Elsewhere on the internet...

The League of Reason has some social media accounts! You can find us on Facebook or on Twitter for some interesting links and things.

Was metaphysics ever genuine?

Post new topic Reply to topic  Page 1 of 1
 [ 14 posts ] 
Was metaphysics ever genuine?
Author Message
ShootMyMonkeyPosts: 145Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:38 pm Gender: Male

Post Was metaphysics ever genuine?

I find myself perplexed by the nature of pretty much everything brought up in metaphysics. It seems to be built up entirely out of meaningless conjecture which doesn't actually offer any insight and allows assertions to slip through without any sort of justification by simply obfuscating meaning. It just seems like every metaphysical argument for any speculative judgment becomes this ham-handed way of not having to explain anything. I see countless examples of qualitative statements made where someone prepends that qualitative judgment with the word "metaphysically." Something is "metaphysically simple" or "metaphysically fluid"... and it's a convenient escape from having to make a real point or even having to explain yourself. When pressed to explain what they mean by "metaphysically xxxxxxxx" in debate, they either seem to refuse to explain saying something along the lines that it's the responsibility of the opponent to know what that means, or they branch off into other nebulous properties without explanation, or they just rephrase the exact same statement over again.

I guess I have to wonder. Was there ever a point where metaphysics was actually a serious branch of philosophy, or has it always been the quasi-intellectual bullshitting that it seems to be?
Yahweh can't possibly get tenure --
He has only one major publication. It has no credits and no references, and was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. He used human test subjects, many of which he killed, without ethics committee approval.
Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:08 am
WWW
devilsadvocateUser avatarPosts: 246Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:28 pm

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

Was there ever a point where metaphysics was actually a serious branch of philosophy, or has it always been the quasi-intellectual bullshitting that it seems to be?


Yes, at least since Thales it has been major part of any philosophy (and before that, of any religion) until the 19th century when scientific, empirical worldview and -method started to become the accepted default metaphysics and epistemology. Early empiricists like Hobbes and Locke had their own peculiar metaphysics as well.
Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny.
Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:35 am
ShootMyMonkeyPosts: 145Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:38 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

devilsadvocate wrote:Yes, at least since Thales it has been major part of any philosophy (and before that, of any religion) until the 19th century when scientific, empirical worldview and -method started to become the accepted default metaphysics and epistemology. Early empiricists like Hobbes and Locke had their own peculiar metaphysics as well.

What exactly was different back then as opposed to now? In general, there seems to be the overarching question of how to explain the nature of being, but it seems like the fact that the advent of empiricism branched science and the scientific method away... it ended up that metaphysics ended up being exclusively dealing in the non-empirical and diving into area which are not supportable by logic or reason even in principle. A lot of ideas put forth seem to be argued not on the basis of fact, but on the basis of rhetoric, and that opens up opportunities to cheat. For that matter, the fact that it traffics so much in abstraction of concepts which are ill-understood in detail makes it so easy to bullshit your way out of anything. How does one even maintain any real measure of rigor or formality to such a system?
Yahweh can't possibly get tenure --
He has only one major publication. It has no credits and no references, and was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. He used human test subjects, many of which he killed, without ethics committee approval.
Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:24 am
WWW
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

Metaphysics is a very broad category but you're not in bad company for wanting to right it off completely. Metaphysical discussions can be a waste of time when talking about subjects like freewill/determinism or god/no god but philosophical discussion on the nature of causation or happiness can be enlightening. That's my take anyway.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:54 am
WWW
devilsadvocateUser avatarPosts: 246Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:28 pm

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

What exactly was different back then as opposed to now? In general, there seems to be the overarching question of how to explain the nature of being, but it seems like the fact that the advent of empiricism branched science and the scientific method away... it ended up that metaphysics ended up being exclusively dealing in the non-empirical and diving into area which are not supportable by logic or reason even in principle.


To understand what was different back then one must realize both the immaturity/non-existence of the scientific method and the huge influence of the greek philosophy, geometry, and achievements that came from both. World they looked on was highly chaotic, there weren't any physical laws we have now that connected the seemingly disconnected things and they didn't understand the little we now know about mind, matter and consciousness.

There was, however, euclidean geometry that was appealing because it was pure thought and it WORKED. From few axioms and laws this whole intellectually enticing rational universe became to be and it had practical applications! This became the influence first to scholastics (and to embed bible into this kind of system) and later of rationalists: Find out self-evident or necessary truths about being, and with precise logic mimicking geometry extract "life, universe and everything" from it. Descartes and Spinoza both called theirs the "geometrical method" which should tell something about the influence of the greeks.

This all happened while Galileo's findings and methodology to use maths to describe observable phenomena. Descartes was
himself both genius mathematician/physicist and well aware of his contemporarys Galileo's findings. He does, at least, give a bit of nod to the kind of knowledge Galileo was able to extract by saying the least form of knowledge is through senses, the second is through senses using Galileos method of coming to apparent truths like law of inertia, but still, the true knowledge comes from rationalizing self-evident truths like he did with the "Cogito, ergo sum". It took a long time for rationalists to take their head from their asses and understand the importance of observation and the formulation of those observations into mathematical laws. And actually it did for empiricists as well.
Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny.
Last edited by devilsadvocate on Sat Aug 28, 2010 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sat Aug 28, 2010 3:45 am
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2439Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

There is a distinction to be drawn between navel-gazing and metaphysics, but navel-gazers never seem to understand it. In reality, cosmology is metaphysics. The big bang theory is a metaphysic. That tells us that, yes, metaphysics has its uses, but they are often overlooked in favour of wanting to sound intelligent, most often by those who genuinely think the umbilicus is a source of information about reality.
Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:25 am
impikuUser avatarPosts: 211Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:58 amLocation: Hell. Gender: Cake

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

ShootMyMonkey wrote:I find myself perplexed by the nature of pretty much everything brought up in metaphysics. It seems to be built up entirely out of meaningless conjecture which doesn't actually offer any insight and allows assertions to slip through without any sort of justification by simply obfuscating meaning.


...which is why philosophers like Ayer tried to eliminate metaphysics entirely in philosophy, if I'm not mistaken.
"Who needs Satan when you have a God like this?" -- Robert M. Price

"In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods." -- Arthur Schopenhauer
Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:23 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

hackenslash wrote:There is a distinction to be drawn between navel-gazing and metaphysics, but navel-gazers never seem to understand it. In reality, cosmology is metaphysics. The big bang theory is a metaphysic. That tells us that, yes, metaphysics has its uses, but they are often overlooked in favour of wanting to sound intelligent, most often by those who genuinely think the umbilicus is a source of information about reality.


I still have a very special place for you in my heart, Hacky.
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:56 am
ohcacUser avatarPosts: 56Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:05 am

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

:lol:

I just looked up the etymology of the word "metaphysics": it is (obviously) a Greek derivation meaning "after Physics". However, it turns out that it is *literally* named so because it was the title of Aristotle's book, Metaphysics. Apparently when Aristotle died in 322 BC, he didn't actually have any published works, only lecture notes (some entirely from his students, by the way), so his family decided to organize and compile these. The names were pretty easy (the Parts of Animals, On the Heavens, On the Soul, etc.), and then his work "Physics" was published. The work now known as "Metaphysics" actually wasn't called so, but only slowly developed that name because it was published *after "Physics"*, hence the etymology.

The actual basis of the works in "Metaphysics" was given the name "Ontology" (basically the foundations of metaphysics, asking "What exists?") and is considered the most major subcategory of what is currently called metaphysics. It follows that every ontological problem is a metaphysical one.

ShootMyMonkey wrote:advent of empiricism branched science and the scientific method away... it ended up that metaphysics ended up being exclusively dealing in the non-empirical and diving into area which are not supportable by logic or reason even in principle


I disagree. The theoretical and empirical components of empiricism have answered many ontological questions. The confirmation of the existence of quarks in the 1960s is an example of empiricism advancing ontology (and hence metaphysics). Although, this is just semantics. If we were to stick to the given definitions of ontology and metaphysics, then empiricism and science wouldn't be separated from the subject. However, the term "metaphysics" has often been convoluted to mean "reasoning concerning the nature of what exists only through conceptual reasoning".

Then again, most people just think that "metaphysics" means "God and ghosts and souls and stuff" :?
Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:29 pm
Kelly JonesUser avatarPosts: 28Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:35 amLocation: Australia

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

Metaphysics doesn't mean "after physics", but the deeper reality of physics --- of existence, what is real, what matter is.

It is the same subject as philosophy, that is, to understand the nature of Ultimate Reality. Philosophy is not science, because it doesn't rely on the a posteriori form of reasoning. Science waits to look for empirical evidence before coming to a conclusion, hence "a posteriori", meaning, "after". But philosophy relies on the a priori form of reasoning, meaning, it comes to conclusions before looking for empirical evidence, hence "a priori", meaning "before".

Metaphysics is typically misunderstood as superstitious speculations about magical forces, and other such New Age bullshit. But this is simply the view of ignorant and irrational persons. It has nothing to do with metaphysics, so it can be safely ignored as irrelevant.

It was wrongly declared in this thread that metaphysics has nothing to do with logical thinking or principles. This is false. Metaphysics is wholly based on logical thinking, internally coherent concepts, and principles. That is how it functions.


.
Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:00 am
WWW
ohcacUser avatarPosts: 56Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:05 am

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

Kelly Jones wrote:Metaphysics doesn't mean "after physics", but the deeper reality of physics --- of existence, what is real, what matter is.

It is the same subject as philosophy, that is, to understand the nature of Ultimate Reality. Philosophy is not science, because it doesn't rely on the a posteriori form of reasoning. Science waits to look for empirical evidence before coming to a conclusion, hence "a posteriori", meaning, "after". But philosophy relies on the a priori form of reasoning, meaning, it comes to conclusions before looking for empirical evidence, hence "a priori", meaning "before".

Metaphysics is typically misunderstood as superstitious speculations about magical forces, and other such New Age bullshit. But this is simply the view of ignorant and irrational persons. It has nothing to do with metaphysics, so it can be safely ignored as irrelevant.

It was wrongly declared in this thread that metaphysics has nothing to do with logical thinking or principles. This is false. Metaphysics is wholly based on logical thinking, internally coherent concepts, and principles. That is how it functions.


.


I know it does not mean "after physics". That's its literal etymology as derived from Greek. I don't agree that it is the *same* subject as philosophy, but is a subset of philosophy. Ethics and political economy, for example, don't generally utilize metaphysical assertions. You are also incorrect in stating that the criteria for distinguishing between what is called "science" and what is called "philosophy" can be recognized by distinguishing a priori from a posteriori knowledge. This is obvious, since purely philosophical epistemologies may prefer one over the other (as empiricism, a *philosophy*, advocates metaphysics (and all other forms of knowledge) based on an a posteriori knowledge).
Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:22 am
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2439Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

ohcac wrote:(as empiricism, a *philosophy*, advocates metaphysics (and all other forms of knowledge) based on an a posteriori knowledge).


Actually, no. Empiricism does no such thing. In reality, empiricism must remain free of metaphysics completely, or it isn't empiricism. No metaphysical statements are testable or falsifiable, thus all metaphysics are unsupportable by science. Empiricism doesn't advocate metaphysics based on anything. Even those things in science that constitute metaphysical statements are not really statements but models about how things might actually work erected in order to test predictions arising therefrom, falling short of asserting them. There is no observation we can make, even in principle, to demonstrate that what we observe is real, so empiricism must fall short of metaphysics, except as a model-generating exercise.
Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:46 am
Master_Ghost_KnightContributorUser avatarPosts: 2707Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:57 pmLocation: Netherlands Gender: Male

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

Did the Sun ever revolved arround the earth?

There is your answer.
"I have an irrefutable argument for the existence of...." NO, STOP! You are already wrong!
Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:46 am
Kelly JonesUser avatarPosts: 28Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:35 amLocation: Australia

Post Re: Was metaphysics ever genuine?

From wikipedia:

Meta- (from Greek: μετά = "after", "beyond", "with", "adjacent", "self"), is a prefix used in English (and other Greek-owing languages) to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.

ohcac wrote:

I don't agree that it is the *same* subject as philosophy, but is a subset of philosophy. Ethics and political economy, for example, don't generally utilize metaphysical assertions.

Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and wisdom rightly is founded on what is changeless and fundamental. Namely, the metaphysical. So philosophy is really a passion for understanding metaphysics.

All branches of philosophy come from metaphysical concepts, if philosophical they be. If a particular kind of knowledge isn't founded in metaphysics, then it isn't philosophy. I'm not just playing semantics: I'm speaking from experience and reason of what I know to be absolutely true. Thus, if ethics isn't founded in metaphysics, it's not philosophy.


You are also incorrect in stating that the criteria for distinguishing between what is called "science" and what is called "philosophy" can be recognized by distinguishing a priori from a posteriori knowledge. This is obvious, since purely philosophical epistemologies may prefer one over the other (as empiricism, a *philosophy*, advocates metaphysics (and all other forms of knowledge) based on an a posteriori knowledge).

You're wrong. Hackenslash is correct, that philosophical statements aren't tested or falsified by the scientific method. To argue it does shows a complete lack of understanding of how the two forms of reasoning differ.

Science is a branch of philosophy, in that it is actually a form of reasoning, which is supported by observations and tests of sensory data. To be a good scientist, one stands intellectually rooted in metaphysics, in order to know that the contingent theories of science are not logical absolutes.
Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:41 am
WWW
Post new topic Reply to topic  Page 1 of 1
 [ 14 posts ] 
Return to Philosophy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests