Questions tagged [metaphysics]

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the essence of things, of the fundamental nature of being and the world and the principles that organize the universe. Metaphysics is supposed to answer the question "What is the nature of reality?"

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
94
votes
24answers
30k views

How does one know one is not dreaming?

How does one know one is not dreaming? How could one logically demonstrate to a skeptic that one is "really" there, awake and not just dreaming the entire situation/world around him? Specifically ...
56
votes
15answers
21k views

Why does the universe obey scientific laws?

As far as anyone is aware, the universe consistently acts according to predictable laws (and scientific inquiry exists to determine those laws). Is there any metaphysical reason for this? Is such a ...
56
votes
25answers
8k views

Why is there something instead of nothing?

A simple but fundamental question. The "something" means the whole Universe (known and unknown), it could be represented as the reality version of the set of all sets, which is itself debated. It ...
48
votes
8answers
52k views

What is the difference between metaphysics and ontology?

I know that ontology is a sub-field of metaphysics. But I can't see the difference between them. I mean ontology is defined as "The study of being and existence", and metaphysics is defined as "...
35
votes
7answers
3k views

Why has the philosophy of Bishop Berkeley fallen out of favor in academic philosophy?

I studied George Berkeley as an undergraduate, and though I absolutely loved his work and his philosophy, many of my peers, and even some of my professors, found his philosophy wholly unappealing, ...
34
votes
15answers
14k views

Fundamental idea on proving God's existence with science

I think that proving God's existence or any deity from any culture with the rigors of science is fundamentally absurd. The popular arguments usually involve space-time and the big bang theory. (I ...
27
votes
9answers
6k views

Is it possible for something to have no cause?

Bertrand Rusell writes in his essay "Why I Am Not A Christian": There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; [...] Warren Rachelle, however, states in his ...
23
votes
19answers
5k views

Can time exist without change?

Imagine an event of one second in length, like two hands clapping. Suppose that another interval of time elapses between the clap, a period in which nothing happens in the whole universe (or in all ...
22
votes
11answers
23k views

What are some criticisms of Epicurus' “death is nothing to us”?

Epicurus famously asserted that death should not be feared, with roughly the following argument: When we die, we no longer exist; Since we no longer exist, we can feel neither pain nor pleasure. ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

What was Cantor's philosophical reason for accepting the infinite but rejecting the infinitesimal?

I have begun inquiring recently into mathematical aspects of Georg Cantor's theory of transfinite numbers and sets, which he developed between the years of 1874 and 1897. Throughout his theory, Cantor ...
21
votes
2answers
430 views

How can domain modeling practice benefit from metaphysical ideas?

In software development, there is an activity called domain modeling, by which the developer creates a representation of the problem domain using some language (ultimately a programming language). ...
20
votes
3answers
15k views

What is the difference between naturalism and materialism?

What is the difference between naturalism and materialism, if any? I see definitions of naturalism that say, in effect, it is the belief that there is no supernatural. But what is the supernatural ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does Carnap say 'Caesar is a prime number' is meaningless?

I don't get it. Assuming there exists an individual Caesar, we can look at the set of prime numbers and not-(prime numbers), and Caesar will be in one of them. I just don't see, even though it may be ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a parallel between Hegelian “essence” and Kantian “concept”?

I think I've found a paralelism between these two notions, at least to some extent. For Kant defines (in Logic, I, I, §1, also translated) concept as "an universal representation" Every knowledge, ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the modern solution to the mind-body problem for those who still hold the mind is separate?

René Descartes gave us the problem of how the mind interacts with the body in its modern formulation. Essentially, he asked how the incorporeal mind was able to influence the material body. He also ...
17
votes
7answers
1k views

Does compatibilism imply that a chess program has free will?

I am puzzled by compatibilism and am trying to understand what it means using a test example. Given that a typical chess program generates several choices, evaluates them with a goal of winning and ...
16
votes
7answers
1k views

How much philosophy should a physicist know?

I began to read Hawking's recent book 'A Grand Design' some time ago and noticed that he savages philosophy. He says '...philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in ...
15
votes
9answers
11k views

Does True Randomness actually exist? [duplicate]

I tend to think of randomness as a lack of complete information when it comes to knowing something. If we look at the history of probability theory it centers on a lack of knowing the exact outcome of ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

How to assess philosophically whether String Theory is Science or rather Metaphysics?

String theory substitutes basic particles with infinitesimal strings in order to reconcile the seemingly incompatible theories of gravity and of quantum world. But those new elements - the so called '...
15
votes
11answers
7k views

How can something non-physical exist?

One sees arguments for the existence of non-physical entities such as God, qualia, Plato's forms, objective ethical truths, etc... But what does it mean for something non-physical to exist? It ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

How do defenders of libertarian freewill reconcile it with constraints imposed by the laws of physics?

Libertarian freewill is the position that we have some measure of metaphysical freewill. Per this position, a free agent at a given point in time is able to freely select a course of action among ...
15
votes
3answers
777 views

How is subjective experience of color mapped to the visible spectrum?

Kevin Warwick had a sonar sense implanted and could sense whether an object was close or far. Evidence is accumulating that our brains can make sense of "foreign" information like sonar (consider the ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

Has modern physics undermined Berkeley's idealism?

To make a long story short, Bishop Berkeley argued that the idea of matter existing independently of perception was incoherent, since the properties of matter are (or were in Berkeley's time) defined ...
14
votes
14answers
16k views

Is “time” an abstract mental construct or does it exist independent of human consciousness?

When I consider my own existence with respect to time I can imagine three possibilities: (1) Time extends infinitely into the past. In this case, how can the present, with me in it, exist, since ...
14
votes
7answers
2k views

Please explain to a beginner: what is metaphysics?

As I understand it, most or all of philosophy can be put into the three main branches of philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Axiology. A devotee of reason, I have great affinity for, and ...
14
votes
9answers
997 views

Why am I this particular human being?

Some philosophers dismiss this as a question about a tautology: when Alice asks "Why am I Alice?", this is equivalent to her asking "Why is Alice Alice?", which is not an interesting question. But ...
14
votes
14answers
1k views

Why should I believe my own conclusions?

Consider the metaphysical question of whether God exists (just as an example). There are, and have been throughout history, billions of atheists, billions of Christians, and billions of people with ...
14
votes
4answers
984 views

How can the physical world be an abstract mathematical structure?

This is Tegmark's short formulation of the "mathematical universe" (paraphrased by detractors as "reality made of math"), and he goes out of his way to stress that he means the "is" literally:"Whereas ...
14
votes
1answer
555 views

How does Quine answer the metaphysician's charge that scientism is self-refuting?

General scientism seems to hold that due to the predictive powers of our scientific methods, such methods are preferred to other methods of knowledge, such as metaphysics (radical scientism claiming ...
14
votes
3answers
880 views

Is the simulation hypothesis outside of science?

On the question of the simulation hypothesis (i.e. that reality is a simulation), a friend of mine once remarked he didn't accept it on the grounds of Ockham's razor. To me (with my admittedly ...
14
votes
4answers
881 views

What are the most significant responses to Lewis' “On the Plurality of Worlds”?

What are the most significant responses to David Lewis' book On the Plurality of Worlds (1986)? In particular, are there any good critical readings of Lewis' views on modal realism?
14
votes
1answer
342 views

Did Putnam prove Hume wrong about the impossiblity of grounds for ethical claims?

Hume's argument in A Treatise of Human Nature that we can't derive normative judgments from descriptive statements is well known. Recently one of my teachers said that Putnam proved Hume wrong by ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Does causality always require time?

For empirical facts, it seems obvious that causality requires a time flow for the concept to make sense: A causes B implies that A happened before B. Is it ever possible to have a causal ...
13
votes
4answers
634 views

“→” is the symbol for material implication. Is there such a thing as “immaterial implication”?

Why do we qualify "implication" with "material"? This seems to imply that there are other kinds of implication.
13
votes
11answers
31k views

Can something come out of nothing or not? Why?

In our current state of affairs it is safe and reasonable to assume something exists - be it a universe, pure conciousness, illusion or other designations. If some readers nevertheless claim something ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

How does Søren Kierkegaard use the word “dialectic” and how does his use of it differ from G.W.F. Hegel's?

According, to my understanding, the meaning of dialectic is... In Plato: a back-and-forth conversational style of reasoning from his later dialogues In the Middle Ages: the scholastic style of ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Is transubstantiation faithfully Aristotelian?

Transubstantiation is a concept that Roman Catholic scholastics, most notably Thomas Aquinas, developed for the doctrine of Communion. Catholics state that when a priest blesses the elements of bread ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

Could it be possible that the universe doesn't exist?

Could it be possible that the universe doesn't exist? That nothing exists, not even you or me? And by not existing, I mean totally not existing, as in not even existing as a computer simulation, or a ...
12
votes
9answers
704 views

Is there any reason to believe that there are things which science cannot tell us?

Science can only tell us a posteriori synthetic truths, can this category extend to all propositions about the world. Surely the only things which can by known ONLY by a priori analytic are ...
12
votes
2answers
811 views

What does Hegel mean by “Quality”?

In the Science of Logic, Hegel initially presents quality as existent determinateness. He further distinguishes two modes of determining quality in accordance with the moments of existence: ...
12
votes
1answer
5k views

Representation versus cartography in Deleuze and Guattari?

Can someone help me contextualize and concretize the theme of representation (what they sometimes call "tracing") versus cartography ("mapping," "diagramming," even "meta-modeling", etc.) in Deleuze ...
11
votes
6answers
1k views

What does “to cause” mean?

What does it mean, strictly, for one event to "cause" another? If I throw a ball, does the movement of my arm cause the ball to move, or are they simply correlated events? If you say the arm caused ...
11
votes
3answers
7k views

What is the difference between an Ordinal number and a Cardinal number?

I'm trying to understand the real difference between an Ordinal and a Cardinal, especially in relation with transfinite cardinals. The stuff on Wiki is a bit too complicated. Can anyone make it simple ...
11
votes
4answers
978 views

How can being able to conceive of something “perfect” imply its existence?

In this question and reading about the ontological argument elsewhere I have discovered that there is (and has been) a lot of discussion about it, and that it was taken very seriously. Can someone ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

How does Schopenhauer maintain idealism without God?

In Berkeley's idealism God holds the world together, enabling us to avoid chaos and experience a shared, orderly reality. But Schopenhauer is an idealist and an atheist. How can we then explain the ...
11
votes
4answers
439 views

How or where are lines drawn, if at all, between eastern mysticism and philosophy?

Having taken Philosophy 101 at too early an age and my professor being a very dry speaker I had been turned off by philosophy for years. For the last 5 years or more I have been introduced to J. ...
11
votes
3answers
5k views

How should we understand the teletransportation thought experiment?

Please read the short story here:Beam me up First, I'd like to to know whether there is anything inherently inconsistent about this teletransportation idea? Is there fundamental reasons which say it'...
11
votes
4answers
6k views

Are all concepts polar ?

Do all concepts operate in pairs such that in order to define one member of the pair we need to specify its opposite ? For instance, we cannot define 'nothing' without understanding - being able to ...
11
votes
8answers
3k views

What was the impact of the discovery of non-euclidean geometry on Kantian thought?

This is mainly a historical question. In Gary Hatfields introduction to Kants Prologomena, he says: After the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry, Kant’s claims for the synthetic a priori status of ...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

The eternal return, as thought experiment: what are the consequences?

Nietsche, as others before and after him (its roots, I am told, are in the West Asian tradition) , espoused the idea of an ever repeating clockwork universe, in which all lives are led over and over; ...