Sur une façon stoïcienne de ne pas être 389; Dominic O’Meara: La question de l'être et du non-être des objets mathématiques chez Plotin et Jamblique 405; Fernand Brunner: L’aspect rationnel et l’aspect religieux de la philosophie de Plotin 417; Bibliographie d’Henri Joly 431-432.

  2. Aubenque, Pierre. 1962. Le problème de l' être chez Aristote. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

  3. Bechtle, Gerald. 2000. "The Question of Being and the Dating of the Anonymous Parmenides Commentary." Ancient Philosophy no. 20:393-414.

    "This article was originally intended to precede the publication of my book (Bechtle 1999a) devoted to the extant fragments of the anonymous commentary on Plato's Parmenides, also known as Anonymus Taurinensis.' The aim of this article was then-and it still is now-to make the scholarly world acquainted with some of the main reasons, i.e., my view of `the question of being', for my novel thesis of a pre-Plotinian date for this Commentary which has almost unanimously been ascribed to Porphyry. Since the thesis of the Porphyrian authorship goes back to the great French scholar P. Hadot (see in particular Hadot 1961, 1965, 1968a, and 1968b), one can say that his thesis has been generally accepted for some thirty years or, at least, it has not been seriously challenged. This fact is easily explained since neither before nor after Hadot has there been a thorough and critical examination of the evidence. Hadot's thesis concerning the identity of the author being the only serious one in more than a century since research on the Commentary first started, my idea was that probably a lot of questions had not been answered. Reconsidering all of Hadot's evidence and adding some new elements, I determined that the Commentary is very likely of pre-Plotinian date. Additional work on lamblichus and post-Plotinian Platonism negatively confirms this thesis since one can virtually exclude Iamblichus and any of the major Platonists following him as possible authors of the Commentary." (p. 393)

  4. Benardete, Seth. 1977. "The Grammar of Being." The Review of Metaphysics no. 30:486-496.

  5. Bennekom, R.van. 1984. "Existential and Other Sentences in Ancient Greek." Mnemosyne no. 37:257-263.

  6. Bolton, Robert. 1975. "Plato's distinction between being and becoming." The Review of Metaphysics no. 29:66-95.

    "This paper argues that important changes in Plato's conceptions of being (ousia) and becoming (genesis) occur over the Dialogues, but that the final version of the distinction between the two remains strong enough to sustain the essentials of the theory of degrees of reality which the distinction was originally devised to expound. This position is an alternative to the predominant prevailing positions -- that Plato's views underwent no significant change, or that there was a change so radical as to force the abandonment of Plato's middle-period metaphysic. Relevant passages in the Phaedo, Republic, Theatetus, Sophist, and Philebus are fully discussed."

  7. Boman, Thorleif. 1960. Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

    Translated by Jules L. Moreau from the German Das hebräische Denken im Vergleich mit den Griechischen (second edition; first edition 1952), Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1954, with the author's revisions to January 1960.

  8. Bradshaw, David. 1999. "Neoplatonic Origins of the Act of Being." The Review of Metaphysics no. 53:383-401.

  9. Brown, Lesley. 1986. "Being in the Sophist: a syntactical enquiry." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 4:49-70.

    "Plato's Sophist presents a tantalizing challenge to the modern student of philosophy. In its central section we find a Plato whose interests and methods seem at once close to and yet remote from our own. John Ackrill's seminal papers on the Sophist, (1) published in the fifties, emphasized the closeness, and in optimistic vein credited Plato with several successes in conceptual analysis. These articles combine boldness of 'argument with exceptional clarity and economy of expression, and though subsequent writers have cast doubt on some of Ackrill's claims for the Sophist the articles remain essential reading for all students of the dialogue. I am happy to contribute an essay on the Sophist to this volume dedicated to John Ackrill.

    Among the most disputed questions in the interpretation of the Sophist is that of whether Plato therein marks off different uses of the verb einai , 'to be'. This paper addresses one issue under that heading, that of the distinction between the 'complete' and 'incomplete' uses of `to be', which has usually been associated with the distinction between the 'is' that means 'exists' and the 'is' of predication, that is, the copula."

    (1) Symploke Eidon (1955) and Plato and the Copula: Sophist 251-59 (1957), both reprinted in Plato I, ed G. Vlastos (New York, 1971), 201-9 and 210-22.

  10. ———. 1994. "The Verb 'To Be' in Greek Philosophy: Some Remarks." In Companions to Ancient Thought: Language, edited by Everson, Stephen, 212-236. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "The existence of at least these three distinct uses of 'is' was taken for granted by commentators and assumed to apply, by and large, to ancient Greek, though with some salient differences. These include the fact that Greek can and regularly does omit esti in the present tense, though not in other tenses, and that the complete 'is' is still very much a going concern, though more or less defunct in modern English. The fact that the esti of the copula can be omitted means that a predicative use of esti can convey a nuance over and above that of the mere copula (for instance connoting what really is F rather than merely appearing F, or what is enduringly F).

    And the fact that current English has more or less abandoned the use of the complete 'is' to mean 'exist' (as in Hamlet's 'To be or not to be), while in Greek it is very much a going concern, may lead us to question whether the complete esti really shares the features of the 'is' which means (or used to mean) 'exist'." (p. 215)


    "I cannot offer here a full account of what I take to be the results of the Sophist, far less a defence of such an account, but confine myself to a few points. To the question whether the dialogue distinguishes an 'is' of identity from an 'is' of predication, I have indicated my answer: that it does not, but it does draw an important distinction between identity-sentences and predications (see section I and n. 2 above). Here I focus on the question whether and if so how it distinguishes complete from incomplete uses. I shall suggest that Plato developed a better theory about the negative 'is not' than his argumentation in the Republic suggests, while continuing to treat the relation between the complete use (X is) and the incomplete (X is F) in the way I have described in section IV, that is, by analogy with the relation between 'X teaches' and 'X teaches singing'." (p. 229)



    In our attempts to understand and evaluate the claims and arguments of ancient philosophers we have to use conceptual tools, including ones not available to the philosophers themselves. Indisputably the analytical investigations in this century of the metaphysics of, say, Parmenides, Plato and Aristotle have yielded invaluable insights. But where these have involved enquiries concerning the verb 'to be' they have tended to use what may be an inappropriate framework - that of certain modern distinctions in the verb 'to be'. In particular, commentators have been misled by the English word 'exist', which now has the role of the more-or less defunct complete 'is' (as in 'To be or not to be'); they have assumed that Greek esti, when complete, like 'exist', does not allow a completion, and has a role sharply distinct from the esti in a predication. I have argued that a different picture emerges from Plato and Aristotle, both from their usage of esti and from their explicit discussions. Even where they do draw attention to the two syntactic uses (complete and incomplete), as Plato perhaps does at Sophist 2 5 5c12-d 7, and Aristotle in the passages cited in section V, they should not be described as elucidating a difference between the 'is' of existence and that of predication, or indeed as noting a difference of any great philosophical importance. When we try to understand the arguments which seem to depend crucially on the verb 'to be' we should beware of

    seeking to impose or to discern our currently favoured distinctions, for in ancient Greek the conceptual web was woven differently, and in the case ofthe verb 'to be' it was, comparatively speaking, a seamless one." (p. 236)

  11. Brugmann, Karl. 1925. "Die Syntax des einfachen Satzes im Indogermanischen." Indogermanische Forschungen no. 43 - Beiheft:1-229.

    Kapitel III. Subjekt und Prädikat, C. Kopula mit einem Prädikativum, pp. 69-77.

  12. Brunschwig, Jacques. 1990. "Sur une façon stoicienne de ne pas être." Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie no. 122:389-403.

    Repris da J. Brunschwig, Études sur les philosophies hellénistiques. Épicurisme, stoïcisme, scepticisme, Paris: Presses universitaires de France 1995, pp. 251-268.

    English translation: "On a Stoic way of not being".

  13. ———. 1994. "On a Stoic way of not being." In Papers in Hellenistic Philosophy, 158-169. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Translated from French by Janet Lloyd.

  14. Calvo, Tomás. 2014. "The Verb 'Be' (εἰμί) and Aristotelian Ontology." Teorema: Revista Internacional de Filosofía no. 33:45-55.

  15. Couloubaritsis, Lambros. 1990. "La logique du mythe et la question du non-être." Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie no. 122:323-340.

  16. Courtine, Jean-François. 2003. Les catégories de l'être. Études de philosophie ancienne et médiévale. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

  17. De Rijk, Lambertus Marie. 1952. The Place of the Categories of Being in Aristotle's Philosophy. Assen: Van Gorcum.

    Contents: Bibliography I-III; Introduction 1-7; Chapter I. Aristotle's doctrine of truth 8-35; Chapter II. The distinction of essential and accidental being pp. 31-43; Chapter III. Logical and ontological accident 44-52; Chapter IV. The nature of the categories in the Metaphysics 53-66; Chapter V. The doctrine of the categories in the first treatise of the Organon 67-75; Chapter VI. The use of the categories in the work of Aristotle 76-88; Appendix. The names of the categories 89-92; Index locorum 93-96.

    From the Introduction: "It seems to be the fatal mistake of philology that it always failed to get rid of Kantian influences as to the question of the relation of logic and ontology. Many modern mathematical logicians have shown that the logical and the ontological aspect not only are inseparable but also that in many cases it either lacks good sense or is even impossible to distinguish them. Accordingly, the distinction of logical and ontological truth (especially of propositional truth and term-truth), that of logical and ontological accident and that of logical and ontological categories, has not the same meaning for modem logic as it seems to have for 'traditional' logic (for instance the logic of most Schoolmen).

    I hope to show in this study that the distinction of a logical and an ontological aspect (especially that of logical and ontological categories) can be applied to the Aristotelian doctrine only with the greatest reserve. A sharp distinction carried through rigorously turns out to be unsuitable when being applied to Aristotelian logic. For both aspects are, for Aristotle, not only mutually connected but even interwoven, and this in such a way that the ontological aspect seems to prevail, the logical being only an aspect emerging more or less in Aristotle's generally ontological way of thinking." (pp. 6-7)

  18. Dillon, John. 2009. "The Question of Being." In Greek Thought. A Guide to Classical Knowledge, edited by Brunschwig, Jacques and Lloyd, Geoffrey E.R., 51-71. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

  19. Eck, Job van. 2002. "Not-being and difference: on Plato's Sophist 256 d 5-258 e 3." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 23:63-84.

    "Plato's analysis of falsity at Sophist 263 is given in terms of not being and difference. 'Theaetetus flies' is false because what is different is stated as the same, and what is not as what is, (263 D 1-2), things that are different from what is the case concerning him (viz. flying) are described as the same (as what is the case about him). That there are indeed many 'not-beings' in the sense of things different from the things that are, the Eleatic Stranger (ES) and Theaetetus remarked some lines above, 'for we said there are many things that are with regard to each thing and many things that are not (263 B 11-12), referring to 256 E 6-7, 'so, with regard to each of the forms, being is many and not-being is indefinite in quantity'. In this way they had been disobedient to Parmenides, who had stated, 'Never shall it force itself on us that things that are-not are.' But they had gone even further in their disobedience: 'but we have not merely shown that the things that are-not are, but also brought to light the form not-being happens to have' (258 D 5-7).

    The context of both points has caused commentators a lot of problems. The main question is, how is it that something (i.e. a form) is called an ouk on in 256 D 8-257 A 6? Is it because it is different from the form of being; or is it because it is different from any thing (i.e. any form) it is not identical with? And on which of the two lines is the form of not-being defined as it is introduced in the section that follows, in 258 A 11-B 8 and 258 D 7-E 3? Only a few commentators have tackled the problems systematically, and as far as I know no interpretation has been reached that is both coherent and sound. Nevertheless, such an interpretation is possible, as I shall argue in the following. I shall discuss the passages at issue, criticize commentaries that have been given, and present the interpretation intended." (pp. 63-64, Greek omitted)

  20. Enrico, Berti. 1990. "Être et non-être chez Aristote: contraires ou contradictoires?" Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie no. 122:365-373.

  21. Flower, Robert. 1980. "G. E. L. Owen, Plato and the verb to be." Apeiron no. 14:87-95.

  22. Gould, Josiah B. 1974. "Being, the world and appearance in early Stoicism and some other Greek philosophies." The Review of Metaphysics no. 28:261-288.

  23. Guiraud, Pierre. 1962. La phrase nominale en grec d'Homère à Euripide. Paris: Klincksieck.

  24. Hintikka, Jaakko. 1986. "The Varieties of Being in Aristotle." In The Logic of Being, edited by Knuuttila, Simo and Hintikka, Jaakko, 81-114. Dordrecht: Reidel.

  25. Huber, Gerhard. 1955. Das Sein und das Absolute: Studien zur Geschichte der ontologischen Problematik in der spätantiken Philosophie. Basel: Verlag für Recht und Gesellschaft.

  26. Husain, Martha. 1976. "The question 'What is Being' and its Aristotelian answer." The New Scholasticism no. 50:293-309.

    "This paper takes its point of departure from a recent article by Joseph Owens: "The content of existence," (*) which argues that being is unknowable in terms of concepts since it either has all cognitive (when contrasted with not-being) or none at all (when contrasted with beings). These dilemmas can be resolved by means of Aristotle's categories as the intrinsic formal structure of being, and as constituting the cognitive content of being "qua" being. In terms of this cognitive content, being is conceptualized, becomes knowable, and can be meaningfully contrasted with both not-being and beings. Beyond the resolution of Owens' dilemmas, the paper goes on to examine the need for meaningful contrasts in all knowledge as well as the adequacy and relevance of Aristotle's categories in relation to modern science."

    Joseph Owens, The Content of Existence, in: Milton K. Munitz (ed.), Logic and Ontology, New York: New York University Press 1973, pp. 21-36.

  27. Kahn, Charles H. 1966. "The Greek Verb 'To Be' and the Concept of Being." Foundations of Language no. 2:245-265.

    Reprinted in C. H. Kahn, Essays on Being, New York: Oxford University Press 2009, pp. 16-40.

  28. ———. 1972. "On the terminology for copula and existence." In Islamic Philosophy and the Classical Tradition. Essays Presented by His Friends and Pupils to Richard Walzer on his Seventieth Birthday, edited by Stern, S.M., Hourani, Albert and Brown, Vivian, 141-158. London: Bruno Cassirer.

    Reprinted in C. H. Kahn, Essays on Being, New York: Oxford University Press 2009, pp. 41-61.

  29. ———. 1973. The Verb 'Be' in Ancient Greek. Dordrecht: Reidel.

    Volume 6 of: John W. M. Verhhar (ed.), The Verb 'Be' and Its Synonims. Philosophical and Grammatical Studies, Dordrecht: Reidel.

    Reprinted by Hackett Publishing, 2003 with new introduction and discussion of relation between predicative and existential uses of the verb einai.

    "This book began unintentionally in 1964, when I tried to put together a brief description of the pre-philosophical uses of the Greek verb be in order to lay the groundwork for an interpretation of the more technical use of the verb by the philosophers beginning with Parmenides. But the task was harder and longer than I thought, and it gradually became clear that no adequate description of the Greek data could be given without confronting a number of major issues in linguistic theory and in the philosophy of language.

    As often happens in so-called empirical research, the terms in which the problem is posed and the recognition of what might count as a solution turn out to depend upon certain theoretical assumptions about the nature of the subject matter and the appropriate form for description, analysis, and explanation. In this case there was the preliminary question of an appropriate method for describing and classifying the different uses of the verb, and the closely connected question of the relationship between a syntactic or formal analysis of these uses and a semantic account in terms of difference of meaning. Similar questions would arise in the study of any verb. But the verb be poses specific philosophic problems of its own: how are we to define or clarify the concepts of subject, predicate, copula, and verb of

    existence? And there is the problem of the verb be itself: in what sense is this system of distinct uses a unity? Is the possession of a single verb be with such a diversity of uses only a historical accident of Indo-European? And does it follow that the concept of Being is only a philosophic illusion?" (Preface (1973), XLV)

    "Thus the argument of my book reaches two conclusions, one linguistic and one philosophical. The philosophical conclusion, my defense of Greek ontology, rests on my account of the system of einai but does not follow from it.

    Greek ontology might be defended on different grounds, and a reader might accept my account of the system of einai but doubt its value as a defense of ontology. Furthermore, I have not tried to demonstrate the fruitfulness of my linguistic analysis for the interpretation of Greek philosophy. That could be done only by a detailed analysis of Platonic and Aristotelian texts.(1) The current study remains, after all, essentially a grammatical prolegomenon to the history of Greek ontology." (Introduction (200), p. VIII)

    (1) For the application of my account of einai to Parmenides, see Kahn (2002) ["Parmenides and Plato," in V. Caston and D. W. Graham (eds.), Presocratic Philosophy: Essays in honour of Alexander Mourelatos. Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, pp. 81-93] with references there to earlier publications.

    [In the Appendix to the Introduction (2003) Kahn replies to four important critical reviews of the first edition of his book:]

    Ernst Tugendhat, "Die Seinsfrage und ihre sprachliche Grundlage," Philosophische Rundschau 24 (1977), pp. 161-176: "Tugendhat's review contains a number of penetrating criticisms, some of which I am inclined to regard as justified." (p. XXXIII)

    Seth Benardete, "The Grammar of Being," Review of Metaphysics 30 (1977), pp. 486-496. "Seth Benardete has contributed a number of valuable corrections to my description of the Greek usage of einai." (p. XXXIV)

    Joachim Klowski, Review in Gnomon 47 (1975), pp. 737-746. "Klowski criticizes my exposition from the point of view of traditional philology and doubts the utility of introducing transformational grammar." (p. XXXV)

    Cornelis Jord Ruijgh, "A review of Ch. H. Kahn, The verb 'be' in Ancient Greek," in Lingua 48 (1979), pp. 43-83. [in French] "The most thorough and detailed discussion of my book is by C. J. Ruijgh, a linguist who is also a specialist in Greek. (Unfortunately, this 1979 publication came to my attention only quite recently, as the result of a citation in De Rijk [Aristotle: Semantics and Ontology. Leiden: Brill 2002, two volumes]. I recommend this review for a full, fair, and accurate report of the contents and claims of the book. I discuss here some points in which Ruijgh disagrees with me." (p. XXXVII)

  30. ———. 1973. "On the theory of the verb 'to be'." In Logic and Ontology, edited by Munitz, Miton, 1-20. New York: New York University Press.

  31. ———. 1976. "Why existence does not emerge as a distinct concept in Greek philosophy." Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie no. 58:324-334.

    Reprinted in C. H. Kahn, Essays on Being, New York: Oxford University Press 2009, pp. 62-74.

  32. ———. 1978. "Linguistic Relativism and the Greek Project of Ontology." In The Question of Being, edited by Sprung, Mervyn, 31-44. University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press.

    Paper read at a symposium at Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario.

    Published also in: Neue Hefte für Philosophie 15-16, 1979 pp. 20-33.

  33. ———. 1981. "Some philosophical uses of 'to be' in Plato." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 26:105-134.

    Reprinted in C. H. Kahn, Essays on Being, New York: Oxford University Press 2009, pp. 75-108.

  34. ———. 1986. "Retrospect on the verb 'to be' and the concept of Being." In The Logic of Being, edited by Knuttilla, Simo and Hintikka, Jaakko, 1-28. Reidel: Dordrecht.

  35. ———. 1988. "Being in Parmenides and Plato." La Parola del Passato no. 43:237-261.

    Reprinted in C. H. Kahn, Essays on Being, New York: Oxford University Press 2009, pp. 167-191.

  36. ———. 2004. "A Return to the Theory of the Verb be and the Concept of Being." Ancient Philosophy no. 24:381-405.

    Reprinted in C. H. Kahn, Essays on Being, New York: Oxford University Press 2009, pp. 109-142.

    "The recent reprinting of my book The Verb 'Be' in Ancient Greek by Hackett Publishing, thirty years after its appearance in 1973, gave me the opportunity to rethink and reformulate the theoretical framework for my description of the Greek verb. Since the audience for the reprinted book will inevitably be restricted, I present here a more accessible, slightly revised version of the new (2003) Introduction. In the original 1973 book, the theoretical discussion was far too long and not always consistent. What follows is a more concise and, I hope, more coherent version of my theoretical account of einai."

  37. ———. 2009. Essays on Being. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Contents: Introduction 1; 1. The Greek verb 'to be' and the concept of Being (1966) 16; 2. On the terminology for copula and existence (1972) 41; 3. Why existence does not emerge as a distinct concept in Greek philosophy (1976) 62; 4. Some philosophical uses of 'to be' in Plato (1981) 75; 5. A return to the verb 'to be' and the concept of Being (2004) 109; 6. The thesis of Parmenides (1969) 143; 7. Being in Parmenides and Plato (1988) 167; 8. Parmenides and Plato once more (2002) 192; Postscript on Parmenides (2008): Parmenides and physics. The direction of the chariot ride in the proem. The epistemic preference for Fire 207; Bibliography 219; Index of names 227.

    "The papers reprinted here, published over a stretch of forty years, reflect my continuing concern with two distinct but intimately related problems, one linguistic and one historical and philosophical. The linguistic problem concerns the theory of the Greek verb to be: how to replace the conventional but misleading distinction between copula and existential verb with a more adequate theoretical account. The philosophical problem is in principle quite distinct: to understand how the concept of Being became the central topic in Greek philosophy from Parmenides to Aristotle. But these two problems converge on what I have called the veridical use of einai. In my earlier papers I took that connection between the verb and the concept of truth to be the key to the central role of Being in Greek philosophy. I think that clue pointed in the right direction, but I would now interpret the veridical in terms of a more general function of the verb that I call 'semantic', which comprises the notions of existence and instantiation as well as truth."

  38. Ketchum, Richard J. 1998. "Being and Existence in Greek Ontology." Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie no. 80:321-332.

  39. Létoublon, Françoise. 1990. "La notion de non-être dans l'histoire de la langue grecque archaïque." Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie no. 122:313-322.

  40. Lewis, Frank A. 2004. "Aristotle on the Homonymy of Being." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research no. 68:1-36.

  41. Meillet, Antoine. 1906. "La phrase nominale en indo-européen." Mémoires de la Société Linguistique de Paris no. 14:1-26.

  42. Morgenstern, Amy. 2001. "Leaving the verb 'To Be' behind: an alternative reading of Plato's Sophist." Dionysius no. 19:27-50.

    "In this paper, I critically assess readings of Plato's Sophist which, influenced by the Anglo-American philosophical tradition, have in the latter half of the twentieth century set the terms for discussions of this text's central issues. While aware that these readings are often at odds with each other and, therefore, do not form one coherent reading, I argue that the basic theoretical move unifying these readings -- equating the Greek terms esti, to on, and ta onta with the verb 'to be,' understood existentially, predicatively, or as an identity sign -- cannot serve as the basis of an illuminating approach to the Eleatic stranger's investigation."

  43. Moro, Andrea. 2018. ND. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

    Translated from Italian by Bonnie McClellan-Broussard.

    Origina edition: Breve storia del verb essere, Milano: Adelphi: 2010.

  44. Morrison, Donald. 1987. "The Evidence for Degrees of Being in Aristotle." Classical Quarterly no. 37:382-402.

  45. Muralt, André de. 1990. "L'être du non-être en perspective aristotélicienne." Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie no. 122:375-388.

  46. Nogales, Gómez Salvador. 1972. "The Meaning of Being in Aristotle." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 12:317-339.

    "In order to deal with the complex concept of being, Aristotle distinguished between synonyms and homonyms, and these two categories were further subdivided. Things with nothing in common possess being and in every being there is something identical. We recognize matter and being only by analogy. Accident is a dimension of being but is not an entity in itself."

  47. O'Farrell, Frank. 1982. "Aristotle's Categories of Being." Gregorianum no. 63:87-131.

  48. Pelletier, Francis. 1990. Parmenides, Plato and the Semantics of Not-Being. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  49. Prior, William. 1980. "Plato's Analysis of Being and Not-Being in the Sophist." Southern Journal of Philosophy no. 18:199-211.

    "In this paper I argue that Plato does not, as most scholars believe, distinguish different senses or uses of the verb 'to be' in the "Sophist". He succeeds in differentiating existential statements from statements of identity and predications, but with the aid of a verb 'to be' which he takes to be univocal and to be equivalent to 'to participate in'. I offer an analysis of "Sophist" 251a-257c, and focus in particular on 255e-256e. This passage displays numerous parallels with the middle dialogues, and it is misleading to treat it as indicative of a change in Plato's metaphysics."

  50. Reding, Jean-Paul. 2004. "'To Be' in Greece and China." In Comparative Essays in Early Greek and Chinese Rational Thinking, 167-194. Aldershot: Ashgate.

  51. Ruijgh, Cornelis Jord. 1979. "A review of: Ch. H. Kahn, The verb 'be' in ancient Greek." Lingua no. 48:43-83.

    "Sommaire: §1. Introduction: le probleme du rapport entre l'emploi copulatif et l'emploi dit existentiel de einai.

    A. Le contenu du livre de M. Kahn: §2. L'ontologie des philosophes et les problèms des deux emplois de einai; le choix de la théorie transformationnelle de Harris. - §3. Les différentes acceptions des termes 'sujet', 'prédicat' et 'copule'. - §4. L'application de la théorie transformationnelle au grec ancien. - §5. La description des emplois copulatifs de einai (copule nominale, copule locative, etc.). - §6. La théorie générale de la copule: valeur statique, marque de la prétention de vérité. - §7. Les emplois existentiels (six types), l'emploi possessif et 1'emploi potentiel de einai. - §8. L'emploi veridical de einai. - §9. L'unité des emplois de einai: dès l'indo-éuropeen, l'emploi copulatif serait central. - §10. L'accentuation de esti et sa place dans l'ordre des mots; la phrase nominale; to on et ousia.

    B. Observations critiques: §11. Objections gènérales; la coexistence d'une analyse copulative et d'une analyse non-copulative sans différence sémantique dans certains types de phrases. - §12. Le caractère vague des termes d'ordre sémantique 'valeur fondamentale' et `valeur centrale'. - §13. La valeur fondamentale de einai, qui se manifeste surtout dans la construction absolue: 'être present', 'être là' sans spécification ultérieure (valeur présentielle; les nuances 'subsistantielle' et 'existentielle')., §14. Le rapport entre einai et ses composés (pareinai, eneinai, etc). - §15. L'emploi vital de einai. - §16. L'emploi strictement existentiel du type esti Zeux. - §17. L'emploi strictement existentiel du type estin ostix ...; le passage aux emplois métaphoriques et abstraits de einai. - §18. L'emploi de einai avec un nom d'action comme sujet. - §19. L'emploi-veridical de einai. - §20. L'emploi de einai avec un complement de lieu: le passage à la construction copulative. - §21. Le caractère non spécifié de la valeur fondamentale de einai explique son emploi copulatif; la phrase nominative simple. - §22. La phrase nominative cumulative: l'apposition. - §23. La phrase verbale monolectique (à sujet inclus). - §24. La phrase verbale à sujet extèrne. - §25. La phrase élémentaire du type kuon esti: construction absolue et construction copulative. - §26. La phrase du type outo z Swkratm z esti. - §27. L'ambiguité syntaxique d'autres types de phrases, notamment de ceux qui comportent un quantificateur. - §28. Le caractère non impersonnel de la construction du type nus esti. §29. L'ambiguité syntaxique de la construction impersonnelle du type oion te esti makestai. - §30. La construction impersonnelle du type esti makestai. - §31. La construction impersonnelle du type esti makestai (emploi potentiel; la fonction adverbiale de l'infinitif); les types anagke esti makestai et anagkaion esti makestai. - §32. Conclusion."

  52. ———. 1984. "Sur la valeur fondamentale de einai: Une réplique." Mnemosyne no. 37:264-270.

    Reply to the article of R. van Bennekom in the same number.

  53. Salis, Rita. 2012. "The Notion of Being as Act in Neoplatonism and its Transmission in the Translatio Studiorum." In Translatio Studiorum: Ancient, Medieval and Modern Bearers of Intellectual History, edited by Sgarbi, Marco, 51-63. Leiden: Brill.

  54. Studtmann, Paul. 2007. "Aristotle, Science and the Plenitude of Being." Apeiron no. 40:245-266.

Related pages

Key Terms in Ontology: Being