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?

  • 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.
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      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.
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        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
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    May 13 2013: One should always have a sound philosophy to be happy and succesful in life. Not having a philosophy is akin to ship without compass , now a days GPS.
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    May 11 2013: Metaphysics allows us to to guess what's there in a darkened room.

    Philosophy allows us to use our senses to feel our way around that room, and to see a little more clearly, once our eyes get more used to the dark.

    Science switches the lights on.

    All are of vital importance if we are to continue exploring.
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      May 11 2013: HI Allan,

      that is very compelling. I like that...thanks for your response. I like your analogy and I agree about science switching the lights on.

      what I'm concerned about is people using metaphysics not only to guess whats there in the dark room but never turning the lights on in the first place and telling others they know whats in the room, while the room is still dark.

      the process you mentioned I'm honest enough to admit that I agree with it. But once the lights are on, I can't see how you can still accept a metaphysical conclusion, especially if we know what's already in the room.
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        May 11 2013: Hi Orlando,

        I don't think the metaphysical can ever be a conclusive thing, because it seems to me to be placed at the initial stages in the hierarchy of thought that leads, via intuition, through to what we like to call certainty. However, there may be exceptions:

        The way I see it is that 'certainty' is unstable. To stick with the lit room analogy, it's almost as though the lit room is forever expanding and/or changing shape, and the bulb we switched on initially is no longer bright enough to light the whole of it any more. We then have to feel our way around again as philosophers - or even as metaphysicians if it is beyond experience - to try and find more light switches.

        It's like a constant conveyor belt of intuition/possibility/probability/certainty - forever changing, and with the constant need for re-referral back to metaphysical/philosophical origins in order to ascertain the elusive holy grail of certainty.
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          May 17 2013: Hi Allan,

          I think I understand what your saying now. Even these questions that we may call scienitifc, are at first philosophical or metaphysical questions
      • May 12 2013: Orlando,
        I agree about people not being honest enough to say they don't know. Knowledge is classically defined as justified true belief...and the way science is going, it seems what is uncovered in our universe is in flux constantly. In metaphysics, there are probably fewer things being "discovered" these days. The thing that sticks in my craw is that science, while it works well to refine the explanation of how something is done, it can never answer whether something ought to be done. Science never illuminates the "ought", "why", and "transcendence" questions, just the material questions. And the most pressing need of our society is for the former questions to be illuminated. Metaphysics is an important part of this enlightenment.
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          May 17 2013: Hi John,

          I do agree that science is not capable of answering every question. I somewhat disagree that science cannot answer the "ought" or "why" questions (or even the transcendental ones).

          The reason why I think this is because I belive that there is no clear boarder between "good" philosophy and science. For me good philospohy is reasonable and values evidence in spite of how grotesque the truth may be. Nietzsche did show a bit of concern about our pursuit for truth. He wondered if it would be psychologically daming if we concered ourselves with truth for the sake of value. Personally I believe that most scienfitic facts or theories have philosophical explanations.

          Your right that the world is constantly in flux. You see this in science when a theory is taken off the table or modified because we know more or when something new is discovered.

          I hope you don't take my response as science is able to answer our most important existential questions. I do not believe that is the purpose of science. The main issue I have is when there are scientific questions that can only be answered by science (or the best answer is scientific) and yet philosophers and theologains claim that the answer is metaphysical. Here is an example:

          Assume you wanted to expalin how the Mt. Baldy mountisns in california shifted from north and south to east and west. There are many naturalistic explianations to this question. You can talk about the tatonic plates, you can talk about the san andreas falt, etc. Many natural scientists can explain why. Now one of my professors who likes to invoke quantum mechanics would assert that there could be no shift because ultimatly the mountains are non-physical and therefore there could be no naturalistic explaination. It is this sort of philosophy that I have an issue with. one's that are not honest in face of the evidence.
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        May 14 2013: Please see my posts above on this subject. There IS an answer. But it is more Scientific than not!
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        May 14 2013: I am privileged to quote YOU here, Mr. Hawkins: (and please forgive my 'schoolmaster' voice -- this is a feeble attempt at both humor and irony . . . :)

        " . . . what I'm concerned about is people using metaphysics not only to guess whats there in the dark room but never turning the lights on in the first place and telling others they know whats in the room, while the room is still dark . . . . But once the lights are on, I can't see how you can still accept a metaphysical conclusion, especially if we know what's already in the room." I agree completely. Specifically, Sam Harris talks about that in his TEDtalk. I had to figure out how Dr. Harris could list himself as both a neuroscientist and a philosopher. Answer: he got educated in both.

        I very much fear that while YOU are asking all the right questions, you are NOT getting the right answers by any means. If your goal is to study Philosophy, I'd seriously consider going to a different school or University. Sam Harris is easy to respect because he admits up front that people can disagree. What's more, he accepts the idea that even religious people can disagree on critical, dogmatic RELIGIOUS issues and not get heartburn over it. But clearly, the only thing he will NOT tolerate is shabby or lazy or superstitious THINKING. Things MUST be logical, and reasonable. And we have to be committed to learn. I can tell that you are a serious student. Your answers are thoughtful and insightful. You questions, equally so. No respected PHILOSOPHER who earned a PhD in their discipline would leave you "dangling" on this issue as they have. I agree with YOU and not with the people you are complaining about. YOU have the point worth defending here. More below.
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          May 17 2013: Hi Jaun

          Thanks for your comments. Yes I am a serious philosophy students. I'm constantly trying to learn more and more.

          One of the main issues that I have is when peopel ask me what my major is. When I tell them that I'm a philosophy major the most common response I recieve is, "philosophy huh? what can you possibliy do with a philosophy degree?".

          The more I explore the reasons as to why people believe that philosophy has no value, the more I realize that they don't believe it serves a practical purpose (at least in the western world. The focus is always about business, politics or anything else to do with money).

          I too do not tolerate superstiious thinking. I understand the reason's as to why people do but I really don't believe its going to help people. Sam Harris is great because he's an honest person and is willing to admit both the good and the bad. What he belives to be true and what he believes to be false.

          I noticed its my class that usually has to deal with metaphysical issues that pertubs people the most because of the claims that my professors say about reality. Its not that I think metaphysics is false, it more that I belive its unverfiable and those who are capable of giving it some credence do so by the virtue of having the opportunity to do so, which most people do not have for x,y and Z reasons. I just want to make philosophy asscessble to everyone so they can see how much of a suitable purpose it has
  • May 10 2013: Orlando, I agree with Fritzie, but would add a definition of philosophy that could aid you for the remainder of your life: Philosophy is a process of man to reconcile material and non-material realities. Humans cannot know all things and those realities that cannot be observed with eyes, hearing, touch, smell or by any uses of machines and observing equipment, must therefore be handled through thinking and imagination. A purposeful question for any problem could be 'what is real'?

    Philosophy helps mankind address challenges, some large, as Fritzie infers. What could humankind achieve without the ability to think? Not much, I suspect.

    You have the ability to think and I suspect you consider the topics selected by your professor is a waste of time. Could be very true for you at this time in your life. Pick a different topic in your private thinking or in concert with others and attempt to find explanation for what troubles you---the questions you have in life. Meditate on those problems and in time note the questions and ideas that come to mind related to your selected challenges or topics you wish to address.

    Philosophy has its purposes. You would be wise to attempt to reconcile what you can observe and learn by education and compare it to your ideals you would like to prevail in your life---be it small or large. After all is said, it is the good you can give to the world that matters most. Think of ways you could do the most good, no matter how large or small your personal world!

    Would there be any value for you and friends to encourage others to do the same?
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      May 10 2013: Mark raises an important issue that goes beyond the study of philosophy per se. "Pick a different topic for your private thinking or in concert with others..."

      When a teacher focuses on a topic, it is valuable for you to consider it, as you may not at first glance understand its importance. Education is meant to open your eyes to things you have not realized.

      On the other hand learning and education are about adding to what you are thinking about and find of value- not replacing it. You can fruitfully fold what you learn to consider in your education into what you already think about- your existing great interests and concerns.
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        May 10 2013: Thanks Fritzie

        but I'm not as ignorant as you think I am. I more than understand the reason's why metaphysics is valuable to many people. Reading Nietzsche and existential philosophy does give some insight on human the human condition.

        I have learned a great deal from my professors. They are more concerned about value as opposed to anything else and I do not think that is a bad thing. The only issue is that they find value in some other world. I find value in this world. I do not have to agree with them but I do like what they have to say. It has much benevolence.

        For me its no coincidence that the most prominent contemporary philosophers also have a contribution to the scientific community. I'm not saying science is the only way to find value but I think philosophy can use a bit of science and science could use a bit of philosophy.

        I don't need to agree with their metaphysics in order to have a valuable life. There are other ways of finding value. Its just a matter of figuring it out
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          May 18 2013: It is perfectly alright to disagree on academic issues. But make sure you master the basic subject matter first.
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      May 10 2013: Hi Mark, great comment. Thanks!

      For one I never mentioned that philosophy should go away nor do I think it ever will. I've stated metaphysics, which is one branch of philosophy. I just don't see how it can be useful in the modern world anymore, especially with advances in science.

      Does philosophy have a valuable history? Of course! Does it serve a purpose? Absolutely! Is it as dry as many people think it is? I don't think so..

      I do like what you mentioned in regards to philosophy dealing with the material and non material world...if your taking about your own personal life experiences and values and what is useful I agree with you if you consider this non-material. I think that is why existential philosophy is very important and existential philosophy does not always deal with metaphysics.

      As I've learned from Nietzsche, Sartre and other existentialist you can have much value to your life. The physical world is not the only thing that matters but I don't think metaphysics will provide much comfort. All I know is that I'm here, I'm living and I'm finding my own value in the world. Being concerned about an metaphysical after world that may or may not exists is not going to do me or most people (at least I think so) any justice.

      You mentioned that I should find a topic that troubles me, well this is one but I would hope that no one took it as me saying philosophy should go away unless you define philosophy as metaphysics, which it is not.
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    May 19 2013: In my opinion, science cannot establish values. That's where one needs philosophy or religion.

    I think, philosophy drives science and research, not the other way around. E.g. Apple and Google have different philosophies. Apple values style and user experience while Google makes emphasis on "cloud computing" - Google wants all data to flow through their servers. These philosophies give different directions to research and development.

    I think, it's ignorant to consider useless something that (I think) I don't use. E.g., some people believe that money spent on space exploration is better spent elsewhere while using GPS, navigation systems, cell phones, and satellite TV. None of these things would be possible without seemingly impractical "rocket science" or theory of general relativity.

    I strongly disagree with Harris. He contradicts empiricism, in particular, David Hume who said "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." Sean Carroll debated Harris on this talk in many places defending Hume's position.

    Here is Carroll's take on this disrespect to philosophy among some scientists (Lawrence Krauss, in particular): http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/04/28/a-universe-from-nothing .

    Those who consider philosophy impractical forget that pragmatism is a philosophical position.
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      May 21 2013: Hi Arkady,

      From my point of view, I don't think philosophy and science are so different and as your rightly pointed out, science derives from philosophy, not the other way around. Most, scientific findings have some philosophical implications and it is in this way that I believe that science can establish values that would become philosophical.

      Thanks for the link to the article. I read it this morning and it is good to see a scientist not denigrate philosophy. I don't agree with Lawrence Krauss idea of philosophy and I did not personally appreciate his introduction in the new book with his attacks on philosophy but I understood why he said what he said and I really think his issue had to do with metaphysics.

      As with Harris, I think he gives philosophy much credit. All of his debates and lectures tackle philosophical issues he just back up his claim with hard science. I don't see how you could not get any more empirical. Being a neuroscientist he would have known that there is not a separate facility for reason and he would know that reason would have its bases in emotion but this still should not stop one from being reasonable.

      I think for Harris philosophy is important but I do agree with Carroll that philosophy is more important than science is giving it credit for. Once again I think this is an issue with philosophy and not necessarily one of science (unless you have scientist like Krauss).
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        May 21 2013: I agree with what you say. Science contributes to our understanding of the world and ourselves, and this understanding drives further research and social progress. It's philosophy right there - yin-yang type of relationship seen in many other questions - security vs. freedom, free will vs. determinism, emotion vs. reason, etc. I completely agree with Carroll when he says: " they are interesting questions to “raise,” but my own view is that the best answer is to promptly un-ask them. (Note that by now we’ve reached a purely philosophical issue, not a scientific one.)"

        The Carroll's article has a link to the interview with Krauss where the quotation "moronic philosophers" comes from which is relevant to this discussion http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/print/2012/04/has-physics-made-philosophy-and-religion-obsolete/256203/ I think, Krauss is being deliberately provocative. It's his way to promote himself and his book and make people think along the way. That's fine.

        In my personal opinion, it's best when everyone "plows his own field" - scientists should not pretend to answer philosophical, religious, or moral questions; theologians should not mess with science or politics, etc. Most philosophers I know seem to know their place very well :-).
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        May 21 2013: My interest with TED also started with Harris's talk. Controversies and self-refuting ideas fascinate me. TED is full of them. Bible is full of them too. This is why I'm fascinated with religion as well. It makes me think despite the popular opinion that religion instills blind faith and obedience. I think, derogatory attitudes towards philosophy and religion come not from understanding, but from the lack of it.
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          May 23 2013: I read all this thread and I agree with what said here both by you and Orlando Hawkins. The very important & true point you wrote is worth to be stressed:

          "In my personal opinion, it's best when everyone "plows his own field" - scientists should should not pretend to answer philosophical, religious, or moral questions; theologians should not mess with science or politics, etc."

          About your last comment. Religions are considered to instill blind faith and obedience because the religions' institutionalized forms and their institutionalized followers had indeed imposed those blind faiths and obedience and they are still doing it. The originally pure and noble principles of the religions were trampled brutally by power and greed maniacs who established and maintained the institutionalized religions. So no wonder many people have bad attitude towards religions.
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    May 14 2013: IMO, philosophy is the Mathematics of Life. Like in science, when science was at its infancy, it could make progress by its own -- meaning just by marching on the path of the human thought. But as the science got developed, it required more & more mathematics in order to make progress. It's true particularly with Physics. The Modern Physics which began developing at the end of the 19th century, could not do it without mathematics.

    It's somewhat similar with life and philosophy. When we deal with the routine, daily life, we do not feel a need for philosophy. But as we go on living the routine life, and as we grow up, many thinking people feel that something is lacking in their routine life of pleasures & sufferings. They start looking for answers to their questions. A thirst is created in those minds to understand the principles which dominate their routine life and much further than that. This quest for understanding more than just our daily experience is called Philosophy. Philosophy helps us understanding the life like mathematics helps science understanding the physical world.

    The great thing with philosophy is that if one truly understands it, one sees that philosophy always was, is and will be an inherent part of any self-conscious life. The only question is if any self-conscious being is capable of reaching this insight. The insight that there's actually no other path but only the philosophic/spiritual path in each and every struggle of life.

    To illustrate our thirst for philosophy, imagine you haven't eaten anything for 2 days. Now someone puts before you a big plate with very delicious food and near it a big glass of water. What would you go for at the beginning ?? I guess for the plate full of food. You won't even look at the glass of water. But after eating enough and enjoying the delicious food, then you will start feeling a huge thirst for water and you will quench it with that water in the glass.
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    May 10 2013: Philosophy, as you know, addresses large issues as well as small ones, highly useful and applicable ones and others that are largely disconnected from practical use. You have a choice, I think, to use the habits of mind you have developed to focus on the ones that help you lead your life better and understand the issues that are important to you.

    Many fields occupy themselves with both large issues and small, important issues and less important issues. Focus on what resonates most with you.
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      May 10 2013: Thanks Fritzie,

      that's exactly the point that I'm trying to make. The way I approach my philosophy is at odds with most of my professors. When I do look for practical and real world solutions to the issues that we talk about, they constantly invoke metaphysics, which is something that really cannot be proven.

      My main point is that I want to be more than just your arm chair and academic philosopher but its pretty discouraging when your professor is telling you that your deluded by western, scientific thinking.

      I'm not saying all of philosophy should be banned. What I do realize though is that its really a privilege to be able to talk about these things unless you really just have an interest. I just want to know how philosophy can apply to the real world and the lives of everyday individuals... I look many things that philosophy have to offer so I can't just limit myself to one thing that resonates with me..others can but I'm interested in pretty much any aspect of philosophy (with one exception of course)

      I just don't believe that metaphysics provides that anymore
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        May 14 2013: Go read up on Neil deGrasse Tyson and look at some of his Youtube videos. If you are the kind of person for whom the open-ended, non-answer, leaving-plenty-of-room-for-debate, kind of thinking is somewhat unsettling, maybe YOU should be a scientist. I feel the Angst (i.e. Søren Kierkegaard) that you must be experiencing. But experimentation and discovery offer the own delights.

        Woe be it unto me that I tempt you with the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Life. But Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Engineering can do that for you. Some people prefer science. Some people want to do all the math, make all the numbers crunch properly, solve all the homework problems, and go have a beer. Maybe you are listening to the RIGHT people, but you are in the WRONG field.
  • May 22 2013: Great question,

    To me I think the issue is not whether philosophy should dump metaphysics or not but rather that philosophy should allow individuals to discern Truth for themselves. To take one side over another i.e metaphysics vs non-metaphysics is to limit ones own discernment for creating new ideas or ways of seeing things. The real problem is when we are expected to believe something particularly if we've never experienced it ourselves.

    History is full of mysterious events, to label all of them 'un-real' just because we don't understand them would be a bit narrow minded in my mind. What if some mysterious experience happened to us? Would we be able to disregard it just because we didn't understand it? Or worse have others invalidate us just because they don't understand?

    And look at quantum physics. Which daily spins off mysterious effects of nature. I think we have to get comfortable in a universe which may forever be completely unknowable to humans? Which doesn't have to go against that which we do know or believe. But can perhaps enrich it by keeping awe alive.

    I do disagree though that to dwell on the nature of reality wont help with basic human needs. Sometimes we can't fulfil our basic human needs because of a lack of meaning in our lives which can lead to overwhelming depression or suicide. Sometimes, we feel a need for greater answers then basic human survival can offer, otherwise we wouldn't be human.

    Thank you very much for such an interesting question. I do hope such discussions over metaphysics can continue in the broader public and outside religion as well. These are universal questions whether we are secular in our views or not. And like all our most cherished beliefs, with time even they change.

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    May 22 2013: Right now we are a little more than a day away from putting this conversation to bed. So, with this in mind, I nominate this conversation for permanence. Either that or we add another month to its life. There is enough here that you could make a book (on LuLu.com) of just these comments. It's that good!

    Mr. Orlando Hawkins, I thank you for your wisdom and patience in maintaining this thread. I've learned much from you as to how and how NOT to maintain a conversation. I tend to make an "author" of myself. You, however, Professor Hawkins . . .

    Professor Hawkins, you have consistently set a very even tone with every response. You have been non-judgmental and honest. And you have expressed your feelings as well as your opinions and beliefs quite effectively. For this, I salute you. Clearly you have earned a title of respect beyond that of mere mortals such as myself. And for that, Professor Hawkins, you have both my respect and gratitude. You have taught me much. And you have challenged a great deal of what I only thought I knew previously. THIS is one of the greatest accomplishments, aspired to by anyone who wishes to enter academia and teach young & active minds the disciplines of Science, Liberal Arts, and Philosophy.

    I do not believe that I am alone in this assessment. I would encourage anyone to express their closing opinion on just this: Professor Hawkins! I am NOT just being a smart-alec! You are GOOD at this!
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      May 23 2013: Thanks Juan,

      I appreciated all your comments and kept in mind all the advice you gave me. I honestly did not expect that many people to respond to my post which is why I only set it for two weeks. No worries I will be back on here once i think of more questions.

      I did learn a great deal from everyone on here as well. My perspective on metaphysics changed slightly. You rightly pointed out that I am close to finals at my school. I have finals last week and I just presented my senior thesis for philosophy today (I received an A in case your wondering) so that is why it did take me time to respond back. but once again thanks and hopefully we'll talk soon.
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        May 23 2013: Thanks for your prompt response. I found out, thanks to you, that I know much less about philosophy than I thought I did. I do (I hope) believe that many of my statements to you are more correct than not as to the true state of things. If I was correct in my statements at least 58% of the time, then I get a "C-" for my efforts.

        I do believe that there is a very real need for Professors of Philosophy. That is, high level, PhD educators trained in the academic history and discipline of Philosophy.

        One of the things that you might consider is this: Quantum Physics has reached the point where the Experimental Method itself is starting to break down. And the Physicists are NOT talking about it because they don't know what to do about it. There is still a lot of valid, empiric, investigation to be done in the field. But at the sub-atomic level, the Physicists are finding out that it is impossible to get some answers. It isn't that they can't still do experiments. They can. It's just that the experiments they want to set up will NOT yield answers. And they know this because that is the fundamental nature of the Universe. The mathematics is telling them that there are fundamental questions that they will NEVER know the answer to. And that, to a statistical certainty. And although Physicists are fascinated by Black Holes, this is one black hole that nobody wants to admit even exists.

        That is where Philosophy comes in. Philosophy is the science of thought, and reason, and of the limits of both thought and reason. I mean, what is a hard-ass theoretical physicist going to do when the scientific method itself, stops working? As I see it, they have two choices. They can go see their psychiatrist. Or they can go see a Philosopher. Or both. They have to live with fundamental ambiguity. They have to live with the limits of Human Knowledge. And that's what YOU philosopher-guys do all the time. You know how to live w/this weirdness. Physics does not.
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        May 23 2013: This Physics-Conundrum, is just my pet-dilemma these days. And because I am NOT a physicist by training or background, I can only speculate. I just listen to what they say (and don't say) and wonder about it all. At some level I think, it serves them right. They've always tended to be an arrogant bunch!

        What I can say that the Philosophers seem to be the Great Speculators. They seem to have a great familiarity with all the unanswerable questions of the universe. And with respect to natural science and their vaunted empiric methodology . . . the first person to ask about Biology, was NOT a Biologist. The first person to ask about Chemistry, was NOT a Chemist. The first person to ask about Physics, was not a Physicist. Somebody had to ask the fundamental questions that opened up these disciplines in their earliest stages. That first guy, was a Philosopher. And that Philosopher, was the first guy who had to admit: "I just don't have all the answers!"

        I guess that's just basic info to you. I find myself in the role of reciting "Philosophy 101." Maybe I get it, and maybe I don't. But I doubt you'd respond if I just did not. So thank you. I can always appreciate a good lesson, or two.

        Here are some conversations I am working on.

        I tend towards asking questions about the "ethics" of things. In fact, in graduate school they required us to take an ethics course in the first year. Not all of the Natural Sciences do that. And maybe they should. Had the first Nuclear Physicists been trained in Ethics (even at a fundamental level), would we EVER have built the Atomic Bomb?

        In any event, congratulations upon completing your studies.
  • May 20 2013: The more I reside in both the groups of philosophers as well as scientists, the more i have noticed that Philosophers always have a very wrong views of science and so do Scientists have of Philosophy which is exactly what is happening here...
    To Orlando Hawkins- I had the same kind of doubts like yourself, and found that the way of the future currently is science and Fields of Philosophy that are transitioning towards scientific methods (Consider Dan Dennet and his empirical methodology). Fields like Logic, Ethics, Aesthetics and parts of epistemology are becoming naturalistic day by day. Metaphysics is dead. Ontology is now shaped by science. I went into Science to begin to understand reality n I am working on a long term Philosophy project to see if current science can deliver that n in what ways can the project improve Science to deliver this. I had thought of skipping from science to the other side of philosophy but saw that the only way I can stop myself from mistaking science like Michael Foucault, or Thomas Kuhn did, is by seeing both perspectives. If you have a specific interest in a particular subject which is either in Logic, Semantics, or Ethics Go in Philosophy. If you wish to understand nature, Reality, consciousness, Ontology, or even Free Will (Neuroscience) etc go in Science
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      May 21 2013: "The more I reside in both the groups of philosophers as well as scientists, the more i have noticed that Philosophers always have a very wrong views of science and so do Scientists have of Philosophy which is exactly what is happening here..."

      Very true. What upsets me more (and perhaps a fault of my own) is that most people believe that I'm trying to get rid of philosophy. If they would of paid attention to my third paragraph or would have read my other post, I clearly lay down my issues with philosophy. I don't think philosophy should be replaced by science but I do think it could use a bit more empiricism. This thread made me realize that philosophy is almost dependent upon metaphysics. If i would have said epistemology I don't think it would have been met with much resistance or most probably would not have realized that epistemology was lost for a while until Chomsky introduced his theories about language and influenced the cognitive sciences.

      As with the rest of what you said I do look towards the approach of Dennett and Harris. I try to find a middle ground between rationalism and naturalism. My school preaches post-modernism and I usually bump heads with my professors because of my more naturalistic approach to philosophy and at times i get confused because we preach the same values but they derive theirs from metaphysics and ontology and mine I feel are derived from the world around me.

      as for what I want to do with both, I think I'm going to go into the philosophy of the mind.
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        May 21 2013: I think there is a major mistake here. No major Universities on Earth avoid teaching science. That means physics, biology, chemistry, medicine, psychology, all the engineering disciplines, and even Mathematics. Cryptography represents one way in which mathematics has become hard science. And there are many other examples.

        Philosophy is considered the mother of all academic disciplines. So no respected University can exist without teaching Philosophy. And as a rule, the expectation is that the Philosophers will respect the scientists and vice-versa.

        This thread, however, does NOT reflect an Academically valid view of either Science or Philosophy. What we have here is mostly an opinion poll. Everyone has an opinion on the perceived dichotomy of science vs philosophy. Everyone has an opinion, but very little of that reflects what is really going on. In common parlance, "Philosophy" tends to refer to an amalgam of ideas that are not connected in any realistic way to rigorous academic pursuits. And if you talk about metaphysics, the "crowd-source" definition is in no way connected to the true definition that arises from the solid history of western philosophy. It does seem today that the only valid metaphysics is being done by physicists and Cosmologists. But what is going on here often sounds like it is being done by a Cosmetologist. Is this the day that cosmetology met cosmology?
  • May 19 2013: I think you have the wrong view of philosophy, you can consider the idea's for tools, houses, etc, essentially metaphysical constructs before we inject information from our brains into the universe to re-arrange matter and energy according to information (our inner imaginary metaphysic).

    The problem is not with philosophy but developing methods to find out whether our ideas are congruent with reality but our IDEA of reality is used to figure out what reality is.

    Consider the idea that the universe is self-aware in some sense, capable of self-processing and self-configuring itself, this is not a 'mystical, non scientific idea'. Since one could say we possess some limited amount of self awareness, and therefore because we are just pieces of the universe. The universe might also have this property but is just dormant potential or just unconscious self-processing.

    Or consider the idea that the our universe is a simulation, there are ideas that one can use to test for this idea. Basically when you get down to it, what we call "reality" has expanded and grown and changed over historical time. I think you have the wrong idea about 'science' because you don't seem to grasp the very importance of concepts to science. Information is extremely important.

    The problem is the vast majority of human beings just don't think clearly about how to determine valid informational constructs from invalid ones. This is where analytical tools like math and science come in. But note that MATH is essentially metaphysical. There is no 'reality' to mathematics, it is a pure informational system we overlay on top of nature.

    Think of newtons "laws", the aren't really "laws" in the sense that we have 100% precision, so even if your accuracy describes something fairly well, if it ain't perfect, well then you haven't found the right ideas and information and ways to structure it to clarify what you're seeing.
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      May 21 2013: Hi Bob,

      My problem is not with philosophy. My problem is with those who invoke metaphysics in spite of the overwhelming empirical evidence that is present. I'm not saying empiricism is the only way to go and the metaphysics that you described does serve a pragmatic purpose.

      I think philosophy is capable of helping us understand the nature of reality as well as science and mysticism. The claim about the self-aware universe, while interesting and perhaps true (since it does operate in accordance to certain laws, just like humans) is a claim that may be beyond the scope of our cognition and I think there are good reasons to cast doubt on such a claim.

      As with the case about science, I am well aware that what information that we find now could change at any moment if something else is discovered. I've mentioned this several times in other conversations. All we have, all that we can possibly know is what we have in the present moment. This is why many people tend not to think that science is capable of establishing values. By invoking science with value, we are in a way saying these values are absolute. Personally I think science (and philosophy) would provide more stable values.
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        May 21 2013: There have been some recent TED talks addressing current issues in Social Psychology. Unfortunately, when I search TED using the search term "Social Psychology," I get nothing. Social Psychology is a valid, empirical sub-discipline of Psychology. And Psychology, itself, is a valid science. Maybe it wasn't back in the time of Sigmund Freud. But today, research in all Psychological disciplines is based in testing and statistics. And that fact, even the Physicists have to respect. But I said all that to address the issue of values. Social Psychology is developing as science of values, based in solid observation of both human behavior and our current, medical understanding of Brain science. Neuroscience and Social Psychology are beginning to address the issue of why people have values in the first place. And that inquiry is looking deeply into the evolutionary (i.e. Darwin) underpinnings of human society. What we call "values" and "ethics" can be measured. Scientific judgments can be made upon what is measured. And what most people would call the HIGHEST values & ethics, are being proven important in a way that is scientifically valid in an empiric sense. Today, we are developing a science of ethics and a science of values. And there is solid, experimental research behind it.

        So we now have empiric science that addresses values. Values/ethics -- these esoteric subjects are now the subject of a significant amount of inquiry by Social Psychologists. They use the tools of science. And they reach some interesting conclusions that have made their way into several recent TED talks. Check out Jonathan Haidt & Sam Harris.
  • May 17 2013: PS Orlando. I read a book a long time ago called 'The Reflective Universe: evolution of consciousness' by Arthur M. Young. I think this book is a good example of why Metaphysics has it's place in a real world. Arthur Young puts forward a well thought out, Philisophical and science based theory for the evolution of the universe in relation to humanity. It brings together Physics and Metaphysics. And although it's just a theory, one of many, the book is a good example of how Metaphysics can make a contribution to knowledge and is a step away from what people understand Metaphysics to be about. i.e. Weird stuff that has nothing to do with reality.
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      May 17 2013: cool,

      I'll have to check it out..thanks for the reference
  • 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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    May 15 2013: Despite the fact that I disagree with some of this...you are obviously heading your own direction. The professor could probably learn from you. Keep going in that direction. My only advice is don't exclude things because somebody gives you a bad taste.

    Audit data...don't ignore it before you measure its' validity. I'm sure you know that already. I'm also sure you'll be able to replace some of those professors at some point.
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      May 17 2013: Hi Henry,

      Thank you and thanks for you advice. This conversations really has changed my approach to metaphysics. I'll give it more consideration than I originally gave it. Its good to talk to people who seem to know what they are talking about..
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    May 15 2013: Yeah I agree but unfortunately not all want to be grounded. I could sit all day and speak to people about all aspects of philosophy as it is important to me. I love what it teaches me. I just wish I could instill that passion in others so they can find the same value I find in it. What I don't want is for doing away with Metaphysics to be the first step to doing away with Philosophy. Maybe if you sit down with your friend and explain how Philosophy in combination with another major may be more valuable than to toss it out completely because Philosophy does have purpose. The problem is when people don't take the time to understand it. Philosophy keeps you out of The Cave. That's how I see it...
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      May 15 2013: Hi Sybella,

      Exactly! like you I think philosophy is very important. I don't think the world would be what it is today without philosophy.

      What honestly perturbs me is how many people jumped to the side of metaphysics and assumed that I wanted to do away with philosophy all together. I personally think epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy and logic are more important branches of philosophy than metaphysics. I just think those schools of philosophy have more to offer to the world and serves a practical purpose. We can talk about ontology but I don't think this is the only means of figuring out who we are as individuals. Living life and constantly discovering and asking questions is perhaps all we need.

      I do share our concern about metaphysics being the first step of doing away with philosophy. I guess what most people do not realize is the same thing almost happened with epistemology and we are doing just fine. For a while epistemology was dead but with the rise of modern cognitive and neuroscience, epistemology is now vital but in a different way. It more scientific but at the same time still answers those fundamental epistemological questions that the ancients used to ask. Perhaps metaphysics does not need to go away but I do believe it has to change.

      I could not tell you the amount of emails I've received about how uninformed and misguided I am about the relationship between philosophy and metaphysics. It really does let me know that there is something fundamental about metaphysics that seem to terrify people if it ever goes away , I'm just not sure what yet.
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    May 14 2013: Just out of pure GRIT, consider this option. (and by the way, here's the link to the TED video: http://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit.html ). So just out of GRIT, here is a good way to shake their tree. This is something that they do in graduate school. And students are expected to look for these ideas and research them. The best way to sell an idea in Graduate School is to write a position paper. You can also call the paper an "Idea for Research & Publication" You can even describe it as both. You can write as much as you want. A couple of pages to a twenty page thesis. It's all up to you.

    Then, shop your paper to a Professor you trust. If you don't know WHO to trust, then write at least a solid five to ten pages w/documentation. Keep it safe. Summarize it. And shop a one page summary to several professors. Guard your ideas, because some professors do a good job of stealing the best ideas from their students. If you go to graduate school, by the time you get ready to do your dissertation, you should have a mentor who will protect you from the predatory types. But undergraduates with good ideas have them stolen ALL the time. Some professors collect those good ideas and shop them to their favorite students. Some professors research those ideas themselves and the PUBLISH them in scholarly journals. And no one has to cite the hard work of an undergraduate.

    Watch some videos. Read some quality articles on the internet. Do some thinking. And develop at least a tentative position on the subject. And because you are clearly an educated student keep track of what you know is good and what both sustains and refutes your idea.

    I gave you some names in my posts. Look them up on Youtube. I tried a search on "Physics & Metaphysics," and then "Quantum Physics and Metaphysics." I really liked the TED talk: "Let's Talk Crap!" And since they can use that word here: my Youtube search results were CRAP!
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      May 17 2013: Cool thanks,I'll actually be applying to graduate programs this fall. So thanks for the heads up. I'll certainly keep all this in mind. I especially do not like to have my ideas stolen. Also I would give you thumbs up on everything but I reached my max for the week. So don't think I'm ignoring your responses.

      If you don't mind me asking did you go to graduate school for philosophy?
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        May 18 2013: Don't you have finals this time of year? And if you do, what in hell are you doing on TED! If you have tests coming up, THAT and nothing else is what you should pay attention to!

        Good luck applying to Graduate School. Start early and focus on the GRE and any other required entrance tests that the best schools use. Also work on your CV and any publications that you might add there. Original publications in scholarly journals count a lot. But verify everything I tell you with a faculty adviser. I've been out of circulation for a while.

        A guy I knew back in the day (before you were born, probably) was a Philosophy major. He had gone to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. At least that is what he said. The advantage to your major is that you know (allegedly know) how to think. Which means you can spot the B.S. quickly and separate that out from the truth of things. I don't know that this guy really worked for the CIA. But that is what he said. And I don't think he was lying.

        Check out this web site: http://www.stratfor.com .Stratfor is a company set up by a couple of guys who are just a bit older than me. They do private intelligence analysis work for corporations that do business overseas. If you want to learn more, go to their web site and sign up for their free newsletter. Every third letter will encourage you to buy a $360 subscription to their services for $129, but the news letter does some excellent analysis of the news. Good stuff. It's news that forces you to think. And it makes most of the other news outlets look really wimpy. They hire trainees once a year, and maybe you'd consider. It isn't so much foreign affairs or diplomacy as solid practical info on how stuff really works in places outside the U.S.A. I was encouraged to apply for a job w/them a few years back, but I'm twice as old as the best candidates. And the best candidates are guys like YOU. Has me all intimidated. Besides, I'm retired. And I like that
  • May 14 2013: I have read and tried to understand every statements in this discussions and I’m having a feeling that disputants consider philosophy, metaphysics and different kind of sciences as diverse objects, separate from oneself. But in reality there are no different sciences but there are different people and everyone from them has some (any) metaphysics, philosophy, physics and so on. Mostly that metaphysics, philosophies, physics and other kinds of science are naïve or taken from teachers, especially great thinkers, for example: Aristotle, Whitehead or Einstein. Everyone tries to have united, consistent image of reality and in that image there are religious, philosophical and scientific aspects. That’s why everyone needs - and has - some kind of metaphysics too.
  • May 14 2013: I liked Alfred North Whitehead.
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      May 17 2013: Me too! Paul Tillich is another good read regarding metaphysics
  • May 14 2013: It is interesting, because I feel as though many are doing away with metaphysics. A lot if faith and spirituality has been lost. It could be because in the age of information, not being able to prove and explain things troubles a lot of people. The problem with metaphysics is that it is something that really can't be explained or proven to a full extent. It is something that is sensed. To me it is something that excites and inspires me. When I find that sense and energy within myself, everything becomes so clear. I feel and act like a much better person. Sometimes being more divergent from your program is a good thing. Take it as an opportunity to learn fro each other. I find that when my ideas go against what I am being taught I am able to use that to ask questions to my professors that make them rethink everything. Maybe try meditating and allow your mind to relax and be open. Who knows what could come of it. If anything it is a proven way to reduce stress. While it is unlikely metaphysical existence will be proven, at least in the near future, that feeling of interconnectedness brings a new level of morality to others. The sense to do good for humanity and not just for ones own self and those they are more personally connected to.

    I must admit that I am no philosopher. I am interested in the subject and probably know more than a lot of people, but I have no formal training. I am very spiritual, although I can't help but feel as though most members of organized religions don't truly understand what they say they believe in, at least those that I know. The ironic pharisaic nature of Christianity indicates that. I wonder if most major religions are actually trying to explain the same thing, but because they were formed in different cultures and environments, it was explained differently. There are a lot of similarities in the words and values of most "prophets".
    • May 14 2013: what is spirituality?
      • May 14 2013: I don't think many people really know. It is one of those things that a lot of people better understand through sense and intuition rather than definitive knowledge.

        Use the force!
        • May 15 2013: so is it possible that it's nothing at all, just a made-up idea?

          you said you are very spiritual, could you explain what that means without using the word spirit?
      • May 15 2013: Well it could all be a bunch of subconscious bullshit. But, the thing I go back to is what created the first atom, the first spark of energy in existence?
        • May 16 2013: fair enough! i wondered because in my experience many people say they're spiritual when they mean they make an effort to take time out to relax. it seems to be given all kinds of fancy names. as well as being spiritual it could be "getting in touch with myself" or "connecting with mother nature" etc etc. it's always good to hear if someone has a different concept of the word.

          good question re the beginning of the universe. i guess it could be the common outcome of whatever potential existed, or it could be a simulation (or was that possibility ruled out recently? i forget), but whatever the answer is, we can at least know that it wasn't a thought.
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      May 17 2013: Hi, Meredith,

      I did not intend for my comments to make it seem as though I do not value spirituality. I do very much vaule sprituality and quite frankly I do not see philosophy nor spirituality ever going away. As long as people have existential questions philosophy and spirituality will remain.

      People like myself may feel uncomfortable with things that cannot be proven or do not seem to have an answer but that does not mean we do not enjoy exploring the mystery.

      For me personally, I'm a spritual person but I do not have to invoke metaphysics or superstition to be spiritual. Just being in awe or having ineffable expereinces is enough for me. Seeing how altered states of consciousness can teach me new things is enough for me. I simply go with the flow of my expereince and do not feel that even if I feel like I'm having a transcendental moment, I am not going outside of my own mind, brain or consciousness. All I know is that I'm having an experience and I need to make the most of it. I don't think I need metaphysics for that
  • Keith W

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    May 13 2013: Philosophy is usually the starting point of understanding. In science before you have a conclusion you need an expriment and a hypothesis before that. Where do hypotheses come from?.. sometimes by inferences of previous data but many times scientific endeavors are inspired directly by philosophy. Philosophy will always be necessary, its just that Science and its determined results, will always be of greater importance in general.
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      May 14 2013: Hi Keith,

      Yes I do agree with philosophy being the starting point (pretty much with everything you mentioned). I believe it to be very important to just about any discipline. I think the questions that metaphysicians ask are valid and interesting. My issues are with individuals who come up with metaphysical conclusions.

      One such example would be panpsychism. While i find it interesting I just don't find it conclusive and its a metaphysical question that cannot (as of yet) be verified. philosophically this may be interesting to discuss but when coming up with conclusions with the way the world or universe actually is, I think this is something that can be left off the table. this would be my reason as to why philosophy isn't necessarily taken seriously.
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    May 13 2013: I couldn't agree more. I do love philosophy and I wish others shared the same love for it. Yet, when it comes to metaphysics I feel it weighs it down...
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      May 14 2013: Hi Sybella,

      exactly. It has gotten to the point that a great friend of mine decided to switch majors. Metaphysics is also the main reason as to why I'm starting to incorporate science with my philosophy. I just feel that its a necessary approach and it keeps grounded in objectivity.
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    May 13 2013: It never occurred to me that philosophy could go out of style. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
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      May 13 2013: NEVER out of style; only out of fashion. The first discipline studied by all of the Enlightened thinkers (along with Latin and Greek) was Philosophy. And the first questions asked by all Philosophers from Aristotle to Voltaire were in the arena of Metaphysics. I quote here (and below) 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."

      All those old guys like Newton and Leibniz were first educated in Philosophy. They later branched out into the highly regarded, and cutting-edge Medaevil disciplines of Astrology, Alchemy, Philology, and maybe some Euclidian Geometry. They had to study Latin & Greek too. But it all started with the Greek Philosophy of Aristotle and Plato & the writings of Homer. When Alchemy became empiric & scientific, it became Chemistry. When Astrology gave up divination, it became Astronomy. When medicine gave up phlebotomy (blood-letting & Leeches), it became, well, medicine. But the patients did much better when their physicians became scientific. And they've since brought back the leeches as well.

      Now the modern Astronomers, Cosmologists and theoretical physicists are taking Metaphysics to a new level. They are asking all the same questions about existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, possibility & even Cosmology. It all sounds like Metaphysics to me.
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        May 14 2013: Hi Juan,

        Thanks for you comments. I really do like your thinking as well. I've never considered what you said but its right down my alley.

        I have no problem with that definition of metaphysics. I think your correct that modern astronomers, cosmologist and physicist may be our modern metaphysicians. If conclusions regarding metaphysics can be grounded in accordance with the evidence that is there, I have no problem with that at all. So perhaps the answer to my original question would be that metaphysics should not be taken out philosophy but should be modified to coincide with modernity. Or that the conclusions do not always have to be metaphysical ones.
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          May 14 2013: To restate, look at Isaac Newton. Not only is he regarded as a physicist, he was also a philosopher. So was Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. They started their inquiries into Natural Philosophy. They developed a mathematically rigorous and empirically reproducible set of techniques to continue their studies. And the techniques and rules they developed in terms of HOW to study physics continued at least until Albert Einstein. Those two started as Metaphysicians. They were doing metaphysics! Modern String-Theory, Physicists cite Isaac Newton all the time. They have to, He's a giant in their field. But they ignore his philosophical work as mumbo-jumbo. So do most Philosophers, for that matter, but all those old guys created a language of Metaphysics that 1) needs to be preserved and 2) needs to be cited and used. If there is a harmony of thought between the ideas of Theoretical Physicist Edward Witten, and the Metaphysical ideas of Isaac Newton (that were published) then that harmony of thought needs to be respected and preserved.

          Probably some grad-student in Physics has already looked at all this. If not a grad student then a producer for NOVA on PBS probably already has. I find all this fascinating. But that's just my cup of tea these days.
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    May 12 2013: You can get a PhD in Philosophy.

    Asking why creates a drive to understand why. We can spend too much time wallowing ins self- pity or we can sit around and ask why. Both are individual choices. People find a way to indulge in thier hobbies or curiosity satisfying exploits. Most real breakthroughs are not made by college professors or cooporated scientists, they are made by hobbiests and grad students.
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      May 14 2013: I get what your saying. Personally I"m on the fence in rather or not I should continue philosophy in graduate school or just jump on the side of science. I love both
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        May 14 2013: At your age you have plenty of time to do both.

        I'd start with Philosophy. It will give you a background in the various forms and their authors. If your not already enrolled, you can go online to Coursera and take a philosophy, logic, some science, courses for free. They are all college level and you get certification. It is my understanding that some colleges are starting to take those certifications as credit for some classes.
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    May 11 2013: Ok so you know with modern science, let's call it quantum physics. It's easier to prove you have a "soul" the it is to prove you have an actual body. 99.99999% of you is air and your "physical being" has never touched anything ever. The material world you see is an illusion, most likely made by the creator of your choice. You are not actually seeing a tree, you are seeing a light pattern your brain is say your seeing a tree... Let there be light ...and that is all there is
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      May 12 2013: Hi Casey. I think I get your point, but not some of the details.

      Can you explain how a soul is easier to prove than a body?

      I agree the more we understand about reality the more it seems counter intuitive. Which makes sense if we evolved to avoid medium sized things trying to eat and kill us.

      The physical world may be an illusion, but maybe not. If it does exist (another philosophical question) then I agree we only perceive it via our senses and process this in our brain to develop a "picture of reality.

      I prefer to assume it and I am real, although my perception of it limited by my human senses and cognitive capabilities, and get on and make the most of my assumed life.

      Most of our consciousness is focused on sight. Yet we can not see UV, IR, Xrays etc. A dog has a keener sense of smell. I wonder how their conscious perception of the world differs from ours.

      Not sure how you get to the material world, or the illusion of it being most likely the result of a creator? Any evidence or reason for this claim?

      And if there was a creator, is its reality also an illusion created by its super creator? Or is it a special case?
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        May 12 2013: We would have to properly define body, because in QP world its really not there, soul can be defined as light since its the fastest thing that carries information. When it comes to god/gods (you can believe whatever you want and you would not be wrong) I like to apply man's perspective the scientific method that everything has been theory. Not that it is wrong or right but just truth from a different perspective. So for me all religions are wrong and all are right even the belief that there is no god. Specially if everything is god/light/energy. For me god or the idea of god has been around way longer then any science. That it would be idiotic of me to not think there is a higher power, much like I am sure that there is overwhelming evidence that dinosaurs existed and anyone one who says they didn't because of some religious reason you too would find them idiotic. The interesting thing about a higher power belief is no matter what religion or belief system you look at the answer has always been then same
        . That answer is mostly likely the only absolute answer that has ever existed.
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          May 17 2013: Hi Casey,

          I would have to disagree with you and here is why:

          For one, most hard working, family oriented people do not have the time to study QP. Take into account the circumstances in sub-saharan africa. There is constantly rape, torture, famine and just overall anarchy going on. The UN food programs delevers food and some villages often get raided by the military or other groups.

          The reason why I'm saying all this is because for these individuals who are constantly living in tourture and misery the body (the physical) is what matters more. They are not concerned about QP or sprits or the afterlife (unless they are seeking solace). Everything that is happening to them is happening in the realm of physicality. For those indivduals who are wokring constantly to feed their family, unless they went to school or have an interest in QP, they are not going to arriave at the conclusion QP is right about the true nature of reality. that the universe is ultimatly non-local and non-physical. So in this sense, you can't prove souls over the body. A belief that spirits or souls exist does not negate does not ential that they do exist.

          I think its far easier to prove the body than the soul, even philosophically.

          As for all the religions being true, I have to disagree as well. If we are talking about ruth claims they are inhernently at odds with each other. There may be some over lap but from my understanding, no tradition is the same. They all preach and say different things. Judiasim has 613 laws that must be followed because these are the laws laid down by the creator of the universe. From my understaning buddhist do not follow these laws. Niether do christians or jains because their teachers are different...

          This would be my opinion
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        May 17 2013: Good day Orlando,

        Oh I am by no means saying that the physical part of this reality is not real. I believe that we live in a world of paradox. Much like the ying and the yang. Or equal but opposites. What the universe is about is about balance. The idea that you can not know love without hate, it would hold true that you can not know spirit without body. The egyptians had 42 laws most people would not be able to get into heaven just on those 42 laws. Man has made millions of laws what if we couldn't get into heaven or the afterlife if we disobeyed a man made law?

        Truth is always a matter of perspective, always has always will be, whether we are talking about a top down perspective from a creator or a bottom up from man. The truth is is that the answer itself has always been the same. Just the path has been different but I guess that just one of the many cruxes of infinity. If you look through the religions they are all talking about the same answer just from different perspectives. This is why there will always be balance and this is what we need to apply to religion to move forward. That even religious facts are theories about existence, but that does not make them un-truth
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    May 11 2013: Hi Orlando, I have a bit of a problem with your situation.

    First I think it great to learn about the history and development of philosophical thought, even the metaphysical streams, Eastern, Greek, on so on through history etc. There is long history of mysticism mixed with reason and occasionally evidence. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. Atomists looking for mechanistic explanations - perhaps proto materialists. Pythagorus with his taboos against picking up what has been dropped. Others having "self evident" premises of Olympian gods, Bacchus, or one God that is justice, that war is sacred, whatever they happen to believe. Then the sophists with their skepticism etc

    Also no issue with your teachers having a view and debating or discussing it. Debates on mind/brain/consciousness/life/reality etc are some of the most interesting.But I think they should be teaching you about ways of thinking, what others have thought, and how, not what to think.

    I find it odd that they seem certain of the their metaphysical claims when there is no evidence. At best they should realise they are speculative, not proven.

    Personally, I lean towards science and evidence being important foundations on which to philosophize on meaning, reality, etc. To ignore it is to go down speculative rabbit holes. The best approach is for science, evidence, observation ideally should inform philiosphy.

    Also no issue playing around with metaphysics, but without evidence they are merely speculative and the leaps of inductive or deductive reasoning are often flawed or speculative and should be assessed as such. We probably never know the absolute truth. We wouldn't know if we had it. But we can have better approximations of it if evidence based.
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      May 11 2013: Hi Obey,

      I'm glad you have a problem with my situation because I have the same problem but I'll address your response the best I can

      I have no issue with my teachers debating or discussing their metaphysical beliefs. As I mentioned in other post, I do find it very interesting and very benevolent. I would take there responses over many response from evangelicals. I still dont' agree with their metaphysical conclusions though and yes they shouldn't teach me what to think but honestly thats what they are trying to do. One of my philosophical buddies is transferring schools for the simple fact that he does not feel like he fits in and that our professors hold a bias against him (well one of the professors, who happens to teach the majority of philosophy courses).

      but yes, I do find mind/brain/consciousness/life/reality/etc very interesting for discussion. many of those are my favorite topics to talk about...

      I don't want to give a bad reputation to my professors because they are great and kind and they do respect me but I have received text messages and email from one of them stating that I'm deluded by my western thinking and I put too much faith in science, which I find disturbing. And yes I do find it odd that they are certain about their metaphysical claims but its honestly because they place value and meaning over truth, which I just don't agree with personally.

      you mentioned "Personally, I lean towards science and evidence being important foundations on which to philosophize on meaning, reality, etc. To ignore it is to go down speculative rabbit holes. The best approach is for science, evidence, observation ideally should inform philiosphy."

      That is honestly where I stand and is the purpose of my post...I think such an approach will only enhance philosophy, not diminish it...as I mentioned numerous times in this thread, questioning is ok, I have no problem with that but the conclusions we develop should scale with the way things really are.
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        May 11 2013: I think you have reasons to be alarmed. It appears more indoctrination to me than teaching if anyone, with full respect to your professors, tries to tell you what to think.
        I am in agreement with Obey. I shall invite you to check my reply to Everett Hill's comment in another discussion thread here
        Just consider the last 5 words of your above post. It reopens another debate. The way things are are different for different people.
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          May 11 2013: Hi Pabirta,

          Thanks for the link. That's the exact concern that I have in regards to metaphysics. I agree with both you and Obey

          I think the last paragraph I can start up another debate for that.
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          May 12 2013: Hi PM, OH,

          I agree, seems like inappropriate indoctrination.

          Although others would argue that science (or math) is indoctrination. I hope most can see the distinction between science and metaphysics.

          With metaphysics, without evidence or sound reasoning, you can have many positions that are equally with or without merit e.g. all the different supernatural belief systems.

          As stated I find meaning based on the foundation of what I consider we best know about reality. Because I personally value truth not based on speculation and intuition.

          That doesn't close the door on amazing new understandings, but does not accept them until they are reasonably proven, depending on the claim.

          Others value more speculative beliefs. Fine, but if they want to assert their beliefs in the metaphysical, then we can debate and discuss the merits of such.

          ALthough I would be concerned about the impact on your grades if you don't toe the line or are too outspoken or they feel disrespected. I may believe astrology and religion is mostly bunk, but the people are often smarter, wiser and kinder than me. Still even when you argue against ideas, people take it personally.

          Other times people lack critical thinking in regards to this one sphere or life in general.

          One other point. These teachers have spent years more thinking about these things, so it is a good opportunity to explore and test their ideas.

          Finally, I remember having a different view to some of the history we were taught at school. I learnt what they wanted, passed the exams, but still disagreed. Same with Sunday School etc. Good thinking processes can protect you from bunk.
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        May 14 2013: Hey Orlando, I just read your post above, here, and I've got to put all my cute "Pontificating" aside. I find it not only disturbing, but outrageous that you are paying for an education that does NOT seem to be giving you the tools to separate the reality of proven science from valid, logical, & authoritative Metaphysical thought. Metaphysics is a branch of Philosophy. And the academic discipline of Philosophy is respected. Philosophy is respected as a discipline because it strives to be reasoned, logical, purposeful, and disciplined in an authoritative and historical sense.
        Now, in common speech (non-academic language) Metaphysics is seen as being synonymous with Halloween science. That means witchcraft, alchemy, astrology, and potion-making. Self-Proclaimed Experts in "Metaphysics" promote channeling the dead, visions of Atlantis, Chariots of the Gods, Ancient Astronauts, Lost Civilizations, UFO's, and Nonia Juice for all that ails you. Really! Nonia Jucice cures Cancer! Just read the testimonials! (I say with great sarcasm and derision!)
        There is a historic, Metaphysical thread in Philosophy that remains valid. Especially with all these brilliant Physicists doing their "String Theory." They are STILL asking the SAME Metaphysical questions that Aristotle and Plato asked over 2500 years ago. What's more, their experimental measurements and their mathematical equations used to explain their results -- are giving ANSWERS. Those theoretical physicists are having a tough time getting to the point. They know the math, but they cannot translate it into ENGLISH (or any other language) without spewing out what sounds like a lot of science-fiction drivel! These are brilliant men, but occasionally they sound stupid. Yeah, I know far less than they do about their fields. Occasionally, I feel I hear them trying to repeat a metaphysical argument first made in year 1622 . . . but botching it badly.
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    May 11 2013: I would say, no. Not yet at least.
    Science, if one understands it correctly, is a method of inquiry. Unless we go on to qualify it with attributes that it is not supposed to have at the first place, science by itself is not capable of establishing values. A properly carried out scientific experiment may come down to a step where the next step is a mighty explosion of perfectly un-assessed virulence and the cursor will blink as nonchalantly as ever without least help on whether or not to push the switch. For science it just doesn't matter.
    It appears therefor that a supervising mind is required over it. That's how metaphysics comes into the mix.
    I quite fail to understand why you think meditation is for the privileged. In true eastern tradition, it is the very basis of contemplation and ones who are troubled by the daily concerns of life have as much access to it as ones who are not so troubled. Much of the meditative cultures sprang from rural Indian sub-continent where people needed to work hard to survive.
    The same is true for art and music as well.
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      May 11 2013: Hi Pabitra,

      Sitting in meditation is not a privilege. Anyone can do it..but sitting in meditation and contemplating the nature of reality and ultimately reaching nirvana, the tao or Brahman or whatever it may be I think is impractical for most people in the U.S. (or depending on where you are living). Not because meditation cannot be practiced but if your constantly working and concerned about feeding your family and yourself, as well as making a living the last thing your worried about is reaching enlightenment. As you mentioned obviously in the eastern part of the world its compatible with the cultural climate but here in the west its not the same. At least from what I observed.

      I somewhat agree wwith you in that the answer is no, and that is clear by the responses I'm getting as well as my personal opinion but I think its starting to head in the direction that we don't need metaphysical conclusions regarding the nature of reality.

      I am smart enough to realize that your much more scientific than I am so I am honestly willing to trust your judgement in regards to the methology of science. I know that a science of I guess you can say morality or value is in it infancy, so yes I dont think science at the moment is capable of establishing sound and stable values. I think where it may have some value is if there are philosophical implications.

      You are correct about how metaphysics come into the mix but I still hold to my position (when talking bout he nature of reality) that metaphysics is not the best answer in regards to the natural world. If you read my responses to Henry Woeltjen you'll understand my concern in more detail.. Im not saying you have to agree with me but Henry managed to draw the main point of my post out of me.
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        May 11 2013: Dear Orlando,
        I checked your response to Henry as advised. I think I now understand your question better. It's a very valid and interesting question.
        I think your question is spiritual in essence. If it is, only YOU can find its answer and in time. I had somewhat similar question (though the point of origin was different from yours) and found a workable answer with which I can come to terms with life.
        If you are interested, I can tell you.
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          May 11 2013: Hi Pabirtra,

          Absolutely! I'd love to hear it (or in this case read it).

          and yes, I think the question may be spiritual. Perhaps I'm one of those people that can do without metaphysics but perhaps others can't and it works for them.
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        May 12 2013: Ok, here is my version of your dilemma and how I reconcile it.
        The nature of reality is experiential. There is no absolute description of it, no uniform, testable and verifiable compendium of the whole of reality. Reality is how it presents to each of us. So, basically Orlando's reality is not what Pabitra's reality is.
        That may sound confusing because both of us need to live, struggle, solve problems of life; both of us have same human biology, same human cravings, demands, pains, joys. Why do I say our realities are different then?
        It is different because we have deep cultural bias in our minds about where we place the priorities of life in the subjective-objective range of our experiences. This bias is so profoundly embedded in our minds that it is very difficult to see it clearly.
        I observed since my adolescence that there are a whole lot of questions that science does not accept for examination. I also observed that my mind does not always think rationally. Due to my ‘devotion’ to logic and objectivity, for years I kept on thinking that these questions are trivial. But, after a time, it felt, I am not doing justice to myself by avoiding these questions. I did not know then that these profound questions, that science does not offer any answer to me, are in fact metaphysical. So whether or not one declines to accept metaphysics, it is there.
        Though the divide is rather contrived, I would say that the eastern philosophies stressed on the metaphysical aspects of reality – the unanswered questions whereas western philosophies stressed on the analytical aspects of reality – the answerable questions.
        (cont. to part 2)
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        May 12 2013: Part 2
        It appeared that I had to exercise a choice. Should I bother with questions like what is existence, from where did we come, what is the essence of being while I see suffering around me, poverty, superstition, bigotry and problems that beg to be resolved or should I bother with questions like economics, health, politics, science and technology and live only the part of life that is executable?
        It dawned on me at last that it is not a choice really; it is not an either-or question. Our minds can exist in quantum superposition of both, where we can be logical, rational, active problem solving selves true to our environments and detached, contemplative and curious to the big questions sages. We will just need to expand our faculty sufficiently for that.
        I think your professors wanted to stress that eastern thinking is basically metaphysical. In India you will find rickshaw pullers (very poor) who will engage with you about the nature of existence, will talk about karma and tell you about the Bollywood movie guilelessly. I do not know if that is a wise thing for a poor man to do, a man whose life is an endless struggle but that is a credible part of his life without which he will not be happy.
        I don't think there is anything such as DIY 10 minutes to complete Nirvana :) I don't believe that a person will just vanish after attaining Nirvana. But it is claimed that after attaining Nirvana, a person will have a permanently altered state of mind where reality will appear completely differently. It is untestable, that is, nobody can know without attaining it, but consistent with spiritual attainment. The observation of a free faller who has crossed event horizon as claimed by general relativity is untestable, but is completely consistent.
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          May 17 2013: Hi pabitra,

          I apologize about my super late response. I had a busy week but I did admire your response.

          I like you disticntion between the philosophies of the east and the west. I am well aware that eastern thinking is maninly contemplative and metaphysical and I do believe that there are some truths that can be found from these eastern traditions.

          As for ;science, I do not believe that science has the answers to every single question out there but if the question is indeed a scientific question that is best answered by science then of course, I don't believe (and I'm sure you don't believe) that metaphysics is the best way to answer scientific questions.

          At the end of the day, I do believe, as you do, that it all comes down to the experiences that we have and the meaning and value that we obtain from these experiences. I don't think anything can matter more to an individual but I do not think the fact that people expereince reality differently negates the fact that there is, for the lack of better term, "true" reality out there..even if its beyond the scope of our cognition.
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        May 19 2013: Have peace. It's a brief sojourn. It is most important to imagine a good purpose for it and act accordingly. Have you not seen children pretend play?
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    May 10 2013: Saying "metaphysics" means so many different things. The word is very inclusive. Are you saying we should focus only on hard science? We should not concern ourselves with anything outside of what science attempts to prove?

    I think you may want to reconsider.
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      May 11 2013: HI Henry,

      you are right about metaphysics being a very open-ended word but I'm simply talking about the nature of reality and the metaphysical conclusions derived from it.

      There is nothing wrong with questioning the nature of reality. What would philosophy be without questions?..In regards to the natural world and claims regarding the universe I don't think metaphysics has any value. I have professors who claim that the creation of the universe is consciousness. While this may be a possibility I don't think its likely and sure doesn't scale with what science (at least up to date) has found. If it is one day proven that consciousness is the source of everything then I will change my mind.

      I think scientific questions should be left to science. Will there be overlap between other disciples like philosophy and religion? absolutely and when it comes to that the implications can be discussed there.

      Also I'm not saying we should focus on hard science. I'm saying we should focus on the actual evidence. Not because we may lose value but because that is actually the way things are. I think there are many ways outside of science to do that such as philosophy.

      I will gladly reconsider my point when I'm convinced that metaphysics (i.e. studying the nature of reality) can have a suitable purpose. If conclusions derived from it can scale with the actual evidence (be it scientific or not).

      I took a class called power and oppression. Very interesting class and the approach by the professor was eastern mysticism. It was great. He mentioned that through meditation, we can understand the true harmony of the universe. How we should act in every moment. While I would love to explore that personally, I know many people do not have the time in there everyday lives to be able to do that due to work, school, family, etc. Contemplating such a reality would seem impractical in the real word.

      I'm happy to be wrong in what I say but how can metaphysics be employed pragmatically?
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        May 11 2013: You don't believe studying the nature of reality serves a purpose until we can measure our conclusions with actual evidence? How can we obtain evidence of anything unless we study it?
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          May 11 2013: Great question, I'll try to address it the best I can,

          Most of our lives, when people make claims about things we look for good reason and evidence. As I mentioned before, I don't think there is anything wrong with questioning. The act questioning is not what I have a problem with.

          exploring these questions in more detail is a great thing and of course there are a multiplicity of ways of doing so (philosophy, science, religion, politics, etc)

          The issue I have is the conclusions that are derived from these questions. Some of them seem insufficient from what the world actually is like (then again who knows what true nature of reality is?)

          As for you first question "You don't believe studying the nature of reality serves a purpose until we can measure our conclusions with actual evidence?"

          I don't think so in the sense of what goes in the world everyday. There are people who enjoy exploring these issues.. They enjoy the thrill of trying to understand what is real and what is not. or what is the true nature of their being...

          I really believe that people look for good reasons and evidence for claims such as what everyone is doing in this post. The burden of proof is on me justify why I think metaphysics serves no purpose to philosophy or the world and everyone who responds will want me to provide a good reason (or evidence if necessary) as to why and everyone will outright tell me if I'm wrong, which I"m ok with.

          So once again, I'm not trying to do away with questioning. Questioning is good. philosophy is a good tool of doing so...but I just think the conclusions that are derived should scale with the way things are or we can be honest enough to admit that we don't know as opposed to making insufficient claims (as I think my professors have done) or even myself in this particular post. If I am proven wrong and convinced that metaphysics in the way we are discussing it is valuable then so be it. I have learned something new.
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        May 11 2013: What part of your philosophy class do you disagree with. Can you give me an example of something they tried to teach you that is in conflict with science?
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          May 11 2013: oh yeah absolutely...

          I was told that the origins of the universe is nothing. which he mentioned as not-a-thing. Something that is non-physical..to spare you details he was stating that consciousness is what gives rise to the physical world...I acknowledge that his claims is very eastern and I acknowledge that it is possible that he's right but I just don't think its correct based off what modern astronomers and astrophysics say (although some invoke quantum mechanics and relate subatomic particles to consciousness).

          a couple of them also state that you can meditate your way into free-will. I am not purposing that determinism is true for I do not know but I hear that there is evidence to suggest that it might be although it may not be conclusive. He maybe right about meditation and obviously its difficult, if not impossible to approach subjective matters in an objective way.

          Another issue is consciousness. Most of my professors believe that consciousness is independent of the brain and that all of our experiences are interdependent of the brain. Now although there is no evidence of consciousness in the natural world, there is reason and some evidence to suggest that there is a relationship to our experiences (if we link consciousness to experience) and our brains. When I present why I challenge the notion that consciousness may not be independent of the brain I'm told that I'm just deluded by my western thinking. Personally I'm open minded to consciousness being independent of the brain but I don't find it compelling.

          Last but not least I asked him what happens if im 30yrs old, in great health and I reach enlightenment and go into nirvana. He stated that I just wither away. I understand the notion of the non self but I assure you that was not the response he gave me. He said I would no longer exist on this planet.

          Perhaps I can't let my professors dictate the purpose of metaphysics but its hard not to when they have Ph. D's. sorry for the long response.
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        May 14 2013: Wow . . . this is good! But on Second reading (3 days late) I have to repeat ALL of my other concerns. You have a LOONEY for a professor. I had one of those once. And spending too much time with a nutty-professor can destroy your academic career. I found that out the hard way. And this guy was so respected that he was able to destroy ALL of my academic opportunities otherwise! It isn't worth the risk.

        I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology. There are no professionals in Psychology, Psychiatry, or Neuroscience who believe that Consciousness is independent of the brain! In fact all the empirical evidence from PET scans suggests that there is good evidence for consciousness inside the brain and also evidence for meditative states. All that from INSIDE the BRAIN! If the Professor of Philosophy are ignorant of both Physics, and Psychology as parallel and valid disciplines; and if they are likewise clue-less as to the fact that those academic findings are already entering the public consciousness, then let them all be damned!

        Are they teaching Eastern Metaphysics or Western Metaphysics? Have they told you which one? And the idea that . . . I'm too angry to think about it! Mr. Hawkins! If you have the courage of your own convictions, and if you can afford to believe in yourself, do it! YOU are NOT the delusional one! Not at all! You do NOT need these people. They are cheating you out of the education you deserve. There is not one major, reputable University on Earth that would tolerate the drivel you are having to endure. Do these people send either you or your parents TUITION bills? If so, someone is being cheated!
  • May 10 2013: Orlando You may be being a little extreme follow Fritzie's advice.
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      May 10 2013: Hi George

      I'm not worried about being extreme but I personally don't think I am...I can only give accounts of the experiences that I have had in philosophy and what other academics have to say about it....many people are turned off from philosophy for the reasons that I gave. They just don't think its practical..if you want a clear example read the introduction to Lawrence Krass book a "universe from nothing"..he attacks philosophy and theology and mainly for issues regarding metaphysics. Metaphysics is interesting to contemplate about but its something that I don't think provides anything in the modern world

      Call that extreme if you will. but I think I'm being honest

      Fritzie did provide great advice and I appreciated yours
      • May 11 2013: I appreciate your insight - I don't get everything people point out, but I do believe Lawrence Krass did blow off certain aspects of Einstein.
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          May 11 2013: Hi George,

          you stated "I don't get everything people point out, but I do believe Lawrence Krass did blow off certain aspects of Einstein."

          I agree with you....as much as I appreciated his scientific insight I have to admit that i think he was being a bit dogmatic in his approach. perhaps he was just attacking one branch of philosophy but he did email a friend of mine saying that he should not pursue philosophy and instead turn to physics. He also had a debate/panel about science and human values and he tried to denigrate philosophy...so yeah Its kind of disturbing because I find philosophy valuable but I think from an epistomoligical standpoint philosophy needs to tune it up a bit.
      • May 12 2013: Einstein was a big fan of Goethe and he did write comments on various religious figures and religion.
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    May 24 2013: The clock on this page says 45 minutes and some odd seconds left until this conversation closes. This has been a a really joyful investment of both my time & thought. And there isn't much on cable TV that can compete with that! The company here has been really good too! All my best, Professor Orlando Hawkins. Please come back and teach us some more!
  • May 23 2013: Hi Orlando, Thanks for this great topic (I just stumbled upon) however short in time it is.

    I think there is nothing more important than trying to see the 'big picture.' This includes all approaches (on the spiritual and material level) to Reality. And recognizing, accepting and acknowledging the limits of each.
    Seems to me that Sam Harris only sees the brain, and the mind as the result of what the brain 'does.' I see their relationship as just the opposite..

    May I add this link which I think expresses the existence of a relationship/correspondence between all mentioned approaches to Reality. http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/index.htm
  • May 22 2013: Ben: notification of your response did not show up in my email. I found this message of yours just by chance.

    You can find some of the evidence in my website at www.roseandlotus.net. You can find more at www.victorzammit.com. But you can find more by doing your own searching, rather than requiring others to spoonfeed you.

    Sceptics like to decry the evidence, but that is all that they can do. They are unable to discount it. Often they can speculate about alternative explanations for part of a phenomenon, and loudly trumpet that they have "debunked" the entire phenomenon, but offer no evidence that their speculation is what actually happened, Yet they demand absolute proof of the reality of the phenomena in question. Science very rarely offers absolute proof of anything. The sceptical decrying is based purely on the prejudice of the sceptics, and their emotional need to hang on to their own unprovable theories about how reality works. And it is the sceptics who do the cherry-picking of the evidence. They find only the cases that seem easy to explain away, and concentrate on those, claiming thus to have explained everything away. People who actually look at the whole of the evidence generally cease to be sceptics.

    If you are sufficiently interested, there is an excellent 5-part series of talks about the nature of reality by the physicist Thomas Campbell, in which, among other things, he outlines the relationship between physics and metaphysics. Part 1 is found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruc83Vau1jc

    Randi has not shown that he has the money. He sets himself up as the sole judge, jury and executioner, and he can, and does, shift the goalposts to suit himself, and ensure that he never has to pay out. He is a professional illusionist, he specialises in illusions, and is good at making things appear the way that he wants. His million-dollar offer is just part of his portfolio of illusions. Zammit's million dollar offer is much more solidly based.
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    May 21 2013: I largely agree with the professor you mentioned and disagree with the idea that science can ever describe what the world really is.
    Scientific discoveries aren't in conflict with metaphysics as they only light up some views to the mind from a limited perspective.
    To think that we can reason our way to the right answers as Sam Harris advocates is scary and arrogant.
    Wisdom comes from love and it is love that we have to install in in our hearts to give it without exception and most of all to our children that will change the coming world.

    There's no right, nor wrong. There's only love or lack of it.
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      May 23 2013: Hi Frans,

      Don't get me wrong, I enjoy some of the things that my professors have to say. I even acknowledge that he may be correct but I disagree that this mindset is all encompassing and explains every aspect of reality as he presents it to be.

      I think science can describe much of what the world is like but not every aspect of it. There are just some things that science will not be able to answer but it shouldn't stop science from trying to explore and discover new things.

      As for Harris, I don't think he ever claimed that science will answer every questions. There are talks where he admits that science will try to search for certain answers but will know that they might fail in doing so. I like his position because it forces people to be intellectually honest and accountable for their claims. I'll take this over spooky physics or new age mysticism any day.

      You stated that wisdom comes from love and you used all this other benevolent language. There is nothing wrong with that. I don't think any reasonable person will disagree with that position. I've never heard any scientist claim that love can be found in a lab or through experimentation. I'll go as far as to say that experience is a better teacher than anything else and I don't think we need to invoke science or philosophy to understand that.
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        May 23 2013: I agree Orlando that learning depends on experience but at the same time do I know that not all experience can be described.
        For something to become knowledge it has to be clad into words, for by this the mind can record, store and reproduce it.
        Words refer to common notions we share about images that our senses tell us by which to present a world that we share and that appears outside.

        Reality however is one system only that we experience as being. Within this being that we call universe any point of focus finds itself at any time on a particular place embodied as an organism equipped with more or less sensory organs to depict its particular view on that totality.

        The picture any one organism produces has been developed over all generations of life in accordance with the enhancements on the sensory system over time. What it depicts is everything necessary to sustain life and procreate.

        It doesn't show what is nor what we are but just what we are equipped to.

        To see what is, can be done by changing the direction of focus from what we think is outside to the inside. Close all senses, center our focus and hold all attention to the source of thoughts.

        This experience can show everything in one glimpse. This can't be described nor read out, for it contains all connectedness, the solution of all contradictions, all light and the clearness of being itself. Consciousness contains all thoughts from all times from all living beings and to peek into this gives you an perspective that can impossible be outlaid in words for it will need at least as much time as any living thing has spend on this earth.

        What is, is information that we add to with every living moment and at a moment of absolute consciousness it can all be seen in one view and all time will be experienced as one moment that fills one point of unborn space.
  • May 17 2013: Philosophy and metaphysics have a place in the world.
    You may want to consider:
    1. Science also makes metaphysical claims about the universe.
    2. Metaphysics is useful to draw inferences from experimental evidence.
    3. Many scientific studies are setup to test theories which take root in the metaphysical, theories based on abstract maths, for example.
    4. Individuals living in poverty are reflective. They have utility for metaphysics since it is possible they understand their thoughts, feelings and derive meaning about themselves, their lives and their place in the world through metaphysics.
    5. I don't agree with :
    "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." because this is presumptuous
    "we often forget that its a privilege to be able to do so. Nor are these concerns on everyone’s mind."
    because your understanding of meditation seems to be confused and because many meditators embrace poverty and seemed unhindered by their lack of privileges.
    5. The nature of all experience is subjective. So the metaphysical seems unavoidable.
    6. Metaphysics is not confined to the philosophies you study in the classroom a lot of it is about how we feel too.
    7. Lastly, metaphysics is not about conclusions, it is about debate and possibility.

    So let metaphysics be!
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      May 18 2013: Hi Umaind.
      1. Yes, depending on the context but most of their conclusions are not metaphysical (in the sense of some unknown spiritual reality).
      2 maybe
      3. yes
      4 and 5.I would say this is more existential than metaphysical but I'm in no position to play semantics so you can judege that statement how you want. Secondly let me place into context what I intended to say. My professor makes the assertion that by through meditation we can understand the true harmonious nature of the universe. While this may be a true claim philosophically I really do not think this goes thorough the minds individuals. In the eastern part of the world yes because the cultural climate is different. But being an individualwho has been homeless and in poverty and have seen others go into poverty the last thing that was on our minds was meditation, free-will, interconnectedness, and trying to understand ultimate reality. I can't speak for everyone but I have yet to see someone in their most desperate moment who was looking for food and shelter seek out meditation or even think about it as a possible remedy. Are there exceptions to this claim perhaps. This is why I say its a privilge. Being in the right circumstances does play a big role in having certain opportunites. You are right that eastern contemplatives embrace poverity due to impermence of materail objects.
      5. Yes subjectivty is all that can possibly matter but that does not negate the external world.
      6. Regarding my classroom i was refering more to metaphysical conclusions, which i think play no part in the natural world.
      7.. I agree but that's not what my professor believe.
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        May 20 2013: First, as theoretical physicists have developed Quantum Mechanics, String theory, and M-theory, they seem to have reached the point where the basic paradigms of the Universe itself break down. The theories have been tested in multiple settings, and at many levels they are NOT just theories any longer, they are accepted as scientific fact. But the break-down part is troubling in a metaphysical sense. Look at the famous metaphor of Schrodinger's Cat. That rather klunky metaphor tries to illustrate the limits of our ability to measure and even understand the Universe itself. The questions the physicists have to ask are strongly analogous to the questions asked formerly by metaphysicians. More than Cosmology, the focus reaches into both the smallest and largest things in the universe. Supermassive Black Holes seem to obey the same set of weird rules as Quarks, Leptons, Mesons and whatever else they come up with in the strange world of the sub-atomic.

        This is NOT just metaphysical imagination at work. This is measured and reproducible science. As a last example, your TomTom or Garmin GPS system would not work and could not work without E=MC^2. Web sites could not be encrypted without irrational numbers. And computers cannot work w/o some major mathematical number crunching. But all of that, it seems to me, started out with questions that come in two parts. In one hand you have data and science. In the other you have metaphysics. And you can't really begin to approach the science w/o a willingness to approach the basic questions of metaphysics all over again.
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        May 21 2013: I apologize, but something seems to be missing here. I would encourage anyone anywhere to meditate. I see meditation as being a means of increasing the efficiency of the mind. You have to quiet what Neuro-scientists call the "Reptile Brain." The biologic term: "Reptile Brain" is a common metaphor for the most primitive areas of the human brain, where the most primitive and fundamental processes occur. It is the "Reptile Brain" that makes us breathe and eat and sleep. And, anatomically, that portion of the human brain looks much like the primitive brain found inside reptiles. That's lizards and turtles. At a deep level, their brains are much like ours. And that similarity is suggestive of where violence comes from.
        Aggression, territoriality, sex and the rest are deeply rooted in the "Reptile Brain." The Reptile Brain is seen as the source of all this. Meditation acts much like medication. Meditation quiets the inner mind effectively. And it happens voluntarily. Meditation is much preferable to medication.
        The higher centers of the brain establish rhythms that put the Reptile Brain asleep in some sense. These rhythms are measurable and valid. And the usefulness of meditation in living a successful life seems to be subject now to scientific proof. Someday soon, I am sure that this will be the subject of a TED talk. I hope to see it when it happens.
    • May 20 2013: 1. If Science can make metaphysical claims about the universe then there is indeed no need for metaphysical speculation. People are talking as if its the sad demise of metaphysics but rather its the transition from METAPHYSICAL speculation to concrete SCIENCE (Concrete only on basis of all known observations).
      2. If experimental evidence suggest some entity we read in a metaphysics text, we might commit an error of pre conceiving or assuming all other properties about it n thus be biased. Isn't inferencing better after experimenting to remove Bias?
      3. I am reading metaphysics because of the fact that Science took root in them, that does not imply that we shall haphazardly keep sprinkling seeds of metaphysics in the soil when we can systematically create science when the time is needed. We already have quite a mess with consciousness in Biology, Quantum Mechanical Interpretation in Physics, etc. Speculate only that which can be tested now because by the time we end up with technology that will be able to test extraordinary metaphysical claims, the science of that time will be asking those questions as they speculate what can be tested then anyways.
      4.Science can deliver the same that metaphysics can in this case.
      5. Same as Orlando's reply
      7. Metaphysics is a traditional branch of philosophy concerned with EXPLAINING the fundamental nature of being and the world- as stated by wikipedia.
      • May 25 2013: Hi Rohan and Orlando,
        Thanks for your replies.
        1. If science makes metaphysical claims about the universe then it is making metaphysical speculations based on different epistemic principles. So in effect I think you have argued there is a place for metaphysics even if you call it something else.
        2. This is indeed how science proceeds. However some scientific theory especially in the realm of consciousness and neuroscience seem to rely on metaphysical or anti-metaphysical frameworks to draw conclusions. Metaphysics is comprised of both.
        3. a) Metaphysical problems are old, were approached logically and are still unresolved, the seeds were sprinkled a long time ago.
        b) Quantum physics and consciousness are messy because that is the very nature of these problems!
        c)Ex. there is little you can observe about another person's conscious state. Does this mean you should treat them as unconscious beings or not attempt to find out more about their conscious state, since there is no measure for consciousness?
        4. @ orlando, I see what you mean here. But the point was to keep away from sweeping generalizations.
        @ Rohan, I fail to see how science delivers the same thing here, please elaborate.
        5. In my statement I don't disregard the external world. However every rendering of it is subjective. So metaphysics seems to be unavoidable. I..e to say there is a place for naturalism and metaphysics in this world, even if they are some times projected to be incompatible with each other.
        6. Rohan, here is a better sourcehttp: //plato.stanford.edu/entries/metaphysics/
        Further more I think you completely missed what I was trying to say. A metaphysical conclusion is reached through rigorous reasoning which is what makes it interesting.
        Lastly, there is a great uneasiness between the inner and outer world, and metaphysics is about understanding the relationship between the two. This is not a physical problem!
        So, please let metaphysics be!
  • May 15 2013: I would say that this split that you are suggesting is merely suggesting a return to a pre-medieval course of philosophy. Keep in mind that science as we know it once was considered a part of philosophy. I would say that such a return is detrimental to progress for both science and philosophy. Science examines life at the micro level, whereas philosophy's role is that of the macro level.
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      May 15 2013: I agree,

      The natural sciences used to be called natural philosophy so I'm familiar with the history of the two. I'm not suggesting a return to pre-medieval times. I'm thinking more of what philosophy used to be during the enlightenment period but with a little more acknowledgement on subjectivity. Not to the point where either becomes dogmatic (if that is possible for science).

      I'm a firm believer that both science and philosophy could provide more stable values but to do this, I think metaphysical conclusions have to be taken off the table.
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    May 14 2013: www.iep.utm.edu/time/

    Check these links and good luck in your studies.

    Also check out: http://garygeck.com/
    This guy has a rosicrucian bent, but he documents himself generally and occasionally admirably. You and he would probably get along quite nicely.
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    May 14 2013: Orlando, I may have done you a disservice. The support group is here! It just broke my heart to see you struggling with what looks like a really shabby approach to things for you there locally. I wanted to encourage you a bit. And learning itself has that wonderful addictive and productive quality to it. So I really spent some time (not too much) looking at your thoughts. I was already brushing up on my Physics. I saw your ideas on Metaphysics and I bit the hook so to speak. Richard Feynman and some other Nobel Laureates had Youtube videos. Feynman in particular quotes from both Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz were both Metaphysicists (I think - you are the expert there).

    I am interested in where you might go with this. And I hope you keep posting on TED.

    Oh, to clarify, I am NOT a PhD in anything even remotely related to either Philosophy or Physics. In fact, although I can legally use the title "doctor" in my jurisdiction, most average folks here believe that a "doctor" is a licensed physician ONLY. And here locally, you can get in trouble for calling yourself a doctor (like in the phone book) when, by local custom, you are not.
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      May 17 2013: I never considered until now that physisit and cosmologist and maybe even astronmers may be our modern day metaphysicans so I do appriciate that bit of knowledge that you gave me. I will try to keep that in mind. I'm not on TED often but I do check it from time to time.

      I'm mainly interesting in the philosophical implications that are brought about through science and political philosophy. Im a big fan of existentialism as well when we are talking about value and subjectivity but for the most part I like science and political philosophy. I guess up until this point, I really disregarded metaphysics.
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    May 14 2013: This continues my post below:

    Do some research and write some. Write enough that you know what you think and have your own ideas documented well enough to solidify them. Write a one page summary, and shop the summary to some of your professors. If you are to the point in your education where you can afford to ask about doing an "independent study" course for college credit, ask about that. You might as well get graduation credit on your transcript for your hard work. Your goal should be publication of your work in a scholarly journal. Start now to make your name in your field.

    If you want to publish an article in a scholarly journal, you WILL need a mentor. But your mentor does not have to be at your particular college. But it would help if they were a published author themselves with a PhD in Philosophy or another discipline. You might be able to develop publishable work out of that. Metaphysics is dying a slow death. And when everyone from self-improvement gurus to Yoga Instructors start calling themselves "Metaphysicians" or "Metaphysicists" all pretense of academic discipline is out the window. But Metaphysics is what these Theoretical Physicists are doing -- and they don't even realize it themselves.

    Here's a Physics textbook I found. It seems to be High School level and I hope to read it. You might want to look it over as a reference. http://www.motionmountain.net/ I've searched for the CV of the author and haven't had much luck. But with all the crap out there, this looks better than most. There's a whole volume on the quantum stuff.
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    R H

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    May 14 2013: Does the philosophy of science fall under the category of epistemology? Science is based on reason and empirical data. Is that not an epistemological concern (how's that for a word)? I'm not arguing, I'm asking because I don't know. According to the definition I read, epistemology is the study of knowledge and how we acquire it. 'Reason' would seem to me to be a subset of that definition. If so, then the limits of scientific inquiry would be just that - limited, and other forms of knowledge acquisition would be valid. The problem, as you point out, is these 'other forms' of knowledge are not as, shall I say: 'easily definable or recognizable' as are the mathematical and linearly reasoned physical constructs of science. Then it would seem, that the next stage of 'philosophy' would be to develop a universally accepted method of empiricism for the 'other' forms of knowledge - similar to what mathematics has done for 'reason'. This then would provide us with expanded knowledge resources confidently and cure the 'practical' concern you refer to by providing tools for day to day application. Your thoughts?...
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      May 17 2013: Hi RH,

      Yes! if I understood what you said correctly then yes that is what I'm asking for. Philosophy of science would fall under the catagory of epistemology as well. As far as I'm concerned most philosophers of science would value reason, empricism and natrualism. There may be a few exceptions of course.

      Those who reject such a philosophical approach is would do for the reaons that there are "other" ways to aquire knowledge that is not based off sciencie (such as mysticism).

      I do acknowledge that mystical truths can be found but my main issue is when it oversteps its boudaries and tries to become all encompassing. For me, questions regarding the natural world I think are best answered by natural science. not metaphysics. questions such as "how does it feel to be in a transcedental state of ectasy?" is perhaps not a question that is best answered by science. There may be overlapp but I'm concerned (especially with the rise of Quantum Physics) that philosophers and theologians are going to make insuffiecent claims about the physical universe for the sake of preserving metaphyiscs.
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        R H

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        May 18 2013: The point that keeps coming up - and thanks for responding, by the way - is ' we cannot accept what science does not accept'. We are so attuned/conditioned/reverent of the miracles that science has produced with its line of reasoning, that all legitimate thought must follow similar reasoning pattern. Why? Because we came out of the dark ages, had a 'renaissance', became industrialized, crushed the atom, and now swoon in a sea of information? Then that's it? We just keep going? What is the common thread? Linearism. This, then that (very broad terms here). Quantum comes along and we have bi-location. Ooooh. Very mysterious! Well, the Catholics have been talking about that for centuries. Now, with that said, this DOES NOT MEAN we give license to - as you have referred - philo's and theo's making insufficient claims... preserving metaphysics. But the point is, in our 'esteem' for scientific reasoning, albeit deserved to a great extent, philo's & theo's have not developed an adequate means to explain phenomenon outside the realm of scientific reasoning (ie, 'other' forms of knowledge). This is similar (parallel) to our lag in social advancement vs. our technological advancement. We can go to Mars, but not feed everybody/provide clothing/enjoy equality/educate well/appreciate each other, or any numerable basic social concerns. This is the same to me. The only advanced thought is reason. Do you see this point and/or disagree?
  • May 14 2013: There have been occasions when contacts have been shown to be fraudulent, but that does not mean that they all are, just as the existence of dud cheques is not taken as "proof" that all cheques are faked.

    There are many investigations of out-of-body experiences occurring during surgery that have not been shown ot be imaginary, and investigators of such phenomena, such as Dr Pim van Lommel, and Dr Jeffrey Long, who tried to prove them to be mere hallucinations have instead become convinced of their reality and are now well respected proponents of that idea, having published solid research in support. You can find them on Google or Youtube. Where, or whose, is the research that you refer to? Sceptics, such as Shermer, repeatedly show themselves to be unfamiliar with most of the research data, but very familiar with their own dogma.

    For one example (out of many) of evidence for metaphysical ideas, you could watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/v/hfVUZAgfUXE (it runs for about an hour).

    I can find many different forms of evidence for the reality of the afterlife and none to show that the idea is false. I can find a lot of scorn heaped on the idea, by dogmatic deniers, but no actual evidence against it.

    Metaphysics is based on such evidence, whereas those who claim to be science-based are often surprised, when they really check it out, to find that the idea of the material-only universe is more of a philosophical, and often dogmatic, construct than an evidence-based viewpoint.

    As I have indicated in previous posts, therefore, it would be premature now to throw out evidence-based metaphysics and replace it with mere scientific-sounding speculation based purely on a lack of scientific evidence.
  • May 14 2013: Hi, Orlando:

    There is nothing wrong with your attitude. There is so much that is still unknown about the nature of life that nobody is in a position to say that he or she has the complete truth, however much people from all different persuasions may like to claim so.

    And that is the point in this discussion. There are people who are convinced that science alone can explain life, even though it has no idea yet what consciousness is or how it may work. And that is why it would be premature to throw metaphysics out just yet, when there is so much that is not definitely known. Metaphysics is an attempt to get a handle on questions that are very important to people: What will become of me when I die? What has happened to my grandma/father/brother/child/(etc.) whom I love dearly, but who is no longer in this world?

    Some people have made contacts with such departed loved ones, through their own dreams or meditations, or through spirit mediums or the like, which are absolutely convincing to them, although perhaps less convincing to onlookers. Those people are able to put aside the deep sense of loss that they may have felt at the time of the person's death. Nobody is in a position to say that those people are wrong or deluded, and nobody is in a position to say, definitely, that they are all factually correct. The people themselves may be certain, and there the certainty ends. But there are people on both sides of the argument who are convinced that they are right, and that it is their duty to shout down anybody who disagrees.

    Science has no idea how consciousness, or life, can have arisen from inert matter. It cannot even begin to say how the inert matter itself came into being in the first place, apart from referring to an inexplicable "Big Bang". So, we resort to metaphysics to try and understand such questions. Whether we do so rightly or wrongly, we cannot definitely say, but it is better to try to understand them than to pretend that such questions do not exist.
    • May 14 2013: we can say that people who've contacted loved ones are wrong and deluded, because such things have been debunked many times; as convinced as they might be that it was real, their recollections break down at some point by conflicting with reality. similarly out of body experiences during surgery have been shown to be imaginary - while many patients get many details right, they are all details which you'd commonly expect to find in an operating theatre, and they always get something wrong like "seeing" 3 nurses when there were only 2, or not seeing the one who had a different colour gown etc.

      i would contend that even if science has no definitive answer, metaphysics definitely can never have one. we might be able to find a metaphysical answer, but it won't be the truth any more than if i asked my cat the answer to something i couldn't work out.
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      May 17 2013: Hi Rodney,

      Yes no one knows where consciousness comes from in the natrual world. This my forevcer be a mystery to us.

      I disagree where science may fail we need to invoke metaphysics. You are correct that there is much existential anxieity that is present when thinking about death and the here after. This is something that may never be answered to us while we are alive but I do not feel the need to postulate a metaphysical afterlife because I do not have the answers.

      I see nothing wrong with asking questions but when it comes to death I can at least admit that I have no clue and I"m fine with that. Realizing that I do not know gives me reason to value this life as much as I possibly can before my time is up. I personally do not believe that people have made contact with their loved ones. I believe that they would like to believe that they did but at the end of the day I am not them,. I do not know what was like to be them in that moment and if someone had such an expereince I would not do anything to take away the belief that they did get in touch with loved ones. I may disagree that they never did get in touch but at the end of the day its just a belief, not a fact.

      It is such conclusions derived from these metaphysical questions that I have a problem with. Instead of admitting we do not know, we invoke something else because we seek solace.
      • May 18 2013: well said. just because science doesn't yet have an answer to something doesn't mean that therefore metaphysics has anything at all to offer besides supposition and imagination.
        • May 18 2013: Actuallly, there is a lot of evidence to support metaphysical ideas. It is a myth, loudly promulgated by skeptics, that there is no evidence. But there is a lot of evidence. Do an online search for 'reincarnation evidence" or "afterlife evidence", or anything similar, and you will find some of it. Victor Zammit (easily discoverable online) has published a good summary of the evidence available, and offered a million dollar reward to anybody who can disprove that evidence. Unlike James Randi's much ballyhooed but illusory million dollar offer, Zammit has actually produced the money, and is willing to have a final decision decided by an independent arbiter. So far, nobody has been willing even to try for it. The evidence is too strong.
      • May 18 2013: there's a lot of circumstantial, cherry-picked evidence for sure, nothing reproducible, ie no evidence at all. if there really is some, please include it in your reply rather than simply declaring that anyone who searches for it will find irrefutable proof.

        in what way is randi's offer illusory?
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    May 14 2013: Wow one day away from here only to come back and find a lot of interesting comments. Please do bare with me in regards to addressing your questions comments or concerns. I appreciate all of your feedback
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    May 13 2013: this is my attempt to clarify things. maybe you, more particularly, have problem with some people claiming things about the world that is not backed up by, well, anything really. that would be the kind of metaphysics you are up against?

    because i think metaphysics has a lot to offer and worth discussing. but, as always, strict distinction must be made between what we know and what we think, hope, desire, believe. take for example the following argument, without considering too much the actual points, but rather the validity and depth.

    "a regular opposition to determinism is the common feeling of free will. two objections can be raised to that reasoning. one is that a feeling can be false. we feel the earth stands still, however, to our current knowledge, it is either false or a meaningless statement. the second objection would be an analysis what people actually mean by free will. when asked to explain, people often say something like 'i can do whatever i want'. but this is not what free will actually means. free will would be 'i want what i want'. the former would be more appropriately called free action. but formulating it that way does not sound strikingly true anymore. not many people would claim that they can actually influence their own will, and recent scientific studies cast some doubt as well. in short, feeling of free will is possible in a deterministic world"

    would you say that this is a meaningless metaphysical bubbling?
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      May 13 2013: Krisztián Pintér Oops! I overdid it w/the schoolmaster voice. Let me THANK YOU here for your volunteer work here at TED. Hungarian/Maygar - is a wonderful language. But it isn't spoken commonly by native English speakers. You contribution to TED is valued and your assistance as a translator is exceptionally important.

      As a final note, I am curious as to where you found the quote you cite above. Yes, it does sound like "Metaphysical Bubbling" on the one hand. But it also might be an historical quote taken from one of the Great natural philosophers of history. The quotes are taken from books or articles that were written and published by people who believed in the importance of what they were saying. This one might be a really good quote that way.
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        May 14 2013: it was a rough translation/recollection of a point made in hungarian book that i've read a while ago, discussing the science and philosophy of determinism, in the light of quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity.
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      May 14 2013: Mr. Pinter,

      To answer you first question , yes that is the metaphysics that I am against.

      As for you second question, no it would not be. The only way for people to feel that free-will exist is due to subjectivity. I don't find subjectivity to be metaphysical at all. I think its a product of physical processes and this can be verifiable through scientifically. Of course no science can reproduce our experiences but the physical process that may give rise to experience is verifiable
  • May 13 2013: Being able to reproduce it with ketamine does nothing to explain what actually happens. The people who experience it with ketamine also come back knowing that death is only an illusion. They can also meet dead relatives, and experience the enhanced clarity of vision and thought that is so often reported when the brain stops functioning. It seems, therefore, that ketamine can temporarily (and dangerously) loosen one's relationship with one's body.
  • May 12 2013: To address that last question you made. I do not believe science can establish values. Values come from deep thinking or for some religious texts.
  • 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.
  • May 12 2013: I would argue that metaphysics as a branch of philosophy is for the most part considered dead in most continental philosophy circles today. Mostly due to the french theorists to come about after the student revolution in france in may 1967. As far as how philosophy itself can be used to help every day situations or life, have you considered the political realm of philosophy as a starting point. If it were not for philosophy we would not have the set up of our government in the United States. Another area where I would suggest that philosophy is used in daily life and not just some sort of arm chair or academic style could be seen in psychoanalytic philosophy such as the current lacanian movement, which is used to evaluate everything from film and books down to current world events and how our relationships with our own unconscious are involved in world events, see Slavoj Zizek for such arguments. The problem with the idea of returning philosophy to the scientific method is that the concepts that are to be examined by philosophy are not always concrete ideas. I would actually argue that science itself could learn from the deconstructionists as well as post structuralists such as Deleuze when talking about the flux of life. Science tends to approach the world as though, just as in history, you can stop things and explain them fully. The problem with this concept is that life is not stationary, there is nothing in the world that is not in the flux.
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      May 12 2013: What was the title of work that is considered, the founding of science? Also you are creating a fallacy of concreteness. I would recommend looking into some Quantum Physics, my friend. Then we can philosophize about your concrete material world
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      May 14 2013: Hi Cary, Thanks for you response,

      Political philosophy is actually what I'm most interested in personally. As far as Deleuze, I don't understand what he's talking about half the time. For me he is so impossible to read but I do like his ideas about Nietzsche.

      I'm not saying that philosophy should become totally scientific. There are some questions that science could not answer that would be best answered by philosophy or something else. Of course this depends on the question being asked.

      I still hold to my idea that philosophy could use a bit of scientific methodology and science could use a bit of philosophy itself (which I believe it does already).

      I know philosophy deals a lot with the subjective, which ok depending on what your talking about but claims in regards to the physical universe should be in accordance with the evidence.

      In regards to political philosophy a purely naturalistic approach to politics was considered during the Enlightenment period and it is starting to see a revival today with scientist like George Lackoff who is attempting to explain politics at the level of the brain. (read his book the political mind).

      Personally I do not agree that political issues can be explained purely by science but when we take into account neuroplasticity and how idea influence our minds and behaviors I think science can shed some light on some political issues. But ultimately I think politics come down to values and that is where I think we need philosophy when talking about politics
  • May 12 2013: The problem is not philosophy and metaphysics, but the attempt of philosophers to try and do uninformed philosophy and metaphysics.
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    May 10 2013: philosophy is dry no matter what you do
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      May 11 2013: I disagree..philosophy is not dry but your more than welcome to believe that. I may not be any more correct than you are.
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    May 10 2013: I think its is important to highlight a big difference between the two here. Philosophy is about the why and metaphysics is about the what. The what being more scientific and at times tangible. Metaphysics has been used across all the sciences to justify hypothesises, philosophy is more about the journey to the answer whilst never looking to find the next answer but more so the next question.

    There is definitely a need for both and that we respect them separately.
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      May 10 2013: Hi David,

      Your right about the difference which is why I mentioned "is it time for philosophy to do away with metaphysics?"...I did not say "is it time for the world to do away with philosophy?"

      I also agree that there is a need for both. I don't entirely agree that they are as separate as your making it. I think most scientific questions have profound philosophical implications. There is clearly overlap between the two. are there questions that are purely scientific? yes. Are there questions that philosophy is the best one to answer? Yes

      I'm not attacking questioning reality but moreso the metaphysical conclusions that are derived from it...In my experience its starting to get absurd but that's just my experience...

      I am more than happy to be wrong but it just a major concern I have regarding philosophy
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        May 14 2013: Could you give me an idea of exactly WHAT books your professors are having you read? Can you tell me or give me a list of the authors of the books you are reading? Without knowing what the point is, it gets really hard to make an authoritative point or counterpoint. Give me some titles & authors so we can check some of that stuff out on the web or in the library.
        We can go on and on and on all day about this and that weird theory about the meditative elements of pseudo-string theory, atomic fusion, and psilocybin mushrooms. But to quote Krisztián Pintér above, it all turns into "Metaphysical Bubbling" and nothing worth doing at all.
        I'm trying to make sense of this here. But we are wasting valuable time. Let's talk about the books they make you read.