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Orlando Hawkins

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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?

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  • May 12 2013: Actually, metaphysics was developed in order to explain some actual phenomena. To regard it as something totaly lacking evidence displays some ignorance.

    The evidence and phenomena are found in the areas of near-death visions, near-death experiences (NDE's), afterlife communications (of various kinds), memories (especially by children) of former lives, and so on. All of these, and related phenomena, ask questions that cannot be answered in materialist science, and which metaphysics offers some possible answers for.

    So-called sceptics like to pooh-pooh these phenomena, but they cannot explein them all away (despite strenuous attempts to do so), and nor can they produce any evidence to demonstrate that they must be false.

    It would therefore be somewhat premature to ditch the whole field of metaphysics.
    • May 12 2013: I have read that the near death experiences can be reproduced with 50 to - 100mg of ketamine intravenously administered.
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      May 14 2013: Hi Rodney,

      Please don't take this as a pejorative but personally your statements are the one's that I have issue with in regards to metaphysics. I'll explain why:

      NDE's, afterlife communication and everything else that you mentioned are all subjective experiences. I am honest enough to admit that subjectivity is all that we can possibly have and all that actually matters. No amount of science can tell me how I feel at this very moment typing up my response to you.

      So although I believe that, NDE's (although they may shed some insight on the nature of death) are honestly meaningless to me. They tell me nothing about death itself. Now if a person has profoundly spiritual experience from a NDE that is great for that individual but personally everyone interprets such experience differently. If an NDE leads a serial killer to want to donate to charity, that is a great change in mindset.

      But when those individuals make claims such as consciousness is independent of the brain or that heaven exists, I think we need to explore these questions because they are indeed making claims about physical reality. Also there is much science explain what is happening at the level of the brain when someone is having an NDE and NDE's can be reproduced.

      Perhaps science, philosophy and religion will not be able to explain every subjective phenomena but instead of just deriving conclusions about things, we should just say we don't know..there is nothing wrong with saying that.

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