Metaphysics deals with which of the following questions

He does not assign first causes to general metaphysics, however: the study of first causes belongs to natural theology, a branch of special metaphysics. It is doubtful whether this maneuver is anything more than a verbal ploy. In what sense, for example, is the practitioner of rational psychology the branch of special metaphysics devoted to the soul engaged in a study of being? Do souls have a different sort of being from that of other objects? It is certainly not true that all, or even very many, rational psychologists said anything, qua rational psychologists, that could plausibly be construed as a contribution to our understanding of being.

Whatever the reason for the change may have been, it would be flying in the face of current usage and indeed of the usage of the last three or four hundred years to stipulate that the subject-matter of metaphysics was to be the subject-matter of Aristotle's Metaphysics. It would, moreover, fly in the face of the fact that there are and have been paradigmatic metaphysicians who deny that there are first causes—this denial is certainly a metaphysical thesis in the current sense—others who insist that everything changes Heraclitus and any more recent philosopher who is both a materialist and a nominalist , and others still Parmenides and Zeno who deny that there is a special class of objects that do not change.

In trying to characterize metaphysics as a field, the best starting point is to consider the myriad topics traditionally assigned to it. If metaphysics now considers a wider range of problems than those studied in Aristotle's Metaphysics , those original problems continue to belong to its subject-matter. The following theses are all paradigmatically metaphysical:. The first three of Aquinas's Five Ways are metaphysical arguments on any conception of metaphysics.

Additionally the thesis that there are no first causes and the thesis that there are no things that do not change count as metaphysical theses, for in the current conception of metaphysics, the denial of a metaphysical thesis is a metaphysical thesis. No post-Medieval philosopher would say anything like this:. I study the first causes of things, and am therefore a metaphysician. My colleague Dr McZed denies that there are any first causes and is therefore not a metaphysician; she is rather, an anti-metaphysician.

In her view, metaphysics is a science with a non-existent subject-matter, like astrology. This feature of the contemporary conception of metaphysics is nicely illustrated by a statement of Sartre's:. I do not think myself any less a metaphysician in denying the existence of God than Leibniz was in affirming it. An anti-metaphysician in the contemporary sense is not a philosopher who denies that there are objects of the sorts that an earlier philosopher might have said formed the subject-matter of metaphysics first causes, things that do not change, universals, substances, … , but rather a philosopher who denies the legitimacy of the question whether there are objects of those sorts.

The three original topics—the nature of being; the first causes of things; things that do not change—remained topics of investigation by metaphysicians after Aristotle. Another topic occupies an intermediate position between Aristotle and his successors. We may call this topic. We human beings sort things into various classes. And we often suppose that the classes into which we sort things enjoy a kind of internal unity. In this respect they differ from sets in the strict sense of the word. And no doubt in others. It would seem, for example, that we think of the classes we sort things into—biological species, say—as comprising different members at different times.

Examples must suffice. There are certainly sets whose members do not make up natural classes: a set that contains all dogs but one, and a set that contains all dogs and exactly one cat do not correspond to natural classes in anyone's view. It is, however, a respectable philosophical thesis that the idea of a natural class cannot survive philosophical scrutiny.

Let us simply assume that the respectable thesis is false and that things fall into various natural classes—hereinafter, simply classes. Some of the classes into which we sort things are more comprehensive than others: all dogs are animals, but not all animals are dogs; all animals are living organisms, but not all living organisms are animals ….

But is this so? If there are, can we identify them? The former term, if not the latter, presupposes a particular position on one question about the nature of being: that everything is, that the universal class is the class of beings, the class of things that are. Universals, if they indeed exist, are, in the first instance, properties or qualities or attributes i. It may be that the novel War and Peace is a universal, a thing that is in some mode present in each of the many tangible copies of the novel. All three terms are objectionable. Aristotle believed in the reality of universals, but it would be at best an oxymoron to call him a platonist or a Platonic realist.

This term, too is objectionable. At one time, those who denied the existence of universals were fond of saying things like:. It would not be a mere puff of sound but would rather be what was common to the many puffs of sound that were its tokens. The old debate between the nominalists and the realists continues to the present day.

Most realists suppose that universals constitute one of the categories of being. This supposition could certainly be disputed without absurdity. Perhaps there is a natural class of things to which all universals belong but which contains other things as well and is not the class of all things. But few if any philosophers would suppose that universals were members of forty-nine sub-categories—much less of a vast number or an infinity of sub-categories. If dogs form a natural class, this class is—by the terms of our definition—an ontological sub-category. A case can be made for saying that it does, based on the fact that Plato's theory of forms universals, attributes is a recurrent theme in Aristotle's Metaphysics.

We shall be concerned only with ii. In the terminology of the Schools, that criticism can be put this way: Plato wrongly believed that universals existed ante res prior to objects ; the correct view is that universals exist in rebus in objects. It is because this aspect of the problem of universals—whether universals exist ante res or in rebus —is discussed at length in Metaphysics , that a strong case can be made for saying that the problem of universals falls under the old conception of metaphysics.

And the question whether universals, given that they exist at all, exist ante res or in rebus is as controversial in the twenty-first century as it was in the thirteenth century and the fourth century B. If we do decide that the problem of universals belongs to metaphysics on the old conception, then, since we have liberalized the old conception by applying to it the contemporary rule that the denial of a metaphysical position is to be regarded as a metaphysical position, we shall have to say that the question whether universals exist at all is a metaphysical question under the old conception—and that nominalism is therefore a metaphysical thesis.

There is, however, also a case to made against classifying the problem of universals as a problem of metaphysics in the liberalized old sense. For there is more to the problem of universals than the question whether universals exist and the question whether, if they do exist, their existence is ante res or in rebus. For example, the problem of universals also includes questions about the relation between universals if such there be and the things that are not universals, the things usually called particulars.

Aristotle did not consider these questions in the Metaphysics. One might therefore plausibly contend that only one part of the problem of universals the part that pertains to the existence and nature of universals belongs to metaphysics in the old sense. At one time, a philosopher might have said,. Therefore, questions about its nature belong to metaphysics, the science of things that do not change. But dogs are things that change. Therefore, questions concerning the relation of dogs to doghood do not belong to metaphysics. But no contemporary philosopher would divide the topics that way—not even if he or she believed that doghood existed and was a thing that did not change.

Let us consider some aspects of the problem of universals that concern changing things. That is, that concern particulars—for even if there are particulars that do not change, most of the particulars that figure in discussions of the problem of universals as examples are things that change. Consider two white particulars—the Taj Mahal, say, and the Washington Monument. And suppose that both these particulars are white in virtue of i. All white things and only white things fall under whiteness, and falling under whiteness is what it is to be white.

We pass over many questions that would have to be addressed if we were discussing the problem of universals for its own sake. For example, both blueness and redness are spectral color-properties, and whiteness is not. What is it about the two objects whiteness and the Taj Mahal that is responsible for the fact that the latter falls under the former? Or might it be that a particular like the Taj, although it indeed has universals as constituents, is something more than its universal constituents?

Or might the Taj have constituents that are neither universals nor substrates? Is the Taj perhaps a bundle not of universals but of accidents? Or is it composed of a substrate and a bundle of accidents? And we cannot neglect the possibility that Aristotle was right and that universals exist only in rebus. The series of questions that was set out in the preceding paragraph was introduced by observing that the problem of universals includes both questions about the existence and nature of universals and questions about how universals are related to the particulars that fall under them.

We can contrast ontological structure with mereological structure. A philosophical question concerns the mereological structure of an object if it is a question about the relation between that object and those of its constituents that belong to the same ontological category as the object. For example, the philosopher who asks whether the Taj Mahal has a certain block of marble among its constituents essentially or only accidentally is asking a question about the mereological structure of the Taj, since the block and the building belong to the same ontological category.

Many philosophers have supposed that particulars fall under universals by somehow incorporating them into their ontological structure. And other philosophers have supposed that the ontological structure of a particular incorporates individual properties or accidents—and that an accident is an accident of a certain particular just in virtue of being a constituent of that particular.

Advocates of other theories of universals are almost always less liberal in the range of universals whose existence they will allow. And it seems that it is possible to speak of ontological structure only if one supposes that there are objects of different ontological categories.

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For a recent investigation of the problems that have been discussed in this section, see Lowe They make up the most important of his ontological categories. This last feature could be put this way in contemporary terms: if the prote ousia x exists at a certain time and the prote ousia y exists at some other time, it makes sense to ask whether x and y are the same, are numerically identical and the question must have a determinate answer ; and the question whether a given prote ousia would exist in some set of counterfactual circumstances must likewise have an answer at least if the circumstances are sufficiently determinate—if, for example, they constitute a possible world.

More on this in the next section. It is difficult to suppose that smiles or holes have this sort of determinate identity. The question whether there in fact are substances continues to be one of the central questions of metaphysics. Several closely related questions are: How, precisely, should the concept of substance be understood? Depending on how one understood the word or the concept one might say either that Hume denied that there were any substances or that he held that the only substances or the only substances of which we have any knowledge were impressions and ideas.

We now turn to topics that belong to metaphysics only in the post-Medieval sense. Philosophers have long recognized that there is an important distinction within the class of true propositions: the distinction between those propositions that might have been false and those that could not have been false those that must be true. Compare, for example, the proposition that Paris is the capital of France and the proposition that there is a prime between every number greater than 1 and its double.

Both are true, but the former could have been false and the latter could not have been false. Likewise, there is a distinction to be made within the class of false propositions: between those that could have been true and those that could not have been true those that had to be false. The types of modality of interest to metaphysicians fall into two camps: modality de re and modality de dicto.

If modality were coextensive with modality de dicto , it would be at least a defensible position that the topic of modality belongs to logic rather than to metaphysics. Indeed, the study of modal logics goes back to Aristotle's Prior Analytics. But many philosophers also think there is a second kind of modality, modality de re —the modality of things.

The modality of substances, certainly, and perhaps of things in other ontological categories. There are two types of modality de re. The first concerns the existence of things—of human beings, for example. And if what she has said is indeed true, then she exists contingently. That is to say, she is a contingent being: a being who might not have existed.


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A necessary being, in contrast, is a being of which it is false that it might not have existed. Whether any objects are necessary beings is an important question of modal metaphysics. Some philosophers have gone so far to maintain that all objects are necessary beings, since necessary existence is a truth of logic in what seems to them to be the best quantified modal logic.

See Barcan for the first modern connection between necessary existence and quantified modal logic. Barcan did not draw any metaphysical conclusions from her logical results, but later authors, especially Williamson have. The second kind of modality de re concerns the properties of things. Like the existence of things, the possession of properties by things is subject to modal qualification. Additionally there may be properties which some objects have essentially.

A thing has a property essentially if it could not exist without having that property. Examples of essential properties tend to be controversial, largely because the most plausible examples of a certain object's possessing a property essentially are only as plausible as the thesis that that object possesses those properties at all. For example, if Sally is a physical object, as physicalists suppose, then it is very plausible for them to suppose further that she is essentially a physical object—but it is controversial whether they are right to suppose that she is a physical object.

And, of course, the same thing can be said, mutatis mutandis , concerning dualists and the property of being a non-physical object. It would seem, however, that Sally is either essentially a physical object or essentially a non-physical object. The most able and influential enemy of modality both de dicto and de re was W. Quine, who vigorously defended both the following theses. First, that modality de dicto can be understood only in terms of the concept of analyticity a problematical concept in his view.

Secondly, that modality de re cannot be understood in terms of analyticity and therefore cannot be understood at all. Quine argued for this latter claim by proposing what he took to be decisive counterexamples to theories that take essentiality to be meaningful. What then, Quine proceeded to ask, of someone who is both a mathematician and a cyclist?

Since this is incoherent, Quine thought that modality de re is incoherent. Kripke and Plantinga's defenses of modality are paradigmatically metaphysical except insofar as they directly address Quine's linguistic argument. Both make extensive use of the concept of a possible world in defending the intelligibility of modality both de re and de dicto. For Kripke and Plantinga, no being, not even God, could stand outside the whole system of possible worlds.

A Kripke-Plantinga KP world is an abstract object of some sort. Let us suppose that a KP world is a possible state of affairs this is Plantinga's idea; Kripke says nothing so definite. Consider any given state of affairs; let us say, Paris being the capital of France. This state of affairs obtains, since Paris is the capital of France. By contrast, the state of affairs Tours being the capital of France does not obtain.

The latter state of affairs does, however, exist, for there is such a state of affairs. Obtaining thus stands to states of affairs as truth stands to propositions: although the proposition that Tours is the capital of France is not true, there nevertheless is such a proposition. The state of affairs x is said to include the state of affairs y if it is impossible for x to obtain and y not to obtain. If it is impossible for both x and y to obtain, then each precludes the other.

A possible world is simply a possible state of affairs that, for every state of affairs x , either includes or precludes x ; the actual world is the one such state of affairs that obtains. Using the KP theory we can answer Quine's challenge as follows. In every possible world, every cyclist in that world is bipedal in that world. Assuming with Quine that necessarily cyclists are bipedal. Apparently he had not foreseen adaptive bicycles. Nevertheless for any particular cyclist, there is some possible world where he the same person is not bipedal.

Once we draw this distinction, we can see that Quine's argument is invalid. More generally, on the KP theory, theses about de re essential properties need not be analytic; they are meaningful because they express claims about an object's properties in various possible worlds.

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We can also use the notion of possible worlds to define many other modal concepts. For example, a necessarily true proposition is a proposition that would be true no matter what possible world was actual. Kripke and Plantinga have greatly increased the clarity of modal discourse and particularly of modal discourse de re , but at the expense of introducing a modal ontology, an ontology of possible worlds. Theirs is not the only modal ontology on offer. What we call the actual world is one of these concrete objects, the spatiotemporally connected universe we inhabit. There is, Lewis contends, a vast array of non-actual worlds, an array that contains at least those worlds that are generated by an ingenious principle of recombination, a principle that can be stated without the use of modal language In the matter of modality de dicto , Lewis's theory proceeds in a manner that is at least parallel to the KP theory: there could be flying pigs if there are flying pigs in some possible world if some world has flying pigs as parts.

But the case is otherwise with modality de re. Since every ordinary object is in only one of the concrete worlds, Lewis must either say that each such object has all its properties essentially or else adopt a treatment of modality de re that is not parallel to the KP treatment. He chooses the latter alternative. If all Socrates' counterparts are human, then we may say that he is essentially human. If one of Hubert Humphrey's counterparts won the counterpart of the presidential election, it is correct to say of Humphrey that he could have won that election.

In addition to the obvious stark ontological contrast between the two theories, they differ in two important ways in their implications for the philosophy of modality. For Kripke and Plantinga, however, modal concepts are sui generis , indefinable or having only definitions that appeal to other modal concepts.

Secondly, Lewis's theory implies a kind of anti-realism concerning modality de re. Socrates, therefore, may well have non-human counterparts under one counterpart relation and no non-human counterparts under another. And the choice of a counterpart relation is a pragmatic or interest-relative choice. But on the KP theory, it is an entirely objective question whether Socrates fails to be human in some world in which he exists: the answer must be Yes or No and is independent of human choices and interests.

Whatever one may think of these theories when one considers them in their own right as theories of modality, as theories with various perhaps objectionable ontological commitments , one must concede that they are paradigmatically metaphysical theories. They bear witness to the resurgence of metaphysics in analytical philosophy in the last third of the twentieth century.

Long before the theory of relativity represented space and time as aspects of or abstractions from a single entity, spacetime, philosophers saw space and time as intimately related. Kant, for example, treated space and time in his Transcendental Aesthetic as things that should be explained by a single, unified theory. And his theory of space and time, revolutionary though it may have been in other respects, was in this respect typical of philosophical accounts of space and time. As one can ask whether there could be two extended objects that were not spatially related to each other, one can ask whether there could be two events that were not temporally related to each other.

One can ask whether space is a a real thing—a substance—a thing that exists independently of its inhabitants, or b a mere system of relations among those inhabitants. And one can ask the same question about time. But there are also questions about time that have no spatial analogues—or at least no obvious and uncontroversial analogues.

There are, for example, questions about the grounds of various asymmetries between the past and the future—why is our knowledge of the past better than our knowledge of the future? There do not seem to be objective asymmetries like this in space. In one way of thinking about time, there is a privileged temporal direction marking the difference between the past, present, and future. Times change from past to present to future, giving rise to passage.

Presentist A-theorists, like Prior , deny that the past or future have any concrete reality. Presentists typically think of the past and future as, at best, akin to abstract possible worlds—they are the way the world was or will be, just as possible worlds are ways the actual world could be. Other A-theorists, like Sullivan , hold that the present is metaphysically privileged but deny that there is any ontological difference between the past, present, and future. More generally, A-theorists often incorporate strategies from modal metaphysics into their theories about the relation of the past and the future to the present.

According to B-theories of time, the only fundamental distinction we should draw is that some events and times are earlier or later relative to others. According to the B-theorists, there is no objective passage of time, or at least not in the sense of time passing from future to present and from present to past. B-theorists typically maintain that all past and future times are real in the same sense in which the present time is real—the present is in no sense metaphysically privileged. It is also true, and less often remarked on, that space raises philosophical questions that have no temporal analogues—or at least no obvious and uncontroversial analogues.

Why, for example, does space have three dimensions and not four or seven? On the face of it, time is essentially one-dimensional and space is not essentially three-dimensional. It also seems that the metaphysical problems about space that have no temporal analogues depend on the fact that space, unlike time, has more than one dimension. For example, consider the problem of incongruent counterparts: those who think space is a mere system of relations struggled to explain our intuition that we could distinguish a world containing only a left hand from a world containing only a right hand.

So it seems there is an intuitive orientation to objects in space itself. It is less clear whether the problems about time that have no spatial analogues are connected with the one-dimensionality of time.

Our Universities

Finally, one can raise questions about whether space and time are real at all—and, if they are real, to what extent so to speak they are real. Or was McTaggart's position the right one: that space and time are wholly unreal? If these problems about space and time belong to metaphysics only in the post-Medieval sense, they are nevertheless closely related to questions about first causes and universals. First causes are generally thought by those who believe in them to be eternal and non-local.

God, for example—both the impersonal God of Aristotle and the personal God of Medieval Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophy—is generally said to be eternal, and the personal God is said to be omnipresent. Even if by means of nature the conclusion is reached that God is, there is no means of bridging the gulf separating man from God. It is at this point that Being or God must be viewed as personal. Anything less than personal could not communicate with man, nor man with it. Christians claim that the Incarnation event gives a way in which man can come to know Being.

God became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. He was true-God and true-man. He was the embodiment of the visible and invisible. He combines the temporal and the eternal. Granting this view as an explanation, one is able to have a knowledge about God who seeks, who reveals himself.

In summary, man's search for being has lead to various conclusions. Philosophers with a restricted scientific outlook have been satisfied to stop at nature. Others have found this empty and have sought a spiritual dimension to the world. Yet others in the Christian tradition have not only argued for a spiritual dimension, but have felt that ultimate reality can be known only in the way of Incarnation. There is no single book to which you can point as you do to Euclid, and say: This is metaphysics; here you can find the noblest object of this science, the knowledge of a highest Being, and of a future existence, proved from principles of pure reason.

The influence of Kant has been strong in dissuading metaphysical activity. But the last phrase would be inapplicable to those who seek a religious metaphysics. The Bible does not attempt to "prove from principles of pure reason. Here is where you find out about the Highest Being and a future Existence. If it is not in the last alternative, then philosophy per se has not taught it, nor has it the tools to do so. We seem to be shut up to some alternative: either we know Being by means of self-revelation, or we are pushed toward meager or skeptical knowledge about being. If I could come to the edge of space, would I be able to stick my arm through it or not?

If I could not, what would prevent my doing it? If I could, then, have I come to the end of space. This question was raised in antiquity by Archytas, a Pythagorean. His questions are profound since it is quite difficult to view space as either finite or infinite. Equally difficult is the question of the nature of space. Is space something? Filled space obviously has something in it, but what is empty space. Space as a term refers to several meanings. Conceptual space is the space of geometry. It exists when man thinks about it, and ceases when he stops thinking.

Perceptual space is related to our sense of touch and sight. A man sees a new car parked by the curb and then walks over and views it closely. In the process he traverses space and experiences a three-dimensional perception of an object in space. Physical space is the space dealt within astronomy and physics. It is described as public space which can be measured by all observers.

Absolute space is a Newtonian concept that there are unmovable measuring points on the edge of the universe. The appearance and acceptance of Einstein's theory of relativity made absolute space an obsolete idea. Three different issues exist for us to treat briefly. What is space? Is space Infinite? What is curved space? First, what is space? Early thinkers conceived of space in terms of something called ether, a substance through which light travels like a fish needs water to get from one part of the pond to another.

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Ether was conceived as necessary since a vacuum is a relatively late discovery. Another analogy used for space was that of a container. This illustrates where you place a chair in a room, in that "space" by the window. On a larger scale, space is what the world is in. But in neither of these cases is space really defined. Nor does it appear to be possible to give such a definition. It was difficult for early philosophers to conceive of empty space, for how can one talk about a "nothing. Later, philosophers beginning with Descartes spoke of space and extension as being identical.

Objects could be measured for their extension. Take away the object from that particular space and the dimensions are still measurably "there. For Descartes, space was objective. Later, for Kant, space was regarded as subjective, that is, that space is a product of the mind rather than as a result of "experiencing" space as a result of sensory perception.

Space is imposed on objects. Perhaps the problem of definition centers on trying to make space a thing. Things go in space, but space is not a thing. Space is unique, one of a kind. Then, if space is not a thing, we must think of it as a relationship between things. As such it is depth, width, and length.

Second, is space finite or not? Given the definition of space so far, we can say that philosophers of antiquity as well as those up to the 20th century have held both views--that space is infinite and finite. The Greek atomists, Democritus and Lucretius, among others, believed that space was infinite.

Gorgias, an ancient skeptic, was the first to argue that space was finite. Neither of these conceptions are imaginable. What would the boundaries of space be? Infinite space seems to be the easier of the two ideas because we don't have to imagine what boundaries of space would be like, and what would be on the other side. As far as modern data goes we can only talk about stellar bodies that are on the edge of our telescopic distance. The infinity of space has implications for the idea of curved space. Space is no longer conceived as a linear movement infinitely away from a point.

Space is now described as curved. Albert Einstein has contributed to new ideas in space theory in terms of his theory of relativity. This removes the idea of linear infinite space from being meaningful. A misleading, but useful analogy may help the novice to understand the idea of the curvature of space. The planet earth does not move in a straight line. Its orbit circles around the sun. Why is there a circular orbit of the planets? The old answer is that the gravitational pull of the sun keeps the planets in orbit. However, on the modern theory of Einstein the planets circle because the phenomenon of gravity is "merely the effect of the curvature of the four-dimensional space-time world.

The other part of the question, about time, may be similarly outlined as in space. Conceptual times relates to the "abstract attempts to study time and motion. Perceptual time is the time experienced by a person as he encounters the events of the day one after another. Physical time is the public measuring device as reflected in the repetition of the earth in orbit which may be subdivided into months or days or the movement of the pendulum.

Absolute time is the mate to the absolute space as proposed by Newton who assumed that a universal time exists that was stable very much like absolute space. What is time then? The early Greeks thought of time in relation to motion. Aristotle wrote, "And so motion, too, is continuous in the same manner as time is; for either motion and time are the same, or time is an attribute of motion. On these grounds, time is also linked to matter. If there were not matter in motion, there would be no time. Hence Plato and others viewed time as subordinate to eternity and only semi-real.

Augustine, famous for the question, "What is time? Later, Kant also regarded time as subjective but in the sense that the mind organizes experiences in sequential order. Contemporary philosophers tend to reject the idea that time is an entity that moves, or that it is through time viewed as an entity that one moves. Time is not like a river that flows from point to point. This is why time is difficult to measure if it is regarded as real. Is there an absolute beginning point for time? If one answers that time has always been, then there is no beginning point or a point of departure for measuring it.

If one cannot speak of time as an entity, or time flowing like the analogy of a river, what is proposed to replace such descriptions? The answer is: time is a way of describing before and after events with reference to our speech. The phrase "token-reflection" is used to describe what is meant here. A token is a statement or utterance. Reflection refers to oneself or the statement that is made by one. If I say Harry Truman was elected president of the U. Past or future are in reference to the present statement.

Thus, there is no entity called time. It is used with relating events in terms of their chronological order. When I say that I have lived 46 years, there is a superficial time sequence involved, but these resolve down to periodic changing of the seasons, a series of events relating to growing up, older, and progressing to changes in my body. But time as a thing does not exist.

The conclusion of the event-experience approach to time is that when I no longer experience events, I am dead. There is another dimension to time's subjectivity. If I am in a hurry and have to wait quite a while in the doctor's office, time appears to "move" slowly, while if I am enjoying a victorious ping pong tournament, "time" goes so rapidly I hardly notice that the hour for the evening meal has come. Translated into the previous terminology, the delay in the doctor's office keeps me from the next event, while the ping pong game is filled with a continuation of events.

There is yet another sense in which time is used. One may say, "Time is heavy on my hands and I would rather die. My life has been wretched by its events, or my life has been filled with wonderful events.

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We can now consider an idea that has the mystery of space fiction. When we put space, with length, height, and width, and time together we get the fourth dimension. The added dimension can be seen in the following example:. An army plane lost in the fog crashed into the 79th floor wall of the Empire State Building at 35th St.

Albert Einstein He is best known for his theory of relativity set forth in when he was only There's a story about how Albert Einstein was traveling to universities in a chauffeur-driven car, delivering lectures on his theory of relativity. One day while in transit, the chauffeur remarked: "Dr. Einstein, I've heard you deliver that lecture about 30 times. I know it by heart and bet I could give it myself. When he finished, he started to leave, but one of the professors stopped him and asked a complex question filled with mathematical equations and formulas.

The chauffeur thought fast. In fact, to show you just how simple it is, I'm going to ask my chauffeur to come up here and answer your question. This example gives a very simple application of time to the other three dimensions. But there is a more complicated application. It is used in physics and astronomy when travel is related to the speed of light. In fact, starting from Earth right after breakfast, you will just feel ready for lunch when your ship lands on one of the Sirius planets.

If you are in a hurry, and start home right after lunch, you will, in all probability, be back on Earth in time for dinner. But, and here you will get a big surprise if you have forgotten the laws of relativity, you will find on arriving home that your friends and relatives have given you up as lost in the interstellar spaces and have eaten dinners without you. Because you were traveling at a speed close to that of light, 18 terrestrial years have appeared to you as one day.

If one could travel at a speed faster than the speed of light, it should theoretically turn back the clock. Gamow has a limerick:. There was a young girl named Miss Bright Who could travel much faster than light, She departed one day In an Einsteinian way And came back on the previous night. But the truth of the issue seems to be that, now, nothing material can travel with the speed of light. It must also be remembered, if truth relates to verification, then all that we have said about space-time is pure theory.

Any rocket ship that could accelerate to the speed of light would need enormous amounts of fuel, not to mention a fantastic technology to create such an engine. Although time, space, and space-time have interests for philosophers as well as scientists they are not as close to human existence as our next metaphysical issue. The question of purpose or teleology in the world needs careful examination and definition. No one will deny that there are "small" purposes in the world.

A student may declare, "My purpose in life is to make money. But is that student's life related to any better or greater purpose in the cosmos? To come at the question another way, does purpose really exist? Is purpose something that anybody can make up without any relationship to a larger or cosmic purpose? When a man lives decently, morally, and justly all of his life, often against the milieu of society, does this have meaning beyond his own human achievement?

Is the universe in any sense a moral or purposive universe? Obviously, the question cannot be answered from observing matter only. There appears to be nothing morally purposive anywhere except in the human community. If man's moral purposiveness is to be related anywhere, it must be found above him rather than below him.

So what about it? Is there purpose, teleology a Greek word for goal or end or design that seems to penetrate to the core of the universe regardless of where you look for it? It is easy to conclude that the world does seem teleologically oriented. The cosmos--from the atom to the solar system--is a world of complexity that is orderly, precarious in balance, magnificent in relationship, much of it scientifically explicable, but awesome on any grounds.

Granting this, the real problem comes: so what? What will be concluded from the world's design and harmony? This is where the argument begins. Note the following problems:. From Aristotle to Aquinas as well as to modern philosophers, thinkers have argued that the design and purpose in the world is the expression of a designer which may be called God. Paley used two examples among others, to reach his conclusion: a watch and the eye. When an intelligent man picks up a watch--as he examines it--he is led to the conclusion that its craftmanship and intricacy were the result of a purpose.

Paley argued that there cannot be a design without a designer. Everything about the watch leads to this conclusion. The same conclusion was reached in the second example, the eye. Paley knew nothing about the theory of evolution in his day, but he would probably have agreed with the argument used by Edgar Brightman who wrote concerning the marvels of the eye:.

When one takes into account the fact that the eye is a complex organ, that each part of it is adjusted to the function of the whole, and that the parts are useless except in combination, it is difficult to understand the result on a mechanistic basis. If the developed eye is the outcome of gradual successive variations, there is no explanation of why the rudimentary variations would survive before all of the necessary variations had occurred in combination.

Or if it is the outcome of a sudden mutation, there is no explanation of why all the necessary parts should appear at once in mutual coordination. On either horn of the dilemma, the similarity of structure and function in the two types of eye is an effect without an adequate cause, a mysterious miracle.

There is no explanation unless it is granted that there is at work in nature a power that is non-mechanistic and that realizes ends. The conclusion is that there is some power or intelligence in the world that realizes ends or goals. Moving beyond Paley and the modern illustrations of Paley's point by Brightman, there are two other kinds of examples and arguments that have been used for the conclusion that a designer exists. Purpose in this sense deals with planning for and achieving goals in the future. The future is contemplated in the form of "if this, then that," or "if not this, then that.

Light is an example. Traveling at l86, miles a second, light is uniform everywhere. Light can be artificially slowed down, and then after it passes through a slowed state, it picks up its original speed. Why is this? One might say merely that that's the way it is. But why light behaves this way might also point to rationality in the cosmos, and hence design. The idea of purpose is rather alien to the scientific community.

Cause and effect have had a large place in the science while the question of why, or an ultimate cause, has had little place. Why is there a world? Why is there life? These questions cannot be answered by looking at only parts of the cosmos. An auto has many parts working in a mechanical relation. Each part works but makes little sense apart from the purpose of the machine which transcends the parts.

The purpose is beyond the parts working in harmony. The fact seems to be that once there was no life. Then the world seemed prepared for life. Was it merely chance? Or was there loaded dice and a "cheater" somewhere rolling? It appears to make more sense that the world was prepared and shaped for life. So the modern ecologist seems to be saying.

If we don't act intelligently--pursue the seeming design and harmony in nature--we are going to destroy ourselves. Purposiveness seems to relate to the fabric of human existence in another way. Victor Frankl has done much with his use of logotheraphy for people with problems. People have mental crises because they have no purpose. The will to purpose has become a key difference between living and dying. While Frankl does not conclude that God is the cause of the purpose, yet purpose has more meaning if it is related to God.

Serving mankind is purposive activity, but one may do this and yet conclude that "life is a tale told by an idiot" and without meaning. But serving mankind has significant purpose in that it is related to the total meaning of life as proposed by God. The argument doesn't say. All that is necessary is that the designer be sufficiently powerful and intelligent to get the job done. But the presumption is that the Designer is all-wise, infinite in power and goodness, and has done the work well. If the designer is infinite, certain objections are raised against this conclusion.

However, if the world were infinite, then an infinite cause could be required. Thus the question becomes one related to physics and astronomy, as well as the argument from cause and effect. The tacit assumption is that this world is either perfect or all good. But there appears to be evil in the cosmos and this needs an explanation. The argument doesn't deal with the matter of evil.

One might argue that the Creator or Designer is both good and evil, or indifferent. It is also conceivable that some things called evil may ultimately be found to be good, but the argument doesn't provide for this problem. David Hume raised various objections against the teleological argument such as the analogy of a bungling carpenter who does his work with a bit of trial and error.

The objection of the lack of perfection in the world stands in contrast to the perfection of the Designer. If the Designer is perfect, what has happened to the world? This leads to other questions. Was the world once perfect and then corrupted? This may be a possibility. But philosophically, all that we can now say is that it is not a perfect world as we understand the world, and there is yet considerable design manifested in it. One may seek a solution by an appeal to religious viewpoints, namely, that the world has been corrupted by sin from a once perfect state, but philosophically, the argument by itself has some problems.

If the option that the world reflects a finite designer be maintained, the fact still holds that there is design. We can argue over the degrees of design, or the relative perfection of the designer rather than the absence of design totally. The ideas of purposeness may not be infinite but yet be a major fabric of the cosmos. The finite designer conclusion tends to cast aspersions on the idea of God. But in spite of this, even if this conclusion were accepted, an enormous intelligence is expressed in the cosmos.


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Consider the enormous amount of knowledge that we know about the cosmos. Contemplate the future discoveries that man will make. A being who designed the world would have to be enormously precocious. It would not require too much of a leap of faith to conclude for infinite intelligence. This is especially true in light of the unknown "knowledge" of the future that shall be uncovered. If what we know reflects finite intelligences, the limit of our knowledge makes it possible to consider infinite intelligence.

But even if we do this, we have yet to come with an explanation for the difficult question of the presence of evil in the world that has purpose. In fact, the case against teleology almost boils down to one argument, the existence of evil. There are other arguments against teleology, but they are insignificant in comparison to the problem of evil.

For example, l it is argued that teleology is a human projection on the experience of man in the world rather than a valid conclusion drawn from the world. Admittedly, there are people who fantasize and live in a world all their own, but is this true for the common core of people who are quite realistic in their life styles and beliefs? To say that man generally projects would require a general psychological study of man. No such study has been done. Moreover, if it were found true that men did project their feelings on the world, this would require an adequate explanation.

Is man's mind so framed that he sees purpose where none exists? This would raise the credibility of the rest of his knowledge. Does man generally come to acknowledge teleology because he is driven to that conclusion because of the actual possibility of seeing a teleology in the world? What is an adequate explanation for man's projection of purpose if it could be proven to be mere psychological projection? Instead of design and teleology, we now have with Darwin the ideas of natural selection.

Some organisms are better adapted to survive than others. This survival value is not due to any Creator or Designer. The wide acceptance of evolution is due, in part, to the rejection of non-tangible explanations such as a Designer or God. Darwinism alone does not abolish teleology. The problem of the origin of life, arising from inorganic to organic, has yet to be solved adequately.

But explanations based on genetics and mutations themselves may be seen as expressions of complex rationality. Adaptation may likewise be viewed from the standpoint of teleology as well as the struggle for existence. In reality we have come to substituting words for the same ideas. We may say that "nature has equipped Canadian geese to fly south with the coming of winter.

Nature sounds more scientific and less mystical, but nature offers no explanation. But "nature has equipped" says the same as "God has equipped" but in reality is not as meaningful, for nature does not have intelligence whereas God is supposed to have it. The problem may be whether one believes in God or not. At this juncture we turn to the real problem of maintaining belief in purpose, the problem of evil. If we are informed by ancient philosophy we are faced with the following alternatives:.

If God is good and all-powerful, there should be no evil. Since there is evil, either God is not all-good, or all-powerful. This has led some to say that evil brings one to atheism, or a rejection of God completely. Others have argued that God is good, but not all-powerful. God struggles against evil and will one day overcome it.

But the quotation above bears some closer examination. Take the phrase "all-powerful. Under its philosophical meaning there have been debates over questions like: "Can God make a square circle. Can God make something to exist and non-exist at the same time? Can God make an object so big He couldn't pick it up? But who is this God of the argument? How does philosophy come to a knowledge of an all-powerful, all-good God? For example, a religious view of God based on revelation would require a meaningful sense of rationality attributed to God, not a sense of absurdity and contradiction.

God is said to be rational and in a context of rationality the absurd is not seriously considered. In this there is truth in Pascal's statement that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the God of revelation is not the God of the philosophers.