In previous posts, I have gone to great lengths at least on some general level to define metaphysics in its broadest of senses, but I believe in short, metaphysics is merely an evaluation of our view of the universe, or more simply the world and human existence. Though vast and overwhelming, it is ultimately the pursuit of truth.
The study of unanswerable questions falling under the umbrella of metaphysics, which ultimately comprises one’s worldview (or framework of beliefs about the world) is for everyone — not just philosophers, scientists, and other academicians.
Metaphysics is unlike, say, accounting, sports, or music. In other words, there is no special “gift” required or necessary talent to excel in understanding metaphysical matters — only the ability to use rationality and a devotion to the pursuit of truth Sure, there will be some who have a better understanding of how to articulate better what they believe and why they believe it, but at this juncture, what I am claiming (and will support with future posts) is that no one — no matter how brilliant — has a monopoly on metaphysics. It is, in general, a level playing field.
Metaphysics, by its nature, opens its discussion to everyone. As human beings, we are forced to visit its study, first, because “we are” and second, because we are — or do that business of being — within the universe. Everyone draws metaphysical conclusions, both implicitly and explicitly, acknowledged or unacknowledged, every day. We have done it for years and cannot escape it, although I do think it true that many do not bother to examine, much less discuss, their metaphysical views. Most of us are consumed with quotidian affairs, and justifiably so, with earning a living and taking care of the people and things important to us. Many times, the monotonous, uninspiring but necessary demands of life prevent us from such examination and discussion — a discussion vital to our destiny.
Therefore, establishing that one’s understanding of the universe — in this context, mainly the how and why of its existence — are not totally and necessarily dependent on one’s intellect or whether a person excels — or has the potential to excel — in one specific academic area or another. There are plenty of people who, as a rule, are horrible spellers, but excel very quickly in mathematics or in their ability to reason and debate. How many times have we met or heard of a brilliant person who suffers with dyslexia? These two examples are meant to illuminate the fact that we all, as humans, have strengths and weaknesses, but we all have something to contribute to the most important philosophical questions that have plagued humankind as far back as we, collectively as a species, can record.
To disparage or even discredit someone’s contribution to the conversation based on the fact that someone lacks knowledge in physics, biology, theology, history etc. is, I believe, foolish. To ask, debate, think about, and discuss such issues is to be human. Someone may be an expert in say, neuroscience or quantum mechanics, but that does not qualify her to make definitive, absolute factual statements about important matters such as the existence of God or why and how the universe came into existence, because ultimately nobody can; further, being an expert in one academic field or another does not even make a person more qualified to make such statements either.
For example, to make the jump from “I am a credible source for knowledge about quantum mechanics because I have a PhD in the field” (a reasonable claim) to: “Therefore, I am more qualified to make absolute, comprehensive statements involving matters such as the existence of God and and why the universe came into existence” has no logical merit. Such a person would, no doubt, be qualified to explain the theories, facts, experiments, and observations in her specific field, but could not possibly declare as fact her stance on the philosophical matters listed above because she cannot prove those philosophical ideas in the same way she is able to prove her scientific hypotheses in the lab.
This fact that no person can conclusively and definitely answer with absolute proof the numerous unanswerable metaphysical questions that plague us as humans is the nature of this beast. Therefore, questions like “Does God exist?”; “Why did the universe come into existence?”; and other related questions are open to every single person to study, observe, speculate, and ultimately make conclusions about them.
A note on leaving comments
Finally, when leaving comments on this blog about metaphysics, one should not disparage the observations or comments of others that have already been widely accepted as true. We are all in different stages and chapters of life. What is apparent to a 50-year-old will not be so apparent to a 12-year- old. Then again, what may be apparent to a particular 12-year-old may be news to a 50-year-old. We can all stand to learn something from each other.
This blog’s comments and eventual forum are meant for the young and old, experienced and inexperienced alike. Because all humans are literally in different places in life, the general attitude should be one of openness to our differences both in our lives — both good and bad — and the level to which each wants to explore this topic and those which fall under its umbrella.
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