When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact or existence? No.Commit itthen tothe flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.David Hume: 1748 An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, section12, pt.3.
And Coleridge, too, has lately taken wing, But, like a hawk encumbered with his hood, Explaining metaphysics to the nation I wished he would explain his explanation.Rochdale: 1819-24 Don Juan, canto1, dedication, stanza 2.
Los metaf|sicos de Tl o« n no buscan la verdad ni siquiera la verosimilitud: buscan el asombro. Juzgan que la metaf|sica es una rama de la literatura fanta stica. The metaphysicians of Tlo« n do not seek for the truth or even for verisimilitude, but rather for the astounding. They judge that metaphysics is a branch of fantastic literature.jorge luis borges: 1941Ficciones,'Tlo« n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius' (1963).
Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct, but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.Francis Herbert Bradley: 1893 Appearance and Reality, preface.
Metaphysics means nothing but an unusually obstinate effort to thinkclearly.william james: 1890 The Principles of Psychology, ch.6.
The capacity of human beings to bore one another seems to be vastly greater than that of any otheranimals. Some of their most esteemed inventions have no other apparent purpose, for example, the dinner party of more than two, the epic poem, and thescience of metaphysics.H(enry) L(ouis) Mencken: 'Minority Report'. Collected in Notebooks (1956).
Science cannot exist without some small portion of metaphysics.Max Karl Ernst Planck: 1931The Universe in the Light of Modern Physics, ch.7.
Liberty, according to my metaphysics, is an intellectual quality; an attribute that belongs not to fate nor chance. Neither possesses it, neither is capable of it. There is nothing moral or immoral in the idea of it. The definition of it is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power; it can elect between objects, indifferent in point of morality, neither morally good nor morally evil. If the substance in which this quality, attribute, adjective, call it what you will, exists, has a moral sense, a conscience, a moral faculty; if it can distinguish between moral good and moral evil, and has power to choose the former and refuse the latter, it can, if it will, choose the evil and reject the good, as we see in experience it very often does.john adams: I, p. 448
In seeking to refound philosophy as an analytic discipline, Ayer was not just trying to separate philosophy from life but to liberate life from philosophy.As he saw it, philosophers had traditionally set out to establish themselves as authorities on the fundamental nature of the universe and the character of right and wrong. They posited immutable laws of nature, claimed to show that the world was one, or pretended to demonstrate the existence of supersensible realms of being; they invented gods, divine commands and human ends, and sought in that way to tell people how to live.To Ayer all this was not only unjustified — talk of supernatural reality, of beings existing outside space and time, or of the fundamental unity of things was literally senseless — but also reactionary. In narrowing the possibilities of experience, in placing limits on the findings of science and in dictating what was right and wrong, philosophy had become a cramping distorting discipline. The promise of life after death, the conception of earthly life as representing a punishment for inherited sin, the belief that pleasure was evil, had terribly oppressive effects. With metaphysics banished, science could develop unfettered, and people would become more experimental, more open to other points of view, more tolerant in thought and practice. They would, in particular, become less likely to engage in religious and ideological wars. Above all else, Ayer hoped, men and women would realise that this life was the only life they have, and would thus become more appreciative of what it had to offer. Which is where the football, the dancing and the love affairs come in.alfred jules ayer: Ben Rogers, in the Preface to ''A.J. Ayer: A Life (1999) p. 3
The late philosopher Morris R. Cohen of CCNY was asked by a student in the metaphysics course, “Professor Cohen, how do I know that I exist?” The keen old prof replied, “And who is asking?”Saul Bellow: Humboldt’s Gift (1996), p. 163
While the easiest way in metaphysics is to condemn all metaphysics as nonsense, the easiest way in morals is to elevate the common practice of the community into a moral absolute.daniel j. boorstin: Ch. 3, The Physiology of Thought and Morals, Introduction, p. 111
Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct; but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.f. h. bradley: Appearance and Reality, preface (1893)
Madame de Staël thought it was pride in mankind to endeavour to penetrate the secret of the universe; and speaking of the higher metaphysics she said: "I prefer the Lord's Prayer to it all."anne louise germaine de staël: Sketch of the Life, Character, and Writings of Baroness de Staël-Holstein (1820) by Albertine-Adrienne Necker de Saussure, p. 349
There can be no question that Darwin had nothing like sufficient evidence to establish his theory of evolution. ... Darwin’s model of evolution ... , being basically a theory of historical reconstruction, ... is impossible to verify by experiment or direct observation as is normal in science ... Moreover, the theory of evolution deals with a series of unique events, the origin of life, the origin of intelligence and so on. Unique events are unrepeatable and cannot be subjected to any sort of experimental investigation. ... His general theory, that all life on earth had originated and evolved by a gradual successive accumulation of fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin’s time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe. ... The evolutionary paradigm ... is more like a principle of medieval astrology than a serious twentieth century scientific theory. ... One might have expected that a theory of such cardinal importance, a theory that literally changed the world, would have been something more than metaphysics, something more than a myth.Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1986) p. 69, 75, 77, 306, 358
The first question we should face is: What is the aim of a physical theory? To this question diverse answers have been made, but all of them may be reduced to two main principles:"A physical theory," certain logicians have replied, "has for its object the explanation of a group of laws experimentally established.""A physical theory," other thinkers have said, "is an abstract system whose aim is to summarize and classify logically a group of experimental laws without claiming to explain these laws...Now these two questions — Does there exist a material reality distinct from sensible appearances? and What is the nature of reality? — do not have their source in experimental method, which is acquainted only with sensible appearances and can discover nothing beyond them. The resolution of these questions transcends the methods used by physics; it is the object of metaphysics.Therefore, if the aim of physical theories is to explain experimental laws, theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics...Now, to make physical theories depend on metaphysics is surely not the way to let them enjoy the privilege of universal consent.pierre duhem: Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem, translated by Philip P. Wiener (1991). The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory. Princeton University Press. p. 10. ISBN 069102524X.
It is plain that God does not employ drugs or hygiene, nor provide them for human use; else Jesus would have recommended and employed them in his healing. The sick are more deplorably lost than the sinning, if the sick cannot rely on God for help and the sinning can. … The universal belief in physics weighs against the high and mighty truths of Christian metaphysics. This erroneous general belief, which sustains medicine and produces all medical results, works against Christian Science[.] … If we would heal by the Spirit, we must not hide the talent of spiritual healing under the napkin of its form[.] … The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love.Mary Baker Eddy: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 143:5, 155:15 (1867).
Religion is the only metaphysics that the multitude can understand and adopt.Joseph Joubert, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 504.
Hinduism has produced the profoundest metaphysics that we know of.Count Hermann Keyserling, The Huston Smith Reader.
The vast and tranquil metaphysics of India is unfolded; her conception of the universe, her social organization, perfect in its day and still capable of adaptation to the demands of modern times; the solution which she offers for the feminist problem, for the problems of the family, of love, of marriage; and lastly, the magnificent revelation of her art. The whole vast soul of India proclaims from end to end of its crowded and well ordered edifice the same domination of a sovereign synthesis." There is no negation. All is harmonized. All the forces of life are grouped like a forest, whose thousand waving arms are led by Nataraja, the master of the Dance. Everything has its place, every being has its function, and all take part in the divine concert, their different voices, and their very dissonances, creating, in the phrase of Heraclitus, a most beautiful harmony. Whereas in the West, cold, hard logic isolates the unusual, shutting it off from the rest of life into a definite and distinct compartment of the spirit. India, ever mindful of the natural differences in souls and in philosophies, endeavors to blend them into each other, so as to recreate in its fullest perfection the complete unity. The matching of opposites produces the true rhythm of life.Romain Rolland, Life of Ramakrishna (1929)
Mystics, contrary to religionists, are always saying that reality is not two things — God and the world — but one thing, consciousness. It is a monistic view of reality based on consciousness that mystics claim to directly intuit. The problem with science has always been that most scientists believe that science must be done within a different monistic framework, one based on the primacy of matter. And then, quantum physics showed us that we must change that myopic prejudice of scientists, otherwise we cannot comprehend quantum physics. So now we have science within consciousness, a new paradigm of science based on the primacy of consciousness that is gradually replacing the old materialist science. Why? Not only because you can't understand quantum physics without this new metaphysics but also because the new paradigm resolves many other paradoxes of the old paradigm and explains much anomalous data.amit goswami: Interview with Suzie Daggett at Insight: Healthy Living (July 2006)
It is strange that people should take so much interest at one time in what they so soon forget; — the truth is, they feel no interest in it [news of the day] at any time, but it does for something to talk about. Their ideas are served up to them, like their bill of fare, for the day; and the whole creation, history, war, politics, morals, poetry, metaphysics, is to them like a file of antedated newspapers, of no use, not even for reference, except the one which lies on the table! You cannot take any of these persons at a greater disadvantage than before they are provided with their cue for the day. They ask with a face of dreary vacuity, 'Have you anything new?' — and on receiving an answer in the negative, have nothing further to say.william hazlitt: "On Coffee-House Politicians"
In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is – i.e. he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e. he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance.Ayn Rand, "Philosophy, who needs it?"
Most definitions of philosophy are fairly controversial, particularly if they aim to be at all interesting or profound. That is partly because what has been called philosophy has changed radically in scope in the course of history, with many inquiries that were originally part of it having detached themselves from it. The shortest definition, and it is quite a good one, is that philosophy is thinking about thinking. That brings out the generally second-order character of the subject, as reflective thought about particular kinds of thinking formation of beliefs, claims to knowledge about the world or large parts of it. A more detailed, but still uncontroversial comprehensive, definition is that philosophy is rationally critical thinking, of a more or less systematic kind about the general nature of the world (metaphysics or theory of existence), the justification of belief (epistemology or theory of knowledge), and and the conduct of life (ethics or theory of value). Each of these three elements ...Anthony Quinton (b. 1925-) published in: Ted Honderich ed (1995) The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press
It is plain that God does not employ drugs or hygiene, nor provide them for human use; else Jesus would have recommended and employed them in his healing. The sick are more deplorably lost than the sinning, if the sick cannot rely on God for help and the sinning can. … The universal belief in physics weighs against the high and mighty truths of Christian metaphysics. This erroneous general belief, which sustains medicine and produces all medical results, works against Christian Science[.] … If we would heal by the Spirit, we must not hide the talent of spiritual healing under the napkin of its form[.] … The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love.Mary Baker Eddy (1867), Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist on the denial of drugs, hygiene, and medicine to the sick and their replacement by spiritual healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 143:5, 155:15.
Madame de Staël thought it was pride in man to endevour to penetrate the secret of the universe; and speaking of the higher metaphysics she said: "I prefer the Lord's Prayer to it all."Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, in Albertine-Adrienne Necker de Saussure, Sketch of the Life, Character and Writings of Baroness de Staël-Holstein (1820), p. 329