Photo taken from this site.
In one of the most beautiful Polish books for children, Mr Blot`s Journeys (Podróże Pana Kleksa), prof. Ambrose Blot, former head of a famous magical Academy, in his search for reliable ink supply visited, among others, Nothingness Land (Nibycja). The region was inhabited by etherical persons from such fairy tales that hadn`t been created yet. One of the consequences their peculiar state of being (or maybe non-being?) was that they were hardly audible. Prof. Blot plucked a hair from his beard, and wrapped it around his ear in order to enhance Nothingnessers` voices. They greeted him kindly and offered a bottle of ink they used, but this was of no importance for the professor because the liquid momentarily disappeared.
In this fancy way I became as a child more familiar with questions called ontological:
What exsists? What is real?
How it exists?
What does it mean: to exist?
Ontology is the general knowledge about existence. Sometimes the ancient name metaphysics is used synonymously (it`s better to use this word with caution, some people are quite allergic to it).
Among the most important ontological problems are:
Why there is something rather that nothing?
What is the difference between existing of someone`s body and his (her) psychical life?
In which way the mathematical objects exist? (not to mention nightmares of many students). Do mathematicians discovers new objects in some kind of eternal realm (similar to Columbus discovering new lands), or do they create them (like artisans their masterpieces)?
Does God exist? And what is this question really about? If the world could be described as a stuff – I use this term in a general sense: as something -, God should not be called any kind of stuff at all, whether existing or even more non-existing. But what does not something mean: Nothing(ness) or perhaps no thing? What then would be the difference between presence and absence of God?
Did I appear in the world, or did the world appear to me?
Perhaps it is futile to explain the meaning of the word to exist since we have to exist in order to explain anything?
One can think that these are not real problems but just a play on words. Maybe the mentioned problems are too real for any words, and that`s the point?
I think that Mr Blot could be nicknamed Ontologicus the Brave, as he travelled to the borders of all that exists. Or perhaps Jan Brzechwa as the author? Anyway, it`s a great and wise story, not only for children.
(*) Picture from the book: Jan Brzechwa, Pan Kleks, illustrated by Jan Marcin Szancer, Warszawa 1989.