The Nature of Metaphysics

Atheistextremist
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The Nature of Metaphysics

 

When i argue with my christian brother he generally launches into metaphysics which as we know, is a branch of philosophy (and associated with all branches of philosophy) that troubles itself with what there is and the nature of what there is.

Metaphysics claims for itself the role of giving structure to the knowledge of a lot of stuff we love to talk about from religion to cosmology and all the rest - mind, matter and (gulp) spirit. It's like a GUI between what we think, imagine and what there is.

All this metaphysical maundering goes back to Aristotle's philosophy which attempted to explain reality using brainpower rather than serious scientific observation. The fact Aristotle included natural theology - god as a baseline - in his metaphysical philosophy says a lot about him but nothing about reality in my opinion. 

Anyway, what bothers me about the metaphysical is that it apparently makes space for assertions of the immaterial, legitimising imagination and prying open a space for itself and spiritual improbabilities between mind, the organic devices that gather sense data and matter external to mind. And because metaphysics backs up from material to the realm of human knowledge this seems to allow theists employing it as a shield to insist their mental assertions cannot be undone by empirical observations that exist downstream of its hallowed position.

What do others think? Do we agree with Hume that all metaphysics can be thrown into the fire? Will neuroscience undo its arbitrary labeling of the experience of mental comprehension? Or is there some merit to metaphysics?

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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I don't mind the *idea* of

I don't mind the *idea* of it if you define it right...the problem I have with it is most of what we see is based on the presumption that the immaterial is a real 'thing', then from there it is used to justify whatever woo the practitioner wants to use it for.

 

I'm not hostile to the second concept as an intellectual exercise, but it doesn't seem to *do* anything, even with some very bright people studying it.

I think this does a good job of defining how I feel about it:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/metaphysics/#MetPos

Quote:
The thesis that metaphysics is impossible comes in what might be called strong and weak forms. Let us suppose that we are confident that we are able to identify every statement as either “a metaphysical statement” or “not a metaphysical statement.” (We need not suppose that this ability is grounded in some non-trivial definition or account of metaphysics.) The strong form of the thesis is this: All metaphysical statements are meaningless. (At one time, an enemy of metaphysics might have been content to say that all metaphysical statements were false. But this is obviously not a possible thesis if the denial of a metaphysical statement must itself be a metaphysical statement.) The weak form of the thesis is this: metaphysical statements are meaningful, but human beings can never discover whether any metaphysical statement is true or false (or probable or improbable or warranted or unwarranted)

 

I'd say I fall under the 'weak form'.  This stuff might be true, it might not be true, but there isn't any way to tell and so basing any 'real' decisions on the outcome of the arguments is an absurdity.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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It doesn't demand empirical

It doesn't demand empirical testing, even where such might be applicable, so it is all speculation, which may have some value in suggesting ways to think about various ideas, but in the absence of decent evidence of some kind, it can't get to any even partly verifiable truth.

Some proponents specifically reject 'empiricism' of any kind, which makes it just word-play.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

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From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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I'm with Hume. 

I'm with Hume.

 


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Atheistextremist wrote:What

Atheistextremist wrote:

What do others think? Do we agree with Hume that all metaphysics can be thrown into the fire? Will neuroscience undo its arbitrary labeling of the experience of mental comprehension? Or is there some merit to metaphysics?

Metaphysics is one of the two major philosophical category that reasons with all things that "are"  (The other branch is epistemology that grapples with what we "know".) The philosophy of metaphysics and word "metaphysics" themselves denote that it is a second order discipline that attempts to snynoptically look at the reality and understand it. The problem is that many self-styled "metaphysicians" get so caught up in philosophical speculation that they forget about that which they are trying to understand, namely reality. I think Bob's gripe is well founded because of this, but I don't think that metaphysics is dead or even bad. Good philosophers pay attention to science (as they should) and think about the implications it has on philosophy. Some metaphysical positions would be consistent with an atheism such as physicalism or metaphysical naturalism, and these two metaphyiscal positions among others are well substantiated, articulated and nuanced.

 

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”


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BobSpence1 wrote:It doesn't

BobSpence1 wrote:

It doesn't demand empirical testing, even where such might be applicable, so it is all speculation, which may have some value in suggesting ways to think about various ideas, but in the absence of decent evidence of some kind, it can't get to any even partly verifiable truth.

Some proponents specifically reject 'empiricism' of any kind, which makes it just word-play.

This is an epistemic problem, not a problem with metaphysics per se. I think that good metaphysics should be informed by good epistemology.

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”


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Dara O'Briain left them out of his list!

Unless they are basing their positions on reality, which can only be done using evidence gathered about said reality, then all I can say GET IN THE FECKIN' SACK!

"This may shock you, but not everything in the bible is true." The only true statement ever to be uttered by Jean Chauvinism, sociopathic emotional terrorist.
"A Boss in Heaven is the best excuse for a boss on earth, therefore If God did exist, he would have to be abolished." Mikhail Bakunin
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dictate the ends in which you find yourself."
"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme leadership derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!"
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Atheistextremist wrote: Or

Atheistextremist wrote:

 Or is there some merit to metaphysics?

How can there be?

There's nothing to it.

 

I think James Randi has got 'dem' academics all feegured out...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5hI6VY_rmE

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy" : David Brooks

" Only on the subject of God can smart people still imagine that they reap the fruits of human intelligence even as they plow them under." : Sam Harris


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redneF

redneF wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

 Or is there some merit to metaphysics?

How can there be?

There's nothing to it.

 

I think James Randi has got 'dem' academics all feegured out...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5hI6VY_rmE

 

Hmmm... I wonder now if there was something on the diploma they handed to me in a very similar ceremony to what Randi describes for Ph.D's when I graduated in Engineering. It was only a lowly "B.E(Hons)"- Degree of Bachelor of Engineering with Honors - but....

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


redneF
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BobSpence1 wrote:Hmmm... I

BobSpence1 wrote:

Hmmm... I wonder now if there was something on the diploma they handed to me in a very similar ceremony ...

I don't know...

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy" : David Brooks

" Only on the subject of God can smart people still imagine that they reap the fruits of human intelligence even as they plow them under." : Sam Harris


Brian37
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People throughout human

People throughout human history have uttered all sorts of claims. Brainstorming is how you add to the claims around you and build on those claims.

HOWEVER, in that "building" just like a house, you cant simply make shit up. If you make shit up it is a cracked foundation and anything that is built upon it will fall down.

Ancient philosophy as well as ancient religion were ignorant brainstorming. It was guessing in the dark.

It was only when humans, throughout history, put claims to observable study, that the bias of all this brainstorming got filtered out and we came up with better data.

Established traditions ARE NOT data, merely cultural superstitions. Old philosophy is NOT DATA.

Testing and falsification is the only method throughout history beyond all philosophy and beyond all religion, that cuts through the crap and allows humans to find common data.

Metaphysics is merely another word for "gap filling". I cannot and will never replace empirical testing.

Looking back at human history now, I do blame the Greeks for selling the false idea that all you had to do was think and you would find the answers. That bad meme has plagued humanity since.

Only in the past couple centuries our species has been exposed more and more to empiricism and testing. Our species still suffers from it's evolutionary ignorance. By comparison our species has spent most of it's history in ignorance and only reciently had real tools to measure the world and universe around us.

You cannot use Thor to measure lightening. You cannot fix your car with pixy dust. You cannot run your computer off of Apollo. Your parents brought you toys, not Santa. Humans did not pop out of dirt. You will not get 72 virgins. There is no such thing as Karma. gods don't magically knock up girls. Humans do not survive permanent death.

There are merely humans who wont let go of the past and still like the idea of the earth being flat(invisible magical beings),

The moon is not made of cheese. And thoughts do not arise out of a non-material process.

 

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


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I agree with this

 

Brian37 wrote:

Metaphysics is merely another word for "gap filling". It cannot and will never replace empirical testing.

Looking back at human history now, I do blame the Greeks for selling the false idea that all you had to do was think and you would find the answers. That bad meme has plagued humanity since.

And I agree with what you said elsewhere and Ubuntu I think mentioned upthread, that there's merit in wondering about stuff while recognising that what you're doing is speculating.

But sometimes when I'm wading through some titanic theological wool-ball I can't help feeling there must be something sensible inside that's just out of my reach. I wonder if it's my Kruger-Dunning or theirs.

Then I remember that line from Francis Bacon: "God forbid that we should give out a dream of our imagination for a pattern of the world."

And I know I'm with Bacon.

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


Brian37
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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

Brian37 wrote:

Metaphysics is merely another word for "gap filling". It cannot and will never replace empirical testing.

Looking back at human history now, I do blame the Greeks for selling the false idea that all you had to do was think and you would find the answers. That bad meme has plagued humanity since.

And I agree with what you said elsewhere and Ubuntu I think mentioned upthread, that there's merit in wondering about stuff while recognising that what you're doing is speculating.

But sometimes when I'm wading through some titanic theological wool-ball I can't help feeling there must be something sensible inside that's just out of my reach. I wonder if it's my Kruger-Dunning or theirs.

Then I remember that line from Francis Bacon: "God forbid that we should give out a dream of our imagination for a pattern of the world."

And I know I'm with Bacon.

 

I like limp bacon.

He he he, couldn't resist. Don't feel bad, Bob pulls his hair out every time we talk on Skype because I take everything he says and pull word play jokes on him.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Atheistextremist
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Yessum

 

Brian37 wrote:

I like limp bacon.

 

I like anything muslims hate. Bacon, girls with bare arms, paintings of humans and critters, blaspheming the f**king prophet. Stout beer.

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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I agree that some strains of

I agree that some strains of 'metaphysics' seem compatible with science, and even support it.

I just don't see the point of any of it.

Whatever use the 'better' forms of it have, they cover the same ground, with less rigour, that many thoughtful scientists are doing anyway, speculating on the fringes of actual 'established' theories, to consider what may be 'out there', the next frontier of thought and investigation. It really has been subsumed by such activity, and is not worthy as a separate discipline, IMHO.

Maybe it occupies, or did occupy, the mind-space between Physics and Philosophy. Except I don't think there is much space left there anymore.

 

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Brian37
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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

Brian37 wrote:

I like limp bacon.

 

I like anything muslims hate. Bacon, girls with bare arms, paintings of humans and critters, blaspheming the f**king prophet. Stout beer.

 

 

I certainly hate all forms of superstition and any invisible god claim. But I only hate the Muslim dickheads who like Jean(Fido) like to use their god claim to threaten other people and try to put fear in them. In that context, yea, I am for anything that pisses these assholes off.

Other than that, there will always be people whom hold beliefs I hate, without hating everyone who holds beliefs I hate.

I am for pissing off ANYONE who goes beyond, "you offended me" and uses threats and or law to set up a taboo for their deity.

I am for South Park. I am for Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I am for Marry in Elephant dung. I am for the Piss Christ. I am for the cartoon depicting Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.

I am for blasphemy not as an act of hate for all religious people. But as a tool to merely say, no one has a right to a pedestal. Once you start demanding a pedestal, a "fuck you" is what you are going to get from me.

And it's "fucking profit". Seriously, typing "f**king" doesn't change the meaning. Either use it, or don't, either way is fine with me. Everyone has individual comfort levels. But I find it silly to give any word in the human language taboo status. Just use it or don't use it.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Atheistextremist
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Ahhhhhhh

 

Brian37 wrote:

And it's "fucking profit". Seriously, typing "f**king" doesn't change the meaning.

 

fuck ya.

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck