Nexus Metaphysics, Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Physics, Cosmology, Religious Studies.
Ontology is the branch of philosophy that philosophers up to the eighteenth century used to call metaphysics, and that positivists since Comte in the nineteenth century condemn as balderdash. This later judgment seems excessive. Ontology 'aims at discovering a framework for understanding the kinds of things that constitute the world's structure' (Fetzer and Almeder 1993:101). Now some frameworks for understanding the world are better than others, and it is the search for these that gives ontological investigations merit. Different views on what metaphysics is : (1) an inquiry into what exists, or what really exists; (2) the science of reality, as opposed to appearance; (3) the study of the world as a whole; (4) a theory of first principles or irrefutable truths.
Topics discussed include how the ultimate structure and constitution of reality is, how language relates to reality (Philosophy of Language), truth and objectivity, mind and nature and the existence of external nature, the mind body relationship (Philosophy of Mind), necessity and analyticity, identity and substance, universals and particulars, causation and laws, time and space. the existence of forms or ideals, the existence of god, the concept of spirit (Hegel), ontology , Individualism,
Platonism, Aristotelianism, Thomism, Cartesianism (dualism), idealism, realism, and materialism. Plato made disctinction between phenomena, which are objects of opinion, and noumena, which are objects of knowledge (or realities, Forms, or Ideals)
Assumptions about the world :
Pluralisation of life worlds : Key expressions are the 'new obscurity' (Habermas 1996) or 'individualisation of ways of livign and biographical patterns' (Beck 1992). The inability to explain the world has caused what Weber called (1919) the disenchantment of the world. Bonss and Hartmann (1985): 'On the condition of the disenchantment of ideals of objectivism, we can no longer unreflectively start from the notion of objectively true sentences. What remains is the possibility of statements which are related to subjects and situations, and which a sociologically articulated concept of knowledge would have to establish.'
(Interactionist view) : inevitability of contingencies, importance of process, complexity of phenomena. The external world is a symbolic representation. Meanings are aspects of interactions. Actions are embedded in interactions. Contingencies are likely to arise in an action. Actions are accompanied by temporality. Courses of interaction arise out of shared perspectives. Humans develop selves that enter into their actions. Actions are preceded, accompanied or succeeded by reflexive interactions. Actions are not necessarily rational. Actions have emotional aspects. Means-ends analysis not always appropriate. Membership in social worlds and subworlds are conditioning actors perspectives. Problematic interactions, as opposed to routine interactions, involve thought, and possibly debate.
"We are confronting a universe marked by tremendous fluidity; it won't and can't stand still. It is a universe where fragmentation, splintering, and disappearance are the mirror images of appearance, emergence, and coalescence. This is a universe where nothing is strictly determined. Its phenomena should be partly determinable via naturalistic analysis, including the phenomenon of men participating in the construction of the structures which shape their lives. (Strauss, Anselm, 1993)
Nexus Immortality, Epicureus
You know, it's really very peculiar. To be mortal is the most basic human experience and yet man has never been able to accept it, grasp it, and behave accordingly. Man doesn't know how to be mortal. - Milan Kundera, Immortality
To be immortal is commonplace; except for man, all creatures are immortal for they are ignorant of death; what is divine, terrible, incomprehensible, is to know that one is mortal. - J. L. Borges, ‘The immortal’
Warren, James. Facing Death - Epicurus and his Critics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Oxford Scholarship Online. Oxford University Press. 10 September 2010 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199252890.001.0001>
- Martin Rees
- John Barrow
- Phil Anderson
- Stephen Hawkings
- Timothy Ferris, The Whole Shebang http://www.timothyferris.com/books/TheWholeShebang.html
Anthropic principle http://www.anthropic-principle.com/ Focuses on anthropic reasoning, the Doomsday argument, observational selection effects, and related issues in cosmology and evolutionary biology, general theories of everything and the multiple worlds theories of quantum physics ; http://www.talkreason.org/index.cfm?category=15 ;
Redundancy of God argument Has little depth, as Paul Davies showed easily enough in the Guardian: if you have any kind of law-like regularity in the universe, the door is always open for those who like to attribute it to God. And Mary Warnock (no religious apologist) points out—or reminds us that Hume pointed out—that the Biblical God is not simply or even primarily a God who made the universe. It’s a sterile debate.
M-theory a 'theory of everything', an extension of string theory, which tries to reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. For Hawking and Mlodinow it is a family of different theories, claiming that there are many different universes created with different laws out of nothing. "a God blowing soap bubbles." Hawking and Mlodinow assert that “their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather, these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law. They are a prediction of science.” Many of these universes would be quite different from ours, they add, and “quite unsuitable for the existence of any form of life,” or at least any form of life remotely like ours. M-theory, if it is confirmed, would be “the unifying theory Einstein was hoping to find,” the authors write. But it’s a somewhat disappointing theory, a patchwork quilt rather than a fine, seamless garment.