So, metaphysics then, with an extra section on time for added confusion. Yesterday I read a chapter by Strawson on logic, epistemology, and ontology (with a focus on ontology) – I can’t say I gained much more than a tentative grasp of what was being said, I think more background knowledge than I possesses was assumed. I figure the best way to deal with my confusion is to hit it repeatedly with some metaphysics until comprehension dawns. Thus, my reward for doing teaching prep (topic this week is deontology) was to read Simon Blackburn on metaphysics.
The meaning of metaphysics is contended, but I understand it to be concerned with reality and existence – what are the general features of the world and how do we come to know and understand them? Some of the most interesting metaphysical questions are how we are to understand the nature of human beings and their relationships both with other beings, and with each other.
Metaphysical enquiry can help us resolve the tension between the ideas that on the the one hand we have free will, yet on the other we are governed by deterministic laws of nature (there’s still a way to go in answering that one for good). And, it can help us come to understand puzzles such as how the mind and the body relate to one another.
Obviously, it’s going to take more than a couple of readings to make me a metaphysician, but I’m going to keep plugging at it until I at least feel more than vaguely conversant in the subject. Next stop – one of the excellent podcasts from Philosophy Bites.