Ok so we’ve all experienced it – that excitement and enthusiasm of beginning the phd and then you discover yourself in alien territory of Greek terminology that you may have never seen or heard before. For many Pacific island students, the fact that English may be your second, third or fourth language may already be a challenge given that you need to write the full dissertation of about 80,000 to 100, 000 words in the English language.

Yes. Drowning in an ocean of technical terminology is not a pleasant experience so it is highly advisable that we very quickly learn to swim with the sharks.

First up, while epistemology is more commonly used, much of what we are exposed to as Undergrad students and sometimes even at the Masters level does not adequately cover the distinction between “ontology” and “epistemology”. So, given that a PhD dissertation requires that we establish our ontological and epistemological standpoint, it is critical that each of us take the time to figure out what they mean.

Just over the last week I received a notification from one of the linkedin groups that I have subscribed to “Higher Education Academy” and the discussion was on differentiating between the O and the E. Follow the academic discourse here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Can-anyone-explain-Ontology-Epistemology-2163207.S.236498623?view=&srchtype=discussedNews&gid=2163207&item=236498623&type=member&trk=eml-anet_dig-b_pd-ttl-hdp&ut=3KkkL0S-eZ5RM1

I have also found that youtube has some great scholarly videos that range from 3 minutes to 30 minutes. This is a great starting point as it is interactive and is easier to follow than a clinical text book. See below for a  few videos that help to clarify the difference between O & E. If you are aware of any others please do post links in your replies.

Basic Question of Philosophy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ht3luMUASI

Branches of Philosophy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzCAKbKyl4g

How could ontology & epistemology affect your research write up? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHArrSe9wz8

What is ontology? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTsaZWzVJ4c

In my next post we will revisit ontology and look at Pacific island reference points.

blessed day!