• Pattern-chaser
    1.7k
    The doing of science is of a different category than that to which science is done. Just as physics is the scientific evaluation of the the known predicates of real objects from which a posteriori knowledge is given, so too can metaphysics be the scientific evaluation of all the possible predicates of pure reason from which a priori knowledge is given. In each case, the object of each science is different, but the doing of the science can be similarly rigid and potentially explanatory.Mww

    I'm sorry, I know what you say here is perfectly plausible, but all I can see is an attempt to re-label metaphysics as "science". Thus, science makes another conquest. No, I'm sorry, this won't wash.

    Science is too rigid for some things, perhaps for some of the things that metaphysics deals with. To force something that is not science into the mould of science is to damage and deform it. Like psychology, an important and significant area of learning, deformed by the attempts of its own practitioners to define it as a science. Maybe to obtain grants for their research? I don't know. But a subject that studies human personality, and the like, cannot function if its only tools are logical, rigid and scientific.

    The achievements of science are many; its success is admirable, and not in dispute. But it is not useful or applicable in all circumstances. If you want to consider "Truth", you need metaphysics, or something like it. Science just can't cope. You write as though science can be adapted to any use, so I ask this: how could science deal with an issue where there is no evidence - none at all - and no prospect of ever getting any?
  • T Clark
    3.8k
    I'm sorry if my vocabulary proves confusing, but just remember that when I write metaphysics, I'm referring to that branch of philosophy that considers truth, beauty, the nature of Objective Reality, and so on. Some of these things impinge upon science peripherally, but none of them are central to science. Those (the things central to science) are covered by (what I call) the philosophy of science.Pattern-chaser

    You and I have gone back and forth on this a bit. As I see it, much of what makes up the philosophy of science is epistemology. Science is fundamentally knowledge of what's what, of objective reality if you will. The scientific method is a way of knowing - ways of knowing. For me, separating epistemology from metaphysics is artificial and misleading.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.7k
    We treat the world scientifically in an attempt to understand it; we treat metaphysics scientifically in an attempt to understand ourselves.Mww

    If we use only science - and it isn't clear that that's what you're suggesting, but it looks that way - then our understanding is going to be less than it could be. To address difficult issues, we need to use all the tools we have, not confine ourselves to one. Like the human eye: rods give low-res B&W vision, but with a wide area of coverage, while cones cover a much smaller area, but offer colour and higher-resolution. If we had rods, cones and squiggles, we wouldn't be bother even for an instant about whether we should continue just with rods and cones, we'd use all three. And our sight would be better for it, overall.

    If we hope ever to understand ourselves, we need a lot more than logic and science to do it. :chin:
  • T Clark
    3.8k
    Like psychology, an important and significant area of learning, deformed by the attempts of its own practitioners to define it as a science. Maybe to obtain grants for their research? I don't know. But a subject that studies human personality, and the like, cannot function if its only tools are logical, rigid and scientific.Pattern-chaser

    Now you're opening a new can of worms. Thems fiten words.

    Some other time, I guess.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.7k
    Science is fundamentally knowledge of what's what, of objective reality if you will.T Clark

    I disagree. Science studies the apparent reality that our senses and perception delivers pictures of. Philosophically, we have no way to know if those pictures (using vision as a synecdoche for all the senses) are of Objective Reality, or if they relate at all to Objective Reality, in any meaningful way. The nature of Objective Reality is not something science can even approach, without getting burnt! :wink:
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.7k
    For me, separating epistemology from metaphysics is artificial and misleading.T Clark

    I see what you're saying, and I sympathise. But human languages are what they are, and these things arise from time to time. We don't actually disagree, I don't think, except on the actual labels we use to describe these things. :wink: :up:
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.7k
    Some other time, I guess.T Clark

    I'll be here. :wink: :smile:
  • T Clark
    3.8k
    I disagree. Science studies the apparent reality that our senses and perception delivers pictures of. Philosophically, we have no way to know if those pictures (using vision as a synecdoche for all the senses) are of Objective Reality, or if they relate at all to Objective Reality, in any meaningful way. The nature of Objective Reality is not something science can even approach, without getting burnt! :wink:Pattern-chaser

    Actually, I agree with you, but science does study the shadows of objective reality on the cave walls.

    I see what you're saying, and I sympathise. But human languages are what they are, and these things arise from time to time. We don't actually disagree, I don't think, except on the actual labels we use to describe these things.Pattern-chaser

    I don't disagree with you here either, but I don't think you can have a useful discussion of metaphysics without also discussing epistemology (stamps feet).
  • Mww
    872
    To force something that is not science into the mould of science is to damage and deform it.Pattern-chaser

    True, IFF we’re forcing a science of metaphysics into the mould of empirical science, but we’re not because the two are mutually exclusive. The criteria governing the methodology in the latter is the non-contradiction between observation and predictable experience, which is always predicated on objective conditions, the criteria governing the methodology in the former is the non-contradiction between reason and a priori knowledge, which has no objective predications at all.

    All I’m saying is we can do metaphysics in the same general way we do science, that is, in accordance with a theory-consistent set of rules.
    ————————

    If we use only science (...) then our understanding (of ourselves) is going to be less than it could be.Pattern-chaser

    Absolutely, if using only science here means empirical science. Although, some great strides have been taken in understanding the brain, which has the eliminative materialists dancing in the aisles. But that as yet says nothing definitive with respect to how a intelligence comes to understand its own condition.

    Even seeking a plausible answer to the question whether metaphysics can be treated as a science, is treating it like one.
  • Coben
    491
    I see what you're getting at, but if I had written what you just did, I would have written "philosophical" every time you wrote "metaphysical"Pattern-chaser
    Since philosophical includes metaphysics I would obviously agree with those sentences, but I see no reason, for example, to say that cosmology is obviously dealing with metaphysics. Every epistemology is making claims about what is, and somewhere in it, at least as axioms, there will be metaphysical claims. I mean, what is physicalism but a metaphysical position. Or the idea that there are natural laws. That is also a position in metaphysics.
    Maybe it 'belongs' with science. And then there's metaphysics, which is the cache of tools we use to investigate vague stuff, stuff where there's no evidence, and no chance of finding any, and so on. The stuff I'm describing here, as I do my (poor) best to define/describe metaphysics, is inaccessible to science, and cannot be dealt with by sciencePattern-chaser
    Tell that to the cosmologists. Tell it to Einstein. That space and time are relative, that's metaphysics and a couple of decades after Einstein's math and theory, it was confirmed empirically. Newton's univerise and Einstein's have metaphysical differences.
    I'm referring to that branch of philosophy that considers truth, beauty, the nature of Objective Reality, and so onPattern-chaser
    Some of these things impinge upon science peripherally, but none of them are central to science.Pattern-chaser
    I really cannot see how the nature of objective reality does not impinge on, and is not central to, the project of science, especially physics. Truth also. I didn't realize anyone was including beauty in metaphysics - I'd put that in Aesthetics - but I do realize that metaphysics' definition varies. It always seems to include ontology and science has a lot to say about ontology.
    ar
    And if you want to argue that the scientists are not talking about ding an sich, that is what things are like without us percieving them, I disagree wholeheartedly. They often write and describe what they think exists regardless of our perception. When they write about black holes, they are writing about what there is even if we did not exist.

    But let's make sure we're not talking past each other. I think scientists consider themselves to be investigating objective reality and science for them is dealing with objective reality, for them. That is part of their and its philosophy. Now you can come in and argue that really they are examining appearances and so all their models and theories and data are really about appearances, but that is you aiming your philosophy at theirs and arguing what is really going on. Different scientists might, to varying degrees, agree with parts of this, but they all think they are modeling actual reality, out there.

    And then, regardless, even the concept of appearances and what we can and cannot know is metaphysics type issues. No one is metaphysicsless. You cannot have opinions about reality wihtout explicitly or implicitly assuming and asserting metaphysical positions. And science is founded on its metaphysical positions. Right down to the idea of natural laws. Or that one can gain knowledge about reality, to physicalism, and then on up to specific theories and ideas about what is going on.

    I am, though, mixing the this thread with the one about scientists not accepting philosophyr or looking down on it. They don't realize it's in their bloody bones, metaphysics also.

    I am not, however, arguing that science is metaphysics or metaphysics is science. Just that they overlap and then also that they are not quite the same kind of category.
  • Coben
    491
    double post - ish
  • Alan
    51
    I believe metaphysics needs to be somehow detached from language analysis to be considered useful.
  • thewonder
    377
    Personally, I think that it's kind of a lot of talking into air, but, like I said in previous threads, I haven't really hashed this out well enough to level a decent argument.

    Metaphysics substitutes abstraction for the realm of the divine. There are plenty of things to glean from all kinds of studies in the field, and, so, to discuss Metaphysics is still "meaningful", but the methodology will ultimately be supplanted by some other branch of Philosophy.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.7k
    Every epistemology is making claims about what is, and somewhere in it, at least as axioms, there will be metaphysical claims.Coben

    Axioms are just assumptions by another name. Some of them might be metaphysical, others not.

    That space and time are relative, that's metaphysics and a couple of decades after Einstein's math and theory, it was confirmed empirically.Coben

    If it was able to be confirmed empirically, it wasn't a metaphysical point, was it? :chin:

    I really cannot see how the nature of objective reality does not impinge on, and is not central to, the project of science, especially physics.Coben

    I need to offer a preamble here, before I answer this point.

    Our senses and perceptions somehow deliver to our conscious minds pictures of an apparent reality. The pictures, we have direct (objective) knowledge of; we can 'see' them in our minds. The veracity of what the pictures show? That's another matter, and we have no objective knowledge of this, nor can we have such knowledge. Nevertheless, this apparent reality (I'll just call it AR from now on) is the only 'reality' to which we have access. So science necessarily examines and investigates AR. What else can it do?

    We could be brains in vats, fed with interactive electro-bio-chemical data by the vat-maintainers. That data (in this thought experiment) is identical to that which we are actually experiencing now, as we read this, and as we continue to live out our lives. In this case, AR is not reality, but only a creation of the vat-maintainers. Another possibility is that AR is Objective Reality (subject to the limitations of our senses and perceptions). These two possibilities are indistinguishable. There is no evidence that can or could be gathered to tell the difference. So science simply cannot address it.

    So, back to your point. The nature of objective reality (e.g. see my previous paragraph) is not something that science can address. It is not central to the project of science. It is not even accessible to the project of science.

    When they write about black holes, they are writing about what there is even if we did not exist.Coben

    Only if AR is objective reality.

    I think scientists consider themselves to be investigating objective reality and science for them is dealing with objective reality, for them.Coben

    No, they're dealing with AR, which could be objective reality, but we have no way of knowing. Frustrating, isn't it? :wink:

    Different scientists might, to varying degrees, agree with parts of this, but they all think they are modeling actual reality, out there.Coben

    Yes, that's what they "think", but it's just wishful thinking. An assumption, maybe even glorified by ascension to axiomhood (if that's a word), but not fact. Or, to be properly accurate: we cannot know it (to objective standards) to be factual.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.7k
    I believe metaphysics needs to be somehow detached from language analysis to be considered useful.Alan

    Interesting. How do you think this might be achieved? :chin:
  • T Clark
    3.8k
    No, they're dealing with AR, which could be objective reality, but we have no way of knowing. Frustrating, isn't it? :wink:

    Different scientists might, to varying degrees, agree with parts of this, but they all think they are modeling actual reality, out there.
    — Coben

    Yes, that's what they "think", but it's just wishful thinking. An assumption, maybe even glorified by ascension to axiomhood (if that's a word), but not fact. Or, to be properly accurate: we cannot know it (to objective standards) to be factual.
    Pattern-chaser

    I'm assuming you agree that the whole AR vs. OR distinction you are making is a metaphysical one and not a matter of fact. If so, then you and I agree it is more useful to recognize that the only reality we have access to is AR, but it's not true or false.
  • Coben
    491
    Axioms are just assumptions by another name. Some of them might be metaphysical, others not.Pattern-chaser

    Right, but you need metaphysical ones in epistemology. That things can be understood, that there are natural laws, ideas about the relation of perceivers to reality. Probably stuff about time also.
    If it was able to be confirmed empirically, it wasn't a metaphysical point, was it? :chin:Pattern-chaser

    Sure it is. Einstein's ideas about curved space time are metaphysical. There is nothing in metaphysics that says it can never be tested or demonstrated.
    Our senses and perceptions somehow deliver to our conscious minds pictures of an apparent reality. The pictures, we have direct (objective) knowledge of; we can 'see' them in our minds. The veracity of what the pictures show? That's another matter, and we have no objective knowledge of this, nor can we have such knowledge. Nevertheless, this apparent reality (I'll just call it AR from now on) is the only 'reality' to which we have access. So science necessarily examines and investigates AR. What else can it do?Pattern-chaser
    You somehow have access to objective notions about all the components of perception - perceivers, perception, objects or objective reality and then how these interact. How did you get knowledge of all those pieces and not just appearances?
    We could be brains in vats, fed with interactive electro-bio-chemical data by the vat-maintainers. That data (in this thought experiment) is identical to that which we are actually experiencing now, as we read this, and as we continue to live out our lives. In this case, AR is not reality, but only a creation of the vat-maintainers. Another possibility is that AR is Objective Reality (subject to the limitations of our senses and perceptions). These two possibilities are indistinguishable. There is no evidence that can or could be gathered to tell the difference. So science simply cannot address it.Pattern-chaser
    To me you are confusing absolute knowledge with objective knowledge. It doesn't have to be infalllible to be objective.
    No, they're dealing with AR, which could be objective reality, but we have no way of knowing. Frustrating, isn't it? :wink:Pattern-chaser

    Not to me.

    Yes, that's what they "think", but it's just wishful thinking.Pattern-chaser

    Sounds like both objective knowledge claim and an absolute one on your part.
    Or, to be properly accurate: we cannot know it (to objective standards) to be factual.Pattern-chaser
    Once you make a claim as to what others cannot know, you are assuming you are objectively (and here seemingly absolutely) correct about others using information gained via AR. How can you be correct and sure of it, for example, about me, and what i cannot know for sure but a scientist cannot know that what xylum does in a tree?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.7k
    There is nothing in metaphysics that says it can never be tested or demonstrated.Coben

    OK, I think we've already agreed that there is no universal understanding of what "metaphysics" actually is, so I can't (and won't) dispute what you say, even though it doesn't quite gel with my own understanding. :up:

    Our senses and perceptions somehow deliver to our conscious minds pictures of an apparent reality. The pictures, we have direct (objective) knowledge of; we can 'see' them in our minds. The veracity of what the pictures show? That's another matter, and we have no objective knowledge of this, nor can we have such knowledge. Nevertheless, this apparent reality (I'll just call it AR from now on) is the only 'reality' to which we have access. So science necessarily examines and investigates AR. What else can it do?Pattern-chaser
    [Highlighting added; it's not part of the original quoted text.]

    To which you replied:

    You somehow have access to objective notions about all the components of perception - perceivers, perception, objects or objective reality and then how these interact. How did you get knowledge of all those pieces and not just appearances?Coben

    I don't know how you got that from what I wrote. I tried to explain how we don't have access to objective knowledge about anything at all (other than that Objective Reality exists). I do not have knowledge of the things you list, and neither do you. [And neither does any other human, of course.]

    To me you are confusing absolute knowledge with objective knowledge. It doesn't have to be infallible to be objective.Coben

    Yes, it does. "Objective" describes something that accurately corresponds to that which actually is, irrespective of our beliefs and opinions. Thus Objective knowledge is infallible, although it's probably also incomplete. [I.e. it isn't a complete description of Objective Reality.]

    Once you make a claim as to what others cannot know, you are assuming you are objectively (and here seemingly absolutely) correct about others using information gained via AR. How can you be correct and sure of it, for example, about me, and what i cannot know for sure but a scientist cannot know that what xylum does in a tree?Coben

    We cannot know if AR corresponds to OR. Given this, nothing we discover about AR necessarily applies to OR. That's the (metaphysical!) point here. So I can be sure that no human has objective knowledge of anything at all, except by coincidence (and even then, they couldn't demonstrate that their understanding was Objective). What scientists discover about AR, I accept. I only dispute any suggestion that this is Objective knowledge. It could be, but we can't know that.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    Axioms are just assumptions by another name.Pattern-chaser

    Axioms are usually considered to be self-evident; whereas assumptions may or may not be.
  • Coben
    491
    Axioms are usually considered to be self-evident; whereas assumptions may or may not be.Janus
    One person's axiom is another person's assumption.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    Could you give an example?
  • sime
    378
    In my opinion,

    Metaphysics refers to the conventions of language-games that seem to lack a definite or well-understood collective purpose, or when used disparagingly, to a convention that is believed to be unhelpful with respect to some assumed purpose of the language game.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    It’s meaningful in that the words and ideas have meaning whether shared or individual to the user(s). Oftentimes the meaning of terms used are not shared, which leads to a lot of confusion and endless argument. Other times people just plain disagree on the truth values of concepts with shared meaning. But, metaphysics is good for the proverbial soul to entertain the possibilities of what indeed could be true states of affairs if only to humble oneself at the lack of possible knowledge of said states of affairs.
  • Coben
    491
    Could you give an example?Janus
    I actually hit this at a very abstract level. Anything self-evident, it seems to me, will only be that to some people. But OK, here's a few....
    In formal ethics....
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_ethics#Axioms
    u
    P (Prescriptivity) — "Practice what you preach"
    That will seem obvious to some, to others it will seem obvious that certain rules apply only to certain people. For example many ethical systems include either in practice or openly the idea that greatness exempts one from the necessity of this axiom. They would see it as an assumption that it applies to all.

    Postulate 5 in Euclidian geometry about angles at the intersection of lines or about parallel lines never crossing, is an assumption, now, and not really an axiom, any more, since non-Euclidian geomtries work just peachy while contradicting this one.

    For this one see at the end that it is not accepted as self-evident by all epistemologists...
    The Axiom of Causality is the proposition that everything in the universe has a cause and is thus an effect of that cause. This means that if a given event occurs, then this is the result of a previous, related event. If an object is in a certain state, then it is in that state as a result of another object interacting with it previously.

    According to William Whewell the concept of causality depends on three axioms:[1]

    Nothing takes place without a cause
    The magnitude of an effect is proportional to the magnitude of its cause
    To every action there is an equal and opposed reaction.
    A similar idea is found in western philosophy for ages (sometimes called Principle of Universal Causation (PUC) or Law of Universal Causation), for example:

    In addition, everything that becomes or changes must do so owing to some cause; for nothing can come to be without a cause. — Plato in Timaeus

    Modern version of PUC is connected with Newtonian physics, but is also criticized for instance by David Hume who presents skeptical reductionist view on causality.[2] Since then his view on the concept of causality is often predominating (see Causality, After the Middle Ages). Kant answered to Hume in many aspects, defending the a priority of universal causation.[3]

    Example for the axiom: if a baseball is moving through the air, it must be moving this way because of a previous interaction with another object, such as being hit by a baseball bat.

    An epistemological axiom is a self-evident truth. Thus the "Axiom of Causality" implicitly claims to be a universal rule that is so obvious that it does not need to be proved to be accepted. Even among epistemologists, the existence of such a rule is controversial. See the full article on Epistemology.
    — Wikipedia - Axiom of Causality
  • Coben
    491
    I don't know how you got that from what I wrote. I tried to explain how we don't have access to objective knowledge about anything at all (other than that Objective Reality exists). I do not have knowledge of the things you list, and neither do you. [And neither does any other human, of course.]Pattern-chaser
    There, you just did it again. You told me a fact about me. I am not you. I am outside you. You didn't say it appears to me that you do not have knowledge of OR. You said how it must be.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    There, you just did it again. You told me a fact about me. I am not you. I am outside you. You didn't say it appears to me that you do not have knowledge of OR. You said how it must be.Coben

    I think @Pattern-chaser is positing a view of knowledge a la Kant.
  • Coben
    491
    Can you expand a bit?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    Can you expand a bit?Coben

    Perception doesn’t involve direct apprehension of objective reality. Do you directly apprehend radio waves, microwaves, and atoms through perception? The short of it is “no”. One has to theorize about objective reality from what appears to our perception (apparent reality).
  • Coben
    491
    Perception doesn’t involve direct apprehension of objective reality. Do you directly apprehend radio waves, microwaves, and atoms through perception? The short of it is “no”. One has to theorize about objective reality from what appears to our perception (apparent reality).Noah Te Stroete
    That's fine. But he is telling me what I am like. He is not telling me how I appear. He is saying above that scientists only know things about AR, apparent reality. But he told me what I cannot know - and I think that this is based on what he thinks perception is, not how my perception appears. My perception does not appear to him, for example. What perception is, includes what objects or objective reality is and what the self is. He (makes claims that he) knows about these things, the OR, enough to say what I cannot know. I don't think he gets to say that if at the same time he is saying he can only know about AR. Maybe I am missing something.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    I think you’re each saying different things, both of which are true.
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