Issues in Ontology


a) Acquire a deep understanding of the meaning and specific characteristics of Ontology as the sought after science (zêtoumenê epistêmê) and of its interlinking with the other branches of philosophy and science b) Acquire a deep understanding of the various approaches that have been taken in trying to provide an answer to ontological questions c) Acquire detailed knowledge of a wide range of ontological concepts d) Acquire increased proficiency in understanding, comparing and using these concepts critically and independently, and in interpreting and discussing ontological claims and questions e) Acquire detailed knowledge of the fundamental texts in this field, with a mastering of past interpretations, of the current state of research and of all the relevant bibliography f) Acquire the ability to carry out research work under supervision in this field that meets high scientific quality standards. g) Acquire the ability to carry out independent research in this area.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Mário Jorge Pereira de Almeida Carvalho


Weekly - 3

Total - 280

Teaching language



Not applicable.


“Wonder” – “thauma”, “ekplêxis”, “admiratio”, “stupor”, “amazement”, “astonishment” – has been considered in various contexts and from various perspectives. It is already present in early Greek thought (Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Herodotus, Thucydides, etc.). From Plato and Aristotle, through Plotinus, to Cicero, Lucretius and Boethius, from Montaigne, through La Rochefoucauld, to Schopenhauer, from Hegel to Heidegger and Wittgenstein, it is a recurring theme in ontological and gnoseological thought. But it also plays a pivotal role in the history of the so-called “aesthetics of the sublime” – from Longinus to Boileau, Dennis, Addison, Shaftesbury, Burke, Hume, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Coleridge, Schopenhauer, etc. Last but not least, literature (Gracián, Hebbel, Stevenson, Carroll, Proust, Valéry, Pessoa, Woolf, Ionesco, to name just a few) provides important insights and reflections on this topic.
A bibliography will be given in the first session.

Teaching method

This curricular unit has a theoretical-practical character.
Seminar-oriented classes.
Reading and interpretation of and commentary on the relevant philosophical texts and related philosophical questions and concepts.
The teaching methodology combines: a) a thorough interpretation of the texts in question (of their different components and of their connection with other texts) b) a theoretical analysis of philosophical problems, and c) a discussion of alternative views, objections, counter-examples, etc

Evaluation method

Available soon

Subject matter

The Maze of “Wonder” (“thaumazein”) and its ontological implications

“Wonder” is a many-sided and elusive phenomenon. From Plato to Wittgenstein it is a recurring theme in ontological and gnoseological thought. But it also plays a pivotal role in the “aesthetics of the sublime”, and literature provides important insights into this topic.
Our task is to explore this intricate maze – both the maze of the phenomenon itself and the maze of the millenary discussion about it: to piece all the “disjecta membra” together and to find an Ariadne's thread through them.
The key questions are: What is the nature of “wonder”? What are its conditions of possibility? How many kinds of “wonder” are there? And how are they connected to each other? Is wonder a univocal phenomenon or a “pollachôs legomenon”? What are the alternatives to “thaumazein” and what does the complete “spectrum” – of which “thaumazein” is a part – look like? What role does thaumazein (or its absence) play in ontological inquiry?