Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (4): 577-588.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201704002

• Theoretical Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

On the connotation, nature and theoretical value ofontology of geography

Kai LIU1(), Maolin TANG2, Rongzeng LIU1, Yaochen QIN3   

  1. 1. School of Resources and Environment Science, Henan University of Economics and Law, Zhengzhou 450002, China
    2. School of Geographical Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
    3. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for Middle and LowerYellow River Regions, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, Henan, China
  • Received:2016-09-28 Revised:2017-01-02 Online:2017-04-20 Published:2017-05-09
  • Supported by:
    Fund for Humanities and Social Science Research Project of the Ministry of Education of China, No.15YJA720003


Research on the contemporary philosophy of science shows that discussion of the ontological problem is of fundamental significance for the study of the philosophy of science and theory of a certain specific discipline. Natural and social sciences researches are inseparable from the philosophical guidance. The philosophy of geography is the ideological basis of geography. The traditional philosophy of geography is methodology-oriented, which usually lays emphasis on "logical structure of explanation of geography", and ignores the discussion of its ontology. This article, in the context of philosophy of science, explores the relationships among methodology, ontology and philosophy of geography, defines the connotations of geographical ontology, analyzes the links and differences between philosophical ontology and scientific ontology of geography, clarifies the nature of geographical ontology, and summaries its theoretical values. The ontology of geography does not only involve the philosophically ontological belief of geographers and geographical schools but also the ontological commitment of the theory of geography. As different geographers hold different philosophical viewpoints, their ontological beliefs are different; and one geographical theory holds an ontological commitment of "what there is to be", and thus the nature and kinds of objectives referred to by the theory are determined. The ontological beliefs of geographers determine their epistemology, methodology and axiology, and the ontological commitment of a geographical theory is the premise and basis of the theory to be constructed.

Key words: geography, philosophy of science, ontology, pluralism, methodology, theoretical value