Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why is it Called Metaphysics?

[painting "Noah's Ark" by Edward Hicks, copyright expired]

I Know Metaphysics is a Branch that includes Astrology, Tarotand New Age thinking, but why is it called Metaphysics anyway?

There are a couple of different meanings for metaphysics in

• The "branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value".

• The "theoretical or first principles of a particular discipline: i.e., the metaphysics of law"

• "A priori speculation upon questions that are unanswerable to scientific observation, analysis or experiment."

When we study metaphysics, we are trying to find out about reality, about the world around us and how it was created. We want to know the difference between mind and matter, the seen and the unseen worlds. We ask questions such as, Did I create the world I live in or did it create me?
We also want to know about the underlying principles of the universe. Often we refer to these as universal truths. We want to know the things that have always been true about the world and always will be true. [If you’re interested, look for my article called "The 7 Laws of the Universe".] An example of a universal principle like this is, "All things are always changing to their opposite."

It’s especially important to know that in metaphysics we explore questions that can’t be answered by scientific observation. That’s why good intuition is such an important part of metaphysics and why we spend so much time developing it in our students. Without good intuition, it is difficult to "connect the dots".

By the way, intuition can be learned. The best way to learn intuition is to spend time around someone who is intuitive. As they comment on their observations and the world around them, at first you may think they are making things up, stretching the truth or contriving connections between things. After awhile, you’ll be doing it, too!

Intuition can actually be frightening to people who aren’t intuitive because they think a conclusion has been reached "too quickly", almost snatched out of thin air. And they can’t understand how the conclusion was reached. The ironic thing is that intuitives don’t know how they reach their own conclusions either. They just "know" what they "know". If you’re intuitive, don’t try to justify your conclusions. It only makes it worse. The best answer is probably, "I don’t know. I just know. I’m intuitive."

Intuition is antithetical to the logical way schools like to teach. It is contrary to the way we are taught to think in school. In fact, we discover that logic masks many truths which are self evident. We actually wind up talking ourselves out of truths in order to please those who insist we be logical!

If we look closely at the word metaphysics, we see that it is made up of two words meta + physics. The prefix "meta" means "beyond" or "after" (spatially). It has some other meanings, too, which have evolved from the original meaning of the word "meta" in Greek.

Let’s see how the meaning of the word evolved. Webster says that "meta" is "used with the name of a discipline to designate a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original one." In this sense, we can see that meta-physics developed in order to explain things "beyond physics" or "beyond the physical". In other words, there are some things about reality that can’t be comprehended through the five senses and that is exactly what metaphysics deals with.

The word metaphysics also came into being because of a treatise Aristotle wrote on first principles which followed his treatise on Physics. Therefore it was "meta" or "after" physics [(Ta) meta (ta) phusika: the works after the Physics].

Since the later 19th century, the prefix "meta" has been used to describe sciences that study previous sciences. That is how the meaning of the word shifted. In the 20th century, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger reinterpreted "metaphysics" as "things or concerns arising from the consideration of the Being of things in general."

Don’t let the big words fool you. Metaphysics and it’s handmaidens astrology, Tarot and New Age thinking are ways of exploring how things come into being, in other words the creation of the universe.

In the Bible, this is done through metaphor or myth. In physics it is done by scientific tools such as numbers, formulas and hypotheses. In metaphysics it is done with intuition and other right brain tools.

We study the creation of the universe because we understand we are gods of our own smaller universes. Stop to consider for a moment, at any given time, your "world" is comprised of about 15 people – these are the people you interact with on a routine basis. If you were to change those 15 people, your whole world would change.

We also study the principles of creation so that we can understand how to "un-create" our worlds and then create a better one. We do this when we divorce, end a business, change careers, say good bye to a best friend or lovingly close a chapter in our lives.

Many cultures around the world have a creation myth in which a first world is destroyed because it is imperfect and a second more perfect world follows. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, for example, this myth is Noah and the Ark.

The truth is that each of us will find ourselves in this same process at several times in our lives, like it or not. So it is important when we study the creation of the world with our intuitive mind. This is the study of metaphysics.

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