Everything real and nothing unreal belongs to the domain of Being. But there is little useful that can be said about everything that is real, especially from within the philosopher's study, so it is not apparent that there can be such a subject as Being by itself. Nevertheless the concept has a central place in philosophy from Parmenides to Heidegger . The central question of ‘why is there something and not nothing?’ prompts logical reflection on what it is for a universal to have an instance, and a long history of attempts to explain contingent existence by reference to a necessary ground. In the tradition since Plato this ground becomes a self-sufficient, perfect, unchanging, and eternal something, identified with the Good or God, but whose relation with the everyday world remains obscure (see ontological argument, cosmological argument, principle of plenitude ). Modern logic gives little comfort to these speculations, and prompts suspicion that the question of why there is something and not nothing is either ill-formed or profitless, since any intelligible answer will merely invite the same question. A central mistake in the area is to treat Being as a noun that identifies a particularly deep subject-matter. This is parallel to treating Nothing as a name of a particular thing, perhaps an object of dread or fear. The modern logical treatment of these notions by means of quantifiers and variables provides a defence against this error and others. The less abstract part of the study of being concerns the kinds of things whose existence we have to acknowledge: abstract entities, possibilities, numbers, and so on, and disputes over their reality form the subject of ontology.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.


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  • Being — Be ing, p. pr. from {Be}. Existing. [1913 Webster] Note: Being was formerly used where we now use having. Being to go to a ball in a few days. Miss Edgeworth. [1913 Webster] Note: In modern usage, is, are, was or were being, with a past… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Being — Be ing, n. 1. Existence, as opposed to nonexistence; state or sphere of existence. [1913 Webster] In Him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts xvii. 28. [1913 Webster] 2. That which exists in any form, whether it be material or spiritual,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • being — [bē′iŋ] n. [see BE] 1. the state or fact of existing or living; existence or life 2. fundamental or essential nature 3. one who lives or exists, or is assumed to do so [a human being, a divine being] 4. all the physical and mental qualities that… …   English World dictionary

  • being — [n1] existence actuality, animation, journey, life, living, presence, reality, subsistence, vitality, world; concept 407 Ant. deadness being [n2] essential nature character, entity, essence, essentia, essentiality, individuality, marrow,… …   New thesaurus

  • Being — Be ing, adv. Since; inasmuch as. [Obs. or Colloq.] [1913 Webster] And being you have Declined his means, you have increased his malice. Beau. & Fl. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • being — (n.) c.1300, condition, state, circumstances; presence, fact of existing, early 14c., existence, from BE (Cf. be) (q.v.) + ING (Cf. ing). Sense of that which physically exists, person or thing (e.g. human being) is from late 14c …   Etymology dictionary

  • being... — being... phrase used for giving an explanation of something Being younger than the others, I always had to wear their old clothes. Thesaurus: ways of explaining or clarifyinghyponym to make something easier to understandsynonym Main entry: be …   Useful english dictionary

  • being — I (core) noun actuality, center, character, complexion, constituent, entity, essence, identity, individuality, inherence in, intellect, lifeblood, mind, monad, nature, occurrence, presence, psyche, quiddity, reality, root, spirit, substance,… …   Law dictionary

  • being — 1 *existence, actuality Analogous words: personality, individuality, character (see DISPOSITION) Antonyms: becoming: nonbeing 2 *entity, creature, individual, person Analogous words: *thing, object, article: * …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • being — ► NOUN 1) existence. 2) the nature or essence of a person. 3) a living creature: alien beings …   English terms dictionary

  • Being — In ontology (the study of being) being is anything that can be said to be , either transcendentally or immanently.The nature of being varies by philosophy, giving different interpretations in the frameworks of Aristotle, materialism, idealism,… …   Wikipedia

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