ANIL MITRA © November 2010.  Current Rev. © November 2010


A metaphysics corresponds roughly to a worldview. Even if the individual does not think about such issues, he or she will have a picture of the world and its nature—it will have come about through their experience and be conditioned by the culture in which they live. Much of our feeling and actions as individuals and actions as societies, nations, and civilizations is conditioned by the worldview—tacit andor explicit—of the individual or group. Therefore, regardless of the various arguments against the value and possibility of metaphysics, it may be of value to build one (this is done in the sections on metaphysics where it is first shown that the arguments against the possibility of metaphysics is in error and a metaphysics called The Universal metaphysics is not only developed but its validity is demonstrated)

Three common kinds of worldview—are defined by the religions of the world and their metaphysics, philosophical metaphysics, and secular humanism. Perhaps the most commonly held are the religious views; perhaps secular humanism is most common among the educated. Undoubtedly many individuals hold to some mix of such views; while others are quite happy to not have any particular view at all. It may be worth remarking that what one believes may be rather different from what one thinks or believes that one believes… One hesitates to call the religious metaphysics absurd for fear of offending the believers but it is telling that there should be such a fear: it suggests that believers rely on unreason and manipulation; it is also telling that regarding any particular faith all persons of no faith or of any other faith disagree with the articles. What is absurd about the religious metaphysics is not so much that they lack logic (logical errors could easily be corrected) but that such improbable and manufactured positions should be regarded as true at all for it is clear from the foregoing that even the believers would not believe if their belief and memory of belief were to be erased and they were then presented with their former belief. Many philosophical metaphysics such as materialism and even idealism are not so absurd; they may be well argued responses to certain problems that arise in understanding the world; however the arguments, even when persuasive, are generally not demonstrations and therefore even the philosophical metaphysics, to the extent that they lack full demonstration, are speculative. Instead, their ‘demonstration’ is typically that they present difficulties and/or paradoxes in common attitudes or other metaphysical systems, present a  system that is argued or even demonstrated to avoid the difficulties, and explains a constellation of world phenomena. Secular humanism comes in a variety of brands but at its core it is held that the world is rather as it appears (if there is a metaphysics it tends to the scientific picture and the supernatural is eschewed) and the purpose of life is to know and live the good life and help others do the same; the secular humanist may espouse some kind of belief system but this is often a reinterpretation of the behavior of the material and living worlds in spiritual though not supernatural terms; often such spirituality refers to a world of mental phenomena including emotion and value rather than to an actual world that is distinct from the directly apparent and/or scientific view of the world. What is the scientific picture of the Universe? In the first place such a picture is that what is positively revealed in science is at least an approximate description to some things that are in the world. It is necessary to insist on the words ‘approximation’ and ‘some things’ in the previous sentence for twentieth century science revealed previous science as approximate and showed new things and it would be unreasonable to hold that there will be no further developments. Although these assertions may be taken as criticisms, it is reasonable to think that what is revealed in science is good as far as it goes. However, it is often tacitly taken for granted that there is nothing outside what is revealed in science (when the view is explicit it is ‘scientism’ and scientism is one form of positivism.) This is natural enough because the borders of science are roughly the borders of empirical knowledge. However, the question is whether this tacit view is true. It will be seen below that even from science itself the view is neither necessary, nor probable, nor the only pragmatic or practical view. As far as science and practical knowledge are concerned their completeness with regard to duration, extension, and variety of being may be almost complete or immensely incomplete or in between. Roughly, the reason that science and practical knowledge are often thought to be essentially complete is because our worldview is dependent on them. Roughly, the reason we have no knowledge of their completeness is that they provide no estimate of what lies beyond their present borders

Some aspects of worldviews. A worldview may be held intellectually; this is a source of one kind of power, e.g. the power to transform society and the world (and as we now know the power to be ignorantly or willfully destructive.) Alternatively, the main hold of a worldview may be via emotion. This is often the case with religion and perhaps a reason that people will kill and die for their faith. Of course, it is not true that emotion and science are not tied together—there may be healthy and unhealthy ties. Emotion motivates the development of science but may also motivate its destructive use. Perhaps, however, the most important role of feeling in science is the moment to moment feeling that guides scientific discovery (without which the individual may be too autistic to be effective.) Similarly, scholastic philosophy was remarkable for its use of intellect to defend and develop religious metaphysics (and yet there is also characteristic blindness which allows individuals to be persuaded by the form of argument or, for example, to argue from the reasonableness of a creative force to the necessity of the God of the scripture.) Finally, let us explore why worldviews are held at all. In the previous paragraph we saw some unhealthy ways and reasons to hold worldviews. However, even though a certain emotional attitude to one’s beliefs may be unhealthy according to my values, the emotional attachment may confer power to the believer—the power or courage of conviction and the motivation to bind to others for their cause. Thus, regardless of health versus un-health, faith is self-propagating (unless it becomes too destructive.) There is a practical psychological reason to implicitly hold to a worldview. No individual maps his entire world; therefore he or she must accept much on the word of others; and the conduct of life would be inefficient if one questioned the nature of space at every street corner; to this extent the tacit acceptance of a view of the world is healthy; but, since the individual cannot distinguish, he or she will also accept the religious views of his or her community; and because of the difficulty of building up a worldview in development it needs to be stable to function and hence the first and functional line of resistance to change even when there is evidence that is counter to one’s belief