This posthumous work by Gustav Bergmann was essentially complete before his death in 1987. In it, he proposes a systematic ontological system that would account for all the basic areas of human thought and experience within an extended framework of logical atomism. Bergmann’s approach to traditional problems of ontology seeks to balance the competing demands of phenomenology, which emphasizes the reality presented to us by experience, and of metaphysics, which delineates the most general kinds of existents given in experience and the most general kinds of relationships they bear to one another. Beginning with atomic facts composed of phenomenally presented qualities, Bergmann goes on to develop an ontology that can account for the ordinary objects of everyday experience, the mental states through which we become aware of and acquire knowledge of these objects, and even the truths of logic and mathematics that allow us to extend our thought and discourse about ordinary objects beyond what may be phenomenally apparent.
Many ontologists will be particularly interested in the attention Bergmann pays to the concept of logical form. In his earlier works, Bergmann claimed that “the form of the world is in the world”; the “fact” that a thing or a complex has a certain logical or syntactic form, he argued, is itself one more fact of our experienced reality, rather than a contribution of the mind or of linguistic conventions. Critics of this claim have suggested that paradoxes and contradictions result from it. In New Foundations of Ontology Bergmann responds, arguing that his concept of logical form does not necessarily create the problems noted in earlier critiques.
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Gustav Bergman (1906-1987) was professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Iowa. Among his earlier works are Meaning and Existence and Realism, both published by the University of Wisconsin Press. William Heald is adjunct lecturer in philosophy at the University of Iowa. Edwin B. Allaire is professor of philosophy at the University of Texas-Austin and the coauthor of Essays in Ontology.
“A profound, systematic, and illuminating study of the basic constituents of the world and the fundamental laws that govern the ways in which these constituents combine to produce the larger entities we find in our experience. It is the fruit of the most penetrating reflection on the structure of the world by an admirably responsible philosopher committed to an ontology of logical simples, and it is the culmination of the sustained career of the major ontologist of recent decades.”—Hector-Neri Castañeda, Indiana University
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