A brood comb

….philosophical and other notes….

Why Sacrifice the Bad Metaphysics, When You can Sacrifice Reason?

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on September 12, 2007

Can you recognize the following scheme?

1.Have a bad metaphysics
2.Interpret the scientific results through the prism of this metaphysics
3.Deny that you have metaphysics, but think of the interpretation as the result of the science itself.
4.When the resulting metaphysical picture doesn’t make sense, blame the reason itself!

By bad metaphysics I think here of the metaphysics where what is taken as ground of all phenomena is little self-subsistent particles, with their self-subsistent properties existing in the self-subsisting space-time container, and where some self-subsistent physical laws (which are seen as more or less arbitrary, so that it is just matter of some incident that they are such as they are) control what happens with the former.
The combination of this metaphysics with the empirical results has given us all kind of strange results in Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, which are said to be “unintuitive”.

And instead of being critical of this “invisible” metaphysics, what is done?

It is said that evolution tends to select useful traits. Our faculty of reason is nothing more than such a trait. It is selected for reasons which are connected to our staying alive and reproducing in particular environments, so we are not to expect that it is infallible and if something doesn’t make sense to us (even under our ideal reasoning), doesn’t mean that it is impossible in reality. We are not to wonder why we get weird results “from science”.

So, instead blaming bad thinking, we are to blame the thinking in general!

I’ve quoted Hegel on this once, by I think it is worth repeating:

At present, students of nature who are anxious to avoid metaphysics turn a favorable ear to Atomism. But it is not possible to escape metaphysics and cease to trace nature back to terms of thought, by throwing ourselves into the arms of Atomism. The atom, in fact, is itself a thought; and hence the theory which holds matter to consist of atoms is a metaphysical theory.[…] The real question is not whether we shall apply metaphysics, but whether our metaphysics are of the right kind.

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4 Responses to “Why Sacrifice the Bad Metaphysics, When You can Sacrifice Reason?”

  1. gnox said

    One of my favorite C.S. Peirce quotes is relevant here:
    “Whether we have an antimetaphysical metaphysics or a pro-metaphysical metaphysics, a metaphysics we are sure to have. And the less pains we take with it, the more crudely metaphysical it will be” (EP1, 108).

  2. Lovely! :)

  3. Also Berkeley, from the introduction to the Treatise:

    II. The cause of this is thought to be the Obscurity of things, or the natural Weakness and Imperfection of our Understandings. It is said the Faculties we have are few, and those designed by Nature for the Support and Comfort of Life, and not to penetrate into the inward Essence and Constitution of Things. Besides, the Mind of Man being Finite, when it treats of Things which partake of Infinity, it is not to be wondered at, if it run into Absurdities and Contradictions; out of which it is impossible it should ever extricate it self, it being of the nature of Infinite not to be comprehended by that which is Finite.

    III. But perhaps we may be too partial to our selves in placing the Fault originally in our Faculties, and not rather in the wrong use we make of them. […] Upon the whole, I am inclined to think that the far greater Part, if not all, of those Difficulties which have hitherto amus’d Philosophers, and block’d up the way to Knowledge, are intirely owing to our selves. That we have first rais’d a Dust, and then complain, we cannot see.

  4. Yea, of little faith. Did not Jesus walk upon the water? Shall we sacrifice God for the sake of reason? Do you deny miracles because you are want for knowledge? What is missing can not be counted, and you- lacking all knowledge are short of the measure.

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