Aristotle’s Metaphysics: Knowledge of Ultimate Reality
Metaphysical healers, metaphysical councilors, metaphysical vibrations … metaphysical this – metaphysical that. Everybody loves metaphysics. But what does this word really mean?
Well, historically speaking, it is a title of a book. Aristotle’s Metaphysics is a collection of 14 treatises on what he calls “first philosophy” – the methodical knowledge of first causes and origin(s) of everything that is.
In this series of podcasts we offer an introduction into Aristotle’s metaphysics under it’s aspect of methodical knowledge (episteme) of Being qua Being (on he on) – an unique, all-encompassing, non-material reality. Although this is only a half, so to speak, of what he considered the first philosophy to be – the other ‘half’ being theology – it is probably the best path for understanding this civilization-building notion of ultimate knowledge possible for human beings.
Aristotle believed that men never miss the truth completely and that common notions people hold about some subject always contains at least a grain of truth. We can safely say that common misconceptions about metaphysics vindicate him fully, because, while there is no such thing as metaphysical healer, councilor or vibrations, the idea, underlying all these notions, that metaphysical is something that transcends the sense experience is very true.
In this respect we’ll attempt to show that what we call metaphysical reality is something very close to us, one could even say: closer than the tips of our noses, but for the most people it remains just a vague feeling of some strange “something” guiding their notions of true and false or right and wrong.
The first podcast introduces the nature and history of Aristotle’s Metaphysics and strange story about the way this word came into being. We explain threefold nature of metaphysics as ‘first philosophy’, ‘wisdom’ and ‘theology’. Furthermore, we point out the tremendous rift lying between ancient philosophers and modern ‘philosophy’ which is an impediment for, not only understanding Aristotle, but ourselves too, because, the modern materialistic and post-materialistic world-view is in fact something held only by tiny academic elite. We explain how for Aristotle the world is not something outside us – alien and incomprehensible – but something with which we are always in immediate, continuous, mental contact; something whose origin we are able to understand if we make a necessary effort.
The second podcast is an introduction to metaphysics as science of Being qua Being. This notion of one all-encompassing reality proves to be completely alien to modern mind. Namely, Aristotle considers that there is an “ultimate something”, a Being that transcends limitations of individual things, genera and species, and is, in fact, necessary precondition of their existence. We analyze Aristotle’s investigations from fourth (gamma) book of Metaphysics.
In the third podcast we strive to show how Aristotle considers metaphysical knowledge to be necessary precondition of every inference or argument we make about reality. He demonstrates this on the example of principle of non-contradiction. What we point out as unique to Aristotle in contrast to modern mind is that the fundament of non-contradiction is not material, but other kind of reality. Furthermore, we try to demonstrate that this reality is not alien to us, but that we only rarely reflect upon it, and that it is in fact an origin of truth. We conclude with remarks on our postmodern world and it’s anti-metaphysical attitudes of materialism and posthumanism, which deny existence of non-material reality and, finally, try to build their own reality – recreate the world in their own image. Those people – comprising the elitist mindset of the age – are a far cry from ancient sophists who posited that beings are only what we perceive them to be and that truth is completely relative category. The truth for Aristotle, and any other true metaphysician, is not relative but at the same time it is not founded on material reality which is grasped through senses. It is a product of activity of mind in the direct contact with supreme, metaphysical, reality, accessible to those who make an effort of seeking it.
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