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Let's get metaphysical, baby.

  1. Mar 7, 2003 #1

    Tom Mattson

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    I found an online book called Beyond Experience that is an introduction to metaphysics. It presents a rough definition of what metaphysics is, as well as some typical metaphysical problems. Amazingly, there is an entire chapter devoted to one specific example of what AG has been talking about: What is pain?

    The author, Norman Swartz, was a student of the great Karl Popper. I have read the first 4 chapters--It's quite a page-turner.

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  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2003 #2


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    is pain an illusion?
  4. Mar 17, 2003 #3

    Is pain an illusion........

    Well, I suggest you poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick and then, being involved in the process, decide for yourself.

    In a quick scan I found an interesting quote in the book I thought would make a good jumping off point for this thread.

    I'm not convinced metaphysical views necessarilly invite scrutiny or critical revision. Zeno of Elea's metaphysical views, for example, most definitely did not invite revision. He asserted along with his teacher Parmenedes that the universe is indivisible, indestructable, and unified. There just isn't anything you can do to revise such views. If he had never shared his views with anyone else and just believed them wholeheartedly, then I don't think even critical scrutiny applies either.
  5. Mar 17, 2003 #4
    Well, Zeno has become the founder of dialectic exactly to defend the views of Parmenides.
  6. Mar 17, 2003 #5
    Without "conflict" (between push and pull, yin and yang, good and evil, etc.) we couldn't experience a "sense of loss," and pain would not exist.
  7. Mar 17, 2003 #6
    I only mentioned Zeno of Elea because, of course, anyone who does invite criticism of their metaphysics is not known for metaphysics.

    Also, the idea of undiferentiated reality does not axiomatically mean pain is an illusion unless you are Buddhist or somesuch. There is a famous chinese painting called the three sages. In the painting Lao Tzu, Buddha, and Confucious are shown tasting the contents of a vat of vinagar to see what is in it. Of the three, only Lao Tzu is shown smiling.

    The implication is that of the three only Lao Tzu accepted the essence of life for what it is rather than rejecting it for what it is not. Life has pain, but I would differentiate between pain and suffering. It is quite possible to avoid suffering, but not pain.
  8. Mar 17, 2003 #7
    I guess, the idea of what pain is, is relative, right? It could very well be an illusion.

    i'll be back with more.
  9. Mar 18, 2003 #8

    Tom Mattson

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    Let's hold off on pain for now...

    At least in this thread, anyway. That is the subject of Ch. 7. I mean for this to be a discussion of the book, as I have barely an inkling of what metaphysics is.

    Summary of Ch. 1: Presenting Philosophy
    *Swartz seeks to buck the trend of "philosophy textbooks" and go back to just plain ol "philosophy books". It was only in the 20th century that philosophy texts became so technical as to not be readable by anyone but the trained scholar. Prior to that, philosophy books were meant to be read and understood by scholar and layperson alike. The author wants to write that sort of book.

    *The excitement and sense of adventure should of exploring philosophical problems should come through in a book, as it used to (and it used to in science publications as well).

    *Here's the part that LG is going to hate. :wink: I'll just quote it straight from the book. In philosophy...

    "one belongs to a certain school of thought. In my case, I am a product of an undergraduate degree in physics and a graduate degree in Anglo-American (so-called Analytic) philosophy. I make no apology for this mind-set: it is impossible to do philosophy without a mind-set. One cannot transcend all mind-sets and aspire to The Truth. That kind of Presuppositionless Objectivity is quite beyond the capabilities of human beings. All that we can do is to be honest about our own approach and try to get as clear as we can about just what it is that we are doing."

    (Color and emphasis added.)

    *The author does not pretend that this book is anything more than his own considered opinions. As he himself says, "There are no authorities in philosophy. There are only gradations of plausibility."

    *Metaphysical problems will be addressed, and the author's proposed solution will be offered. It is these that I (Tom) want to analyze with you. Swartz also wants to "explain why philosophers disagree".

    *This book will only be of use to you if you also struggle through the problems presented and attempt to formulate your own solutions. The reader is encouraged not to accept the author's solutions without thinking, and he is further encouraged to disagree if necessary.

    "For philosophy is, in the end, an attitude or process of thought; it ought not to be regarded as a finished product."
  10. Mar 19, 2003 #9
    Re: Let's hold off on pain for now...

    I agree that philosophy is the process of thought, not the finished product.

    Metaphysics, however, is an attempt to be a finished product. In the words of a metaphyisical teacher www.stuartwilde.com "metaphysics is just physics".

    Mr. Wilde sees metaphysics as a continuation of phyisics that goes beyond what people are able to observe, today.

    When we used to go and get a drink of water from the waterfall, we didn't know about gravity or velocity or mass or molecular or atomic physics. We were unable to observe most of these properties without the aid of instruments or the advantage of having time to study the properties of water falling and so on and so forth.

    But, we did manage to get a drink of water.

    Now we have some limited knowledge about gravity and so on and so forth and we can actually begin to see why or how water falls and what its make up is etc.

    I've used this example to show how the "meta"physics may not be known concerning certain events or abilities and so on... but, certain people are able to experience things that we are deeming "metaphysical'... or extended physics.

    That's the short of the long of it. You'd have to read Mr. Wildes explaination of metaphysics etc... to get the full story.
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