Since the OP asked about Theravada, I've answered as I understood Theravada to teach.
When it comes to what I understand the Buddha has taught, was pragmatical path to the cessation of all suffering with minimal ontological teaching. At least I hope so. Ultimately, often abstract views are not very helpful to the path and can be source of disputes and arguments. Since suffering is internal truth, its solution is internal. If one is wounded with the arrow, one treats the wound, not the archer or the bow.
What I think is interesting is that we use words to convey something to others. Words and experience to which they point to are not the same. "Sweetness" as a word and sweetness as experience of sugar on the tongue are different. Some metaphysical problems may be more of expression problems than real ones. Some words may not even have objective references. So I think it is important not to value too much linguistics. Too often the mind likes to proliferate with purely mental distinctions (papañcasaññāsaṅkhā
) and be caught up by them. We need to put less personal significance to distinctions, ideas and thoughts. The more one clings to ones own ideas, the more chance there is for arguments with people who cling to other ideas. Many philosophical abstractions such as "wholes" and "parts" (or general and particulars) are words. Other people can measure the phenomena in another way. The mind that prefers analysis can think about parts, and mind that likes synthesis can think about wholes. I think that wholes/parts, and many other conventions are just that. Sometimes what we call "a part" can be a "whole" when compared to something else. What one calls "whole" can be a "part" when compared to something bigger. These terms and many others (perhaps all words) have intrinsically variable things they point to. If so, how can pointers that can point to different things at different times be absolute? It is mind that minds and makes measurements, relations, distinctions, etc. So words which we have to use for the sake of communication are not absolute and fixed truth. Some ontological ideas seem almost identical in meaning but use different word "mind" or "matter". Example: Common sense Direct realism asserts that the world is as we perceive it. Same is with idealism. The only difference seems that while those realists say that the world is made of matter, Idealists say it is made of mind... In this case the distinction seems to be whether we call the basis as "matter" or as "mind". Indirect realism states that we perceive only one's own mental representation of the world, and so is with idealism in that regard. The difference is that idealism goes step further and rejects the existence of external material world, while indirect realism still accepts it. Some differences in these views may be due to usage of words. This shouldn't be taken to mean that we should not drop dead like insentient wood without thinking anything. Rather we should not get caught up and consider our thoughts to be too personally significant. I have suspicion that later Buddhist philosophy has put too much significance on analysis or synthesis of words rather than to work on fading of all personal craving.
"Perceiving in terms of signs, beings take a stand on signs. Not fully comprehending signs, they come into the bonds of death. But fully comprehending signs, one doesn't construe a signifier... Having shed classifications, gone beyond conceit, he has here cut through craving for name & form: This one — his bonds cut through, free from trouble, from longing — though they search they can't find him, human & heavenly beings, here & beyond, in heaven or any abode
." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html