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II. “What is Metaphysics?” Philosophy 157 G. J. Mattey ©2002.

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1 II. “What is Metaphysics?” Philosophy 157 G. J. Mattey ©2002

2 Metaphysics Metaphysics will be introduced through a particular metaphysical question This questioning involves two things The first is the “whole of being” The second is the metaphysical questioner

3 Science We investigate our own existence scientifically Science relates to the beings it investigates Its investigations are bounded by what it does not investigate How is the “not” treated by science?

4 Science and “the Nothing” Science relates to the beings it investigates themselves—and nothing else Those beings guide our attitude toward them—and nothing further We confront only the beings themselves—nothing beyond that The “nothing” is treated by science as nullity, a phantasm But it needs “the nothing” to express its essence “How is it with the nothing?”

5 Logic and “the Nothing” Thinking is always thinking of something We cannot think the nothing, and so it is not (compare Parmenides) To say that the nothing is not is a contradiction. Universal “logic” proscribes contradictions So the nothing is a negating of the whole of being, where negating is an act of intellect

6 A Reversal: Negating Depends on the Nothing Before one can negate anything, the nothing must be given beforehand If the nothing is given beforehand, it can be encountered But how can it be sought? Through “everyday chatter” about what “is” and “is not”? We will seek it though the “definition”: the negation of the totality of being Then the totality of being must be given first

7 Experiencing the Nothing How can the totality of being be given? If through the intellect, then the nothing is given through the intellect as well But it has been seen that this would bring the investigation to a halt So there must be a fundamental experience of the nothing

8 Experiencing the Totality of Being It is impossible to comprehend the whole of beings in themselves (Kant) It is possible to find ourselves among beings that are somehow revealed as the whole This happens all the time in existence It occurs in profound boredom, an indifference that implicates the totality of being It also occurs in joy in the presence of existence, as with that of a loved one

9 Anxiety Though the totality of being can be revealed in these moods, the nothing remains concealed The nothing reveals itself in the fundamental mood of anxiety (Angst) (Kierkegaard) Anxiety is not fear of a specific thing Anxiety produces calmness

10 The Nothing Revealed In anxiety, beings recede from our existence We “hover,” and our own existence is all that remains After feeling anxiety, we say that it was “about nothing,” which is literally true Anxiety is not a “grasping” of the nothing The nothing is “at one with” beings as a whole

11 Being Slips Away The nothing reveals itself as the “slipping away” of beings It is not intellectual negating or a metaphysical annihilation It is instead an activity of repulsion The nothing discloses the retreating beings as strange It reveals them as beings per se

12 The Nothing and Dasein Dasein is the being that questions Being Since the Being of beings is revealed first by the Nothing, Dasein is “being held out into the the nothing” This is what makes Dasein transcendent It is the basis of selfhood and freedom

13 Ubiquitous Anxiety The fundamental mood of anxiety occurs rarely Dasein’s holding out into being is always there: we adhere to beings in public existence, so we move away from the totality of beings Nihilation is going on behind the scenes

14 Ways of Nihilating Logical negation is not the only way of nihilating Nihilating is prior to negation It is found in many ways: Unyielding antagonism Stinging rebuke Galling failure Merciless prohibition Bitter privation

15 Repression of Anxiety Human existence is saturated with nihilation The anxiety that reveals it as such is repressed It is most repressed in bustling behavior, less so in reserved people, and even less so in daring people It can awaken at any moment Man is the “lieutenant of the nothing”

16 Metaphysics and the Nothing Metaphysics extends out “over” Being It is really meta ta physika (Aristotle) We reach Being through the nothing So metaphysics concerns the nothing

17 The Nothing and the Totality of Being The ancient view is that the nothing is non-being (Parmenides) It was identified with pure matter, which has no Being because it is unformed (neo-Platonists) For the Medievals, it is a problem: God creates from nothing, which would have to be separate from God’s reality Hegel equates Being with the nothing, but for the wrong reason (both are empty concepts)

18 Being and the Nothing Being is essentially finite It is revealed through Dasein’s transcendence of Being through the nothing The Medieval expression “Nothing comes from nothing” is reversed: beings as a whole come to us through the nothing of Dasein

19 The Nothing and Dasein Human existence is determined by science, but scientific existence depends on the nothing The nothing makes beings the objects of scientific investigation So the nothing puts ourselves into question It is of the nature of human beings to be questioners, so metaphysics is the basic occurrence of Dasein

20 Prerequisites for Philosophy There must be a space for beings as a whole This is provided by the nothing We must, then, release ourselves into the nothing, liberating ourselves from “idols” The nothing gives rise to the ultimate question of metaphysics: “Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing?”

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