why do different text books for metaphysics have different contents?

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raydeng
 
Reply Wed 27 Feb, 2008 11:45 pm
I'm new to metaphysics study, and as I look at several text books for metaphysics, I was puzzled that different text books have different contents as well as the way how the authors organize the book and the central topics they are dealing with. Can somebody tell me why? Thanks.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Thu 28 Feb, 2008 06:29 am
@raydeng,
Hello, ray.

I will attempt to answer your question as best I can at this moment.

Metaphysics is, of course, a branch of philosophy and philosophy is comprised of writings and teaching of philosophers who are individual people. Therefore the subject matter of philosophy, dependent as it is upon the work of individuals throughout history, can tend to be unruly at times. Also philosophy is well known for its deep complexities so that is yet another reason.

It is sometimes helpful, I find, to make the effort to group philosophers into certain categories. This is what good text books should try to do. It's easy enough to group followers of a certain great individual such as Plato, whose followers are of course known as Platonists. All Platonists have as their starting point the philosophy of Plato as set out in his well known writings and teaching. It is also possible to group philosophers by the subject matter that they tend to focus on as individual philosophers: i.e. "German Idealism" etc.

I would suggest as you approach the text books on metaphysics that you try to construct groups of ideas that you find are related to one another and try to build upward from there. You should also keep an eye out for historical groups of texts since texts from the same time period tend to be similar and therefore simpler to place in an overall context.

Also, I might suggest that you first find and read a variety of encyclopedia articles on 'Metaphysics'. Encyclopedias give you the broadest possible outline of any given subject.

Here I will give you a link to an encyclopedia Britannica entry on "Metapysics" :Metaphysics - LoveToKnow 1911

This entry, although dated, is probably one of the best overall outlines of Metaphysics around.

I hope that my suggestions will be useful to you.

--Pyth
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 12:52 am
@Pythagorean,
I can prescribe a crash course for you if you want to would like to get into the complex areas of metaphysics... or more precisely the ontology of being.

Do the following:

1. Get a copy of Aristotles metaphysics.

I have three copies. They are all different but have the same material. They differ in the translation. I recommend Aristotle-metaphysics translated by Richard Hope. Its cheap and well translated. Also, try David Bostocks translation, it is very good.

2. Get a copy of MAP OF METAPHYSICS ZETA. by MYLES BURNYEAT

This is a good companion reader.

3. Get a copy of Aristotle's Catagories

This gives you basis material to look to when reading metaphysics conceptss



Way to study the metaphysics


1. In Aristotles Metaphysics, skip to Book Zeta. Zeta is the book the question "what is being" which is the core of metaphysics.

2. In Zeta, read books (1) --> (2) --> (3) (
referring when need to categories) then stop and then consolidate information.

3. Then read (4) --> (5) --> (6)
then consolidate information.

4. Then read (10).
books 7-9 are considered irrelevant (generation)

5. Then read (7) -->(8) -->(9) substance to contribute but not clarify on 1-6/10.

The concepts are difficult and meanings are hard to decipher... which is why you need the road map book, which tells you what you need to get out of the sections.There are also other books that will go further in depth into the axioms, which is the meat of the readings, but it is first essential to get the gist of the book before you get into the deeper contexts.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 08:07 am
@raydeng,
Plato's Parmenides is another one of the classic texts on metaphysics, and like much of Plato's writing it's literary and fun to read.

There are also parts of Plato's Republic that expound his metaphysics (his utopia is basically a society founded solely on metaphysical considerations).
 
Play Dough
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 04:20 pm
@raydeng,
ray.deng;9310 wrote:
I'm new to metaphysics study, and as I look at several text books for metaphysics, I was puzzled that different text books have different contents as well as the way how the authors organize the book and the central topics they are dealing with. Can somebody tell me why? Thanks.


Metaphysics is, basically, the study of consciousness and how consciousness interacts with physical reality.
Metaphysicians see consciousness as a 'causal agency'.

Different commentators take different approaches to the topic of metaphysics because each has their own individualized and unquantifiable consciousness. So... each approach to the subject is unique.

As suggested by another poster, the best place to start (and end) is with Plato's Metaphysics. Another good place to start is 'within'... conduct a 'metaphysical experiment' by simply changing your mind about something (a person, an object, etc.) and notice if there is any corresponding 'change' in the physical reality. You cannot feign this proposed 'change of mind'. The change of mind MUST be real and true.

.
 
Fairbanks
 
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2008 09:46 am
@raydeng,
ray.deng wrote:
I'm new to metaphysics study, and as I look at several text books for metaphysics, I was puzzled that different text books have different contents as well as the way how the authors organize the book and the central topics they are dealing with. Can somebody tell me why? Thanks.

The most useful meaning for the term as far as I am concerned is that metaphysics is system. Any number of systems can be devised, all the way from explaining the price of gasoline to a general theory of everything. Some systems will hold together well and others will fail right away. The metaphysics texts are all different since each authority has developed his own system. Many of the systems will overlap to a degree, such as explaining and relating 'things' and 'beings, and abstractions such as 'Being'. Rather than saying 'metaphysics' as if it is a monolithic whole, see it as extremely fragmented and no single coherent concept behind it all.
 
nameless
 
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2008 01:41 pm
@raydeng,
ray.deng;9310 wrote:
Can somebody tell me why? Thanks.

Perspective!
(All are unique.)

(and as quantum theory is progressively validating the 'eastern' views of metaphysics, and invalidating the western, I'd suggest looking to the east for a truer understanding. And, I will not engage with 'Aristotle's Cult of True Believing Disciples' here, so save it.)
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 01:26 am
@nameless,
I'm a metaphysical gnome compared to some who have already responded. However, I am not a complete dunce. I've managed to read through many of the standard texts.

I recommend Peter van Inwagen's Metaphysics. It's an introductory text, to be sure, and will not in any way replace the other recommended reading listed here. However, this short book will give you a modern take on the study of metaphysics.

I found the book used, at a great little used book shop. I don't even know if you can still find the book in print. But the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a great article by the same author on the subject - if you like this article, you absolutely must find his book.

Metaphysics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 06:30 am
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
Perspective!
(All are unique.)

(and as quantum theory is progressively validating the 'eastern' views of metaphysics, and invalidating the western, I'd suggest looking to the east for a truer understanding. And, I will not engage with 'Aristotle's Cult of True Believing Disciples' here, so save it.)


A good intro for the blending of quantum mechanics and eastern philosophy is the Tao of Physics by Frijof Capra. Easily the best book on metaphysics I have read.
 
 

 
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