Chapter

The Ontology of Energy

Colin McGinn

in Basic Structures of Reality

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199841103
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919529 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199841103.003.0010
The Ontology of Energy

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This chapter suggests that energy is a real objective trait of reality, not merely a useful mathematical fiction, and that it has a highly general nature, which is capable of assuming different forms. Regarding its intrinsic nature, this chapter leans towards a position of agnostic realism about energy: we refer to something we-know-not-what with the word “energy”—just as we do with the word “matter.” We know that energy circulates and remains constant, as well as knowing the laws of its various manifestations, but we don't know what it consists in—we have no positive descriptive conception of it. Given that it is basic to physical reality, then, we lack knowledge of a fundamental aspect of the world.

Keywords: energy; ontology; reality; intrinsic nature

Chapter.  5827 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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