What is Metaphysics?

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Reply Sat 1 Mar, 2008 09:32 pm
While I cannot complete subscribe to deconstructionism, I do feel that the philosophy has great things to offer. One thing that always interested me is their claim that words have no meaning in and of themselves, it is each individual that gives meaning to a word. One consequence of this is that the same word can mean many different things to different people. When I think about the word 'Metaphysics', I always think of the deconstructionists, and how right they are.

When I am asked what area of philosophy interests me most, I say metaphysics and epistemology. It is often the case that people give me weird looks like I just spoke a foreign language. The average person does not encounter these words very often, if ever, so it is understandable that they don't know what the two words mean.

However, we philosophers hear much about the two words. Epistemology is pretty much epistemology. It, more or less, has a clear definition that we can all agree on. Metaphysics, on the other hand, does not. From what I can tell, part of the problem is that the word 'Metaphysics' has been used throughout history to mean different things.

Humbly, I admit that I don't always have a grasp on the word. Some days I think I understand, and other days I consider myself a complete buffoon. Today happens to be one of those days.

So, I post today for help, and ask the forum: What is metaphysics?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 1 Mar, 2008 10:06 pm
@de Silentio,
Defining metaphysics is difficult, mostly because the word is a blanket term for a number of issues. The term was first used to title Aristotle's works after his Physics (hence, meta-physics). Over time, the field has come to include a number of other issues, such as mind-body problems.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a great article explaining the origin and meaning of metaphysics.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 12:04 am
@Didymos Thomas,
REPLY
I admit I dont quite know the connection between deconstructionalism and metaphysics... It seems like a monkey with a whole different bannana. But if I were to take a stab at "what is metaphysics?" it would be this. Metaphysics is the philosophical study of being and knowingOF THE QUESTIONANSWER TO THE QUESTION




EXTENSION OF THE ANSWER
It is an ontological study of the primacy of things, or simply, a venture to the origins of substance. At the core of this view is perhaps the most difficult concept that philosophers from Spinoza, Leibniz, etc. have tried to grapple with, which is being qua being, or being as being in itself. What the heck does this mean? This means that being is it itself that is predicable of nothing yet predicated upon. What the heck does that mean??? Being is that substrate that all attributes attach!!! What the heck does that mean then????? Sounds neat and mysterious right... It goes on for quite a bit... well, Aristotelean syllogism that is.



 
de Silentio
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 12:19 pm
@de Silentio,
Thanks for your replies. I didn't ask this question in complete ignorance, and in fact I have read portions of the aticle that D.T. suggested.

Perhaps my question was to broad, but that was kind of my point in asking it. I am to understand that metaphysics came to mean something different after Kant's critique of it, and as far as I can tell, justifiably so.

If you will, let me ask a few more questions:

Where is the line drawn between epistemology and metaphysics? They seem almost interrelated to me. This was going to be a question that came down the line, but now seems like an appropriate time.

What are the boundries of metaphysics?

Are we justified in using metaphyisical arguments to describe the world?

-------

Quote:
It is ... a pyrrhic victory in the end.
[/I]

That depends on how you view the cost-benefit relationship. The cost may be seemingly endless and ultimately pointless work, but the benifit is the joy I get from working on it, not my end result. So, it doesn't seem like a pyrrhic victory, for me at least.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 01:00 pm
@de Silentio,
First, the metaphysics I am talking about is root (which oddly enough expands in the same instance in astrophysics).Also, de omnibus dubitandum est... everything is to be doubted. Im a fan of Descartes as well. As for me... Aut Viam Invenium Aut Faciam!! (Is there is no other way, I shall make it.)
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 01:36 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
First, the metaphysics I am talking about is root metaphysics, before it gets mixed with ideas influenced by theory and belief.

The point of my post: you speak of metaphysics as 'root metaphysics', when I think of metaphysics, I think more like Kant, which seems more epistemological.

By 'root' do you mean the metaphysics of Aristotle? The seeking of 'first principles', I believe?

Quote:
You believe that epistemoloy and metaphysics are interrelated, yes? Both seek the origins of a thing, epistemology seeks the origins of knowledge, metaphysics seeks the origins of being (i.e. substance.)

It seems that in order to seek the origin of being, you would have to understand the origin of knowledge, and vise-a-versa.

When I speak of the ultimate being of objects outside of me, the way I come to have knowledge those objects plays a crucial role on their being.

Quote:
Metaphysics, or ontology, on the other hand seeks reduction to its simple substrate physically.

Now you are speaking of ontology, but isn't that only a portion of metaphysics?

Quote:


You continually use the term 'substrate', and I don't think I completely understand what you are talking about.

Let me ask this question: How does epistemology relate to metaphysics?

Quote:
What are the boundaries of metaphysics? There are none. Metaphysics does not extend, it contracts to its simple substrate within itself, like a collapsing star (which oddly enough expands in the same instance in astrophysics). And by substrate, I mean blank slate, blank paper, etc. Metaphysics seeks the simplest thing from which everything derives from.


See, I think we have differnet conceptions of what metaphysics is, again, the point of my post. It seems that you speak of metaphysics as ontology only. While I think of metaphysics as the exploration of a priori knowledge and how it relates to the world outside me (thus tying metaphysics and epistemology)

Do I have an incorrect view of metaphysics?

Quote:
it was a misfired joke.


Sorry, I'm not good with jokes. I'm too literal (as a co-worker puts it)

Quote:
de omnibus dubitandum est... everything is to be doubted. Im a fan of Descartes as well


Although I am a fan of Descartes (who seems very metaphysical!), I pulled the quote from Kierkegaard. Johannas Climacus is the book.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 02:46 pm
@de Silentio,
"I think of metaphysics as the exploration of a-priori knowledge and how it relates to the world outside me (thus tying metaphysics and epistemology)"
So in my terms, you say you think that "metaphysics is the exploration of knowledge gained prior to the senses(that is gained before experience) and how that prior knowledge gained before the senses relates to the extended world."


I would venture to think that as we cling to our particular semantic frameworks, we fail to see the relative root nature of the meaning of metaphysics.



So because I have failed to convey it properly, let me say this.


Etymologically, metaphysics eventually means "beyond the physical" I understand metaphysics in its root sense, that is, before Kant came along and argued that the questions of metaphysics are built into human reasoning. Perhaps we are involved in a game of the chicken or the egg?


My definition is metaphysics qua metaphysics, that is, metaphysics as metaphysics in itself with no attributes (or in this case comments or beliefs by Kant) attached to it. It is metaphysics in its pure sense. I don't think we can argue that in order to disagree with an idea, we first need a base idea to refute against.

Its much like the origins of your phrase "de omnibus dubitandum est." You pulled from Kierkegaard, I pulled from Descartes, who was prior to Kierkegaard. We understand the meaning of the phrase, that everything is doubted, but in different contexts, regardless of the fact that Descartes coined the concept of universal doubt before him... namely that the origins of the phrase... or more precisely the metaphysical origin, lies with Descartes.
 
Play Dough
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 03:57 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio;9448 wrote:
What is metaphysics?


Metaphysics is that branch of philosophy that seeks to discover 'real causes' rather than 'apparent causes'.

Metaphysics includes the observer (consciousness) as being a part of any causal chain in cause/effect relationships.

An example:
A hiker is struck by a boulder.
1) The scientist hiker says that 'gravity' was the cause.
2) The priest hiker says that 'God' (or the devil) was the cause
3) The metaphysician hiker wonders why he had himself struck by a boulder.

The bottom line is that metaphysics includes consciousness as a possible causal agency. As such 'meta' (meaning behind or hidden, like 'meta-tags' in web-design) goes beyond (behind) mundane physics which must stop at the last measureable 'physical' event.

Another example is a young child wishes that he or she had $5.00.
Two days later the child finds a 5 dollar bill in the park.
Science would call this scenario a 'coincidence'. Metaphysics would include the child's wish as a part of the causal chain.

.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 06:21 pm
@Play Dough,
Play_Dough wrote:
Metaphysics is that branch of philosophy that seeks to discover 'real causes' rather than 'apparent causes'.

How are some of the examples you gave 'real causes'. I don't think anyone would think that the boulder falling on the hiker was caused by himself. Or is there something I am missing.
[quote] Metaphysics includes the observer (consciousness) as being a part of any causal chain in cause/effect relationships.[/quote]
Why?
[quote] The bottom line is that metaphysics includes consciousness as a possible causal agency[/quote]
Physics includes consciousness as a possible 'causal agency' also. (if I undertand what you mean by causal agency) It is demonstrated in the two-slit experiment. Here is a link to a video that demonstrates the two-slit experiement if you are not familiar with it: YouTube - Dr Quantum - Double Slit Experiment

Quote:

Another example is a young child wishes that he or she had $5.00. Two days later the child finds a 5 dollar bill in the park.
Science would call this scenario a 'coincidence'. Metaphysics would include the child's wish as a part of the causal chain.



I can see how you can use Kant's metaphysics to show this, but it is a real stretch, and unless you can make an extremely good argument to support yourself on this, I don't think I can except what you are saying with any certainty.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 07:37 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
Yes, we definitely have a different view of metaphysics. Kant in a broader sense disagrees with "root" metaphysics because it seeks to explain the origin of things in the simplest terms, thus "concepts (root metaphysical outlook) without institutions are empty."(kant)

I truly hate to correct you, but a portion of my reply depends on the quote being correct. Did you mean to say "concepts without intuitions are empty"?

If so, in Kant's terms, how are concepts different from intuitions, they are both known a priori. Concepts are how our mind organizes the world (the rules by which we organize our experience of the world), intuitions are the how we experience the world. Without both we cannot understand the world, without intuitions concepts mean nothing, without conceptions we cannot understand our experiences.
[quote] So in my terms, you say you think that "metaphysics is the exploration of knowledge gained prior to the senses(that is gained before experience) and how that prior knowledge gained before the senses relates to the extended world."[/quote]
A priori does not mean 'before' experience in the sense that you use it, it means a part from experience. The difference is key to understanding Kant's metaphysics. Kant's first line in the CPR, states that all knowledge begins with experience, exemplifying what I stated about a priori knowledge. We still 'learn' something from synthetic a priori knowledge, that is what makes it synthetic. It is not that we 'know' that 2 + 2 = 4 before we experience it, it is that we 'can' know 2 + 2 = 4 before we experience it.

It is important to my argument that we are both clear on what I mean when I use a priori knowledge. If what I stated above is not clear, let me know and I will try again.
Quote:
Etymologically, metaphysics eventually means "beyond the physical" I understand metaphysics in its root sense, that is, before Kant came along and argued that the questions of metaphysics are built into human reasoning. Perhaps we are involved in a game of the chicken or the egg?

If you read far enough into Kant, you eventually come to the 'root sense' of metaphysics that you speak of. I say this because Kant eventually ends up with our mind being the root cause of 'things' in the world, at least, that is, those things that we can possibly know (the phenomena). Yes, these 'things' exist in the noumena, but the noumena is beyond the limits of our knowledge.

All in all, I don't think we have the semantic problem that you describe, I just didn't let on to everything (because I am still unclear on this portion of Kant's philosophy).

Can you please explain to me what 'reductio' is.
 
Play Dough
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 08:47 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio;9991 wrote:
How are some of the examples you gave ‘real causes’. I don’t think anyone would think that the boulder falling on the hiker was caused by himself. Or is there something I am missing.

Physics includes consciousness as a possible ‘causal agency’ also. (if I undertand what you mean by causal agency) It is demonstrated in the two-slit experiment.

I can see how you can use Kant’s metaphysics to show this, but it is a real stretch, and unless you can make an extremely good argument to support yourself on this, I don’t think I can acccept what you are saying with any certainty.



Re: (quote) "I don’t think anyone would think that the boulder falling on the hiker was caused by himself. Or is there something I am missing". (end quote)

The 'missing' something is a 'metaphysical' interpretation.
'Metaphysics' requires a shift in one's 'origination point'. The shift is from mundane physics (quantifiable phenomena) to a metaphysical interpretation of the sequence of events.
The 'metaphysical' interpretation includes the self as a participant in the chain of cause and effect.
Another example is that a person notices that when he or she is angry they then have a tendency to bump into things. The 'anger' is included as a 'causal' event of the 'bumps'.

Kant's metaphysics is not applicable.

The 'slits experiment' is only relevant in a remote type of way. Mundane physics would only be aware (as an example of metaphysics) of what was going on between the screen with the slit(s) and the board. Metaphysics would attempt to discern what was going on behind the slitted screen where mundane physics did not investigate.

Mundane physics has Man as an observer and metaphysics has Man as a participant/creator.
A perfect example of 'metaphysics' is Plato's 'Allegory of the Cave'. One interpretation of Plato's allegory is that Man watches 'images' projected on a screen and participates by 'naming' (supplying names for) the shapes and forms (i.e., mundane physics). Man does not see his own consciousness as projecting the images, but rather incorrectly experiences the images as having a source independent of the observer.

That's (above) a thumbnail sketch of metaphysics.

The bottom line (if there is one) is that Man exists in a convincing hologram of his/her consciousness and fails to recognize (consider) that his/her consciousness is a 'causal' agent (a 'first cause').

Descartes' philosophical statement, "I think, therefore I am" is more 'on point'. Descartes (one interpretation) sees 'thought' as being the creative cause of his existence. He 'thinks himself' into being. Descartes is NOT... born of a woman (but was),.. but was, rather, delivered into 'beingness' by 'thought'.

Thought and consciousness are the primary focus of metaphysics. Ask any 10 people who witness an event (a non-scientific event without strict lab conditions) and you will get 10 different interpretations. Each interpretation will be given according to the individualized contents of consciousness.

It all comes down to where one wishes to draw the line, in-so-far as investigation is concerned. Metaphysics includes the observer as a possible 'causal' event. I suppose that the primary issue of metaphysics is 'does thought embody a creative component that can and does affect the 3D reality'? Metaphysics says 'yes'!

The metaphysical point of view cannot be rationally argued because of the nature (consistently reproducible) of scientific proof. How-so-ever, metaphysics poses the following question..... "What is the inherent power of a consciousness that has been trained and disciplined (shut off internal dialogue) and focused"? and (continuing) "is control over matter one of the abilities (an emergent characteristic) of a disciplined consciousness"? In other words, my consciousness can send commands to my body.... "get up! Order a pizza!" and my body then moves through space/time and orders a pizza! So, the metaphysical question is... "what is the extent of the power of consciousness"?
How much more is consciousness than a mere 'observer'?

The answer is that consciousness is a potent creative force that Man has not, as yet, become familiar (with). Why? Because 'the powers of consciousness are 'emerging characteristics' that go way beyond 'self awareness' and mundane/general awareness.

Plato says it best.... (interpreted) 'as far as consciousness is concerned, Man is sleeping in a cave unaware that he (Man) is sourcing the phenomena that he observes.... he observes, names and records his observations utterly unaware of his higher powers'.

To simply 'dismiss' the possibility of the existence of these 'higher powers' (in the name of mundane science) is a severe self-imposed limitation.

"I think, therefore I AM"! plus, Plato's "Allegory of the Cave' says it all!

.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 09:30 pm
@Play Dough,
Play_Dough wrote:
metaphysics poses the following question..... "What is the inherent power of a consciousness that has been trained and disciplined (shut off internal dialogue) and focused"? and (continuing) "is control over matter one of the abilities (an emergent characteristic) of a disciplined consciousness"?...

So, the metaphysical question is... "what is the extent of the power of consciousness"?
How much more is consciousness than a mere 'observer'?


There is more to come, but the forum is shutting down, so I must be quick.

Have you read Kant? You say his metaphysics doesn't apply, but most of what you said stems from him. He provided the turning point in philosophy that shifted thinking away from man being a passive observer of the external world.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 08:21 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
Metaphysics, or ontology, on the other hand seeks reduction to its simple substrate physically.
Scientific inquiries can perform this kind of reductionism. Metaphysics deals in things that science cannot address. Metaphysics, to me, seems like a rational construct that can be used to understand being -- but as soon as metaphysics attempts to make sense of something observable, it puts itself at risk of being refuted by new observations. This raises the perennial question as to whether metaphysical arguments have any truth value whatsoever -- and Derrida and Levi-Strauss and Lyotard and Wittgenstein would probably answer that they do not.
 
Play Dough
 
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 03:23 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;10022 wrote:

(edited) Metaphysics deals in things that science cannot address. Metaphysics, to me, seems like a rational construct that can be used to understand being -- but as soon as metaphysics attempts to make sense of something observable, it puts itself at risk of being refuted by new observations. This raises the perennial question as to whether metaphysical arguments have any truth value whatsoever -- and Derrida and Levi-Strauss and Lyotard and Wittgenstein would probably answer that they do not.


I agree with you. Metaphysics deals, primarily, with the 'inner landscape' of consciousness.
The typical scientific approach deals with (outer) 'how it works' and the metaphysical approach deals primarily with (inner) 'how to work it'. There is, of course, some overlap but these (above) are the main differences.
Regarding Levi-Strauss and Lyotard and Wittgenstein..... My opinion (based upon metaphysical research, experimentation and study) is that metaphysics is 'self proving', however, what the individual discovers as 'personally valid' (re: metaphysics) often cannot translate to universal principles. As such, metaphysics, to the casual investigator, can and often does, seem like a 'tower of babble' scenario.

An example of a 'metaphysical' result, that may not have any universal application, is..... A person's living space has always been cluttered and messy. The 'messy/cluttered person' starts to practice meditation (stilling the mind). After a few months of dedicated meditation practice, and a measure of success, the formerly 'messy' person's living space has become, gradually, transformed into a neat and orderly presentation (i.e., the person has become more tidy and the living space reflects this). This result is not scientifically quantifiable but, nevertheless, raises a metaphysical issue/observation, being that there appears to be a correlation between a disciplined mind and orderliness. Science would say 'it seems reasonable but we can't prove the connection'. Metaphysics would say that there is a direct correlation between 'inner states' of consciousness and a person's immediate personal environment. The 'giant step' of metaphysics, in this instance, would be to hypothesize that 'outer conditions' reflect/mirror 'inner conditions'!
A 'reasonable' statement but scientifically unprovable to a certainty. Never-the-less, to the meditator, the result becomes a 'personal law' of metaphysics.

.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 04:29 pm
@de Silentio,
The very problem with metaphysics is, as you say, that it is self-proving, which means that its coherence entirely depends on the language used to portray it -- because it doesn't consist in anything else. And this is what the modern philosophers have argued -- that pure metaphysical arguments don't have any verifiable information content whatsoever, and from what I understand if you use symbolic logic instead of words you take the air out of metaphysics. Videcorspoon can elaborate on this, perhaps.

I don't think the example you've given is actually metaphysical at all. You've described two completely physical phenomena -- one is the orderliness of someone's room, and the other is the physical and biological process of his meditation. Say you demonstrate that this phenomenon is true in a huge study, thus making it an extremely scientifically sound association (as opposed to a single individual's experience). The only part about this that is available to metaphysical speculation is the explanation for this association -- but that's only because your study has not yet answered why and how (mechanistically) this meditation changes behavior. But that's certainly open to scientific inquiry as well -- for instance it might be easily proved that meditation is associated with a higher stress response to more trivial messes, and this might be measurable and quantifiable.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2008 06:26 pm
@Play Dough,
[quote]The 'metaphysical' interpretation includes the self as a participant in the chain of cause and effect.[/quote]
Where does the self fit into the chain of cause and effect?

[quote]Another example is that a person notices that when he or she is angry they then have a tendency to bump into things. The 'anger' is included as a 'causal' event of the 'bumps'[/quote]
I can see how this example relates to what you said about metaphysics, but this example is vastly different than the $5 or boulder examples that you gave. The former shows how a person's will has control over their body, the latter shows how a person's will has control over something physically detached from themselves.

[QUOTE]
The 'slits experiment' is only relevant in a remote type of way

Mundane physics has Man as an observer and metaphysics has Man as a participant/creator.
[/QUOTE]


The slits experiment shows how our consciousness effects the physical world, how does that not show what you are saying? The experiment shows that man participates in how the photons act, if man is not watching, they act like a wave, if man is watching, they act like particles.

[quote] Mundane physics would only be aware (as an example of metaphysics) of what was going on between the screen with the slit(s) and the board. Metaphysics would attempt to discern what was going on behind the slitted screen where mundane physics did not investigate. [/quote]

We know what is going on behind the screen, we are shooting photons at it. What we don't know is what goes on between the screens, that why we try to observe it.

In what way does metaphysics attempt to discern what was going on behind the screen as opposed to physics?

[quote] Descartes (one interpretation) sees 'thought' as being the creative cause of his existence. He 'thinks himself' into being. Descartes is NOT... born of a woman (but was),.. but was, rather, delivered into 'beingness' by 'thought'.[/quote]

Can you please explain to me how you extrapolated this from Descartes writings.
 
Play Dough
 
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2008 09:07 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio;10111 wrote:

Where does the self fit into the chain of cause and effect?


I can see how this example relates to what you said about metaphysics, but this example is vastly different than the $5 or boulder examples that you gave. The former shows how a person’s will has control over their body, the latter shows how a person’s will has control over something physically detached from themselves.



The slits experiment shows how our consciousness effects the physical world, how does that not show what you are saying? The experiment shows that man participates in how the photons act, if man is not watching, they act like a wave, if man is watching, they act like particles.



We know what is going on behind the screen, we are shooting photons at it. What we don’t know is what goes on between the screens, that why we try to observe it.

In what way does metaphysics attempt to discern what was going on behind the screen as opposed to physics?



Can you please explain to me how you extrapolated this from Descartes writings.


A) The "self" fits into the chain of cause and effect because the 'self' is involved.
Metaphysics sees and experiences 'the self' as at the center of all phenomena. It is 'a belief system'. It is based upon the 'metaphysical fact' that underneath the veils of mind and underneath the veils of the ego (all 'within') is 'the creator'.

B) The sense of 'physical detachment' is not really (metaphysically speaking) an actual detachment. 'Thought' is considered a 'causal agent' and if 'thought' is not involved then the 'causal agent' is a pre-existing pattern (i.e., a belief) embeded in the psyche.
Much of this is a matter of deciding where 'the self' begins and ends.
Metaphysics sees the 'self' as (ultimately) expanding infinitely... 'without' to the ends of the universe and 'within' to the pure creative source that delivered one into 'being'.

C) "Meta" means 'hidden' or 'behind' or 'not visible'.
Imagine, for a moment, that you (unaware) are inside of a 'mirrored hamster ball of consciousness'. You are (unknown to yourself) at the un-moving center and what it is that you 'see' all around you is the contents of your complete consciousness projected into the 3D 'reality'.
In other words, you are in a hologram of your own consciousness. Once this realization is made then one realizes that changing the contents of consciousness changes the 3D 'reality'!

D) Descartes famous quotation "I think, therefore I am", interpreted from a metaphysical point-of-view, means that Descartes 'came into being' because of thinking.
It (the quotation) is not saying that Descartes proof of 'being' is because he is able to think... but rather that his being was produced by his thinking himself into 'being'.
In other words, (a minor example) someone shows up at an event. That 'someone' decided earlier to go to the event. His presence at the event is due (initially) by his thinking (combined with a desire).

Note: The fundamental principle of metaphysics is that each person is a 'creator'. The truths of metaphysics are 'self proving' but may or may not have general application. What it is that may be true for one person may not, as yet, be true for another. So, the 'scientific method' is not applicable.
So, the aspiring metaphysician conducts experiments and 'the rule' is to not cease the experiment until the desired result is attained.
Initially, 'rationality' is a speed-bump that must be by-passed. Metaphysics sees 'rationality' as a mere 'tool' (a consultant) rather than as a master.

The bottom line of metaphysics is that we can (and do) affect our 3D 'reality' by our thoughts. The thoughts that are the most embedded (the oldest) have the greatest potency.

To test this one needs only to conduct personal experimentation. We can push a button on a TV remote and change the channels. So too can we alter reality by our thoughts. "Thoughts (and beliefs) are things", they are powerful, and can and do alter 'reality'. We can think, while walking down a path, to walk in another direction (up the path). And, if we so desire we will change directions. We do not consider this as 'miraculous' but metaphysics does. It is the use of the mind to navigate through space/time.
So, the question is, "How much can I alter reality"? The answer is that we do not know until we begin to try.

Perhaps the 'big' metaphysical (and Socratic) question is: "What happens when God says, "I am not God"?

.

.
 
Play Dough
 
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2008 09:15 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;10055 wrote:
The very problem with metaphysics is, as you say, that it is self-proving, which means that its coherence entirely depends on the language used to portray it -- because it doesn't consist in anything else. And this is what the modern philosophers have argued -- that pure metaphysical arguments don't have any verifiable information content whatsoever, and from what I understand if you use symbolic logic instead of words you take the air out of metaphysics. Videcorspoon can elaborate on this, perhaps.

I don't think the example you've given is actually metaphysical at all. You've described two completely physical phenomena -- one is the orderliness of someone's room, and the other is the physical and biological process of his meditation. Say you demonstrate that this phenomenon is true in a huge study, thus making it an extremely scientifically sound association (as opposed to a single individual's experience). The only part about this that is available to metaphysical speculation is the explanation for this association -- but that's only because your study has not yet answered why and how (mechanistically) this meditation changes behavior. But that's certainly open to scientific inquiry as well -- for instance it might be easily proved that meditation is associated with a higher stress response to more trivial messes, and this might be measurable and quantifiable.


Metaphysics is 'self proving'. It (metaphysics) provides an alternative method of connecting the dots.
Perhaps a question for a 'novice metaphysician' is: "If once you were God, then how in hell did you wind up on 'death row'?

Metaphysics is NOT about scientific inquiry, although it has a methodology of 'going within'. Metaphysics operates within a different cause and effect cosmology ('the hidden'). Science is about reproducable and universal results. Metaphysics is about manifesting 'personal results'. Science is about 'going without' (outside of the 'self') and metaphysics is all about 'going within' and, eventually, getting into 'the control room'..... the creative source.

Science studies the 'reflections' and metaphysics examines 'the mirror'.

Even Plato said that 'true causes' emanate from an altogether different level (plane) of 'reality'. (See, Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave").

>>>>> Science, in a way, is like having our two-dimensional screen-name trying to comprehend its 4 dimensional creator (us). <<<<<
The screen name simply cannot comprehend its 4 dimensional creator in any way other than 2 dimensionally. As such, the screen-name has an incomplete picture of its creator.

Metaphysics does not attempt to 'convince' or to prove anything for mass-consumption. It (Metaphysics) is based upon the belief that we have access to powers that seem (relative) 'supernatural'.
The 'problem' (for non-metaphysicians) with this is that in order to access the 'hidden powers' the metaphysician must 'deconstruct' the 'self' and the ego.... to 'free up' power.
Religions atempt to do this but offer no genuine and rational 'reason' for 'why'. Metaphysics, at least, provides some 'reasonable' explanation.

And most certainly I can agree that the metaphysical approach, initially, seems ridiculous. But it is our rational faculties that tell us about the 'ridiculousness'... the same rational faculties that 'diss' the miraculous.

The examples that I gave (earlier post) are, in fact, 'metaphysical'. Some minds require a rational explanation. Metaphysics is not concerned about 'how it works' but rather is concerned about 'how to work it'.
The key is thought combined with belief and personal experimentation.

Some additional comments:
Re: "verifiable information content is lacking for metaphysics".
comment..... Absence of 'proof' proves nothing.

Here is the fundamental premise of metaphysics:
Metaphysics believes that there is a major difference between 'container' (The human form/body) and 'consciousness' (the 'contents' of the human body).
Suspend (for just a moment) disbelief and imagine this (a metaphysical exercise) context. You have a big 'ah ha' and realize (gnosis) that your consciousness is not an 'emergent characteristic' of biology but is an entity unto itself (science cannot disprove this). In fact you realize that your consciousness is what 'religion' refers to as a 'soul'.
This (above) is what metaphysicians realize. This conclusion (consciousness as soul) can neither, as yet, be proven nor disproven.

The consciousness/soul has (unlike the physical body) an eternal shelf life. (See, Plato's 'mandate to return' in the "Allegory of the Cave").
Accepting this (above) as true, the metaphysician is interested in testing the powers of 'the soul'. In fact, the metaphysician ceases to identify with the body and identifies (ever increasingly) with the consciousness/soul (spirit?). Plato knew this, in fact, many of Plato's fundamental philosophies are included (although veiled) in the Christian New Testament.

Also, the metaphysician sees the physical body as an extension (a projection) of consciousness itself, but the extension does not stop at the fingertips. The extension of self can go into infinity.
The spiritual metaphor is the drop merging with the ocean of being. This is not a 'new age stuffage' but an ancient axiom.

Once the metaphysician recognizes that the outer 'reality' is a mirror of self (what is it that 'needs blood' [physical body] and cannot see its reflection in the 'mirror' of reality?) the metaphysicain then realizes that to change 'reality' he or she needs only to change their mind and the 'change' eventually 'shows up' in the 3D reality.

This metaphysical stuff makes no sense (or very little), whatsoever, to anyone whose consciousness is still 'welded' to the body and both consciousness and body are experienced as a unity.

Before metaphysics begins to make genuine sense, one must accept the idea that consciousness is NOT an emergent characteristic of biology and that 'consciousness' is temporarily contained in the body.

So, of course there is much metaphysical nonsense, so too in science and religion and all else. Nevertheless, any scathing criticism of metaphysics is doubtlessly created by 'the dead'. By 'the dead' it is meant those whose consciousness has been devoured by its animal form to the point that the consciousness succumbs (Lemmings marching to the sea) to what seems to be its certain and eventual death.

Metaphysics, some philosophy (i.e., Plato), and religions (generally) address the issue of correcting the conundrum of the captivated (crucified upon matter) consciousness.

This explanation covers only the basics. Metaphysicians do not proselytize (like religions do), in fact it is a metaphysical precept that 'silence accelerates one along the path to further gnosis'.

For additional information see (if possible), The Secret Teachings of Freemasonry, The higher teachings of Scientology, The Golden Dawn, Knights Templar, Esoteric Christianity, The mystical teachings of the Kabala or any 'secret society'.

.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2008 09:19 pm
@Play Dough,
Play_Dough wrote:
Descartes famous quotation "I think, therefore I am", interpreted from a metaphysical point-of-view, means that Descartes 'came into being' because of thinking.
I disagree. This statement does not have any ontogenic content. It describes a snapshot of the present, not how he got there. All he was trying to say with that pithy conclusion of his was that the fact that he was thinking was the only thing he could be completely sure of. And the only way he could know that he existed at all was to have something which he could not doubt.
 
Play Dough
 
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2008 09:47 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;10125 wrote:
I disagree. This statement does not have any ontogenic content. It describes a snapshot of the present, not how he got there. All he was trying to say with that pithy conclusion of his was that the fact that he was thinking was the only thing he could be completely sure of. And the only way he could know that he existed at all was to have something which he could not doubt.


That is your opinion or interpretation, which I respect.
Descartes was a master of words and logic. He said EXACTLY what he meant..... "I THINK, THEREFORE I AM". Thinking preceeds being, thinking is a 'causal agency' of 'being'.
Why not try to 'stop thinking' (for three hours) and see what happens?
If you are successful you may wind up noticing that 'the world' (as we call it) is held together by our 'thinking'.
When all thought ceases everything (physical 'thing') virtually disappears. It is our descriptions of the world that make the world what it is.
Test this out and simply 'shut off' the hamster wheel of thinking. Its your mind so it should do what it is that you tell it to. Right? :-)
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