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The Structure of the Chinese Language and Ontological Insights: A Collective-Noun Hypothesis
Philosophy East and West
Vol. 49, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 45-62
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1400116
Page Count: 18
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Nouns, Ontology, Semantics, Mereology, Nominalism, Collective nouns, Domain ontologies, Numerals, Syntactics
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Through a comparative case analysis regarding the Chinese language, it is discussed how the structure and functions of a natural language would bear upon the ways in which some philosophical problems are posed and some ontological insights shaped. Disagreeing with Chad Hansen's mass-noun hypothesis, a collective-noun hypothesis is argued for: (1) the denotational semantics and relevant grammatical features of Chinese nouns are like those of collective nouns; (2) their implicit ontology is a mereological ontology of collection-of-individuals with both part-whole and member-class structure; and (3) encouraged and shaped by the folk semantics of Chinese nouns, classical Chinese theorists of language take this kind of mereological nominalism for granted.
Philosophy East and West © 1999 University of Hawai'i Press