Sunday, October 01, 2017




metaphysics in a nutshell

D. R. Khashaba

Being and becoming — these two little words sum up the whole of metaphysics.

From the earliest times of human existence humans have wondered about how the world has come about. They invented myths to calm down the nagging perplexity and wonder within themselves. This was not yet metaphysical thinking. Even the Ionian cosmogonists were only looking for the primordial stuff of all things. (Anaximenes came nearest to the metaphysical question,)

In time – and perhaps from the earliest times – there were intellects that raised the deeper question: how and why is there anything at all rather than nothing? Was this a more profound question or just a foolish, meaningless question? — For it is an absolutely unanswerable question. To say that God created the world is the height of inanity, on a par with the modern astrophysicists’ saying that in the beginning was the Big Bang. Both the theologian and the astrophysicist leave the ultimate HOW and WHY gaping.

Being, sheer being, or the being of the world which we find ourselves in, is just there, an ultimate mystery. It is only when we confess the ultimacy of the mystery of Being that the metaphysical quest begins in earnest. The world is there, always there, but it is never the same. Everything in the world is constantly changing. The mighty mountains no more than human flesh, no more than the dainty flower, no more than the dewdrop, no more than the rainbow can boast permanence: the mountains, like everything in nature, in coming to be are passing away. We seek a law, a principle, a pattern that renders this universal constant flux intelligible.

The problem of Becoming merges with the problem of Being (Reality). In Being things are not but are ceaselessly becoming; in Becoming things have their fugitive reality. In wrestling with the problem of Becoming we have the metaphysical answer to the problem of Being.

For Plato what is ultimately real is the Form of the Good that gives birth to intelligence and reality. And where do we find the Form of the Good? The mind in itself, all by itself, probing itself, gives birth to the idea of the Form of the Good.

Moving onward from Plato’s position, I find in the reality of the mind, as our own inner reality, the pattern and principle of all Reality, and in our own intelligent creativity, I find the pattern and the principle of ultimate Reality as pure intelligent creativity. This is an idea bred in and by the mind; it can claim no objectivity; hence I declare it a myth.

All genuine metaphysical thinking – Spinoza’s or Schopenhauer’s for instance – represents ultimate Reality by a pattern created in the mind and by the mind, hence it is necessarily a myth, a metaphysical vision. What use is it then? A metaphysical vision, candidly confessed as myth, appeases our yearning to belong to the All, satisfies our need to find our own being and all being intelligible.

D. R. Khashaba

October 1, 2017

Posted to xnd