What there is, how things are

Ossorio, P.G. / Published 1998 / Article

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Citation: Ossorio, P. G. (1998). What there is, How things are. In H.J. Jeffrey and R. M. Bergner (Eds.), Advances in Descriptive Psychology, Vol. 7, (pp. 7-32). Ann Arbor, MI. Descriptive Psychology Press. (Original work published 1996 as LRI Report No. 49a. Boulder, CO: Linguistic Research Institute.)

Abstract: This paper addresses what it means to be real, what it means to say that something exists, and what is means to say that something is a person. Four kinds of things can be observed in the real world: Objects, processes, events, and states of affairs. These four concepts, and their inter-relationships as articulated by the State of Affairs System, are a conceptual structure adequate for describing all of the phenomena of the real world. All four (together with their formal relations) are required for understanding the real world. Assigning any of the four a privileged position as what is "really real" can be expected to produce bizarre and mysterious results, and this is just what has happened with the field of Ontology, which assigns that privileged methodological status to objects. "What sort of thing is a person" is then addressed via the SA system. Formally, a person is a state of affairs, with object aspects (or constituents), including the body, process and event aspects, and other state of affairs constituents. In particular, certain of these aspects involve the assignment of other objects to positions in one's life, i.e., are dramaturgical. This leads to an expansion of the traditional Descriptive Psychology definition of a person: A person is an individual whose history is, paradigmatically, a history of deliberate actions in a dramaturgical pattern.