Ontology – The nature of reality

Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences. Some philosophers contend that nouns do not always name entities, but that some provide a kind of shorthand for reference to a collection of either objects or events. In this view, mind, instead of referring to an entity, refers to a collection of mental events experienced by a person; society refers to a collection of persons with some shared characteristics, and geometry refers to a collection of a specific kind of intellectual activity. Essential ontological dichotomies include Universals and particulars, Substance and accident, Abstract and concrete objects, Essence and existence and Determinism and in-determinism.  (Griswold, 2001)


What is Ontological assumption and how does it shape the practice of of qualitative research? (Galt, 2008)


Assumption Question Characteristic Implication for Practice



What is the nature of reality?

Reality is subjective and multiple, as seen by the participants in the study.

Researcher uses quotes and themes in words of participants and provides evidence of different perspectives.


I used Social Constructivism for my paper’s conceptual framework. The following two paragraphs are talking something interesting about that social Constructivism relates to ontological assumption.

“A recent influence within social constructionism is to investigate the ways in which events, processes and qualities are presented and modelled in language, the discursive, which could be called linguistic analysis, as it concentrates on how descriptions of what is real are made, passed on and change through time (Edwards & Potter 1992, Grace 1987). The role language plays in memory has also been tackled (Harre 1990, Edwards, Potter and Middleton 1992, Harre & Gillett 1994). But the study of appropriate language games does not reflect the interrelation of the non-verbal relationships of humanity in connection with the possible ways of verbalizing them.

The currently acceptable ways of talking about the mind show the linguistic representation of ontological assumptions about the nature of the mind. For instance, the mind in itself does not exist and never has or ever will. The mind, like any other concept, is created by talk from professionals and lay people as to what the mind is. The mind, as it is usually assumed to be is the receptacle for “individuality” and “thoughts”. “Individuality” is a Western assumption that people are separate and unique and fully self-responsible in all aspects of their life, from catching a cold, to having children who become delinquents, or their career going into decline.” (Owen, 1995, p.4)



Griswold, Charles L. (2001). Platonic writings/Platonic readings. Penn State Press. p. 237.

Galt, Kimberly A. (2008). Qualitative, Quantitative andMixed Methods Approachesto Research and   Inquiry

Owen, Ian Rory.(1995). Social constructionism and the theory, practice and research of psychotherapy: A phenomenological psychology manifesto