• StoicQueen
    Hello there!

    I just started my final exam (metaphysics) to become a bachelor of philosophy, and I would love to hear some of your thoughts on the subject!

    My assignment is to hand in a;

    Critical discussion of the question "what is the purpose of metaphysics", based on texts from Carnap, Goodman, Bergson and Sellars.

    The texts are;
    Carnap --> Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology
    Goodman --> Ways of Worldmaking
    Bergson --> Time is the Flux of Duration
    Sellars --> Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man

    I would love to hear any thoughts that you might have regarding the similarities and differences in these four philosophers view on the purpose of metaphysics (as stated in the respective texts), as well as any ideas for the critical discussion!

    Thank you in advance!
  • tim wood
    These are "metaphysics" applied, yes? Maybe a side trip into a remark about astronomy. Astronomers examine telescopes and cosmologists examine the minds of astronomers.

    But the metaphysics itself corresponds to the telescope. And since metaphysics is clearly not a telescope except metaphorically, it remains to be established what metaphysics itself is. Perhaps then the title of your assignment s/h/b "...purpose of the metaphysics of so-and-so and so-and-so."

    In any case I find here a problem in the assignment itself - not the first ever in a school assignment. And I commend for your consideration how R.G. Collingwood answered the questions, what is metaphysics, what is its purpose, found in his An Essay on Metaphysics, Amazon and elsewhere $15 new.

    His that metaphysics is the historical science of uncovering the absolute presuppositions held by various people and groups at various times and even currently, a metaphysical proposition being that so-and-so, in his thinking, absolutely presupposed such-and-such, the metaphysical proposition itself being a matter of fact for the historian to determine.
  • Gnomon
    Critical discussion of the question "what is the purpose of metaphysics", based on texts from Carnap, Goodman, Bergson and Sellars.StoicQueen
    As a layman philosophy hobbyist, with no formal training, I'm not familiar with the works of Carnap, Goodman, and Sellars, But I do know a bit about Bergson, who viewed Reality --- not like a Reductionist, as as composed of Atoms or Discrete States --- but in a more Holistic manner, as a seamless ongoing process of teleological or creative evolution. So, you could say that he saw the purpose of Metaphysics, as a means of "entering into" Nature, via Intuition, rather than dissecting it via analysis. For the purposes of your exam though, you may find that many modern philosophy professors will find Bergson's approach to be "unscientific", hence less valuable. :smile:

    Bergson on Metaphysics : "While Kant had dismissed metaphysics as groundless speculation about things beyond human knowledge, Bergson sees it as a matter of grasping things "from the inside." He calls this "intuition": the kind of understanding we have of our own inner lives."

    Metaphysics : http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page14.html
  • Mww
    In any case I find here a problem in the assignment itselftim wood

    Yeah, me too. Particularly the reference authors and their respective literature. Bergson (French, early 20th century analytic process philosopher); Carnap (German, early 20th century, analytic logical positivist); Goodman (American, late 20th century, analytic nominalist); Sellars (American, late 20th century, analytic critical realist).....not hide nor hair of a real continental Enlightenment metaphysician.

    Just seems like if one wants to examine metaphysics, he outta start with a metaphysician, which, I wager, none of those guys would have admitted to being.

    Still, you know what they say about opinions......
  • Mww
    "While Kant had dismissed metaphysics as groundless speculation about things beyond human knowledge....Gnomon

    “....But as to metaphysics, the miserable progress it has hitherto made, and the fact that of no one system yet brought forward, as far as regards its true aim, can it be said that this science really exists, leaves any one at liberty to doubt with reason the very possibility of its existence.  But, in a certain sense, this kind of knowledge must unquestionably be looked upon as given; in other words, metaphysics must be considered as really existing, if not as a science, nevertheless as a natural disposition of the human mind (metaphysica naturalis). For human reason, without any instigations imputable to the mere vanity of great knowledge, unceasingly progresses, urged on by its own feeling of need, towards such questions as cannot be answered by any empirical application of reason, or principles derived therefrom; and so there has ever really existed in every man some system of metaphysics. It will always exist, so soon as reason awakes to the exercise of its power of speculation. And now the question arises: "How is metaphysics, as a natural disposition, possible?" In other words, how, from the nature of universal human reason, do those questions arise which pure reason proposes to itself, and which it is impelled by its own feeling of need to answer as well as it can?

    But as in all the attempts hitherto made to answer the questions which reason is prompted by its very nature to propose to itself, for example, whether the world had a beginning, or has existed from eternity, it has always met with unavoidable contradictions, we must not rest satisfied with the mere natural disposition of the mind to metaphysics, that is, with the existence of the faculty of pure reason, whence, indeed, some sort of metaphysical system always arises; but it must be possible to arrive at certainty in regard to the question whether we know or do not know the things of which metaphysics treats. We must be able to arrive at a decision on the subjects of its questions, or on the ability or inability of reason to form any judgement respecting them; and therefore either to extend with confidence the bounds of our pure reason, or to set strictly defined and safe limits to its action. This last question, which arises out of the above universal problem, would properly run thus: "How is metaphysics possible as a science?"....”

    Dismissed? Absolutely not.
    Groundless? Hardly.
    Speculative? Yeah, certainly is that.
    About things beyond human knowledge? A posteriori, yes. A priori....ehhhh, hard to say.

    “...The science of Metaphysics has for the proper object of its inquiries only three grand ideas: GOD, FREEDOM, and IMMORTALITY...”

    Empirical knowledge of any of those is of course, quite impossible for humans. But we can still think about them, and arrive at valid conclusions a priori with respect to them, which makes metaphysics a speculative theoretical science, while not a physical one.

    About Bergson I don’t know, but it is clear the quote suggests a valid counter-argument from The Esteemed Professor Himself.
  • 3017amen

    A couple basic recommendations would be to argue specific questions regarding the nature of existence (Metaphysics). Two quick thoughts:

    1. Catnap was a logical positivist. Contrast Kant's innate knowledge of Being, against the exclusivity of empirical truth's. In other words, research how Kant's synthetic a priori knowledge is distinct from empiricism. The infamous metaphysical example is Kant's (correct) judgement that it is natural to our ontological/epistemological existence (Being) to wonder that ' all events must have a cause'.

    2. Google the illusion of time, dualism, etc. relative to cosmology. The nature of time itself is paradoxical. There are so many examples, but one of the first metaphysical problems that related to ontology and consciousness can be summed up in Descartes dualism (being and becoming). For example, thinking is a process, being is a state. Or cosmologically, the world continues to exist yet it continues to change. The timeless eternal truths of mathematics describe the universe, yet the universe is constantly changing ( and dependent on time), so on and so forth.

    And so the nature of existence (Metaphysics and/or the Will in nature) is what you're trying to parse there. Hope that gives you some ideas...
  • Gnomon
    About Bergson I don’t know, but it is clear the quote suggests a valid counter-argument from The Esteemed Professor Himself.Mww
    Since modern philosophy is mostly analysis of metaphysical questions, I doubt that Bergson, as a practicing philosopher himself, intended to deny Kant's Metaphysics of Pure Reason. Instead, he may have wanted to focus attention on the Intuition that underlies our reasoning.

    All of our "reasons" begin as "feelings". But Feelings are holistic, and difficult to express in words. Yet, metaphysical philosophy is precisely an attempt to justify our intuited inferences in words, arranged in logical order. That's why some philosophical arguments may at first sound good or bad, but hard to say exactly why. The creative ideas of rational thinkers usually begin as holistic intuitive light-bulbs that are later developed into practical reasonable illuminators. :joke:

    Reasoning is more intuitive than we think : https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-design/201108/reasoning-is-more-intuitive-we-think
  • Mww
    I doubt that Bergson, as a practicing philosopher himself, intended to deny Kant's Metaphysics of Pure Reason.Gnomon

    Understood. Whomever authored the quote mischaracterized Bergson, then? The quote said....

    Bergson on Metaphysics : "While Kant had dismissed metaphysics as groundless speculation.....Gnomon

    .....which is the only thing I took issue with.
  • Hippyhead
    My assignment is to hand in aStoicQueen

    No, sorry, your assignment has been changed. :-) If you are female, your assignment now is to hang around this place and provide some balance to the dominance of male energy so typical of philosophy forums. You could start in your own thread if you wish, that would be welcome.
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