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Friday, May 11, 2012

Metaphysics for Breakfast...Do You Know What an Apple Is?


My husband and I were talking over breakfast about metaphysics. (Doesn't everybody?) Actually, we were trying to come up with a simple definition. Sad to say, I took an entire semester on the topic in college and couldn't define it. Oh, I remember reading excerpts from Sartre, Hegel, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, etc. but I couldn't remember any concise definitions or any of what those philosophers wrote...except, perhaps, Sartre's Nausea which left a nauseating impression about being and nothingness. The dictionary just added  abstraction to the confusion. So I decided to check out my favorite philosopher, Peter Kreeft, and came up with this very simple definition: "Metaphysics means, simply, philosophizing about reality." So does that mean all philosophizing is metaphysical? How does one philosophize about unreality?

Hmm...but today nobody seems to know what reality is. After all if reality is true and what's true for you is not necessarily what's true for me, then does reality even exist? Is this giving you a headache? (No wonder Nietzsche went insane...oh wait...that was syphilis. Now there's reality for you!)

Anyway, if you want to consider metaphysics over lunch, I recommend Peter Kreeft's article, The Apple Argument Against Abortion. It puts metaphysics at the service of truth. And here's just a little appetizer to tickle your taste buds:

I will try to prove the simple, common-sensical reasonableness of the pro-life case by a sort of Socratic logic. My conclusion is that Roe v. Wade must be overturned, and my fundamental reason for this is not only because of what abortion is but because we all know what abortion is. 
This is obviously a controversial conclusion, and initially unacceptable to all pro-choicers. So, my starting point must be noncontroversial. It is this: We know what an apple is. I will try to persuade you that if we know what an apple is, Roe v. Wade must be overthrown, and that if you want to defend Roe, you will probably want to deny that we know what an apple is.
So go at it, philosophers and while you're cogitating have an apple.

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