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?"

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Time and space – a subject of metaphysics?

The entry metaphysics from SEP (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) also deals with space and time, see chapter 3.2. I am not convinced that metaphysics does contribute with any new insight to the ...
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Can a machine, lacking reflection, be a Person?

We are well beyond Frankenstein and the experience that the machine—“it’s alive”! As we continue to rely on Suri’s for GPS directions, “self”-checkout aisles, or the artificial intelligence of robotic ...
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Are There Alternatives to Determinism and Stochasticism?

From my physicist's point of view, there are basically two ways of seeing the world: The world can be fundamentally deterministic or fundamentally stochastic (see also indeterminism). I believe that ...
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Physics, Theoretical Understanding and the Limits of Human Knowledge/Understanding

During an interview with Discover magazine, Roger Penrose makes the claim that a lot of the most theoretical physics, a la the physical theories that try to account for the discrepancies and ...
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Nothingness cannot be. Does that imply something must be?

Nothingness doesn't be, that's the definition of nothingness (at least in this question) that what is not, does not exist. If there was no Universe, if there was nothing, nothingness would be, that ...
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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 ...
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How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

This question became a symbol for the silly and pointless sophistry of medieval scholastics. But as modern scholarship has shown scholastics was not such a thoughtless desert as some of its ...
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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 ...
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What are the relations between supervenience, grounding and emergence in philosophy of science?

So, I am wondering if anyone could help me with the notions of grounding (supervenience?) and emergence in the modern discussions in philosophy of science. What are they and what is the relation ...
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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 ...
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What basic metaphysics should every philosophy student know?

Put another way, what background knowledge do you suggest that I brush up on to make me more sensitive to the lurking philosophical issues when I read philosophical texts and papers? Particularly ...
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Please explain perspectivism to me

I was wondering if someone could please explain Nietzsche's perspectivism to me. I used to think that it was similar to Descartes' method of thinking. That everything was subjective because everything ...
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How does Descartes determine that the idea of God has more objective reality than finite substance?

Descartes's third meditation, which sets out to prove the existence of God from previous considerations, confuses me greatly. Descartes appears to be trying to make an argument that the source must ...
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Can there be an infinite regress of Creators?

One of the replies to the argument from first cause for the universe being created by God is that there is no apriori reason against there simply being an infinite number of causes, or an infinite ...
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Can a purely biological account of man show a superiority over other animals?

Can a purely biological account of man show a superiority over other animals other than that of belonging to a later stage of evolution or of greater possibilities of action, a superiority “in his ...
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Almost Sure Mind Transfer via Parfit's Identity Theory (interesting thought experiment)

Under Derek Parfit's theory of identity, we should direct our concern to future selves not because they are identical to us, but because they bear some special relation to our current self. He used ...
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Artifacts as substances in Aristotelian metaphysics

As usual, substances means the fundamental entities of reality ("the basic things from which everything is constructed" as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy puts it) in a certain philosophical ...
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What is the intension of the concept “intension”? [closed]

I think that it should be possible to assign to all concepts a plausible intension, consisting of just one or two words. However, in textbooks or encyclopedias I never found such focused appointments ...
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Why do we need any foundations at all?

Philosophy is metaphysics. If we don't understand metaphysics then we don't understand philosophy. If we don't have the foundation in place we can only build sand-castles. I feel you are ...
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Why does the sense of self change between going to sleep and waking up? [closed]

During the day one can become more and more awake because of activities that connect to the higher sense of self, especially hen one is a practitioner of self-realization: meditation, all types of ...
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Can different varieties of modality be used with existential quantification?

I'm wondering if it makes sense to talk about worlds which aren't this one being real. It seems like you can claim that something possibly exists. Now I'm wondering, because it seems to amount to ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Is the space we live in continuous (as mathematically defined) or quantized?

Let me start with stating my definitions in measuring the length of objects: The way to measure an object properly is to measure it when it's static. So take the ultra resolution (which can describe ...
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How well did Aristotle feel his belief in the eternity of the universe was established?

In the Middle Ages, Aristotle's belief that the world was eternal posed a major theological challenge for the many people who held a religious belief in Creation. Moses Maimonides, in his Guide for ...
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What is multiplicity for Deleuze?

The SEP explains in its introduction to Deleuze that "Deleuze conceived of philosophy as the production of concepts, and he characterized himself as a “pure metaphysician.” In his magnum opus ...
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What are some good books on the relationship between animals and human beings?

So, there are a number of things I am actually after with this, but to try to encapsulate the concern briefly: which thinkers or writers might comment on the relationship between animals and human ...
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How does a realist account for causation between universals and particulars?

With respect to universals nominalists maintain that there are no universals and only particulars exists. Conversely, realists says that there are universals. Here is a sketch of an argument against ...
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Will fundamental physics eventually become an aesthetic construction and proceed on aesthetic grounds?

Consider the following argument: Proposition 1: The language of physics (as an empirical science) is mathematics. I think this should be uncontroversial to the majority of working physicists. ...
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What do philosophers mean by 'conceivable'?

Philosophers, especially in analytic metaphysics, often talk about the conceivability of things. Here are some examples: I can conceive a perfect being, therefore, a perfect being is possible. ...
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Is the anthropic principle in physics falsifiable?

The Anthropic Principle states that the fundamental physics of the universe must allow the possibility of conscious life in the universe - as that is an observable fact. It's often qualified as ...
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Not Turing reducible = non-physical?

According to the following question, it is likely the physical universe can be simulated on a Turing machine. Is the universe isomorphic to a universal turing machine? If so, does this imply ...
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A Kantian view on modern physics

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica article on Immanuel Kant, in the section discussing the Critique of pure reason: In the Transcendental Analytic, the most crucial as well as the most ...
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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How do the meanings of *to exist*, *to be*, and *real* differ?

What definition of to exist, of to be, and of real preponderates contemporary philosophy? How do the terms differ from one another?
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Is there a known limit to relationship between physics and mathematics?

I am much interested in discussions such as Wigner's "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences". It's quite amazing that mathematics so well applies to our universe, and ...
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Is color actually intrinsic to the object?

I've always been of the view that color is essentially a human representation. That is, the production of the sensation of color is done in the brain and the particular wavelengths of light have ...
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Is physicalism a current scientific consensus?

I was reading Wikipedia through materialism and physicalism article and was unable to find, whether modern scientists largely subscribe to physicalism in natural sciences. What is the scientific ...
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Is materialism a self-refuting position?

I have been trying to poke a hole in the following apparently naive argument against materialism/physicalism: The main justification for materialism is that a person doesn't believe in that which ...
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One and many, particular and universal, individual and general… how do they relate?

In reading Koji Karatani's Transcritique, I found myself a bit confused by the distinctions and couplings he draws between these terms in relation to Hegel and Russell. It wasn't actually his approach ...
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What is the physical world if everything is perception?

This is ultimately the question that raises for me when I think about the 'nature of consciousness' and neurosciences. I don't think there's a point in denying science. Perception comes from the ...
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Have David Wolpert's findings really “slammed the door” on scientific determinism?

I recently read an article describing how mathematician/physicist David Wolpert's research closed the door on scientific determinism. I have huge doubts about the implied conclusion, considering the ...
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Why must objects be moved by other objects in Aquinas' First Way argument for God?

In his famous Summa Theologica, the Scholastic theologian Thomas Aquinas presents Five Ways to demonstrate the existence of God. Here is Aquinas' First Way, the argument from motion: The first and ...
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Why are we so concerned with the source of creation? [closed]

Background story: A friend and I came to the conclusion that if "nothing is impossible," then everything/something is possible and thus everything comes from something. This led us to question why ...
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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 ...
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Is There a Paradox of Self-Observation?

Many philosophies and religions teach self-observation. For instance... The Oracle at Delphi told Socrates to "Know Thyself". Yoga teaches people to discover their true selves. On the surface, self-...
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How can Hegel call philosophy a science?

At the tail end of Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason Gardner discusses Kant's influence on his successors. He claims---and I'm paraphrasing here---Hegel wanted his metaphysics to be scientific, i.e....