Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Conversation on Metaphysics with a materialist

Conversation on Metaphysics with a materialist

( Part of a Linkedin discussion thread with Mr. Luca De Ioanna,Business Intelligence Metadata Manager at Vodafone ( November 2013) at ‘New Philosophy Network’

Original discussion initiated by Luca: 1. whatever exists, it has some properties or traits

2. we know of physical (natural/artificial) objects and logical objects (ideas, concepts)

3. some people believe in another class of objects: real, but not just mental, but not physical: those are metaphysical objects (gods, spirits, fairies, etc)

Intend to show that those objects of class 3 are impossible.

(All the following questions were raised by Luca, and answers by ‘conscience of the society’)

What does it mean for an object to exist as metaphysical? :

Luca, you appear caught up in a narrow and rigid notion that ‘metaphysical’ means and concerns only with religious imageries like fairies, Gods and spirits, whereas the word simply means ‘whatever is beyond or after ‘physical’ or physics’. Aristotle said to have attempted a chapter on knowledge beyond the scope of physics, and he always referred to it later-on, as his chapter that he kept, or attempted after his chapters on Physics, as ‘meta’ in Greek means ‘after or beyond’.

In the due course of etymology, the word ‘metaphysics’ has evolved to mean any subject that deals with speculations or intuitive knowledge about matters beyond direct observation, ie. not based on scientific principles. From those ancient times till the present day, a general impression prevailed that no complete explanation of life and existence is possible within the scope and principles of physical sciences.     

So, the very formation of your discussion thread is on very shaky, and even naive ground, especially after science’s latest finding that even ‘matter’, the supposed building block of the universe is ‘metaphysical’ in every sense ! In other words, even whatever was known earlier as ‘physical’ too now stands ‘metaphysical’, leaving the difference between the two inconsistent.  

Let us find-out what some senior men of science say about the subject.

“ The ‘bootstrap hypothesis’ ( a latest finding of physics that everything is interrelated in the world) not only denies the existence of fundamental constituent of matter, but accepts no fundamental entities whatsoever-no fundamental laws, equation or principle-and thus abandons another idea which has been an essential part of natural science for hundreds of years’…the idea (b/s)although fascinating and useful, is unscientific…science, as we know it, requires a language based on some unquestioned framework. Semantically, therefore, an attempt to explain all concepts can hardly be called ‘scientific’. ( Fritjof Capra’s book ‘Tao of Physics’- p.305)

I have already explained to you in my previous posts about the ‘dance of sub-atomic particles with no predictable pattern’ at the sub-atomic particle world. Science is at the verge of abandoning the base notion that it could study physical matter as an objective something that stands out ‘there’ in space. Nothing can be said as fully external to us, explainable to tilt as a typical object in the world. Such an exercise is impossible without taking into consideration the role of man- the observer also in an unavoidable role as participant in the ‘event’. So, the old stark difference between physical and metaphysical is wading.

But for practical purposes, we could categorize the objects and realities that are in the immediate range of our sense organs about which we are  more accustomed and familiar as physical, and those objects and relations far away from the immediate range of our sense organs that needs contemplation and deeper understanding as ‘metaphysical’. As man doesn’t have any specific organ to get direct knowledge about this realm, science and religions merely speculate, and make imaginary ‘models’ about it. We have already seen great living scientist Stephen Hawking frankly admitting that what science does is only making of ‘models’ of such concept of reality of the whole existence, while ‘breaking the whole up into bits and invent a number of partial theories’ ( A brief history of time,p.12) 

 The pursuits of science as well as religion are now controlled by self-interested, and highly institutionalized socio-political, religious and economic forces in our world. While science has become a plain and naked pursuit of military and industrial power by nations and corporate houses, totally abandoning its ‘pure-knowledge’ angle, religions are controlled or sponsored by equally self-interested, and fully commercialized religious bodies. So, common men like you and me have no control over the images, myths and tales both groups freely unleash in the modern world.

So, common man on the street can still keep his old images and notions about metaphysical as different from ‘physical, but the men of wider knowledge and mind can not still keep those old distinctions sharp and alive.     

What kind of properties would a metaphysical world have? : As explained at my previous posts, man’s tools of knowing and experiencing life are presumably meant both for observing physical and metaphysical. But as on today, mainstream acceptance is there only for those tools meant for observing and understanding physical reality. That is the reason why you are in this thread, demanding to brand everything ‘not-physical’ as impossible !

Every man’s inherent sense of reason always murmurs that nature must have kept knowing tools for understanding metaphysical realities too within his psychic reach.

Regarding the properties of metaphysical world, you must open up to accept that the five known categories ( or properties) of existence that we sense through eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue may not be the entire spectrum of all the ‘categories’ of existence ! There could be many more hidden categories beyond our known five, and such not yet known, but presumably existing  ‘categories’ might be  the properties of the metaphysical world. The realm of metaphysics is the realm of CAUSES, or the realm of ‘essence’*, (* see full explanation of this division at the para below) as what we perceive with our five senses now is the realm of the ‘effects’ or structure. Reality of these two divisions( cause-effect and structure-essence) are ‘self-evident’ to every man of mind.

What could be known about it? 
It is due to the impossibility of knowing everything about life and existence that science create only ‘models’ of possible reality. But every genuinely open minded man gets the feeling that if there is any reality other than the ‘physical’ that our external senses perceives, there could be a not yet recognized hidden knowing organ/apparatus too within, that could one day provide the entire mankind with some knowledge about such
reality too !

Such knowledge could be a knowledge about the ultimate predilection, or predisposition of  existence, basically and logically an emotion, or a ‘drive’ that has prompted the whole existence to come to being ! If the ‘whole’ could be considered as a *‘structural’ whole, as it is self evident to man’s sense of reason, it might have been backed by an ‘essence’ too, as it is in the case with every object or phenomenon known in the overt world. This structure-essence relation appears more profound than the already accepted paradigm of ‘causality’. In the case of causality, it is to be noted that what we usually attribute as ‘cause’, in most of the cases, is only the event ‘prior’ the next event in question, in a set sequence. It is na├»ve to attribute the ‘cause’ status to every event in a chain that happens in a sequence. Eg. Formation of cloud is only a prior event before rain, and not the cause of the rain.

As man is able to directly experience such predilections or predispositions of other people, such as love, anger, disgust etc, without any known, specific organ within, that experience such emotions, presumably he could be bestowed with appropriate organ within, to experience the existential predilection too. Please give serous attention to the claim of many religions that God is Love, probably after sensing that emotion as the base predilection or predisposition of existence.

Please appreciate that understanding or experiencing the predilection of an entity or an object is the ultimate knowledge about it. A very graphic knowledge about your facial and body features and structure is zero knowledge about you. But knowing your predilection is  what one could claim as complete knowledge about you.

The subject of knowing about metaphysical reality has no mainstream acceptance and recognition today, due to the over relevance of industry and politics in modern world. If science admits into its realm matters of metaphysics too, with deserving acceptance and recognition, it is quite possible that like today’s routine scientific data, our future generations might  discuss metaphysical subjects too in the mainstream.  

Could there be a meta-metaphysical world? or a para/hypo/hyper physical world?: We can confidently answer in affirmation. Based on the detailed discussion above, the apparent world of physics is not something self-consistent. It is more like a shadow, whose real object is hidden from our present realm of knowledge.

But the fairies, Gods, spirits etc, the typical objects that religious people usually keep as part of their ‘model’ might be as speculative and unreal as the stories and speculations of science too, such as Big bang, or the origin of life for the first time from a chance physical event etc. In strict logical sense, such items of both camps are mere imagination.

Are you aware of the fact that Not all linguistic constructions have a valid reference in the real world (like the square circle, the unicorn, and so on) This question is far too different from any question on metaphysics. This belongs to the philosophy of language.

I think that real world, and the synthetic world of language, are two different entities. While the body lives in the real, physical world, man has this unique world of ideas, images, imageries, values, emotions, stories and myths too, where his ‘self’ lives. This self is basically a spirit, not directly observable by any sense organ. Its reality comes forth to the understanding of the other person after continuous period of interaction. The simplest definition of a spirit is that it is a real entity perceivable by other minds, but not a typical object of the sense organs. While you can see me and touch my physical body, you can not see and touch my base personality, unique predispostion or predilection that makes my ultimate reality. My bodily features are merely my structure.

 While roads, trees, bridges, airports and sky-scrapers exist in real world, the other objects exist in his mind-world, where his self, or the ego lives. There he may find the smile of his sweet heart ‘sweet’ or ‘heavenly’, a place he lives equal to hell, and a thousands other similar imageries that he lives with, as real as the objects in his physical world. It is this entity of man, man with his mind, that indulge in scientific and philosophic seeking of truth, writing of poetry, making great sculptures and monuments, make war for honor and pride,  die for one’ love, and desire to travel to moon and mars. It says man’s every reality always preceded by a fitting imagination. So, there might be thousands of such objects and imageries in man’s mind-world with no corresponding, valid references in the real world.

Take the Big-bang theory for example. We do not know for sure whether there was one. Is it not similar to fairies and unicorn ? Big-bang is proposed by the representatives of a respected discipline today- science. While Church was holding such chairs of respect and authority in the world, scientists like Galileo were reprimanded and punished for proposing that earth is orbiting the sun and not otherwise. Matters of truth and reality could be matters of collective authority also, over knowledge and opinions !   

When materialists accuse the men of faith and religion that their faith is due to fear factor, they suppress and ignore the fact that their being in the other camp is also motivated by the desire to be in a stronger and prestigious company ! ( of science )!

Why would there be a world beyond the physical? Do we have any logical reason or empirical evidence to argue in that way? The first question is something you yourself could ponder over for the remaining tenure of your life, like a true seeker ! This was the perennial question that the world, from the very beginning was pondering over all these centuries and millenniums !

We have already discussed the irrefutable reality of such a world, (metaphysical) as physics or any other science could-not make any full account of the phenomenon of life and existence. Our mind mechanism, unfortunately is capable of perceiving such a wholesome reality,and is well aware that the explanation of science is grossly incomplete. This faculty of our mind, that senses the disorder, or the incompleteness of our knowledge and explanations, is the most enigmatic sign of man’s intelligence; otherwise, like any other animal, he could have spent lives here on the strength of our blind bodily instincts alone !

Logical reasons are 'predominantly' based on our past experiences and established relations. We have no precedence of something like our own life and existence, as they are ( the metaphysical causes behind life) prior to the very life and existence. So there is no question of solving this issue on known and accepted forms of logic or reason. The not-yet identified role of our faculty of reason has been depicted in length at our blog link:

An interesting 'model' answer to your important question ( why metaphysical ?) may be found at blog: ( para: HOW EGOES ARE OBJECTIVE REALITIES ?) The said blog explains why there is phenomena and egos.But it indirectly hints at the 'why' question of metaphysics behind the phenomena.  

You and me, and thousands of others using these discussion threads to share our minds, and seek more and more knowledge because, we find life incomplete in many respects. The urge for order, perfection and light of knowledge is the curse of man, and that of man alone.

So, please come out of the intellectual dungeon that claims science has already solved every question that man could ask, and there is no mystery unsolved about life and existence. No senior scientific mind has ever kept such fallacious conclusion. The more science knows about life and existence, the more there remains to be known and understood.  

This awareness about the incompleteness of our knowledge should only add an element of ‘wonder’ into our lives, and enrich it for good !  It is the coming closer to reality.

Abraham.J.Palakudy ( Founder)
Conscience of the society
A philosophic non-profit that undertake freelance research and studies into faculty of reason etc.