Res Philosophica

Volume 96, Issue 3, July 2019

Amie L. Thomasson
Pages 289-306

What Can Phenomenology Bring to Ontology?

“Ontology” is understood and undertaken very differently in the phenomenological tradition than it is in the recent analytic tradition. Here I argue that those differences are not accidental, but instead reflect deeper differences in views about what the proper role and methods for philosophy are. I aim to show that, from a phenomenological perspective, questions about what exists can be answered ‘easily,’ whether through trivial inferences (in the case of ideal abstracta) or (always tentatively, of course) by ordinary empirical means—seeing how our observations hang together. As a result, it can get us away from the obscurities, epistemological mysteries, and skepticism that the neo-Quinean approach to ontology has left us in and provide a clearer and less problematic approach to questions of ontology.