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WHAT IS METAPHYSICS? Major question: What is reality? What philosophers try to do is -explain the difference between reality and appearance or -say why.

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Presentation on theme: "WHAT IS METAPHYSICS? Major question: What is reality? What philosophers try to do is -explain the difference between reality and appearance or -say why."— Presentation transcript:

1 WHAT IS METAPHYSICS? Major question: What is reality? What philosophers try to do is -explain the difference between reality and appearance or -say why something is said to be real or state the standards or criteria for what is real

2 SHORT HISTORY OF METAPHYSICS The most ancient branch of philosophy, occupied the central place in speculation for centuries Originally called “First Philosophy” by Aristotle Considered the neccesary starting point for all areas of knowledge. I.e.: before speculating on the fate of the soul after death we would first determine if there is a soul. Metaphysics, a “mistake” Some modern authors considered Metaphysics too ambitious and pretentious: Discovering the ultimate nature of reality lies beyond the limits of mortal man Hume, A.J.Ayer: metaphysical statements are meaningless

3 During the XX th century, other authors have renewed this discipline Husserl, Heidegger While others, simply, against all criticisms, never stopped cultivating Metaphysics in neo-tomist tradition (Catholic philosophy, mainly): After all, CAN YOU KNOW ANYTHING AT ALL IF YOU DO NOT ASK WHAT IS REAL FIRST? Or WHAT'S THE USE OF KNOWLEDGE IF WE DON'T WANT TO KNOW HOW WE DECIDE SOMETHING'S REAL?

4 CRITERIA FOR REALITY. HOW DO WE DECIDE SOMETHING'S REAL? What is Metaphysics worth for? Is it not obvious what is real and what is not? “Reality is what you can touch, feel, see, smell, taste and hear” You're using a methaphysical criterion! 'I feel it therefore it is real” (it's called empiricism) This position implies that: 1.Which is not empirically detectable is not real 2.Whatever is empirically experienced is real. Let's have a look on the first question:

5 “1.Which is not empirically detectable is not real” Is it as obvious as it first sounds? Considere the following list: The laws of gravity The chair you are sitting on The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution Your love of your parents God Your thoughts at this moment The meaning of the words of this page Justice Hamlet Which of these items are known by the five senses?

6 Only the chair! So, how do you know the others are also real? You must then: a)Reject this simple and extreme form of empiricism b)Modify it c)Acknowledge you innerly have a “sixth sense” by which you realize love, meaning, justice


8 Let's now have a look on the second question: Is everything empirical real? I.e.: someone sincerely report having seen little green men emerging from flying saucers. Why do we not accept this as real? Because -Little green men are very unexpected and unsual -They were only observed by one person. So, we introduce two criteria for what is real which may conflict with the empirical criteria -Must be observable to more than one individual -Fits in with normal expectations

9 You see someone through the window You ask if someone saw anything If he says no, you don't look through the window though “you saw something with your own eyes” We've got a problem now. Which criterion do we use or when? This problem calls us for philosophical reflection: common sense or intuitively obvious criteria often turn, upon examination to be inconsistent. Since they may conflict are of no use to us deciding what is real. It is clearly not obvious that reality is limited to what we can see and touch

10 In fact, we can classify reality between objects ands their properties. It's not unreasonable to say that properties' existence depend on object's existence itself. Properties can change. Objects remain. The Chesire cat's smile cannot exist without the cat. (the cat is more real than its smile) The cat cannot exist withour the elements he is made up with. (the atoms are more real than the cat) The atoms cannot exist without some mathematical principles (these mathematical principles are more real than the atoms. The atoms cannot exist, but the mathematical principles cannot be impossible) And, as you can know anything about those mathematical principles through your senses, you can say what is real is what we know through our intellect. CAN YOU POSITIVE KEEP SAYING THAT WHAT IT IS REAL IS ONLY WHAT YOU CAN TOUCH, FEEL?


12 SUBSTANCE {Gk. ουσια [ousia]; Lat. substantia} What a thing is made of; hence, the underlying being that supports, exists independently of, and persists through time despite changes in, its accidental features. Aristotle identified substance—both primary and secondary—as the most fundamental of the ten categories of being. According to Spinoza, there can be no more than one truly independent being in the universe.

13 MONISM Everything real is made of only one and the same substance Historically, we can find both materialist (everything is made of and only of matter) and spiritualist monism (everything is made of and only of spirit. Pantheism is also presented as a monism. E.g.: Materialist monism: dialectical materialism (Marx-Engels views) Idealist monism: Berkeley's idealism Spinoza's pantheism: Deus sive Natura

14 DUALISM The whole real world is made of two diferent types of substance, commonly matter and spirit. Historically, we can find different kinds of dualism depending on which one of the two substances is considered predominant upon the other and also on the strength's dichotomy. E.g: Platonism: visible world + inteligible world (world of ideas)visible world + inteligible world (world of ideas) Cartesianism: res cogitans ('mind') + res extensa ('matter') PLURALISM Everything is made of more than 2 different substances. E.g.: Aristotelian metaphysics Philosophic materialism held by Gustavo Bueno.

15 TRANSCENDENCE/IMMANENCE DISTINCTION Transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature and power which is wholly independent of the material universe, beyond all physical laws. Transcendence can be attributed to the divine not only in its being, but also in its knowledge. Thus, God transcends the universe, but also transcends knowledge (is beyond the grasp of the human mind). Immanence (opposite of transcendence): God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways. God, or the Absolute, exists exclusively in the physical order (immanentism), or is indistinguishable from it (pantheism).


17 "Los cartageneros rescataron el submarino Peral, que estaba abandonado en unos astilleros de Cádiz y, durante siglos, lo cuidaron y lo conservaron con mucho primor. Buscaron el mejor emplazamiento y le retiraban todas las piezas estropeadas, sustituyéndolas por copias idénticas en materia y forma. Había pasado tanto tiempo y se habían sustituido ya tantas piezas que no se sabía muy bien siquiera si le quedaba alguna original. No obstante, estaban muy contentos y orgullosos de su submarino.

18 THE 'SUBMARINE PERAL' PROBLEM Pero, como el diablo siempre mete cizaña en todas partes, algunos empezaron a plantearse si, con tanto cambio, podrían en verdad seguir diciendo que se trataba del mismo submarino Peral. Así que comenzó una gran y acalorada disputa entre los partidarios de una y otra solución.

19 THE 'SUBMARINE PERAL' PROBLEM No estaban las cosas bastante estropeadas cuando al cabo de un tiempo un iracundo cartagenero dijo que él había guardado todas las piezas originales del submarino y que sólo él poseía el verdadero buque. ¿Cómo podríamos ayudar a esta gente a recobrar la paz? ¿Cuál es el verdadero Submarino Peral?

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