do you think much...

Sunday, October 27, 2002

I reject metaphysics, and still I’ll say that you exist and that you are a person, a conscious being. Of course, what it is to be a person, and what consciousness is, are both topics in metaphysics and have metaphysical theories written about them. So am I at once inconsistent? Only if these assertions about your existence can’t be true unless some metaphysical theory about them is true, some metaphysical underpinning, as one says. But I see metaphysical concoctions not as underpinnings but as the canopies of baroque four poster beds….Metaphysical theories purport to interpret what we already understand to be the case. But to interpret is to interpret into something, something granted as already understood. Paradoxically, metaphysicians interpret what we initially understand into something hardly anyone understands, and then insist that we cannot do without that. To any incredulous listener they’ll say: Construct a better alternative! But that just signals their invincible presumption that metaphysics is the sine qua non of understanding.

van Fraassen, Bas C. The Empirical Stance. New Haven, CN: Yale U. P., 2002, p. 3.

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