Metaphysics matters

How strange questions produce vital answers

Critics of contemporary metaphysics might have moved on from logical empiricism but the accusation that metaphysics is a waste of time has not gone away. Those like Craig Callender argue that this branch of philosophy asks irrelevant questions and answers them with unreliable intuitions. But this ignores the role of arguments in metaphysics as well as the crucial, real-world applications of its seemingly strange subject matter, writes Alexander Kaiserman.

 

It’s not easy to say what metaphysics is, much less what it ought to be. Most branches of philosophy are named after their subject matter – philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and so on. The word ‘metaphysics’, by contrast, is derived from the collective title given to fourteen books by Aristotle 100 years after his death, probably as a warning from the editor that they should be tackled only after having mastered the books contained i

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otis jame 13 July 2022

Metaphysics is the study of what can only be described as "the big questions". Has there ever been a time when the universe was not? Is there a God? What is reality? And so on.

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HECTOR CARAZA 17 May 2021

People like to put things in boxes, maybe it makes the feel good, like they are in control, doing something meaningful? That said all of us at various levels take part in "metaphysical-ness" if that is even a word. Why are people attracted to; a sunset or the sea side or both a sun set by the sea? Why do lovers seek out places where real life boarders of "worlds" existence, occur? Like sun sets by the sea or a stroll thru a beautiful necropolis? Places where two worlds boarder one another. Perhaps the "brain-manipulation machine like Professor Farnsworth’s" is real? Lover are (or can be ) in a state of being where the boarder between self and other (non-self) get blurred. If to can become one, who is the one to become? Maybe "to be or not to be" is metaphysical philosophy? Can you find a better contrast to set off the meaning the understanding of "love" than Romeo and Juliet, love (everything-ness) contrasted to death (nothingness), Eros & Thanatos timeless, boarder (culture)-less. To be or not to be and Camus philosophical Myth of Sisyphus refer to, physical suicide, emotional suicide, psychological or intellectual (philosophical) suicide? Are things determined NOT to be the cause or relevant in process of getting to an empirical truth not participants that contributed to the celebrated arrival at that place or time or destination called "truth", "beauty". Perhaps philosophy is an art that unfortunately only a few have the eyes or ears for and only when it is expressed in art forms that many can assimilated like; Shakespeare, Beethoven or Michelangelo does it acquire for lack of a better word "mass" appeal? Surely of all places in academia is the one place where the ears and eyes are most capable of appreciating, valuing the dry cardboard tasting writing of most philosophers who even if they present priceless gems at the end require ingestion of "dry cardboard" like reading Hegel or most other. :)

IP PETER 16 May 2021

Metaphysics begins and ends with our Venerable Father, Parmenides. Metaphysics are "first principles" and first principles are truths about Existence. Anyone who thinks truths about Existence is "meaningless" is a fool.

Rich_S 8 February 2021

I find it hard to believe that philosophers still have to justify their work in this way. The only decent criticisms are ones which engage with the topics and evaluate how arguments and judgements are formed - in doing so those critics are engaging in metaphysics themselves. Of course there should be space for the most esoteric forms of philosophy. One criticism I have is that many of these questions have been tackled by ancient or renaissance philosophers - often ignored.