The Problems of MetaphysicsMany of the problems facing today's metaphysicians concern the fundamental structure of reality, the underlying material substance and the creative process that gives individual objects their shape and form, their qualities or properties. Apart from appearances and the sense data of experiences, what is the underlying reality, what is there "really?" What "constitutes" a material object? What is its "principle of individuation?" Does a concrete object maintain its identity as it moves in space and time? A surprising number of today's metaphysical questions were first asked over two millennia ago by the ancient Greek philosophers. It is shocking that so little progress has been made toward definitive answers to some of them. Perhaps it is because metaphysics is a search for certain knowledge that is beyond the material world, not derivable from experience, and eternally true (in any "possible world"). Such knowledge is limited to immaterial ideas in logic ("A is A"), mathematics (7 + 5 = 12), and some sentences or propositions that are true by (conventional) definition. Can unchanging eternal ideas and truths provide us any knowledge about the constantly changing material world? Most metaphysicians today stress necessitism and see no place for metaphysical possibility. The "possible worlds" of David Lewis and other include no genuine possibilities. They are deterministic and eliminatively materialist. And what is the existential (or ontological) status of these abstract ideas? Do numbers exist? If so, is their kind of existence different from that of material objects? Do the past and present exist? Are there immaterial minds apart from material brains? How could they interact? Although many metaphysicians claim to be exploring the fundamental structure of reality, the overwhelming fraction of their writings is about problems in analytic linguistic philosophy, that is to say problems with words. Many questions appear to be verbal quibbles. Others lack meaning or have no obvious truth value, dissolving into paradoxes. Based on current practice, we can sharpen the definition of a metaphysician to be an analytic language philosopher who discusses metaphysical problems. By contrast, a metaphysicist is an information philosopher who is familiar with modern physics, chemistry, and biology, as well as the interpretation of quantum physics. The fundamental structure of reality today must confront the mysteries and puzzles of quantum reality. For example, the wave function of a quantum particle is pure information. Some interpretations of quantum mechanics are fundamentally metaphysical, problems for a metaphysicist. Note that many metaphysical problems are dichotomies, with either/or debates, suggesting that a common underlying theme is some kind of dualism, almost always the dualism between materialism and idealism (pure abstract information).
Abstract Entities (vs. Material Beings)
Change (Being and Becoming)
Colocation (The Lump of Clay and the Statue)
Composition (Parts and Wholes)
Identity (and Differences)
Necessity (or Contingency)
Persistence (Perdurance and Endurance)Normal | Teacher | Scholar