I recently enrolled in a philosophy course in university wherein the class was introduced by the professor (who is a metaphysician) who explained that philosophers like Kant, Hume, Locke, Hegel, and so on, were "all just bad philosophers." His reasons for saying this (according to him) was that their arguments were not communicated in a sufficient clear form (i.e. using the toolbox of a modern metaphysician).

I have also heard metaphysicians talk about how "everything we do is really just metaphysics" - and other such statements that sound self-important.

My question is: What is the reason for this apparent chauvinism on the part of metaphysicians? Are such assertions even justified?

  • Your professor may feel on the defensive (given the general regard for metaphysics nowadays) and compensate? :) – Drux Feb 4 '17 at 20:30
  • Maybe you could define "metaphysician" as it's not clear what specifically this term refers to. The other approach one could take would be to speak about specific people and their exact statements, where it's easy to break down the logic specific to a statement or proposition or claim. Otherwise we're speaking merely to generalizations and anecdotes. – ClearMountainWay Feb 5 '17 at 0:55

Metaphysics has always been the grandest ambition of philosophers. To establish a rational deep view of the world, a view about which philosophers in particular will be the experts, rather than other scientists, professionals or scholars. Therefore it is only natural, for one who has come to believe in the possibility of grand-style metaphysics, to view all other philosophical endeavours as pale in comparison. Now since the late 19th century especially, metaphysics has come under severe criticism, mainly from within philosophy itself. It is a sad criticism, though, for without metaphysics, philosophy remains necessarily crippled.

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The example of your professor's opinion is anecdotal — why would you generalize it into the elitism of an entire field?

Kant is indeed notoriously hard to read. If I remember correctly he even apologizes for it in the introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason.

Also a statement such as "everything we do is really just metaphysics" could be interpreted as a benign case of the law of the instrument:

I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.

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