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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 17 2013: Orlando, I like you. You have depth. You made me think. I like to think. It's takes my mind off washing my socks. You are right when you imply that not everyone has the freedom to think beyond the mundane (my words). But for even the most humblest among us, there sometimes opens up a small trapdoor to the deep.

    In regard to your comment.

    I believe that Metaphysics is an essential ingredient in Philosophy. Science is a tool. It can make measurements and experiment with the mundane. But it cannot measure the immeasurable. And humanity cannot be found in a test-tube. Measuring our bit's cannot define what we are. So metaphysics offers alternative ways of reasoning that which 'empiricism and naturalism' give no reasonable account. It is door through which there may be a way to interpret the reality we see every day and may help us to reach a new way of being human. So for me Metaphics represent's a little hope, a bit of magick and we could all use a little of those now and again. However, as you suggest, we need to take care of business and feed the crying baby of life. So maybe the journey into the relm of Metaphysics should be an enlightening trip available to all but not an extended vacation in relation to philosophical education. What do you think?
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      May 17 2013: HI David,

      Thanks for your comments. Very much appriciated.

      As I have learned throughout this thread, metaphysics appear to be very vital to philosophy, almost to the point that if it were to ever be taken out of philosophy that would spell the end to philosophy itself. This may perhaps be true.

      I do acknowledge that science has it limits but if we are talking about what is true and what is not. What is factual and what is not, I do not think we should fill in these gaps with just anything, which I believe that metaphysicians do sometimes.I even think that empiricism and naturalism have its limits because not every natrualisitc event will have an explination. I just personally believe that the things that matters to us the most happens within the physical universe.

      In regards to the important questions that we have that science cannot answer, I think existential philosophy is more vital than metaphysics because it teachs us to confront our existential dispair. With metaphysics I believe it leads people to be dishonest about the way things really are. Of course this is not always the case if we take into account something like mysticism.

      Also I believe that good philosophy and science are one and the same. science will always have philosophical emplications.

      but yes, if metaphysicis and philosophy is important I believe it should be able to tap into the mundane as well.

      and Im glad I'm able to take your mind off of your socks
      • May 19 2013: One thing I would like to add-in is that metaphysics is essential to science. It gives it reference. For example, take what you said in the second paragraph "... science has it limits but if we are talking about what is true and what is not. What is factual and what is not...". What is true? That question is a philosophical can of worms in itself. More importantly, science is probabilistic. At it's foundation it is supposed to represent a method for arriving at an approximation of what is "the truth". So science should not be equated with truth.

        As for metaphysics, it provides an arena for theorizing about questions science cannot easily address. For example, does free will exist? This is a question that science can assist with, but cannot definitively answer. You are right though, metaphysics can lead to dishonesty. Personally, I think religion is the prime example here. In this sense metaphysics is certainly imperfect. Its value comes from the fact that it provides a forum with some rules (i.e. logic) for discussing important questions about the universe and humanity.

        In a sense I feel like existentialism fits within it rather than next to it. To me, it seems like existentialism relies heavily on free will, which is a rather metaphysical concept. It also relies on a philosophical definition of self that is by no means universal. Metaphysics just provides a domain to question and argue about these universal assumptions. Whether it is useful on an everyday basis is another question. Even if it isn't, I would still argue that it is important.

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