I've been pondering about the distinction between the object/concrete/particular vs property/abstract/universal.... (side note: I used to think that properties are more "general" than objects, but then I realized that is not true, since an object can have a "bundle" of different properties, as much as a property can be "spread across" multiple objects.) And the object and property view seemed to satisfactorily describe the world, but then I'm not sure how to fit concepts of "structure," "interactions," and "change," etc. into this view. These concepts seem related to complexity and emergence. Are these also types of properties?

  • See Aristotle's Categories May 22, 2020 at 14:06
  • This picture of the world is deficient in (at least) two ways. First, it is static, there are timeless objects and timeless properties, but no means to account for change. Second, in addition to properties (one-place predicates) there are relations (multi-place predicates), and interactions are expressed by the latter. "Structure" also requires relations in addition to properties, one could say that it is a system of (abstract) relations with placeholders into which objects are inserted. The result is a composite of objects among which the relations hold.
    – Conifold
    May 22, 2020 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


In computer science there is a concept of object-oriented data (wholly unrelated to object-oriented ontology). In the object model, every object has two kinds of characteristics, viz. properties and methods.

Properties are passive aspects, while methods implement dynamic changes and can interact with other objects.

Object classes may be defined, specifying the properties and methods which all objects within the class must possess. Any such object is an instance of its class.

It is quite a useful and widespread way of looking at things, but it does not suit all situations. Other paradigms such as structured, procedural or functional approaches are better for some kinds of complexity.

  • It's very interesting that you brought up computer science since the notions of properties and methods are part of what I was thinking about - as in, what are methods/behavior/functions? Are they relations? Are relations ordered tuples? Can they be summarized as special types of sets/properties? Are methods dynamic or meta versions of properties?
    – csp2018
    May 22, 2020 at 16:12
  • Relations exist in object models in two ways. The object tree comprises all the classes, sub-classes and instances of objects. You can trace simple relationships through the tree just like a family tree full of uncles and grandchildren. Methods can be any code you wish, and that code may if you so choose embody relationships between various objects. But the structuring of such relations is haphazard and there can be better ways to approach relational structures. For example a relational database and an object-oriented database store and access data in rather different ways. May 22, 2020 at 16:26

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