Tag Archives | Metaphysics

Does Metaphysics Matter? Part 2: “Okay, stay with me here”

"Eternity of a moment" Giorgio de Chirico

“Eternity of a moment” Giorgio de Chirico

Read part 1 here.

Let’s start with a couple propositions:

The Identity of Indiscernibles 

Two objects are identical when they share all the same properties.

The Indiscernibility of Identicles:

If two objects share all the same properties then the two objects are identical. 

At a glance, they both seem obvious enough that even mentioning them feels like a waste of time.  Things get a little more complicated, however, when you consider the “position” of a property, since it’s also agreed upon by all that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.  If object x and object y truly share all the same properties, including position, then x and y are truly “identical” in that they are the same object.  Even this isn’t terribly controversial (although some have argued against it), but when you apply it to real life something odd can occur, as seen in the following example. Read the rest

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The Philosophy of Time


Times Square, NYC. January 1938

Have you ever wondered what is meant by a moment in time? To capture a moment in time we have to combine slices upon slices of infinitesimal imaginary finites. To get to a moment we will remember there has to have once been a now! What, after all, is “NOW” or “real time,” and how long does it last? I’m talking about right now. Well, by the time that you get to the end of this sentence, it will already be in the past. I mean it’s easy to imagine past, or future, but “now” (this moment) lasts how long? Does it last a second? To me it’s like that needle on a record or the laser on a DVD. The record is your life and the needle is where your consciousness of now is at any given time. The rest of the record has either played or it hasn’t, but the needle is constantly moving.… Read the rest

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Does Metaphysics Matter? Part 1: “Not really, no”

The Drunken Gentleman Carlo Carra, 1916

The Drunken Gentleman – Carlo Carra, 1916

Years ago in Busan, South Korea, I was in bed when my girlfriend, in what I believe to be an attempt to share interests with each other, asked me what exactly someone studies when they study metaphysics.  I considered giving her the definition my professor had offered my class years and years ago on the first day of my first metaphysics course — “Metaphysics is the study of being qua being” — but I refrained from doing so because most people quickly lose interest after hearing that sentence spoken aloud.  Instead I opted for a metaphysical topic often used early on in any philosophy department’s curriculum, that of Universals and Particulars.  “It’s like, um, we know that there are green things,” I explained, “but, like, is green actually a thing?” (I’m usually more eloquent, but we were both fairly stoned at this point.)  She responded by bluntly telling me that was the most useless thing she had ever heard of before rolling over and going to sleep.Read the rest

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Defining the Supernatural

Juliana Coutinho (CC BY 2.0)

Juliana Coutinho (CC BY 2.0)

Richard Carrier writes:

There is a trend in science and law to define the word “supernatural” as “the untestable,” which is perhaps understandable for its practicality, but deeply flawed as both philosophy and social policy. Flawed as philosophy, because testability is not even a metaphysical distinction, but an epistemological one, and yet in the real world everyone uses the word “supernatural” to make metaphysical distinctions. And flawed as social policy, because the more that judges and scientists separate themselves from the people with deviant language, the less support they will find from that quarter, and the legal and scientific communities as we know them will crumble if they lose the support of the people. Science and the courts must serve man. And to do that, they must at least try to speak his language. And yet already a rising tide of hostility against both science and the courts is evident.

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The Dumbass Haunted World – When Propaganda Masquerades as Science

sacredsigilservitorBecause last week’s reblogging of Robert Anton Wilson’s rather harsh critique of Carl Sagan resulted in a rather spirited dialogue on my Facebook page (friend me), I did something weird. I decided to take some of my fans advice and actually read a bit of Sagan’s work, which I admitted in the post that I’d never truly done. Sadly, since I spend half my life working a soulless day job, I don’t normally have much time to commit to researching things I intentionally avoid for impromptu rants. But I quite quickly found a PDF of the Demon Haunted World, which is the book several people over the years have told me I absolutely need to read, because it WILL convince me I’m not psychic or something. Ugh, I don’t know what to tell you. I got through eight chapters or so and found myself utterly perplexed and a bit disgusted.… Read the rest

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“The Metaphysic of Dunces”: Adorno’s Theses Against Occultism


Pic: Victorrrmz (CC)

Theodor Adorno links the occultism of his time with commodity fetishism.  Via the Autodidact Project:

I. The tendency to occultism is a symptom of regression in consciousness. This has lost the power to think the unconditional and to endure the conditional. Instead of defining both, in their unity and difference, by conceptual labour, it mixes them indiscriminately. The unconditional becomes fact, the conditional an immediate essence. Monotheism is decomposing into a second mythology. “I believe in astrology because I do not believe in God”, one participant in an American socio-psychological investigation answered. Judicious reason, that had elevated itself to the notion of one God, seems ensnared in his fall. Spirit is dissociated into spirits and thereby forfeits the power to recognize that they do not exist. The veiled tendency of society towards disaster lulls its victims in a false revelation, with a hallucinated phenomenon. In vain they hope in its fragmented blatancy to look their total doom in the eye and withstand it.

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The Metaphysics Of Ping-Pong

Table tennis

[Disinfo ed.’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Prelude to The Metaphysics Of Ping-Pong, by Guido Mina di Sospiro, published by Yellow Jersey Press, Random House, and long-listed for the William Hill Sports Book Award 2013.]

During a summer some years ago our friend Rupert Sheldrake — the controversial philosopher of science — his wife Jill and their two boys, Merlin and Cosmos, paid us a visit. I gave the boys rackets and showed them a few strokes. It was instant karma: they were hooked. Back in London, they persuaded their father to buy them a table and he himself has become a player. Every time I went to visit them there were the inevitable ping-pong matches. I’d play for hours with both sons and with Rupert, too. It was fun and, surprisingly, also intellectually stimulating. There was something unusual about the essence of the game that escaped us.… Read the rest

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‘Proof of Heaven’ Disproven

As it turns out, the story of neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander and how he left his body to
experience Heaven was a crock of unscientific folderol (and I had no doubt for a single second).

Dr. Eben Alexander and his

Dr. Eben Alexander and his “Proof of Heaven”

Via The Atlantic:

In his book, Alexander claims that when he was in a coma caused by E. coli bacterial meningitis, he went to heaven. Of course, Dittrich’s piece is not the first time that Alexander’s text has come into question. In April, Michael Shermer at Scientific American explained how the author’s “evidence is proof of hallucination, not heaven.” But Dittrich calls into question not what Alexander experienced so much how he did. While Dittrich looks at legal troubles Alexander had during his time practicing neurosurgery, perhaps the most damning piece of testimony comes from a doctor who was on duty in the ER when Alexander arrived in 2008.… Read the rest

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Graham Hancock on Good and Evil

Graham Hancock was recently interviewed by William Rowlandson Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Kent. The interview focused on many different aspects of Graham’s work but with particular emphasis on his recent ventures in fiction — Entangled, published in 2010 and his forthcoming novel War God, about the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. In this extract from the longer interview Graham talks about the treatment of violence in his novels and about the struggle of good against evil. Are these real, primal forces or projections of our own minds and cultures? What do they have to teach us? Why dwell on them in works of fiction?

Background info and a free-to-read extracts from War God

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The Aarhus Interpretation

Via Opinion & Kommentar:

The Aarhus Interpretation : A lecture given at The Danish Neuroscience Center (DNC) on may 28TH 2010 by author and philosopher Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff:

It has been said that those who know least about the sea are the fish. The same may perhaps be said about scientists.

Working on the tenth floor of a building doesn’t necessarily mean that you have any idea what is going on in the basement or how or when it was constructed. Of course, when it’s burning, you may take a sudden interest in the location of the fire-escapes.

Also, if you’re a window-cleaner, you may be more aware of what floor you’re on. In science, the window-cleaners are those who work on the frontiers of science.

In a way, they’re always half in and half out of the building. They are also more likely to fall off or to discover a crack in the concrete.… Read the rest

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