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www.democraticunderground.com › Discuss23 posts - 12 authors - Mar 3, 2010
A Metaphysical way to Singularity What ever made us …. Thanks for reminding of evolution from teenager in cube metamorphosis. I find this …
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has become a great inspiration to me. I have seen many such political campaigns in my long life. This one literally, fascinates me. I have nothing against Mitt Romney, as a person, as a GOP candidate or as a moral philosopher, preaching the world his good word.
Basically, I am a critic. I see things, not seen by others. Not a big deal. He can see what I see. Provided, he ditch his campaign managers, returns the millions he collected to his generous donors, pays his due taxes, not at the rates, lowest possible rates of roughly 13% he admitted but at the rate, maximum rate that other US citizens pay.
Thank God almighty for giving him the moral courage to see the future and quit.
Just go away and enjoy his millions in Havana, Oops, Bahama where it is hidden from any US income tax sleuths chasing it under a boulder or a spit of sand dune.
Take my offer, my Mitt-Man, Oops, Quit-Mitt-Man before it gets uglier, philosophically, not politically speaking.
Oops, forgot all about his charming wife, Ann and several well-bred and well-fed kids, grand kids, friends and neighbors of his lakeside villa. Take them too. Have fun in the sun.
…and I am Sid Harth@webworldismyoyster.com
||This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (October 2010)|
Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal’s body structure through cell growth and differentiation. Some insects, amphibians, molluscs, crustaceans, Cnidarians, echinoderms and tunicates undergo metamorphosis, which is usually accompanied by a change of habitat or behavior.
Scientific usage of the term is exclusive, and is not applied to general aspects of cell growth, including rapid growth spurts. References to “metamorphosis” in mammals are imprecise and only colloquial, but historically idealist ideas of transformation and monadology, as in Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants, influenced the development of ideas of evolution.
All insects in the Pterygota undergo a marked change in form, texture and physical appearance or metamorphosis, from immature to adult. These insects either have hemimetabolous development, and undergo an incomplete or partial metamorphosis, or holometabolous development, which undergo a complete metamorphosis, including a pupal or resting stage between the larval and adult forms.
In hemimetabolous insects, immature stages are called nymphs. Development proceeds in repeated stages of growth and ecdysis (moulting); these stages are called instars. The juvenile forms closely resemble adults, but are smaller and lack adult features such as wings and genitalia. This process is known as “partial” or “incomplete” metamorphosis. The differences between nymphs in different instars are small, often just differences in body proportions and the number of segments, although external wing buds will form in later instars.
In holometabolous insects, immature stages are called larvae, and differ markedly from the adults. Insects which undergo holometabolism pass through a larval stage, then enter an inactive state called pupa, or chrysalis, and finally emerge as adults. This process is called “complete” metamorphosis. It is theorized that the pupal stage is the evolutionary compaction of all the nymphal stages of their hemimetabolous ancestors, while the larval stage is an extended, mobile form of the developing embryo.
Neurosecretory cells in an insect’s brain secrete a hormone, the prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH) that activates prothoracic glands, which secrete a second hormone, usually Ecdysone (a ecdysteroid), that induces ecdysis.
PTTH also stimulates the corpora allata, a retrocerebral organ, to produce juvenile hormone (JH), which prevents the development of adult characteristics during ecdysis. In holometabolous insects, molts between larval instars have a high level of JH, the moult to the pupal stage has a low level of JH, and the final, or imaginal, molt has no JH present at all.
In typical amphibian development, eggs are laid in water and larvae are adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. Frogs, toads, and newts all hatch from the egg as larvae with external gills but it would take some while for the amphibians to interact outside with pulmonary respiration. Afterwards, newt larvae start a predatory lifestyle, while tadpoles mostly scrape food off surfaces with their horny tooth ridges.
Metamorphosis in amphibians is regulated by thyroxin concentration in the blood, which stimulates metamorphosis, and prolactin, which counteracts its effect. Specific events are dependent on threshold values for different tissues. Because most embryonic development is outside the parental body, development is subject to many adaptations due to specific ecological circumstances. For this reason tadpoles can have horny ridges for teeth, whiskers, and fins. They also make use of the lateral line organ. After metamorphosis, these organs become redundant and will be resorbed by controlled cell death, called apoptosis. The amount of adaptation to specific ecological circumstances is remarkable, with many discoveries still being made.
Frogs and toads
With frogs and toads, the external gills of the newly hatched tadpole are covered with a gill sac after a few days, and lungs are quickly formed. Front legs are formed under the gill sac, and hindlegs are visible a few days later. Following that there is usually a longer stage during which the tadpole lives off a vegetarian diet. Tadpoles use a relatively long, spiral‐shaped gut to digest that diet.
Rapid changes in the body can then be observed as the lifestyle of the frog changes completely. The spiral‐shaped mouth with horny tooth ridges is resorbed together with the spiral gut. The animal develops a big jaw, and its gills disappear along with its gill sac. Eyes and legs grow quickly, a tongue is formed, and all this is accompanied by associated changes in the neural networks (development of stereoscopic vision, loss of the lateral line system, etc.) All this can happen in about a day, so it is truly a metamorphosis. It isn’t until a few days later that the tail is reabsorbed, due to the higher thyroxin concentrations required for tail resorption.
In newts, there is no true metamorphosis because newt larvae already feed as predators and continue doing so as adults. Newts’ gills are never covered by a gill sac and will be resorbed only just before the animal leaves the water. Just as in tadpoles, their lungs are functional early, but newts don’t make as much use of them as tadpoles do. Newts often have an aquatic phase in spring and summer, and a land phase in winter. For adaptation to a water phase, prolactin is the required hormone, and for adaptation to the land phase, thyroxin. External gills do not return in subsequent aquatic phases because these are completely absorbed upon leaving the water for the first time.
Metamorphosis in fish and invertebrate aquatic animals
Little known is that also fish, i.e. both bony fish and non-bony fish Superclass, undergo metamorphosis. Fish metamorphosis is typically under strong control by thyroid hormone. Examples include the (non-bony fish) Agnatha and lamprey and one bony fish the salmon, which must change from a freshwater to saltwater lifestyle (diadromous). Additionally, the flatfish begins its life bilaterally symmetrical, and one eye must move to join the other side of the fish in its adult form. The European eel has a number of metamorphoses, from the larval stage to the leptocephalus stage, then a quick outspoken metamorphosis from leptocephalus to glass eel at the edge of the continental shelf (8 days for Japanese eel), two months at the border of fresh and salt water the glass eel undergoes a quick metamorphosis into elver, which then has a long stage of growth followed by a more gradual metamorphosis to the migrating phase. In the pre-adult fresh water stage it also has phenotypic plasticity because fish-eating eels develop very wide mandibles, making the head look blunt. Leptocephali are very common and a common phase for all Elopomorpha (Tarpon- and eellike fishes). Most bony fishes undergo metamorphosis after absorption of the yolk sac because after that phase they need to be able to feed for themselves.
- ^ Metamorphosis, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A, at Perseus
- ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
- ^ Gullan, P. J. & Cranston, P. S. 6.2 Life History Patterns and Phases in The Insects: An Outline of Entomology. pp. 143-153. 2005 by Blackwell Publishing
- ^ Gullan, P. J. & Cranston, P. S. 6.2 Life History Patterns and Phases in The Insects: An Outline of Entomology. pp. 143-153. 2005 by Blackwell Publishing
- ^ Douglas J. Blackiston, Elena Silva Casey & Martha R. Weiss (2008). “Retention of memory through metamorphosis: can a moth remember what it learned as a caterpillar?”. PLoS ONE 3 (3): e1736. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001736. PMC 2248710. PMID 18320055.
- ^ Gullan, P.J. & Cranston, P.S. 6.3 Process and Control of Moulting in The Insects: An Outline of Entomology. pp. 153-156 2005 by Blackwell Publishing
- ^ Mader, Sylvia, Biology 9th ed.Ch. 31
- Davies, R.G., “Outlines of Entomology”, Chapman and Hall: chapter 3
- Williamson D I (2003). “The Origins of Larvae”, xviii + 261 pp, ISBN 1-4020-1514-3. Kluwer. Dordrecht.
- Description of metamorphosis and its different forms
- Info on butterflies and butterfly metamorphosis
- Info on insect hormones
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:
- “What is there?”
- “What is it like?”
A person who studies metaphysics is called a metaphysicist or a metaphysician. The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world, e.g., existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into the basic categories of being and how they relate to each other. Another central branch of metaphysics is cosmology, the study of the totality of all phenomena within the universe.
Prior to the modern history of science, scientific questions were addressed as a part of metaphysics known as natural philosophy. The term science itself meant “knowledge” of, originating from epistemology. The scientific method, however, transformed natural philosophy into an empirical activity deriving from experiment unlike the rest of philosophy. By the end of the 18th century, it had begun to be called “science” to distinguish it from philosophy. Thereafter, metaphysics denoted philosophical enquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence.
The word “metaphysics” derives from the Greek words μετά (metá) (“beyond”, “upon” or “after”) and φυσικά (physiká) (“physics”). It was first used as the title for several of Aristotle’s works, because they were usually anthologized after the works on physics in complete editions. The prefix meta- (“beyond”) indicates that these works come “after” the chapters on physics. However, Aristotle himself did not call the subject of these books “Metaphysics”: he referred to it as “first philosophy.” The editor of Aristotle’s works, Andronicus of Rhodes, is thought to have placed the books on first philosophy right after another work, Physics, and called them τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικὰ βιβλία (ta meta ta physika biblia) or “the books that come after the [books on] physics”. This was misread by Latin scholiasts, who thought it meant “the science of what is beyond the physical.”
However, once the name was given, the commentators sought to find intrinsic reasons for its appropriateness. For instance, it was understood to mean “the science of the world beyond nature (phusis in Greek),” that is, the science of the immaterial. Again, it was understood to refer to the chronological or pedagogical order among our philosophical studies, so that the “metaphysical sciences would mean, those that we study after having mastered the sciences that deal with the physical world” (St. Thomas Aquinas, “In Lib, Boeth. de Trin.”, V, 1).
There is a widespread use of the term in current popular literature, which replicates this error, i.e. that metaphysical means spiritual non-physical: thus, “metaphysical healing” means healing by means of remedies that are not physical.
Origins and nature of metaphysics
Although the word “metaphysics” goes back to Aristotelean philosophy, Aristotle himself credited earlier philosophers with dealing with metaphysical questions. The first known philosopher, according to Aristotle, is Thales of Miletus, who taught that all things derive from a single first cause or Arche.
Scientific questions in ancient Greece were addressed to metaphysicians, but by the 18th century, the skeptics’ How do you know? led to a new branch of philosophy called epistemology (how we know) to fill-out the metaphysics (what we know) and this led to science (Latin to know) and to the scientific method. Skepticism evolved epistemology out of metaphysics. Thereafter, metaphysics denoted philosophical inquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence.
Metaphysics as a discipline was a central part of academic inquiry and scholarly education even before the age of Aristotle, who considered it “the Queen of Sciences.” Its issues were considered[by whom?] no less important than the other main formal subjects of physical science, medicine, mathematics, poetics and music. Since the beginning of modern philosophy during the seventeenth century, problems that were not originally considered within the bounds of metaphysics have been added to its purview, while other problems considered metaphysical for centuries are now typically subjects of their own separate regions in philosophy, such as philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, philosophy of perception, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.
In some cases, subjects of metaphysical scholarship have been found to be entirely physical and natural, thus making them part of science proper (cf. the theory of Relativity).
- The study of being and existence; includes the definition and classification of entities, physical or mental, the nature of their properties, and the nature of change.
- Natural Theology
- The study of a God or Gods; involves many topics, including among others the nature of religion and the world, existence of the divine, questions about Creation, and the numerous religious or spiritual issues that concern humankind in general.
- Universal science
- The study of first principles, such as the law of noncontradiction, which Aristotle believed were the foundation of all other inquiries.
Universal science or first philosophy treats of “being qua being”—that is, what is basic to all science before one adds the particular details of any one science. Essentially “being qua being” may be translated as “being insofar as being goes” or as “being in terms of being.” This includes topics such as causality, substance, species and elements, as well as the notions of relation, interaction, and finitude.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2011)|
Most positions that can be taken with regards to any of the following questions are endorsed by one or another notable philosopher. It is often difficult to frame the questions in a non-controversial manner.
Being, existence and reality
The nature of Being is a perennial topic in metaphysics. For instance, Parmenides taught that reality was a single unchanging Being. The 20th century philosopher Heidegger thought previous philosophers have lost sight of the question of Being (qua Being) in favour of the questions of beings (existing things), so that a return to the Parmenidean approach was needed. An ontological catalogue is an attempt to list the fundamental constituents of reality. The question of whether or not existence is a predicate has been discussed since the Early Modern period, not least in relation to the ontological argument for the existence of God. Existence, that something is, has been contrasted with essence, the question of what something is. Reflections on the nature of the connection and distinction between existence and essence dates back to Aristotle‘s Metaphysics, and it found one of its later most influential interpretations in the ontology of the eleventh century metaphysician Avicenna (Ibn Sina). Since existence without essence seems blank, it is associated with nothingness by philosophers such as Hegel.
Empirical and conceptual objects
Objects and their properties
The world seems to contain many individual things, both physical, like apples, and abstract such as love and the number 3; the former objects are called particulars. Particulars are said to have attributes, e.g. size, shape, color, location and two particulars may have some such attributes in common. Such attributes, are also termed Universals or Properties; the nature of these, and whether they have any real existence and if so of what kind, is a long-standing issue, realism and nominalism representing opposing views.
Metaphysicians concerned with questions about universals or particulars are interested in the nature of objects and their properties, and the relationship between the two. Some, e.g. Plato, argue that properties are abstract objects, existing outside of space and time, to which particular objects bear special relations. David Armstrong holds that universals exist in time and space but only at their instantiation and their discovery is a function of science. Others maintain that particulars are a bundle or collection of properties (specifically, a bundle of properties they have).
Cosmology and cosmogony
Metaphysical Cosmology is the branch of metaphysics that deals with the world as the totality of all phenomena in space and time. Historically, it has had quite a broad scope, and in many cases was founded in religion. The ancient Greeks did not draw a distinction between this use and their model for the cosmos. However, in modern times it addresses questions about the Universe which are beyond the scope of the physical sciences. It is distinguished from religious cosmology in that it approaches these questions using philosophical methods (e.g. dialectics). Cosmogony deals specifically with the origin of the universe.
Modern metaphysical cosmology and cosmogony try to address questions such as:
- What is the origin of the Universe? What is its first cause? Is its existence necessary? (see monism, pantheism, emanationism and creationism)
- What are the ultimate material components of the Universe? (see mechanism, dynamism, hylomorphism, atomism)
- What is the ultimate reason for the existence of the Universe? Does the cosmos have a purpose? (see teleology)
Determinism and free will
Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition, decision and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. It holds that no random, spontaneous, stochastic, mysterious, or miraculous events occur. The principal consequence of the deterministic claim is that it poses a challenge to the existence of free will.
The problem of free will is the problem of whether rational agents exercise control over their own actions and decisions. Addressing this problem requires understanding the relation between freedom and causation, and determining whether the laws of nature are causally deterministic. Some philosophers, known as Incompatibilists, view determinism and free will as mutually exclusive. If they believe in determinism, they will therefore believe free will to be an illusion, a position known as Hard Determinism. Proponents range from Baruch Spinoza to Ted Honderich.
Identity and change
The Greeks took some extreme positions on the nature of change: Parmenides denied that change occurs at all, while Heraclitus thought change was ubiquitous: “[Y]ou cannot step into the same river twice.”
Identity, sometimes called Numerical Identity, is the relation that a “thing” bears to itself, and which no “thing” bears to anything other than itself (cf. sameness). According to Leibniz, if some object x is identical to some object y, then any property that x has, y will have as well. However, it seems, too, that objects can change over time. If one were to look at a tree one day, and the tree later lost a leaf, it would seem that one could still be looking at that same tree. Two rival theories to account for the relationship between change and identity are Perdurantism, which treats the tree as a series of tree-stages, and Endurantism, which maintains that the tree—the same tree—is present at every stage in its history.
Mind and matter
The nature of matter was a problem in its own right in early philosophy. Aristotle himself introduced the idea of matter in general to the Western world, adapting the term hyle, which originally meant “lumber.” Early debates centered on identifying a single underlying principle. Water was claimed by Thales, air by Anaximenes, Apeiron (the Boundless) by Anaximander, fire by Heraclitus. Democritus, in conjunction with his mentor, Leucippus, conceived of an atomic theory many centuries before it was accepted by modern science. It is worth noting, however, that the grounds necessary to ensure validity to the proposed theory’s veridical nature were not scientific, but just as philosophical as those traditions espoused by Thales and Anaximander.
The nature of the mind and its relation to the body has been seen as more of a problem as science has progressed in its mechanistic understanding of the brain and body. Proposed solutions often have ramifications about the nature of mind as a whole. René Descartes proposed substance dualism, a theory in which mind and body are essentially different, with the mind having some of the attributes traditionally assigned to the soul, in the seventeenth century. This creates a conceptual puzzle about how the two interact (which has received some strange answers, such as occasionalism). Evidence of a close relationship between brain and mind, such as the Phineas Gage case, have made this form of dualism increasingly unpopular.
Another proposal discussing the mind-body problem is idealism, in which the material is sweepingly eliminated in favor of the mental. Idealists, such as George Berkeley, claim that material objects do not exist unless perceived and only as perceptions. The “German idealists” such as Fichte, Hegel and Schopenhauer took Kant as their starting-point, although it is debatable how much of an idealist Kant himself was. Idealism is also a common theme in Eastern philosophy. Related ideas are panpsychism and panexperientialism, which say everything has a mind rather than everything exists in a mind. Alfred North Whitehead was a twentieth-century exponent of this approach.
Idealism is a monistic theory which holds that there is a single universal substance or principle. Neutral monism, associated in different forms with Baruch Spinoza and Bertrand Russell, seeks to be less extreme than idealism, and to avoid the problems of substance dualism. It claims that existence consists of a single substance that in itself is neither mental nor physical, but is capable of mental and physical aspects or attributes – thus it implies a dual-aspect theory.
For the last one hundred years, the dominant metaphysics has without a doubt been materialistic monism. Type identity theory, token identity theory, functionalism, reductive physicalism, nonreductive physicalism, eliminative materialism, anomalous monism, property dualism, epiphenomenalism and emergence are just some of the candidates for a scientifically informed account of the mind. (It should be noted that while many of these positions are dualisms, none of them are substance dualism.)
Prominent recent philosophers of mind include David Armstrong, Ned Block, David Chalmers, Patricia and Paul Churchland, Donald Davidson, Daniel Dennett, Douglas Hofstadter, Jerry Fodor, David Lewis, Thomas Nagel, Hilary Putnam, John Searle, John Smart, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Fred Alan Wolf.
Necessity and possibility
Metaphysicians investigate questions about the ways the world could have been. David Lewis, in “On the Plurality of Worlds,” endorsed a view called Concrete Modal realism, according to which facts about how things could have been are made true by other concrete worlds, just like ours, in which things are different. Other philosophers, such as Gottfried Leibniz, have dealt with the idea of possible worlds as well. The idea of necessity is that any necessary fact is true across all possible worlds; that is, we could not imagine it to be otherwise. A possible fact is true in some possible world, even if not in the actual world. For example, it is possible that cats could have had two tails, or that any particular apple could have not existed. By contrast, certain propositions seem necessarily true, such as analytic propositions, e.g. “All bachelors are unmarried.” The particular example of analytic truth being necessary is not universally held among philosophers. A less controversial view might be that self-identity is necessary, as it seems fundamentally incoherent to claim that for any x, it is not identical to itself; this is known as the law of identity, a putative “first principle”. Aristotle describes the principle of non-contradiction, “It is impossible that the same quality should both belong and not belong to the same thing . . . This is the most certain of all principles . . . Wherefore they who demonstrate refer to this as an ultimate opinion. For it is by nature the source of all the other axioms.”
Religion and spirituality
Theology is the study of a god or gods and the nature of the divine. Whether there is a god (monotheism), many gods (polytheism) or no gods (atheism), or whether it is unknown or unknowable whether any gods exist (agnosticism; apophatic theology), and whether the Divine intervenes directly in the world (theism), or its sole function is to be the first cause of the universe (deism); these and whether a God or gods and the World are different (as in panentheism and dualism), or are identical (as in pantheism), are some of the primary metaphysical questions concerning philosophy of religion.
Within the standard Western philosophical tradition, theology reached its peak under the medieval school of thought known as scholasticism, which focused primarily on the metaphysical aspects of Christianity. The work of the scholastics is still an integral part of modern philosophy, with key figures such as Thomas Aquinas still playing an important role in the philosophy of religion.
Space and time
In Book XI of the Confessions, Saint Augustine of Hippo asked the fundamental question about the nature of time. A traditional realist position in ontology is that time and space have existence apart from the human mind. Idealists, including Kant, claim that space and time are mental constructs used to organize perceptions, or are otherwise surreal.
Suppose that one is sitting at a table, with an apple in front of him or her; the apple exists in space and in time, but what does this statement indicate? Could it be said, for example, that space is like an invisible three-dimensional grid in which the apple is positioned? Suppose the apple, and all physical objects in the universe, were removed from existence entirely. Would space as an “invisible grid” still exist? René Descartes and Leibniz believed it would not, arguing that without physical objects, “space” would be meaningless because space is the framework upon which we understand how physical objects are related to each other. Newton, on the other hand, argued for an absolute “container” space. The pendulum swung back to relational space with Einstein and Ernst Mach.
While the absolute/relative debate, and the realism debate are equally applicable to time and space, time presents some special problems of its own. The flow of time has been denied in ancient times by Parmenides and more recently by J. M. E. McTaggart in his paper The Unreality of Time.
The direction of time, also known as “time’s arrow“, is also a puzzle, although physics is now driving the debate rather than philosophy. It appears that fundamental laws are time-reversible and the arrow of time must be an “emergent” phenomenon, perhaps explained by a statistical understanding of thermodynamic entropy.
Common-sense tells us that objects persist across time, that there is some sense in which you are the same person you were yesterday, in which the oak is the same as the acorn, in which you perhaps even can step into the same river twice. Philosophers have developed two rival theories for how this happens, called “endurantism” and “perdurantism“. Broadly speaking, endurantists hold that a whole object exists at each moment of its history, and the same object exists at each moment. Perdurantists believe that objects are four-dimensional entities made up of a series of temporal parts like the frames of a movie.
Styles and methods of metaphysics
- Rational versus empirical. Rationalism is a method or a theory “in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive” (Bourke 263). Rationalist metaphysicians aim to deduce the nature of reality by armchair, a priori reasoning. Empiricism holds that the senses are the primary source of knowledge about the world.
- Analytical versus systemic. The “system building” style of metaphysics attempts to answer all the important questions in a comprehensive and coherent way, providing a theory of everything or complete picture of the world. The contrasting approach is to deal with problems piecemeal.
- Dogmatic versus critical. Under the scholastic approach of the Middle Ages, a number of themes and ideas were not open to be challenged. Kant and others thought this “dogmatism” should be replaced by a critical approach.
- Individual versus collective. Scholasticism and Analytical philosophy are examples of collaborative approaches to philosophy. Many other philosophers expounded individual visions.
- Parsimonious versus Adequate. Should a metaphysical system posit as little as possible, or as much as needed?
- Descriptive versus revisionary. Peter Strawson makes the distinction between descriptive metaphysics, which sets out to investigate our deepest assumptions, and revisionary metaphysics, which sets out to improve or rectify them.
History and schools of metaphysics
Pre-Socratic metaphysics in Greece
The first known philosopher, according to Aristotle, is Thales of Miletus. Rejecting mythological and divine explanations, he sought a single first cause or Arche (origin or beginning) under which all phenomena could be explained, and concluded that this first cause was in fact moisture or water. Thales also taught that the world is harmonious, has a harmonious structure, and thus is intelligible to rational understanding. Other Miletians, such as Anaximander and Anaximenes, also had a monistic conception of the first cause.
Another school was the Eleatics, Italy. The group was founded in the early fifth century BCE by Parmenides, and included Zeno of Elea and Melissus of Samos. Methodologically, the Eleatics were broadly rationalist, rejecting the epistemological validity of sense experience, and instead took logical standards of clarity and necessity to be the criteria of truth. Parmenides’ chief doctrine was that reality is a single unchanging and universal Being. Zeno used reductio ad absurdum, to demonstrate the illusory nature of change and time in his paradoxes.
Heraclitus of Ephesus, in contrast, made change central, teaching that “all things flow”. His philosophy, expressed in brief aphorisms, is quite cryptic. For instance, he also taught the unity of opposites.
Socrates and Plato
Socrates is known for his dialectic or questioning approach to philosophy rather than a positive metaphysical doctrine. His pupil, Plato is famous for his theory of forms (which he confusingly places in the mouth of Socrates in the dialogues he wrote to expound it). Platonic realism (also considered a form of idealism) is considered to be a solution to the problem of universals; i.e., what particular objects have in common is that they share a specific Form which is universal to all others of their respective kind.
The theory has a number of other aspects:
- Epistemological: knowledge of the Forms is more certain than mere sensory data.
- Ethical: The Form of the Good sets an objective standard for morality.
- Time and Change: The world of the Forms is eternal and unchanging. Time and change belong only to the lower sensory world. “Time is a moving image of Eternity”.
- Abstract objects and mathematics: Numbers, geometrical figures, etc., exist mind-independently in the World of Forms.
Platonism developed into Neoplatonism, a philosophy with a monotheistic and mystical flavour that survived well into the early Christian era.
Plato’s pupil Aristotle wrote widely on almost every subject, including metaphysics. His solution to the problem of universals contrasts with Plato’s. Whereas Platonic Forms exist in a separate realm, and can exist uninstantiated in visible things, Aristotelean essences “indwell” in particulars.
The Aristotelean theory of change and causality stretches to four causes: the material, formal, efficient and final. The efficient cause corresponds to what is now known as a cause simpliciter. Final causes are explicitly teleological, a concept now regarded as controversial in science. The Matter/Form dichotomy was to become highly influential in later philosophy as the substance/essence distinction.
Scholasticism and the Middle Ages
Between about 1100 and 1500, philosophy as a discipline took place as part of the Catholic church‘s teaching system, known as scholasticism. Scholastic philosophy took place within an established framework blending Christian theology with Aristotelean teachings. Although fundamental orthodoxies could not be challenged, there were nonetheless deep metaphysical disagreements, particularly over the problem of universals, which engaged Duns Scotus and Pierre Abelard. William of Ockham is remembered for his principle of ontological parsimony.
In the early modern period (17th and 18th centuries), the system-building scope of philosophy is often linked to the rationalist method of philosophy, that is the technique of deducing the nature of the world by pure reason. The scholastic concepts of substance and accident were employed.
- Leibniz proposed in his Monadology a plurality of non-interacting substances.
- Descartes is famous for his Dualism of material and mental substances.
- Spinoza believed reality was a single substance of God-or-nature.
British empiricism marked something of a reaction to rationalist and system-building philosophy, or speculative metaphysics as it was pejoratively termed. The sceptic David Hume famously declared that most metaphysics should be consigned to the flames (see below). Hume was notorious among his contemporaries as one of the first philosophers to openly doubt religion, but is better known now for his critique of causality. John Stuart Mill, Thomas Reid and John Locke were less sceptical, embracing a more cautious style of metaphysics based on realism, common sense and science. Other philosophers, notably George Berkely were led from empiricism to idealistic metaphysics.
Immanuel Kant attempted a grand synthesis and revision of the trends already mentioned: scholastic philosophy, systematic metaphysics, and sceptical empiricism, not to forget the burgeoning science of his day. Like the systems builders, he had an overarching framework in which all questions were to be addressed. Like Hume, who famously woke him from his ‘dogmatic slumbers’, he was suspicious of metaphysical speculation, and also places much emphasis on the limitations of the human mind.
Kant saw rationalist philosophers as aiming for a kind of metaphysical knowledge he defined as the synthetic apriori — that is knowledge that does not come from the senses (it is a apriori) but is nonetheless about reality (synthetic). Inasmuch as it is about reality, it is unlike abstract mathematical propositions (which he terms analytical apriori), and being apriori it is distinct from empirical, scientific knowledge (which he terms synthetic aposteriori). The only synthetic apriori knowledge we can have is of how our minds organise the data of the senses; that organising framework is space and time, which for Kant have no mind-independent existence, but nonetheless operate uniformly in all humans. Apriori knowledge of space and time is all that remains of metaphysics as traditionally conceived. There is a reality beyond sensory data or phenomena, which he calls the realm of noumena; however, we cannot know it as it is in itself, but only as it appears to us. He allows himself to speculate that the origins of God, morality, and free will might exist in the noumenal realm, but these possibilities have to be set against its basic unknowability for humans. Although he saw himself as having disposed of metaphysics, in a sense, he has generally been regarded in retrospect, as having a metaphysics of his own.
19th Century philosophy was overwhelmingly influenced by Kant and his successors. Schopenhauer, Schelling, Fichte and Hegel all purveyed their own panoramic versions of German Idealism, Kant’s own caution about metaphysical speculation, and refutation of idealism, having fallen by the wayside. The idealistic impulse continued into the early 20th century with British idealists such as F. H. Bradley and J. M. E. McTaggart.
Early analytical philosophy and positivism
During the period when idealism was dominant in philosophy, science had been making great advances. The arrival of a new generation of scientifically minded philosophers led to a sharp decline in the popularity of idealism during the 1920s.
The early to mid 20th century philosophy also saw a trend to reject metaphysical questions as meaningless. The driving force behind this tendency was the philosophy of Logical Positivism as espoused by the Vienna Circle.
At around the same time, the American pragmatists were steering a middle course between materialism and idealism. System-building metaphysics, with a fresh inspiration from science, was revived by A. N. Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne.
The forces that shaped analytical philosophy — the break with idealism, and the influence of science — were much less significant outside the English speaking world, although there was a shared turn toward language. Continental philosophy continued in a trajectory from post Kantianism.
The phenomenology of Husserl and others was intended as a collaborative project for the investigation of the features and structure of consciousness common to all humans, in line with Kant’s basing his synthetic apriori on the uniform operation of consciousness. It was officially neutral with regards to ontology, but was nonetheless to spawn a number of metaphysical systems. Brentano‘s concept of intentionality would become widely influential, including on analytical philosophy.
Heidegger, author of Being and Time, saw himself as re-focusing on Being-qua-being, introducing the novel concept of Dasein in the process. Classing himself an existentialist, Sartre wrote an extensive study of “Being and Nothingness.
The speculative realism movement marks a return to full blooded realism.
Later analytical philosophy
While early analytic philosophy tended to reject metaphysical theorizing, under the influence of logical positivism, it was revived in the second half of the twentieth century. Philosophers such as David Kellogg Lewis and David Armstrong developed elaborate theories on a range of topics such as universals, causation, possibility and necessity and abstract objects. However, the focus of analytical philosophy is generally away from the construction of all-encompassing systems and towards close analysis of individual ideas.
Among the developments that led to the revival of metaphysical theorizing were Quine’s attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction, which was generally taken to undermine Carnap’s distinction between existence questions internal to a framework and those external to it.
The philosophy of fiction, the problem of empty names, and the debate over existence’s status as a property have all risen out of relative obscurity to become central concerns, while perennial issues such as free will, possible worlds, and the philosophy of time have had new life breathed into them.
The value and future of metaphysics
A number of individuals have suggested that metaphysics as a whole should be rejected.
If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.— David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
…though we cannot know these objects as things in themselves, we must yet be in a position at least to think them as things in themselves; otherwise we should be landed in the absurd conclusion that there can be appearance without anything that appears.— Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason pp. Bxxvi-xxvii
Proceeding from Kant’s statement about antinomy, A.J. Ayer in Language, Truth and Logic using the verifiability theory of meaning concluded that metaphysical propositions were neither true nor false but strictly meaningless, as were religious views. However, Karl Popper argued that metaphysical statements are not meaningless statements, but rather not fallible, testable or provable statements i.e. neither empirical observations nor logical arguments could falsify metaphysical statements to show them to be true or false. Hence, a metaphysical statement usually implies an idea about the world or about the universe, which may be reasonable but is ultimately not empirically testable.
Metaphysicians cannot avoid making their statements nonverifiable, because if they made them verifiable, the decision about the truth or falsehood of their doctrines would depend upon experience and therefore belong to the region of empirical science. This consequence they wish to avoid, because they pretend to teach knowledge which is of a higher level than that of empirical science. Thus they are compelled to cut all connection between their statements and experience; and precisely by this procedure they deprive them of any sense.— Rudolf Carnap
- Concerning existence of material things, and real distinction between mind and body (Descartes)
- Mind–body problem
- Personal identity (philosophy)
- Philosophical logic
- Philosophical realism
- Philosophical theology
- Philosophy of Mathematics
- Philosophy of physics
- Pluralism (philosophy of mind)
- Substance theory
- Time travel
- The London Philosophy Study Guide offers many suggestions on what to read, depending on the student’s familiarity with the subject: Logic & Metaphysics
Notes and references
- ^ Geisler, Norman L. “Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics” page 446. Baker Books, 1999.
- ^ Metaphysics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
- ^ This is a close paraphrase of a passage discussed in the article David Lewis’s Metaphysics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
- ^ Random House Dictionary Online – metaphysicist
- ^ Random House Dictionary Online – metaphysician
- ^ a b Peter Gay, The Enlightenment, vol. 1 (The Rise of Modern Paganism), Chapter 3, Section II, pp. 132-141.
- ^ In the English language, the word comes by way of the Medieval Latin metaphysica, the neuter plural of Medieval Greek metaphysika. Various dictionaries trace its first appearance in English to the mid-sixteenth century, although in some cases as early as 1387.
- ^ ”Metaphysics“. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- ^ This question is discussed in details in one of the latest publications on this topic, see: Nader El-Bizri, ‘Avicenna and Essentialism’, Review of Metaphysics 54 (2001), pp. 753-778
- ^ Blum, Paul Richard (2010). Philosophy of the Religion in the Renaissance. Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 89. ISBN 978-0-7546-0781-6.
- ^ Oxford Companion to Philosophy
- ^ Barnes (1987).
- ^ As universals were considered by Plato to be ideal forms, this stance is confusingly also called Platonic idealism. This should not be confused with Idealism, as presented by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant: as Platonic abstractions are not spatial, temporal, or mental they are not compatible with the later Idealism’s emphasis on mental existence.
- ^ The words “potentiality” and “actuality” are one set of translations from the original Greek terms of Aristotle. Other translations (including Latin) and alternative Greek terms are sometimes used in scholarly work on the subject.
- ^ S. Yablo and A. Gallois, Does Ontology Rest on a Mistake?, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 72, (1998), pp. 229-261+263-283 first part
- ^ Everett, Anthony and Thomas Hofweber (eds.) (2000), Empty Names, Fiction and the Puzzles of Non-Existence.
- ^ Van Inwagen, Peter, and Dean Zimmerman (eds.) (1998), Metaphysics: The Big Questions.
- ^ Hume, David. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). His analysis of “Philosophical Relations”. Retrieved on 18 July 2009.
- ^ Howard Richards (2004). Understanding the Global Economy. Peace Education Books. pp. 293. ISBN 0-9748961-0-1.
- ^ Dave Robinson and Judy Groves (2004). Introducing Philosophy. U.S.A.: Totem Books. pp. 64. ISBN 1-84046-576-X.
- Butchvarov, Panayot (1979). Being Qua Being: A Theory of Identity, Existence and Predication. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press.
- Harris, E. E. (1965). The Foundations of Metaphysics in Science. London: George Allen and Unwin.
- Harris, E. E. (2000). The Restitution of Metaphysics. New York: Humanity Books.
- Kant, I (1781). Critique of Pure Reason.
- Gale, Richard M. (2002). The Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Gay, Peter. (1966). The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (2 vols.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
- Lowe, E. J. (2002). A Survey of Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Loux, M. J. (2006). Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (3rd ed.). London: Routledge.
- Kim, J. and Ernest Sosa Ed. (1999). Metaphysics: An Anthology. Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies.
- Kim, J. and Ernest Sosa, Ed. (2000). A Companion to Metaphysics. Malden Massachusetts, Blackwell, Publishers.
- Le Poidevin R. & al. Ed. (2009). The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. New York, Routledge.
- Werner Heisenberg (1958), Atomic Physics and Causal Law, from The Physicist’s Conception of Nature
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Metaphysics.|
- Metaphysics entry by Peter van Inwagen in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Aristotle’s Metaphysics entry by S. Marc Cohen in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Object entry by Henry Laycock in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Research articles in Metaphysics – PhilPapers
- Aristotle’s Metaphysics trans. by W. D. Ross
- Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: Mirrored at eBooks@Adelaide
- Aristotle’s Metaphysics trans. by Hugh Tredennick (HTML at Perseus)
- E-text (The Norman Kemp Smith translation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason)
Washington Post (blog) – 5 hours agoMitt Romney has triggered a new round of culture wars, with his comment in Israel attributing the backwardness of the Palestinian economy to …The Guardian – 3 hours ago
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Leaders Total1 China 17 9 4302 United States 12 8 9293 Korea 6 2 4124 France 5 3 5135 DPR Korea 4 - 156 Germany 3 8 2137 Italy 3 4 298 Kazakhstan 3 - -39 Japan 2 4 111710 Russia 2 4 51111 United Kingdom 2 3 4912 Hungary 2 1 1413 Ukraine 2 - 4614 South Africa 2 - -215 Australia 1 6 2916 Romania 1 3 2617 Brazil 1 1 1317 Netherlands 1 1 1319 Georgia 1 - -119 Lithuania 1 - -119 Slovenia 1 - -119 Venezuela 1 - -123 Colombia - 2 1323 Cuba - 2 1325 Mexico - 2 -226 Canada - 1 5627 Indonesia - 1 1227 Norway - 1 1229 Czech Republic - 1 -129 Denmark - 1 -129 Egypt - 1 -129 Spain - 1 -129 Poland - 1 -129 Sweden - 1 -129 Thailand - 1 -129 Chinese Taipei - 1 -137 New Zealand - - 2237 Slovakia - - 2239 Azerbaijan - - 1139 Belgium - - 1139 Belarus - - 1139 Greece - - 1139 India - - 1139 Moldova - - 1139 Mongolia - - 1139 Qatar - - 1139 Singapore - - 1139 Serbia - - 1139 Uzbekistan - - 11
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Visit the NBC Olympics website for the most up-to-date medal standings from the London 2012 Olympic Games. See medals by nation, sport, and event.
Visit the NBC Olympics website for the most up-to-date medal standings by country from the London 2012 Olympics Medals by nation, sport, and event.
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www.olympics30.com/30goldmedalists.asp – United Kingdom
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Dates: July 27 – August 12
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|Archery 36 events||Completed|
|Artistic Gymnastics 1 event||Completed|
|Badminton 24 events||Completed|
|Basketball 6 events||Live: Women’s Preliminary Round Group A|
|Beach Volleyball 12 events||Live: Women’s Preliminary – Pool C – Matches|
|Boxing 23 events||Live: Men’s Super Heavy (+91kg) Round of 16|
|Canoe Slalom 2 events||Completed|
|Cycling Road 2 events||Completed|
|Diving 1 event||Completed|
|Fencing 62 events||Completed|
|Soccer 8 events||Completed|
|Handball 6 events||Completed|
|Hockey 6 events||Completed|
|Judo 58 events||Completed|
|Rowing 16 events||Completed|
|Sailing 23 events||Completed|
|Shooting 4 events||Completed|
|Swimming 36 events||Completed|
|Table Tennis 4 events||Completed|
|Tennis 27 events||Completed|
|Volleyball 6 events||Live: Women’s Preliminary – Pool B|
|Water Polo 4 events||Completed|
|Weightlifting 4 events||Completed|
Most Successful Countries of All-Time – Per Capita
Here are tables of the top countries based on the total all-time medals won, ranked relative to the nation’s population (in 2011). Using population data to rank success of nations at the Olympic Games is an alternative to the popular listing based on total gold medals won. See the complete list, and also a discussion of ranking systems.
We have also calculated the per capita medals for the 2008 Olympic Games results.
The Finns are Best
Finland is the most successful currently competing country at the Olympic Games based on their population size. Finland have won 101 gold medals with a current population of just over 5 million people in 2011. Denmark, with a similar population and from the same region, have won only 41. Another standout on the top 10 list is the Caribbean country The Bahamas, with their four gold medals from sailing and athletics, and with a current population of just 310,426 people (2011 figure).
When using this method to rank countries for the 2008 Olympic Games results, smaller countries tended to dominate the list, as it only requires a medal or two for them to rank highly. The more data available using all time medals is gives a more accurate result.
PLEASE NOTE: I have come to realize that these figures may not best represent per capita medals. The current population is used for analysis here, even though many of the medals were won during earlier Olympics were the population would have been lower. The assumption is that the relative populations between countries is similar for over time, but this is probably not always the case. This analysis assumes an even distribution of medals over time, which are not correct, and also does not account for the number of appearances of each country. A better analysis would determine the number of gold medals won per appearance, per population at the time the medals were won. I may get around to that later.
The three tables below show the ranking based on (1) gold medals won, (2) total medals won and also (3) using a weighted medal score.
Table: Top ranked teams based on GOLD MEDALS per million population
|rank||Country||Gold||Silver||Bronze||Total Medals||total gold
Table: Top ranked teams based on TOTAL MEDALS per million population
|rank||Country||Gold||Silver||Bronze||Total Medals||total medals
Table: Top ranked teams based on the WEIGHTED MEDAL SCORE per million population
(using the Topend Sports weighted ranking system: Gold=6 Silver=2 Bronze=1 points)
|rank||Country||Gold||Silver||Bronze||Total||weighted Medal Count||weighted
The data includes all medals won at the summer Olympic Games (not including 2012). The original medal list source: wikipedia.
The population data is sourced from the CIA World Book for 2011. There are quite a few countries/teams that no longer exist that have won medals in the past.
The following teams have not been included in this analysis due to no current population data; Soviet Union, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Unified Team, Yugoslavia, Mixed team, Australasia, Russian Empire, Serbia and Montenegro, Bohemia, Independent Olympic Participants, British West Indies.
- I like your tables with per capita and per GDP. I would like to know if it is normalized by current Population and Current GDP If you compute an ranking for All time. It needs to be computed using the GDP and Population at that Olympic year and integrated over the years that country Participated. China has participated for only 8 Olympics, while USA for 25. So for an all-time listing you need some average. Then Soviet Union and East Germany will not come as N/A since they had a population at that time. Also a country with a currently depressed GDP like Zimbabwe will not come high since they had a higher GDP in past. I know it is a lot of work, but once the database is setup with past GDP and Population estimates, computing the correct index is not difficult to program. (from Dr Kavan Ratnatunga, July 2012) -
- reply: I agree, the data analysis need mroe work, which won’t be happening just now. (Rob, Topend Sports)
- What about a weather correction? Surely Ireland would then have to figure?! (from Jim, July 2012)
- This isn’t quite accurate as it hasn’t taken into account changes in population over the years. New Zealand population is based on today’s figures. For most of Olympic history it has been under 3 million. Finland’s probably has been constantly about 5 million. (from Dan, July 2012)
- Reply: yes, you are right, only the most recent figures for population were used in the above calculations, even though population levels have changed over time. The assumption is that the proportion is similar for each country, but this is probably not always the case as you point out. (Rob, topendsports)
- Being an Estonian I cannot help but have to point out that if Estonian athletes’ medals from the Soviet period were included, the total tally would be 27-22-27. A few of these medals came in team sports with the USSR team, not in individual events but nevertheless the official data misses about half of the medals. (from Lynx, July 2012)
- USA not in the Top 10? That won’t do. Must fudge the numbers some more. (from Rick, July 2012)
- The most golds per capita is down as Finland – not New Zealand as said during the 2012 Opening Ceremony (from Jerry Lewis, July 27, 2012)
- …and I am Sid Harth@webworldismyoyster.com