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- This course is an introduction to metaphysics and philosophy. We do not provide a historical discussion of neither metaphysics nor philosophy. Rather, we center the course on asking the question itself as to what metaphysics, including any attempt to abolish metaphysics, is.
This course is an introduction to the question of metaphysics and philosophy.
I am currently working on a new version for the sound which will be updated soon.
What to not expect
This is not a course where you will find quizzes. There is nothing to test here.
Rather, we center the course on asking the question itself as to what metaphysics, including any attempt to abolish metaphysics, is.This question cannot be settled formally. If we thought that the question of metaphysics could be formally settled there would be no need for this course. By putting formality into question it would be nonsense to expect formal responses or answers to questions from the readers/listeners.
We read what the formal institutions and formal texts have to say on the topic and question such formalities ourselves. This course asks that you, yourself, ask the questions and move to the development of the questions. Giving you answers is not what I seek. Formality can be easily found online in large databases such as Wikipedia or the Stanford Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy. These databases are not to be read to find answers and definitions. We aim to explore the origin and the settling of these answers and definitions as the emergence of metaphysical formality.
Questions and answers as a metaphysics of formality
If you want answers or quizzes do not take this course.
Our quiz is the question itself: "What is metaphysics"? The asking and unfolding of this question will show us if we, ourselves, are already intertwined in a metaphysical framework that does not even allow us to see what metaphysics is. The question is obscure precisely for this reason: because we are already moving within a metaphysical framework that we blindly call "reality" and the "real".
Centering the question
In what is sometimes stated to be a critical historical event leading to a “philosophical divide” between the continental and the analytic schools of thought, the theme of the “nothing” was raised by Martin Heidegger. We center the discussion on the “debate” that took place between Heidegger and Carnap. Carnap proposed to eliminate metaphysics fully by invoking logical formalism and the scientific method.
This historical discussion allows us to center the question of metaphysics with respect to:
· The foundation of mathematics, including the program of David Hilbert
· Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem
· Tarski’s theory of truth
· The computationalist view that the mind can be emulated via computation
· The opponents of computationalism, such as Penrose
· Self-reference and paradoxes such as Russell’s paradox
· Some of the latest claims of quantum mechanics such as the subjective fact
· Self-reference and identity
· Meta-theories such as realism and the views of Karl Popper in method
· Ontology, metaphysics and "the given"
The question on work and technology
Recently one of our papers entitled "Should Humans Work?" has been accepted for publication in Telecommunications Policy as a paper for their special Edition "Artificial Intelligence: Economy and Society". We provide a pre-print of the paper here in this course even though in February 2020 the paper will be made open source and will be freely accessible online. In the paper we avoid detours to metaphysical claims invoking "a higher good", "dignity", etc. that always run prior to first clarifying what such claims are in fact invoking. In order to understand our paper it is necessary to understand what it means to "speak metaphysically".
The paper "Should Humans Work?" speaks of how the advance of technology is derailed and is guided by the metaphysics of "objective or scientific truth" only, where the human is present for the object of production. This is a metaphysics that is not even perceived or hinted at by science. Science guides the metaphysical modern humans that think they can do without that which precedes and always moves in advance of any scientific object or scientific advance. This is something that runs always prior and must always operate and be given for technology to be guided by technological advance. A quick look at Artificial Intelligence conferences gives us a hint as to what it means to be alienated from that which feeds us. See for example the coming AI TechConnect 2020. The focus of modern technology is on the produced product under a guidance that seeks production without understanding the metaphysics that must always run prior to both the product and any producing. That modern technology negates what allows it to essentially be what it is, is only a precondition of its metaphysical demanding character. That which we can do without is nothing, yet it must be operating and indeed in a way that it seems to be and empty nothing so we can do without it. Technology cannot see what it is as what operates in productive production has no use for it. Thus, it is precisely this which technology perceives as useless and as a "nothing" which allows the technological modern human to focus on technology. The technological product simultaneously guides technological advances through this negation by facilitating the negation of what always operates in technology and by opening up a clear path toward production as a target that sees nothing else, not even itself. It is, so to speak "unconscious" of its own unconsciousness, yet always consciously targeting something. In this sense, it is conscious and it is not, something that formal logic must also negate.
I hope that my discussion on formal logic does not simply teach what logic is, but rather why logic itself must operate via something which logic cannot understand, and indeed can dismiss as a nothing, while at the same time constantly feed from. The idea behind contrasting and entering into a conversation with the discussion that took place between Carnap and Heidegger is not based on the requirement that we will take sides, but rather on the requirement that we, ourselves, will put ourselves into question in terms of what we call logic and what might otherwise dismiss as metaphysics. It might turn out that we eventually realize what and how metaphysics regulates our thinking while seemingly attacking it.
Finally, a talk discussing reason and what thinking means was given at the AI World Forum in Toronto (2019) and can also be accessed here.
- This course will be of interest to anybody that wants to understand what is meaningful or meaningless in metaphysics, philosophy and science
- For anybody that has questions regarding the foundations of science, reality, philosophy, logic and truth. This course if not about mystical or rhetorical themes but rather on the rigor of asking a metaphysical question.