Manual The Nature of Metaphysical Thinking

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Aristotle was not indifferent to factual material either in natural or in metaphysical philosophy, but equally he was not concerned in either case to frame theories for empirical testing.

The Nature of Metaphysical Thinking

It is also evident that the connection marked in the original titles is a genuine one: the inquiries about nature carried out in the Physica lead on naturally to the more fundamental inquiries about Being as such that are taken up in the Metaphysica and indeed go along with the latter to make up a single philosophical discipline.

Plato, following the early Greek philosopher Parmenides , who is known as the father of metaphysics , had sought to distinguish opinion, or belief , from knowledge and to assign distinct objects to each.

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Opinion, for Plato, was a form of apprehension that was shifting and unclear, similar to seeing things in a dream or only through their shadows; its objects were correspondingly unstable. Knowledge, by contrast, was wholly lucid; it carried its own guarantee against error, and the objects with which it was concerned were eternally what they were, and so were exempt from change and the deceptive power to appear to be what they were not. Plato called the objects of opinion phenomena , or appearances ; he referred to the objects of knowledge as noumena objects of the intelligence or quite simply as realities.

The education of the Platonic philosopher consisted precisely in effecting this transition: he was taught to recognize the contradictions involved in appearances and to fix his gaze on the realities that lay behind them, the realities that Plato himself called Forms, or Ideas. Philosophy for Plato was thus a call to recognize the existence and overwhelming importance of a set of higher realities that ordinary men—even those, like the Sophists of the time, who professed to be enlightened—entirely ignored.

Metaphysics of Science | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

That there were such realities, or at least that there was a serious case for thinking that there were, was a fundamental tenet in the discipline that later became known as metaphysics. Conversely, much of the subsequent controversy about the very possibility of metaphysics has turned on the acceptability of this tenet and on whether, if it is rejected, some alternative foundation can be discovered on which the metaphysician can stand. Article Media.


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