Metaphysical Knowledge

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kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 04:17 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;136626 wrote:
and that, furthermore, the reason we don't 'get it' is because we have divided the world up into these dualistic categories of 'religion' vs 'science' and 'belief' vs 'knowledge' and so on. All of these divisions are rooted in the most fundamental division at the bottom of the ego, that is, what I believe versus 'the other'. And within this landscape, it is certainly true that there is no higher knowledge, no noesis, and we are therefore quite correct in declaring it non-existent.

---------- Post added 03-06-2010 at 09:13 AM ----------



Actually I don't want to get into the dynamic of evangelizing this viewpoint. The argument I am trying to advance is that 'metaphysical knowledge is best understood in the context of pre-modern Western philosophy, where it was an important part, or even the lynchpin, of a universe of discourse.' Even though I believe there is such a thing, I would like to have the discipline to consider it from the position of a disinterested observer. Because, otherwise, it becomes another 'believer vs non-believer' debate, and I really don't want to go there. It is a fine line, and I might have already crossed it, but that is a statement of intent.


I thought I already gave an example of metaphysical knowledge: that what is actual is also possible. I cannot imagine that anyone would think this false. Or (if it is true) that it would be impossible for anyone to have other parents than that person has. I am assuming that metaphysical knowledge must be of necessary truths (along with Kant). And that necessary truths cannot be empirical truths. (Kant also believed that metaphysical knowledge would have to be not only necessary, but also universal. Of the form all S is P, and No S is P).
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 05:58 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;136420 wrote:

R - you have such a magnificently flamboyant style of expression. You remind me of a...hang on, wait for an image to come to mind...I know! Philosophy as the Pinball Machine!! Can't you see it! Marvelously lurid Nietzsche on the backboard with spiral eyes..the pinball wizards MERGES with the machine....BING it's derrida BING BING it is the numinosity of number...(OK you get the picture. I'm loving it.)
..


This is quite a piece of poetry itself. I think your statement is pretty sharp, jeeprs. yes, merging with the machine. But only that aspect of self that doesn't need groceries. i've been reading a great math book, about the aesthetic nature of math....yes, the number is numinous. thanks for your also lurid & poetic comment

---------- Post added 03-05-2010 at 06:59 PM ----------

kennethamy;136636 wrote:
I thought I already gave an example of metaphysical knowledge: that what is actual is also possible.


I agree, with the twist that what is possible is not always yet actual.

---------- Post added 03-05-2010 at 07:01 PM ----------

kennethamy;136636 wrote:
I am assuming that metaphysical knowledge must be of necessary truths (along with Kant). And that necessary truths cannot be empirical truths. (Kant also believed that metaphysical knowledge would have to be not only necessary, but also universal. Of the form all S is P, and No S is P).


I agree. But it's arguable that the structure of empirical truths have a a metaphysical core, as Wittgenstein suggests. Identity and contradiction seem to be the core logical movements.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 06:15 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;136668 wrote:
This is quite a piece of poetry itself. I think your statement is pretty sharp, jeeprs. yes, merging with the machine. But only that aspect of self that doesn't need groceries. i've been reading a great math book, about the aesthetic nature of math....yes, the number is numinous. thanks for your also lurid & poetic comment

---------- Post added 03-05-2010 at 06:59 PM ----------



I agree, with the twist that what is possible is not always yet actual.

---------- Post added 03-05-2010 at 07:01 PM ----------



I agree. But it's arguable that the structure of empirical truths have a a metaphysical core, as Wittgenstein suggests. Identity and contradiction seem to be the core logical movements.


That's not a "twist".

From the proposition that whatever is actual is possible, nothing at all follows about whether or not there are possible things that are actual. There may or not be some. It is undetermined.

I have no idea what that bit about a metaphysical core means. Nor do I know that a "logical movement" is. Do you? If anything, identity and contradiction seem pretty stationary to me .
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 06:23 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;136679 wrote:

I have no idea what that bit about a metaphysical core means. Nor do I know that a "logical movement" is. Do you? If anything, identity and contradiction seem pretty stationary to me .


They aren't stationary when we use them to create mathematics. We built our tall structure on two logical movements....we identity and dis-identify.
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 06:29 pm
@jeeprs,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;136624] The question should also be considered as to whether there is a hierarchy of being, or levels of reality, with which the different levels of knowledge in this scheme are associated. [/QUOTE] This is close to the "great chain of being" concept. I guess I believe more in Metaphysical Truth than in Metaphysical Knowledge. All human knowledge of such Truth being only partial, contingent and incomplete.

[QUOTE=jeeprs;136624] You will probably say that this is an ancient idea that has been superseded by subsequent developments in science, philosophy, and the like. That is certainly true in many respects. It is also true that many of the original platonic distinctions have morphed into new forms over the centuries and have re-appeared in subsequent thinking in various forms. All true and I won't contest that. I still maintain, however, that this 'higher knowledge', noesis, still exists, is not reducible to the other types, is not religious dogma, and is the proper domain of the subject of metaphysics. [/QUOTE]
Not so much. I believe quite strongly in metaphysical, transcendent or eternal Truth. This notion does depend in some way on the notion of rational intelligence in nature. It is a question of our "knowledge"; our ability to know or comprehend these truths except through the "veil of perception" or "through a glass darkly". So I guess my position comes down to "I believe in Metaphysical truth" but doubt that we can claim to "know" it.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 06:39 pm
@prothero,
prothero;136691 wrote:
This is close to the "great chain of being" concept. I guess I believe more in Metaphysical Truth than in Metaphysical Knowledge. All human knowledge of such Truth being only partial, contingent and incomplete.


Not so much. I believe quite strongly in metaphysical, transcendent or eternal Truth. This notion does depend in some way on the notion of rational intelligence in nature. It is a question of our "knowledge"; our ability to know or comprehend these truths except through the "veil of perception" or "through a glass darkly". So I guess my position comes down to "I believe in Metaphysical truth" but doubt that we can claim to "know" it.


Don't you know that whatever is actual is possible? Really?

Whether we "know" it, I have no idea, since I do not know what "know" means.
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 07:24 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;136698 wrote:
Don't you know that whatever is actual is possible? Really? .
I guess that statement strikes me as some sort of language game, which according to the "defintions" of actual and possible becomes a sort of tautology, true by defintion of the terms. Not what I would call a metaphysical truth but a human language truth. Of course the capitol of Ecuador is Quinto, strikes me the same way; true but trivial because it is merely a human defintion or convention.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 07:34 pm
@prothero,
prothero;136730 wrote:
I guess that statement strikes me as some sort of language game, which according to the "defintions" of actual and possible becomes a sort of tautology, true by defintion of the terms. Not what I would call a metaphysical truth but a human language truth. Of course the capitol of Ecuador is Quinto, strikes me the same way; true but trivial because it is merely a human defintion or convention.


Well, it really does not matter what you happen to call it. It may also be a "human language truth", but it is because it is also a metaphysical truth. Why is it not a metaphysical truth. Isn't it profound or beautiful enough? What are the definitions of the terms that make it a human language (or analytic) truth?

How about what Kripke has called a metaphysical necessity, that No children could possibly have different parents from those they have? If we think it is possible, tnen what we mean is that it is epistemically possible (namely, what we mean is that for all we know a child could have had other parents) But that doesn't mean that it is metaphysically possible.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 10:02 pm
@hue-man,
No, it's just not prudent to mix the terms. By possible we mean what could be, not what is. If you wanted you could include the idea of the possible as an actuality, but that doesn't seem to be what was suggested.

Those who see only the actual as possible are hardly the movers and shakers of humanity, which dreams beyond its means.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 02:01 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;136791 wrote:
No, it's just not prudent to mix the terms. By possible we mean what could be, not what is. If you wanted you could include the idea of the possible as an actuality, but that doesn't seem to be what was suggested.

Those who see only the actual as possible are hardly the movers and shakers of humanity, which dreams beyond its means.


Spinoza thought only the actual is possible. And I would have thought that Spinoza was what you said.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 04:42 am
@hue-man,
I suppose that the statement that 'whatever is actual is possible' is a metaphysical truth, although it can also be seen as simply an analytical a priori proposition, can it not? So, while true, it is not a particularly profound example.

Consider this a somewhat more thought-provoking argument from the Renaissance humanist, Ficino, as a typical example of metaphysical reasoning in the grand tradition of Western philosophy:

Quote:

We see corporeal things pass from non-being to being, and from this to non-being again. They come to be, remain for a while, and then pass away. Thus, these things do not have to exist. Something in their nature leaves them open to destruction. Even the heavenly bodies, which appear indestructible, do not retain the same mode of being. They do not always exist in the same way. Whatever kind of being each may have, this does not belong to it of necessity; its nature is open to other possibilities. Corporeal things, then, do not explain their own being. Since they are open to contrary possibilities, something other than themselves must explain why they are determined to one of these possibilities, rather than another. Something else must determine them to be.

The Secular is Sacred: Platonism and Thomism in Marsilio Ficino's Platonic Theology

By Ardis B. Collins, Marsilio Ficino, Saint Thomas (Aquinas)

p23.
(The argument then goes on to show that if this 'something else' is also subject to being and to non-being, it too will be dependent....thus an infinite regress.)

This is, of course, a very well known traditional argument. I seem to recall that Russell believed that he had a simple defeater for arguments of this type.

However, consider this proposition which could be understood as belonging to the same class of argument:

"That the universe does not contain its own explanation".

This means, that there is nothing in the universe, that has been revealed by science, on the basis of which the universe itself can be explained.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 10:41 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;136841 wrote:
I suppose that the statement that 'whatever is actual is possible' is a metaphysical truth, although it can also be seen as simply an analytical a priori proposition, can it not? So, while true, it is not a particularly profound example.

Consider this a somewhat more thought-provoking argument from the Renaissance humanist, Ficino, as a typical example of metaphysical reasoning in the grand tradition of Western philosophy:

(The argument then goes on to show that if this 'something else' is also subject to being and to non-being, it too will be dependent....thus an infinite regress.)

This is, of course, a very well known traditional argument. I seem to recall that Russell believed that he had a simple defeater for arguments of this type.

However, consider this proposition which could be understood as belonging to the same class of argument:

"That the universe does not contain its own explanation".

This means, that there is nothing in the universe, that has been revealed by science, on the basis of which the universe itself can be explained.




As for "the universe not containing its own explanation" I suppose that is profound. Of course, that sentence assumes that it makes sense to talk about an explanation of the universe, and it it doesn't then it is true, and profound. But, I agree, that is a good example of a metaphysical statement, but not necessarily, a metaphysical truth. It is universal, and it is necessary. Only I would put it more strongly as, it is impossible for the universe to contain its own explanation, in order for it to be a metaphysical truth. Since all metaphysical truth must be necessary truths. (I suppose that is a profound meta-metaphysical truth).
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 12:08 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;136368 wrote:
I think this is still something very much alive within Eastern Orthodox monasticism. I have done some readings in it, for example, A Different Christianity, by Robin [Amis].

That book is quite hard to get hold of in the UK. (I've corrected a typo in the above, by the way.) Browsing at Amazon suggests the alternative:

Lost Christianity: A Journey of Rediscovery to the Centre of Christian Experience Element Classic Editions: Amazon.co.uk: Jacob Needleman: Books

Do you know that book, and if so, do you have any comments on it, or on any other of Needleman's books?
 
CJDOUGLAS
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 12:40 pm
@Twirlip,
To quote Aristotle, "A is A". Things are what they are.
To put it another way, Existence exists and only existence exists.
The metaphysicaly given are those things existing in nature. They are what they are. Could they have been other things? No. They simply are mountains, trees, stars, etc. This applies to living organisims as well. It is a waste of time to run circles around what if's. The fact remains that the mountain will still be a mountain weather you decide it's something else or not. This is metaphysicaly given. You can destroy the mountain, but that doesn't change the fact that it was a mountain. It doesnt change what it was or its current makeup now. It's still rock, insteand of a mountain it is now a pile of rubble. That is now the metaphysically given. But that is a man made change.
Mans interference with the world, the thigns man makes, did not have to be and are not metaphysicaly given. They are still however metaphysical. Before cars there was no such thing. They didn't exist. When the first car was made, when it was brought into existence, then and only then did they exist. You cannot undo their existence or make claim that if some infantismal difference had occured it would be somehow changed. The difference didn't occur. The car is a car. You can destory it, but it won't change the fact that it existed and that others like it exist. It can even be lost and forgotten, but that doesn't change the fact either.
Now you may argue that that there are yet "unknowable truths" and things yet to be discovered. Isn't it possible that maybe god exists or some other fantastic flight of fancy may indeed dwell within the universe?
My answer to this is that there are no "unknowable truths". Only undiscovered ones. You can say it is possible to travel at the speed of light for instance to which I would agree. It is possible. We have not discovered how to do this yet, we may never discover how to do it safely. But I know it is possible because I know that light travels at the speed of light. Science tells me this truth. Reason interpreted facts to come to that conclusion and reason is what will guide us when we uncover other, greater truths.
The only things unknowable are those things which we have not yet discovered and the only things unclear are those things we see with irrationality.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 03:28 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;136819 wrote:
Spinoza thought only the actual is possible. And I would have thought that Spinoza was what you said.


Spinoza was yeast. Hegel corrected his contradictions. Spinoza did not explain how his self-knowledge as part of an eternal(or timeless) god was possible. In a logical sense.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 03:40 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;136883 wrote:


Lost Christianity: A Journey of Rediscovery to the Centre of Christian Experience Element Classic Editions: Amazon.co.uk: Jacob Needleman: Books

Do you know that book, and of so, do you have any comments on it, or on any other of Needleman's books?


Yes! By coincidence, I had recommended that very book to another contributor earlier this week. Very good book in my view, and Needleman is well worth reading.


---------- Post added 03-07-2010 at 09:42 AM ----------

kennethamy;136873 wrote:
As for "the universe not containing its own explanation" I suppose that is profound. Of course, that sentence assumes that it makes sense to talk about an explanation of the universe, and it it doesn't then it is true, and profound. But, I agree, that is a good example of a metaphysical statement, but not necessarily, a metaphysical truth. It is universal, and it is necessary. Only I would put it more strongly as, it is impossible for the universe to contain its own explanation, in order for it to be a metaphysical truth. Since all metaphysical truth must be necessary truths. (I suppose that is a profound meta-metaphysical truth).


What I am thinking about is what we think is fundamentally real since the demise of philosophical atomism. Philosophical atomism, and/or materialism, used to understand the universe as consisting of eternal and imperishable units of matter, namely, atoms. It has been clear for many years that this is no longer possible. The accepted picture is now that of the Big Bang cosmology, although physical cosmology is now acknowledged to be in crisis, as is fundamental ontology. We no longer know what atoms are, and in any case cannot account for the mass of the universe in terms of what we understand about matter.

So - a lot of big words, big ideas and very large equations there. But Ficino's simple argument, which nobody has commented on, which was originally articulated by Plato before the time of Christ, still cuts to the heart of the matter. It is the cosmological argument and I think it is a very hard argument to defeat.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 04:42 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;136883 wrote:
That book is quite hard to get hold of in the UK.


Yes, I heard there was quite a rush on it, and it ran out of several printings. Like those Harry Potter books. (Much the same readership too).

---------- Post added 03-06-2010 at 05:45 PM ----------

jeeprs;136955 wrote:



---------- Post added 03-07-2010 at 09:42 AM ----------




So - a lot of big words, big ideas and very large equations there. But Ficino's simple argument, which nobody has commented on, which was originally articulated by Plato before the time of Christ, still cuts to the heart of the matter. It is the cosmological argument and I think it is a very hard argument to defeat.


Try David Hume's, Dialogues on Natural Religion.

That the universe doesn't contain its own explanation may just be a consequence of its being a brute fact. Why should all there is require an explanation? And where could such an explanation come from if all there is is, all there is.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 04:46 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;136955 wrote:

What I am thinking about is what we think is fundamentally real since the demise of philosophical atomism. Philosophical atomism, and/or materialism, used to understand the universe as consisting of eternal and imperishable units of matter, namely, atoms. It has been clear for many years that this is no longer possible. The accepted picture is now that of the Big Bang cosmology, although physical cosmology is now acknowledged to be in crisis, as is fundamental ontology. We no longer know what atoms are, and in any case cannot account for the mass of the universe in terms of what we understand about matter.

I agree, J. And so does that under-rated German, Hegel....(someone has to defend this guy....he's so damn misunderstood...)
Quote:

... there is nothing, nothing in heaven, or in nature or in mind or anywhere else which does not equally contain both immediacy and mediation, so that these two determinations reveal themselves to be unseparated and inseparable and the opposition between them to be a nullity.

 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 04:50 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;136841 wrote:
Consider this a somewhat more thought-provoking argument from the Renaissance humanist, Ficino, as a typical example of metaphysical reasoning in the grand tradition of Western philosophy:

(The argument then goes on to show that if this 'something else' is also subject to being and to non-being, it too will be dependent....thus an infinite regress.)
"That the universe does not contain its own explanation".

This means, that there is nothing in the universe, that has been revealed by science, on the basis of which the universe itself can be explained.
Thus the Prime Mover, the First Cause, The Ground of All Being, The Essence of Existence. The Universe as the Product of Mind or Thought.
It is a reasonable argument and a rational speculation.
The Big Bang offers no superior explanation to God as creator.
The Mindless Universe offers no better speculation then Reason and Intelligence behind the universe.
In fact in many ways the causeless, mindless universe is less rational, less pragmatic and less in keeping with experience and with intuition and some respects science.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 04:55 pm
@prothero,
prothero;137000 wrote:
Thus the Prime Mover, the First Cause, The Ground of All Being, The Essence of Existence. The Universe as the Product of Mind or Thought.
It is a reasonable argument and a rational speculation.
The Big Bang offers no superior explanation to God as creator.
The Mindless Universe offers no better speculation then Reason and Intelligence behind the universe.
In fact in many ways the causeless, mindless universe is less rational, less pragmatic and less in keeping with experience and with intuition and some respects science.


I agree. The "causeless" is just a negation of the concept causality. Humans cannot know the irrational. Humans are ratio intersecting qualia. Diameter in relation to circumference. Pi.
Quote:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679
8214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745028410270193852110555964462294895493038196
4428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273
724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609...
 
 

 
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