This post goes over a lot of well-trod ground. I suppose it might be helpful to newbies, if such readers exist. It lays a foundation, but that's all. The next post will take a flying leap from the foundation to the ground.
"Metaphysics," writes Laude, "pertains to the super-ontological realm, or to Beyond-Being, the Essence, and can be best characterized, therefore, by paradoxical expressions: it is the science of the limitless and the knowledge of the unknowable."
For some readers this will make perfect nonsense, while for others it will be the other way around.
One thing we need to get out of the way at the outset: no, we're not just trying to be abstruse or mystagogic, much less clever or cute. We hate cute as much as the next guy.
Consider mundane science: of necessity it operates within limits. The moment it steps outside its own proper limits it becomes either oogily-boogily scientism or woohoo deepakery, thus proving that extremists meet.
Metaphysics is to science as, say, paragraph is to story -- except to say that this story must ultimately be circular, more on which as we proceed. For now let's just nod in silent agreement with the Aphorist, who points out that
Without philosophy, the sciences do not know what they know.Moreover,
Properly speaking, the social sciences are not inexact sciences, but sciences of the inexact.
Thus, a science of the limitless is equally a science of the inexact, bearing in mind that the latter is not synonymous with incertitude. True, God is a mathematician, but not only a mathematician. As it pertains to metaphysics, Einstein was no Einstein.
I'm suddenly reminded of a book by Stanley Jaki called The Limits of a Limitless Science. Supposing the scientific method reveals (lower case) truth -- which it does -- then
since no tool used by man matches even remotely the effectiveness and range of the tool called science, one may rightly say that there is nothing so important as to ascertain the limits to which science can rightfully be put to use.
I've been thinking about this lately vis-a-vis the undeniable power of genetics to illuminate human intelligence, personality, and behavior. Nevertheless, while reductionism is a permanent temptation, it must always be rejected on pain of placing an arbitrary limit on the limitless.
How could a limited method yield a limitless result? This is like the proverbial frog at the bottom of a well proclaiming with complete certitude that the sky is a little blue circle.
Which it is, granted a limited perspective. And all perspectives are limited, save one: the perspective of metaphysics, which provides a meta-language to vault us into the meta-limits.
One (1) is a quantity, and in fact, the basis of any and all quantities, being that the latter are multiples of one. But one is also -- and even prior to quantity -- a quality. This is because one plus one cannot actually equal two in the absence of a prior unicity in which the two can reveal their oneness. Placing one rock atop another doesn't actually make them one rock.
"Science ceases to be competent"
whenever a proposition is such as to have no quantitative bearing. The alternatives -- to be or not to be, to be free or not to be free, to act for a purpose or no purpose at all, to have inalienable rights or to not have them -- cannot be evaluated in inches or ounces, in volts or in amperes, in frequencies or in wavelengths (Jaki).
A moment's reflection on this axiomatic truth reveals "that the limits of science are vast as well as very specific." Indeed, language itself -- which is obviously not a mere quantity -- "must point far beyond the limits of science" (ibid.).
And in any event, "as long as Gödel’s incompleteness theorems are valid, the mathematical structure of [a final] theory cannot contain within itself its own proof of consistency" (ibid.). Which means that the most Ultimate Theory conceivable by man can only be penultimate. For obviously,
Science, when it finishes explaining everything, but being unable to explain the consciousness that creates it, will not have explained anything (Dávila).
Another way of framing our analysis is to affirm that subjectivity and objectivity are complementary, but that the former can never be reduced to the latter. Just what is the subject? An object? A quantity? An illusion?
C'mon man! The Subject is either a primordial category or it isn't, and if not, then you are facing the wrong way. Stop pretending your limits are the limits. You're like a chicken that can't find its way out when placed in a corner.
Metaphysical Dunning-Kruger. You'd better believe it's real. And
Those who reject all metaphysics secretly harbor the coarsest.