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Metaphysics--'next to physics'--so what do you care?

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Interestingly -- or perhaps not -- what is it that propels people, you, to consider and dwell upon those things beyond the strictly physical? Kant, for his part, supposed that we cannot answer metaphysical questions, yet the peculiar fate of finite rationale beings is such that we also cannot help but ask such questions. And what is it now which alleviates such thought by the most superficiial (if recent and novel) physiological assertion?

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Interestingly -- or perhaps not -- what is it that propels people, you, to consider and dwell upon those things beyond the strictly physical? Kant. for his part, supposed that we cannot answer metaphysical questions, yet the peculiar fate of finite rationale beings is such that we also cannot help but ask such questions. And what is it now which alleviates such thought by the most superficiial (if recent and novel) physiological assertion?

 

And yet Kant's statement and your assertation about our nature are both metaphysical beliefs ;)

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Connectedness and pattern recognition are part of it, I believe. I don't mean to wax mystical, but perennial 'web of life' type ideas tend to be a major impetus for paraphysical speculation.

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... and pattern recognition are part of it, I believe.

If we take metaphysics as "the study of nature and being of reality and its structure," then, I agree with Ras.

 

 

If by metaphysics, you are talking about study of non-physical, I'd say what drives men to look into metaphysics, ultimately, is the fear of death. Children look to parents as the Gods, as the provider of resources. Parents are the ones who keeps Death at bay. When people grow older, they replace the parents with religion or with metaphysical.

 

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If we take metaphysics as "the study of nature and being of reality and its structure," then, I agree with Ras.

If by metaphysics, you are talking about study of non-physical, I'd say what drives men to look into metaphysics, ultimately, is the fear of death. Children look to parents as the Gods, as the provider of resources. Parents are the ones who keeps Death at bay. When people grow older, they replace the parents with religion or with metaphysical.

 

Or perhaps more generally the fear of nothingness, being awash in a chaotic sea with seemingly no place or relationship to anything else. A desire for order, bottom to top.

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And what is fear of death but fear of the unknown? I suspect this is the cause, the reason, underlying very few cases of metaphysics.

 

Studies have shown at a very early age, the majority of children ignorant of religion have belief in metaphysics. (it would be interesting to question non-human primates about it if the linguistics are possible) Do these children have fear of death? As time goes on and second-order reasoning develops these beliefs increase.

 

It all seems to be tied to empathy as those with Autism and dysfunctions of mirror neurons have problems formulating concepts of the "other mind" and thus relating to a higher power. (perhaps this also explains why all atheists are assholes ;) ) This may tie in with "web of life" type experience, especially on psychotropic drugs as Ras mentions.

 

It would seem to me humans are born with innate belief and caring about metaphysics. And there seem to be some physiological reasons underlying these concepts. "Why people care" is a more difficult question to answer than "why do some people not care"? Because it easy to point to our understanding of the physiology involved to answer the latter, but the former likely involves discussion of things beyond our perception -- as ultimately, conciousness is not an entirely tangible thing.

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I am probably more anxious about the plenary and permuting of things than I am by their absence or lessening. The world is way too loud to subsist without death and dying.

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Impotence - lack of power - seems a fair reason to speculate, wonder, and (however presumptively) "come to have knowledge" of things metaphysical. Seeming knowledge is seeming power, especially to the deceiver himself.

 

Extremely few people conceive of the possibility of death: why bother when the disturbing thought is so easily contented. As Montaigne remarked, it is a good thing the eyes face outward.

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Impotence - lack of power - seems a fair reason to speculate, wonder, and (however presumptively) "come to have knowledge" of things metaphysical. Seeming knowledge is seeming power, especially to the deceiver himself.

 

Extremely few people conceive of the possibility of death: why bother when the disturbing thought is so easily contented. As Montaigne remarked, it is a good thing the eyes face outward.

 

As beings conditioned as towards-death, we are, of necessity, pushed towards the contemplation of nothingness.

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As beings conditioned as towards-death, we are, of necessity, pushed towards the contemplation of nothingness.

 

Ah, but again, this exists in a majority of small children even without such contemplation. While that is a reason for some, the very notion and drive for it seems to be innate. From an athist materialist perspective (oh, I feel so dirty), this makes sense in terms of evolution -- religion has strong social and personal benefits and thus a genetic predisposition to it would be a trait that is selected for. There was a good article on this a few issues back in American Scientist ( http://www.americanscientist.org/template/...l/assetid/49627 ) by an atheist materialist.

 

I would like there to be an explanation beyond materialism, but the author does make a relatively compelling argument and presents some interesting data.

 

Bottomline? Humans have some sort of natural drive for this, and it does not seem to be related to death.

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Ah, but again, this exists in a majority of small children even without such contemplation. While that is a reason for some, the very notion and drive for it seems to be innate. From an athist materialist perspective (oh, I feel so dirty), this makes sense in terms of evolution -- religion has strong social and personal benefits and thus a genetic predisposition to it would be a trait that is selected for. There was a good article on this a few issues back in American Scientist ( http://www.americanscientist.org/template/...l/assetid/49627 ) by an atheist materialist.

 

I would like there to be an explanation beyond materialism, but the author does make a relatively compelling argument and presents some interesting data.

 

Bottomline? Humans have some sort of natural drive for this, and it does not seem to be related to death.

 

I don't necessarily mean contemplation of physical mortality. As soon as a child recognizes its self as a self, it understands limit. Identity involves understanding where one ends and where everything else begins.

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I don't necessarily mean contemplation of physical mortality. As soon as a child recognizes its self as a self, it understands limit. Identity involves understanding where one ends and where everything else begins.

 

In the previously mentioned study, small children, when asked about a dead animal, were more likely than adults to agree it still needed to eat, etc-- all biological and mental states -- whereas age changed the response to attribute mostly only mental function persisting. It seems that some understanding of death is required as well.

 

Koko (gorilla who knows American Sign Language) was extrememly distraught over the death of All Ball (Koko's pet kitten) and spoke of it soon after:

 

When asked, "Do you want to talk about your kitty?"

Koko signed, "Cry."

"What happened to your kitty?"

Koko answered, "Sleep cat."

When she saw a picture of a cat who looked very much like All Ball, Koko pointed to the picture and signed, "Cry, sad, frown."

 

If one were to ask Koko about the biological and mental states of All Ball after death, assuming such a thing were possible, how would Koko's response compare to the human response for different ages?

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In the previously mentioned study, small children, when asked about a dead animal, were more likely than adults to agree it still needed to eat, etc-- all biological and mental states -- whereas age changed the response to attribute mostly only mental function persisting. It seems that some understanding of death is required as well.

 

Koko (gorilla who knows American Sign Language) was extrememly distraught over the death of All Ball (Koko's pet kitten) and spoke of it soon after:

 

When asked, "Do you want to talk about your kitty?"

Koko signed, "Cry."

"What happened to your kitty?"

Koko answered, "Sleep cat."

When she saw a picture of a cat who looked very much like All Ball, Koko pointed to the picture and signed, "Cry, sad, frown."

 

If one were to ask Koko about the biological and mental states of All Ball after death, assuming such a thing were possible, how would Koko's response compare to the human response for different ages?

 

Might well be an interesting question. There is a reason why such a term as anthropomorphic has been coined, and you skirt around falling into that trap well - which suggests you understand the term and it's importance here.

 

Yet you use distraught and then you ask others to judge how an animal will more likely think ... it appears that you have, or are asking others to jump (and I do mean jump) to certain conclusions ..which appear to be the central reason(s) for someone deriving the term anthromorphic.

 

Briefer: the reason the term exists is due specifically to how you are using animal responses (gestures etc..in this case it appears language, but even that can be picked upon by that area of science which still argues we have no proof that animals experience emotion, and if they do, "sad" may mean something completely different to us them to them - and if not completely different, considerably different, or just quite different..etc..)

 

I find it outrageous, having had animals as pets for all my life, that someone could say animals do not have emotion. I do not find it strange at all that some might believe that animal emotions would be different than human emotions.

 

you ask for a prediction and we only have human's (at this time) as a basis - and there are still some doubts and other things are coming about in our own understanding of ourselves. Old theories thrown out, new one with greater substantiation being challenged etc...

 

You ask a lot friend.

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I think Strateg0 and Frangible both touched on relevant aspects of it.

 

First, let me explain what I mean by the "fear of death."

 

I remember, as a child, having lots of fear. The fears were not related to anything that was physical. When I see something "scary," I would be afraid -- it was not because I was contemplating possible pain or being killed or understand what "death" is. When I think back, I believe "fear" exists on its own. It is an emotion that exists independently from emotion such as anger. Furthermore, it is innate.

 

That "fear" is what I call "fear of death." I call it as being related to death, because, I believe, everyone of us was born with it, for survival purposes. It is fear specifically designed to make us avoid situations that would spell our destruction ("death").

 

 

However, in reviewing the posts above, I think "fear of unknown" is more apt than "fear of death." Biologically speaking, there is some correlation between stress level and its familarity with its environment. For example, when one moves into a new neighborhood, there is increased energy expenditure. Stress level goes up. All these are manifestations of a being having to deal with increased level of "unknown." Consider another example, that of autism. One facet of autism has to do with "repetitive acts," in order to make the world more familar. The fear that I speak of, then, is born of the unknown. (I do disagree with Frangible's view that metaphysics has little relevance to the fear of the unknown, however.)

 

I also thought Strateg0's comments on impotence were interesting. I remember, the degree of fear seems to decrease as I age, with increasing power and control over my environment. Perhaps, control over one's environment has to do with the degree of knowledge of it, or the degree of "familarity." As one's strength and power grow, the fear diminishes.

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metaphysics is a funny word. it says, "hey, i'm godless, but i also believe in some goofy shit, and i'm going to use this scientifical word to make you think i'm smart and take me seriously."

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Extremely few people conceive of the possibility of death

 

Do you think the following statement is mostly true or untrue :

 

"Most people on Avant forums regularly conceive of the possibility of death."

 

IPB Image

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metaphysics is a funny word. it says, "hey, i'm godless, but i also believe in some goofy shit, and i'm going to use this scientifical word to make you think i'm smart and take me seriously."

 

Yeah, sure, if you're talking about what passes for metaphysics on the self of your local bookstore.

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I don't necessarily mean contemplation of physical mortality. As soon as a child recognizes its self as a self, it understands limit. Identity involves understanding where one ends and where everything else begins.

 

I don't know that I agree with this. Understanding that the world exists independently of one self doesn't, to my mind, necessarily imply or even empirically entail that one has also developed a sense of temporal finitude, whether that finitude is conceived physically, noumenally, or otherwise.

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Do you think the following statement is mostly true or untrue :

 

"Most people on Avant forums regularly conceive of the possibility of death."

 

IPB Image

Extremely untrue, and particularly in regard to the substance (or lack of substance) of death as a state, and the implications of that for life.

 

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When I think of death I'm inclined to think of it as the only support for Kant's argument of thing-in-itsel(ves). Death is something that everyone is aware of, but the affect on the psyche entailed by its awareness thereof is divers and to some extent perhaps inexplicable. It's very weird, when you think about it, as it seems empirically impossible to conceive of a state which we can't phenomenologically relate to, by definition, while at the same time is so readily identifiable.

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It's very weird, when you think about it, as it seems empirically impossible to conceive of a state which we can't phenomenologically relate to, by definition, while at the same time is so readily identifiable.
Right. It's so readily identifiable that understanding is prevented by the readiness of an answer to the question of what is death. The question of what could the fact of our individual mortality mean for our own life, that is rarely taken seriously.

 

It is a difficult and discomfiting question, so there is every reason to turn away from it as soon as possible. The quickest way out is to latch onto the most ready answer. Drowning people aren't picky about which life-rope they catch.

 

BTW, speaking of "the possibility" of death is sort of funny, as when old people say "if something should happen to me..."

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I don't know that I agree with this. Understanding that the world exists independently of one self doesn't, to my mind, necessarily imply or even empirically entail that one has also developed a sense of temporal finitude, whether that finitude is conceived physically, noumenally, or otherwise.

 

I think I know what you mean, but it's the idea of spatially-construed limit that I'm asserting here, not temporal finitude.

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you ask for a prediction and we only have human's (at this time) as a basis - and there are still some doubts and other things are coming about in our own understanding of ourselves. Old theories thrown out, new one with greater substantiation being challenged etc...

 

Is this not the nature of all metaphysical inquiry? And my question is not exclusively hypothetical, as communication with primates exists.

 

You ask a lot friend.

 

I merely want to know the unknowable.

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