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. .