Monday, 17 July 2017

To get true answers: Ask the right questions... In the right metaphysical context

This isn't a straightforward matter - indeed it can take a lot of sustained effort.

If the metaphysical context is wrong then the answers will be false. For example, if the contextual metaphysical assumptions exclude purpose and meaning; then any answer to a specific question will be pointless and futile. 

If the specific questions being asked are wrongly framed (including the wrong assumptions) then any answer to them is bound to be wrong - partial, distorted or inverted.

The right question will be one that leads to an answer so clear, simple and obvious; that it is directly understandable.

But how do you get to ask the right questions in the right metaphysical context? Mostly by being motivated - driven - internally to keep-seeking, keep-trying; keep brooding and testing putative answers; mobilise the whole self and being in the search.

And of course this must be an honest quest for understanding; and not a covert grab at power, status or whatever.

In other words; to get true answers you need to be that rare thing - a real philosopher.

1 comment:

Chiu ChunLing said...

It would be helpful to have a definition of what metaphysics is.

For instance, the validity of sense data (and particularly of different kinds of sense data) is a key metaphysical cannot do physics without first establishing what sensory feedback is going to be regarded as sufficiently reliable to constitute evidence. The unpopular (because nuanced and complex) answer is that sense data is not absolutely valid, but that with sufficient confirmation through repeated experiences, this unreliability can be mitigated to a degree allowing some sensory data to be accepted as reliable.

In the case of feelings and intuitions, C.S. Lewis presented key insights in his description of faith in Mere Christianity. Shortly put, once we accept some idea of "good" based on the grand sum of our experience of yearnings and persistent inclinations, and some ideas about how that good may be obtained based on our physical experiences and reasoning, we still have to hold fast against mere shifts in mood and whims which continually present alternative ideas about what is "good" as well as bits of evidence which seem to contradict all we presently know.

To abandon the convincing evidences of a lifetime that, for instance, cats cannot talk in response to seeing a youtube video of a series of cats appearing to do so would be ludicrous. Yes, we should be open to new evidence, but we also need to carefully weigh it against the existing evidence and examine the validity of both accepted and new evidence. If the new evidence can be readily explained by knowledge about video editing and the cultural phenomenon of cat memes which does not contradict prior experience, then there ought be no great difficulty in accepting that.

On the other hand, if the explanation of the new evidence do not comport with prior experience, I should hesitate to accept it. One must be cautious about explaining away new evidence by resorting to sophistries which explain away everything else as well. Especially those which explain away themselves.

Thus consistent rules of evidence are another metaphysical assumption. I suppose an exhaustive set of metaphysics would be more than could be contained in this comment (besides which I don't have one to present). But it is important to expand the meaning of "metaphysics", especially considering that the key point is that metaphysics can differ substantially.