“Like the possibility of knowing, now, the entire earth reduced to jet planes’ speeds and missiles’ trajectories, the sense of what we are became all-too-knowable and ultimately explicable, and the mysteries of the metaphysics which whispered, hushed, in our innards, began to speak a little more hurriedly with an excitation like storm clouds’ beginning gatherings.
Be in process, exist, experience, love life, transcend your history, be moral from strength and self-possession, not from a weakness which is battered, not from a music which escalates but does not elevate. To deserve a deity, is to be a person of character, to be for, to be against, to be what can be…a person is a will, a willing to, and one who can talk to the inner dialogue.”
It began, I guess, several centuries ago, the proclamation of the end of the era of metaphysics.
For a while it was banned: that is, talk about metaphysics, as if banning talk would remove the ideas and thoughts. Metaphysics as talk and term, became a way of spurning the obscure, when all that was needed (they said) was care in observation and in experimentation. In the name of objectivity and rationality, and perhaps of progress, metaphysics was banned and bannered and kept in a closely lidded casket as if it were some hornet’s nest.
Except…except that somewhere in our lives, some of the visions of our own being, lurked a metaphysician telling us what was a question, what was an answer, what we are and sometimes, why.
The lurking thinker carried within a big bag of inner dialogues, a mix of wonderments which were kept mostly quiet. How? By naming the stuff which came up, came out, rose to the surface…
The word was consciousness. Consciousness was coherent in some sense of whatever is coherence, connectedness, logicality, it seemed to remain calm.
Metaphysics banned questions of who and why we are, removed, suppressed, pushed to depths in our being, hidden from ourselves, rose to the surface only rarely, and often then in the form of some passions which could be dismissed, if not controlled.
God’s voices spoke still loudly, if not always so clearly, and we wondered about the human understanding: as if understanding understanding would tell us answers to questions whose framing stood still mostly at some place of hum and murmur within us.
We still had some depiction of ourselves as outside of nature, an afterward and afterthought of the physics and material which had made us up, had led to us, but which did not, could not explain us.
As history, knowledge, geography all increased, we began to inventory the world. The other species gained, the earth diminished and we with it, and Nature tamed, rose up with once-buried questions.
The firmness of Euclid’s planes and spaces and forms of forever-is, then became spongy, attacking destiny and the resoluteness in a sense of what we know and what is knowing. The Grand Design, a theory to account for us and myself and what is time and all of that, reduced from fact to theory any other myth or story by which we get to sleep at night. No more design, no progressive sense of evolution, nature invoked itself to explain itself, cause and causality became answers to questions: not much more; mostly considerably less.
Like the possibility of knowing, now, the entire earth reduced to jet planes’ speeds and missiles’ trajectories, the sense of what we are became all-too-knowable and ultimately explicable, and the mysteries of the metaphysics which whispered, hushed, in our innards, began to speak a little more hurriedly with an excitation like storm clouds’ beginning gatherings.
Characters steeped in the religious tellings of their times and of history, Darwin, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, said all was not so right, and they struck out to right things round.
Where are we and how did we get here, and why are things and us not better, not more productive, more wonderfully human, they asked, suspecting, accusing the purveyors of some of the words of a god who did metaphysics, that there are other ways of being…or we know not yet who and what we are.
Nietzsche said Plato set us up with an outlook, a metaphysics which was so powerful that it framed our thinking and could not be gotten “beyond.” Trapped!
We were trapped, humbled by a control of thinking in which the highest success of our being human was to humble ourselves, to be meek and to seek excuses rather than our own strength and power.
Be in process, exist, experience, love life, transcend your history, be moral from strength and self-possession, not from a weakness which is battered, not from a music which escalates but does not elevate. To deserve a deity, is to be a person of character, to be for, to be against, to be what can be…a person is a will, a willing to, and one who can talk to the inner dialogue.
Arrayed against some sense of Nature which wanted it controlled, subsumed, a fateful increase in nature’s technology propelled us here. But our theories, our metaphysics still discuss, just below passion in our kidneys and livers and intestines, a sense of Nature which is older and longer ago.
Here we are, our public selves driving at multi-human speeds on not so free-ways, purveyors of each new day’s technologies, while our metaphysical selves still maintain the inner conversation, finding themselves, somehow, increasingly at odds with today’s-tomorrow us, and pushing, as it were, backwards, toward a sense of Nature which had its roots out there somewhere, outside of us; not, as they say, “man-made.”
The philosophers now technicians of ideas, much as engineers but with less imagination, are trying still in this century to proclaim the end of metaphysics, lacking either nerve to kill-off Plato lest reality disappear (appear?), or the sense of how to do it.
How to proclaim that metaphysics is over, yet still have a business? Losing their home-base of a logic which holds still, they fight new knowledge as it erodes their belief and position of the foundations of what is human, rather than taking hard looks at themselves.
Removed from their own human-ness, at a distance from inner mumblings, they suppress, deny, and still proclaim the end of metaphysics, trying with all their might to preserve it in the self-same sentence and sentencings. How many centuries to end an outlook? What reactions, what new messianisms will it provoke talking out of its two-sided mouth, mouthing revolution…but not just now.
Instead the world moves on rapidly, much as we, in the freeways of global talk and understandings and refusals to talk and understand. Metaphysics, hardened into trench warfare.
Always almost over…always ending, never-ending?