These are anti-metaphysical times. Most people don’t realize it because they know nothing about metaphysics and how it affects their lives.
However, rejecting metaphysics has tragic consequences for individuals and society in general. An anti-metaphysical world gives rise to individuals who fail to ponder things deeply, skimming the surface of life. Such habits result in persons without certainties, convictions and principles.
Society also suffers because there can be no unity when there are no certainties, convictions, and principles. As this advances, polarization occurs because people can no longer understand the things that might unite them.
America’s missing metaphysics need not be complicated. It only needs to address the fundamental notion of things.
Metaphysics is the science of determining the real nature of things, thus allowing people to perceive the meaning, structure and principles of whatever exists. With this foundation, it is easy to establish certainties and thus, facilitate unity and communications.
Without realizing it, the innocent child constantly explores the frontiers of metaphysics in the quest to know the world. Throughout life, virtuous people refine their notions of reality and act accordingly.
The key is to know things as they are. For example, a metaphysical concept of “book” would be to consider it to be a bound set of written or printed sheets of paper. Using this concept in everyday life, a person can classify as a book all that conforms to this general notion. Any discussion of a book outside this idea leads to absurdity and disconnection from reality.
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When people stay within the notion of what a book is, an immense variety of books can be imagined and produced, including magnificent, splendorous or banal books; large, regular and miniature; page-turners and unappealing; rare, new and used. Thus, metaphysics is the foundation of logic, discussion and debate. It makes progress possible by anchoring the notions of things in reality. It allows the creative imagination to soar while keeping the person away from dangerous fantasy disconnected from reality. Take metaphysics away, and there is no common understanding that can enable communication. This sets the stage for chaos.
Modernity Attack on Metaphysics
The modern world has long had a problem with metaphysics. Indeed, modernity seeks to dominate nature, not to understand it. It wants to bend nature to the will of humanity. Its philosophers see metaphysical definitions and categories as restrictive and tend to minimalize them.
Modern man limits his understanding of what things are to what helps dominate nature. Industrial society needs logical and stable systems based on the nature of things. Anything more profound is dismissed as irrelevant.
Domination leads to the desire to determine what things are based on personal subjectivity.
Postmodernity’s Destruction of Metaphysics
The postmodernity of the sixties changed everything. If modernity dominates nature, postmodernity annihilates it. Its philosophers respect neither rules nor limits. They “deconstruct” every historical narrative and truth so that by tearing them down, no coherent whole survives.
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Postmodernity annihilates metaphysics because it does not recognize the nature of anything. It celebrates absurdity. Thus, the notion of “book” is whatever a person determines it to be, even if it is a lamppost. A man is not a man but something determined by a preferred pronoun. Nothing can be known with certainty.
Thus, popular culture reflects a society unanchored from reality and certainties, where anything is possible. In such a world, the unbridled imagination rules. The most bizarre things can be called art or music. Where absurdity is enthroned, unity becomes impossible.
Nothing to Share and Love
Saint Augustine once defined a people as “a gathered multitude of rational beings united by agreeing to share the things they love.” As long as people can agree there are objective notions of things that can be loved, a unified society is possible. People might disagree on the expression of the things loved. They might even advance in unity by proposing more sublime manifestations of such things. Societies like this can progress.
Modernity’s liberal society agreed to share things in the shallowest ways to make room for its deep individualism and industrial progress. Alas, at least classical liberals agreed that there were shareable things…and that they were things.
Postmodernity destroys society because it does not believe that things have determined natures. Thus, there is nothing to share or love. There is only the chaotic clash of subjective perceptions informed by unbridled passion.
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When perceptions are not anchored in metaphysics, nothing can be defined. Such societies fall apart. An anti-metaphysical world is both unintelligible and inhospitable.
The Fall Into Absurdity
The march to absurdity has been long developing.
A refusal to acknowledge the nature of things comes from a failure to recognize a divine and intelligent cause. When modernity detached itself from God and His Providence, it struck at the heart of true metaphysics. Science dominated nature and gradually dethroned nature’s God.
Without God, Who created all things, it becomes impossible to understand the nature of things and their reason and purpose in the order of the universe. Creation only makes sense in light of the Creator.
Postmodernity’s process of deconstruction and annihilation is now reaching its end with rejection and even hatred of the Creator and the order He established in the universe. It has reached a point of no return.
There Was a Time When Metaphysics Ruled
Christian civilization was a time of metaphysics. People understood the nature of things because they saw the Creator reflected in His Creation and desired to know Him better through His works.
Moreover, they perceived human society as an integral part of a divinely ordered universe positioned in time. The wisdom of God’s Providence governed this universe, often through secondary causes. Above all, God was the supreme point of unity, both loved and shared by peoples.
Today’s Metaphysical Crisis Is of Massive Proportions
The problems of society today cannot be reduced to economic, political or even cultural crises. Above all, this metaphysical crisis undermines certainties, principles and meaning. Fragmented minds and societies are the result.
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As society reaches its final stages of decay, the price of denying reality will prove ever greater, awakening people to their folly and ruin. A metaphysical crisis of vast proportions awaits a world that has long ignored existential questions to its peril.
Thus, there needs to be a return to order reestablishing metaphysics, to know the nature of things. God the Creator will then be acknowledged, and people will share again the things they love. That will make society whole once more and there will be unity and peace.
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