Introduction to the Blog

The aim of this website is to promote the idea that metaphysics is useful and important. Not just as a formal academic discipline, but as an activity that ought regularly to occupy the mind of any sane, serious and reasonably intelligent person.

Why should anybody be interested in metaphysics? It is the study of life, death, the universe and everything. How can we not be interested? Almost certainly everybody over the age of ten is interested in metaphysics even if they do not know what the word means.

In an academic context metaphysics is very difficult. To become an expert takes decades of hard work and a considerable intellect. But much of this complexity is more apparent than real. If we do not want to teach the subject or pass exams in it, and are not bothered about all the details, then metaphysics can become a quite simple affair. It would all depend on how we approach it and what we want from it.

Amateurs have some advantages. Academics must have more on their mind than finding answers to metaphysical questions and solutions for its problems. They must learn what the great philosophers had to say on all these ancient questions and problems, what their books were called, when they lived and died, who disagreed with them and on what grounds, and strive to become excellent communicators as well as authoritive historians. The rest of us have no need for all this. The most general and important result of metaphysics can be stated in one sentence. If we have no idea of what this sentence means it does not matter. The point is that it is just one sentence.

All positive metaphysical positions are logically indefensible.

This statement is simple, rigorous, comprehensive and demonstrably true. It contains within itself the whole of metaphysics. For anyone new to metaphysics it will mean little or nothing. Reaching an understanding of its meaning is not so difficult, however, and its meaning is quite easily explained. The difficulty is not that of understanding the words. It is only that in order to do metaphysics, to make it useful, to make it worth doing, it would be necessary to start exploring what these words would imply for the nature of Reality. Only if we do this can we begin to see why they are profound and important and why it can be said that they encapsulate the whole of metaphysics. This may mean exploring their implications for philosophy, physics, religion, psychology, consciousness, the nature of existence, the origin of the universe, the meaning of life and a thousand other things, all of which would be very difficult to do and require the resources of a well-staffed university. Some say it would require a lot of meditation. But still, such an undertaking would not be necessary for a layman’s understanding of the most important issues. This statement is explained at length and its ramifications explored in the essays here.

It is not the complexity of metaphysics that is the problem for the amateur metaphysician but its profundity and its downright weirdness. It is very mysterious and mind-bending, however much the issues are simplified, and the issues are quite often so simple that their simplicity is exactly the problem. Metaphysics asks us to reconsider our entire notion of who we are, what we are, where we are, where we have been and where are going, and it places a considerable strain on our imagination, intellectual honesty and our preparedness to, as it were, rattle our own cage. The only way to make it safe is to make it more and more complicated.

Nothing is said on this website that has not been said before, with the possible exception of the claim that it would be possible for most people to work out that nondualism, the rejection of all extreme metaphysical views, is the only solution for metaphysics that works, and thus that the doctrine of ‘Middle Way’ Buddhism, Taoism and advaita Vedanta is the most plausible explanation or description of the cosmos.

No claims are made that would be inconsistent with any scientific data. If there are lapses of rigour then please help to improve the site by pointing them out.

For someone new to metaphysics the best place to start may not be this blog.  The essay ‘What is Metaphysics?’ is something like an introduction but takes much for granted. Later, if all goes to plan, there will be a much shorter and simpler introduction to the subject.

If the reader wishes to get straight to work refuting the claim that mysticism is the correct solution for metaphysics then there is ‘From Metaphysics to Mysticism’ (my first dissertation) which, although it is overlong and rather repetitive, (I was feeling my way forward) represents a deliberate attempt to bring together all the main issues to form a simple and coherent argument and thus provide the sceptic with a clear target. Two short commentaries on metaphysics may help set the scene, ‘Is Metaphysics a Waste of Time?’ and ‘Is Metaphysics Difficult?’.

The author makes no claim of authority and makes no appeal to private knowledge for the support of arguments. He tries to provide sufficient information for the reader to make up their own minds on the issues without having to place any trust in anything but the hope that the facts are presented correctly.

The author is in his sixties and has spent his working life mostly running businesses and playing guitar. He took up metaphysics at the age of fifty and has no academic training other than a long-ago forlorn attempt by a minor university to make him a good musician. He is a firm believer that a person of average intelligence can outperform the academic establishment when it comes to metaphysics, given only a desire to do so and no fear of the consequences. .

14 Responses to Introduction to the Blog

  1. so lucid, succinct and meaningful – you are familiar with a post on my blog – it strives to explore all aspects of Metaphysics – a lifetime of being associated with the subject through prose poetry and inspirational writing – of the last you might be interested in reading my posts – The Great Equation – Time Frames to Eternity, The Value of Need – and the poems – Witness, and The Spirit among others.

  2. edd says:

    hello, I read in a casteneda book in the early 70s about the universe being constructed of “fibres” and that with proper manipulation with the body energy (lines of emanation), the fibres could be used to climb vertically with no visible means of support, appearing as flying or levitating. Ten years later, in scientific american I believe, I first read about string theory, in that the universe is composed at a fundamental level of vibrating strings….interesting correlation with the fibres, and possible coincidence. I see the universe as information based, and the strings of string theory are strings of numbers. I do see that math itself evolved from a more basic set of causes. I see the void as the fundamental causative, leading to chaos, chaos to logic, logic being the organizational principle that arranged chaotic information into the orderly thing we call the maths, and those maths express the visible universe…initially via the big bang, and currently with the ongoing algorithm of PI allowing for the maintenance of physical existence, and the expansion of the universe. I have a rather baroque flow chart of how the void could have caused all this, if there is any interest, I would be happy to discuss it..edd

  3. guymax says:

    Thanks for the comment edd. I don’t have anything to say about string theory, but I agree that there are some interesting resonances in Castaneda. Not sure I’d go along with your cosmogony. For a calculus (as opposed to a flowchart) you might like to check out Spencer Brown’s ‘Laws of Form’.

  4. edd says:

    hey, thanks for the reply guymax. The IBH flow chart is only an early model to allow me to begin to think in terms of pre-BB events. The way of defining measurablity in an era before math evolved from simpler elements seems the way forward. How to develop the language to describe those earlier steps and begin to extrapolate in those terms. May be a dead end, but IBH is too interesting an idea to not think heavily about, as I keep coming up with insights to not only the big question (why anything), but also a number physical, even personal details…should all dead ends be so engaging..anyway, thanks again for the nice response and I will check out the spencer brown thing,,,,]]],,,,,edd

  5. Roger says:

    Hi. I’ve only read a couple of the sections in your blog, but I like what I see so far. A couple of the things you wrote that stand out for me are:

    “metaphysics is useful and important. Not just as a formal academic discipline, but as an activity that ought regularly to occupy the mind of any sane, serious and reasonably intelligent person…
    Amateurs have some advantages. Academics must have more on their mind than finding answers to metaphysical questions and solutions for its problems…The rest of us have no need for all this.”

    “It may seem implausible that it is possible to work out the truth about the universe in metaphysics, and there is no getting away from the fact that this is what is being proposed here. But is this not exactly what we would expect to be able to do? Why would it have to be impossible? When we assume that the universe is reasonable we assume that in principle it is possible for us to work out the truth about it in metaphysics.”

    The reasons these stood out to me are:

    1. I’m an amateur thinker who has spent the last 40 years thinking about the questions “Why do things exist?” and “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I think my reasoning is at least at the level of what I’ve seen from academics on these questions, but when I send what I’ve come up with to academic philosophers and physicists, they mostly either ignore me or respond with poorly reasoned, assumption-riddled answers. I’m grateful that they’ve listened at all because I know they’re busy, but, overall, I have not been impressed by their reasoning ability and logic about these two questions. Additionally, many academics make fun of amateurs as crackpots. Almost all amateurs are crackpots, I admit, but not all of us. Also, because no one, including academics, has yet come up with satisfactory answers to these questions, I think amateurs have no handicap compared to academics. Finally, it seems like in thinking about these two questions, most academic philosophers would rather talk about what other academics or dead philosophers have said, use fancy words to confuse the issues, etc. than to actually try and come up with solutions.

    2. Most people, when you say that you think it’s possible to come up with a reasonable solution to the questions “Why do things exist?” or “Why is there something rather than nothing?” look at you as if you’re an egotistical jerk and that no human can ever even come close to answering these questions. They’re permanently beyond us. Like you, I disagree. My solutions may not be right, but it’s definitely possible with lots of hard thinking and not giving up for someone to come up with possible answers.

    Anyways, I look forward to reading more of your articles. Thank you!

    Roger

    P.S. If you’re interested, my thinking on these questions is at:

    sites.google.com/site/whydoesanythingexist
    and
    sites.google.com/site/ralphthewebsite (click on 3rd link)

    • PeterJ says:

      Hi Roger. I have some sympathy with your experience of academia, as you will see. One cannot generalise, but on the whole it is stuck in a deep rut when it comes to the questions you’re asking and has no answers. I would agree that the answers are there to be found, although your ‘why’ questions are a lot harder that ‘what’ or ‘how’ questions.

      I completely agree that it seems that when considering your two questions most academic philosophers would rather talk about what other academics or dead philosophers have said, use fancy words to confuse the issues, etc. than to actually try and come up with solutions. The reason may be that they believe there are no solutions. This is precisely the belief that this blog attempts to debunk.

      I’m not going to have time to check your blog for a few days and must rush now, but I’ll try to get there later. Good to meet another committed researcher.

      • Roger says:

        Peter,

        Hi. You’re doing a good but hard job in trying to get people to realize these questions may have answers and that we need to keep trying. Good luck, and let’s all keep thinking (and having some fun)!

        Roger

  6. PeterJ says:

    Thanks Roger. It’s important to have fun.

    • PeterJ says:

      Are you around Roger? Your site is great but there’s nowhere to comment or discuss.

      • Roger says:

        Peter,

        Hi. Yep, I’m still around. Sorry, I haven’t checked in in awhile. Thank you for checking out my site! I appreciate it. Even if it’s all wrong, I wanted to at least get the ideas out there, so that they’re not just bottled up inside me. Is this how you feel about your site? The internet has been great for this kind of thing.

        I think I read somewhere that the inability to leave comments at google sites is a problem with all their sites. They must have some bug? Because it’s free, I can’t complain, and I do like google, but I can’t say it’s been easy trying to figure out how to use their website building service. But, it could be just me, too.

        I left a comment at your other posting about Iggy Pop. He’s from my home state of Michigan and I like his songs a lot, too. I saw him play once here in Columbus.

        I’m going to try and catch up on reading your more recent posts. Have a good weekend!

        Roger

  7. PeterJ says:

    Roger – I just wanted to say I thought your site was very interesting and there’s lots of good stuff. I read the Something/Nothing article and I reckon you say something important. Don’t agree with your solution, but no matter. It just seemed a pity there is no way to comment. ,

    • Roger says:

      Peter,

      Thanks for checking out the site! I’ll try to work on the comments area again. I’ve tried in the past but maybe I can figure it out on the second try. Or, maybe, there’s some other way around it. It would be nice to have it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s