TED Conversations

Orlando Hawkins

TEDCRED 30+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Is it time for philosophy to do away with metaphysics?

I love philosophy but one of the main issues that I hear about it is that its impractical and serves no suitable purpose to the world. Although I believe this claim to be somewhat false I understand the point that is being made from those who criticize it.

Philosophy is capable of being pragmatic but the reason why it appears as though its not is because it deals too much with the abstract and concerns itself with metaphysics. If you want a real brain teaser metaphysical talk is the way to go but metaphysics really serves no purpose to the world. For a family who constantly have to work to feed their children and provide an education, contemplating the nature of reality or postulating weather or not consciousness exists outside the brain is probably not going to help the situation. One of my professors say that if we sit in meditation, we’ll understand the true harmonious nature and interconnectedness of the universe. We will understand how to act in each moment (similar to what Taoist believe). He may be right but we often forget that its a privilege to be able to do so. Nor are these concerns on everyone’s mind.

The philosophy department at my school is great but it is too indulged in metaphysics. From an epistomological standpoint this is problematic because most of the claims that are made is either in conflict with the way the natural world really is (scientific discoveries) and they are essentially not able to be proved which means we should not waste our time with such claims. When it comes to epistemology, I think this is where philosophy could utilize the methodology of science.

I"m a philosopher at heart but it concerns me that philosophy would lose it value if it cannot indulge in more empiricism and naturalism when making claims about the way the world is.

are we so concerned with value to the point that we'll negate truth? is science capable of establishing values?

+4
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • May 11 2013: Metaphysics - as I see it - is ground of every human acting and thinking. It appoints and determines understanding of basic concepts (terms) of human mind. For example such terms as: being, reality, action, energy, existence, essence, will, mind, consciousness, life, aim (goal), soul, nature, relation, truth, development, cause, result, meaning, subject, object, knowledge - is it possible to think or to communicate without using them? And the metaphysics is the science which explains all that terms and tries to connect them in a system. That’s why it is necessary in every kind of science.
    • thumb
      May 11 2013: Yes, trying to understand, as you stated "being, reality, action, energy, existence, essence, will, mind, consciousness, life, aim (goal), soul, nature, relation, truth, development, cause, result, meaning, subject, object, knowledge" is great. I have no issue with any of that. I'm not saying science can answer everything but from my experience its gotten to the point that where there's a scientific answer or where science can explore, I'm told that metaphysics proceeds science so the answer I should derive from the questions are metaphysical ones.

      I just disagree with that. I find it perturbing that my professors can't be intellectually honest about things that we're still exploring. I'd rather them admit that they don't know as opposed to the conclusions that they derive. Such an approach literally led me to create this thread (I need to know what others thought) and one of my classmates to change his major. That is why I think science is vital to philosophy, much more so than metaphysics but I could be wrong, especially considering the questions that metaphysics ask. You probably wouldn't have science with out it.
      • thumb
        May 13 2013: Mr Hawkins, I like you thought. I like your questions, the most. I listened to videos by Michio Kaku, Leonard Susskind, and part of a talk by Edward Witten. The last talk by Professor Ed Witten is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2XerpjV_AA .

        I quote next from Wikipedia/metaphysics:
        "The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world, e.g., existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into the basic categories of being and how they relate to each other. Another central branch of metaphysics is cosmology, the study of the totality of all phenomena within the universe."

        It would seem, today, that perhaps the only VALID (or at least the Leading) work being done in the field of Metaphysics today is NOT by Metaphysicians & professors of Philosophy -- but by Theoretical Physicists, Cosmologists, & Astronomers. That seems to be where the action is.

        Mr Hawkins, YOU are the expert. But it seems to me that when the leading thinkers of the human species stopped being shamans, they became Priests. When they stopped being Priests, they became Philosophers or Theologians. When the leading Philosophers started to measure & count things, they became Mathematicians. When the leading Philosophers started using mathematics to measure the world & test it, they became Scientists like Physicists, Astronomers, Chemists, and yes, even Biologists. But in the beginning, they were all trained Philosophers.

        It would seem to me that all those Physicists are doing fine with their Mathematics. And clearly, the Mathematics, the experiments and the proofs validate the Physics. But the way the Physicists are approaching Metaphysics is pathetic. The language they use is bad. They try to EXPLAIN what the mathematics is telling them and they can't. They need a Metaphysician to give them words.
    • May 13 2013: I applaud your response. I could not have said it better. I would like to suggest to everyone in this conversation the book Power vs Force by the late Dr. David Hawkins.
    • May 13 2013: I was responding to comments by TOMAZ

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.