Metaphysics from the Other Side
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Hence one cannot, by means of philosophy, get to Being. This can be done only indirectly. Then how can being be known?
Jaspers points to mysticism as the answers. The mystic is the person who transcends "the subject-object dichotomy and achieves a total union of subject and object, in which all the objectness vanishes and the I is extinguished.
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Then authentic being opens up to us, leaving behind it as we awaken from our trance a consciousness of profound and inexhaustible meaning. But he claims that "the mystic is immersed in the Comprehensive. All of this sounds very romantic and appealing, but it doesn't give us much information about being. The true mystic cannot communicate and being cannot be seen. How then can we describe being? How can we know about it?
What does the mystic really see? Can we say that Being or the Comprehensive is related to God? Jaspers does this in some sense, but says that "God is reality, absolute, and cannot be encompassed by any of the historical manifestations through which he speaks to men.
Thus, if we cannot regard the knowledge of God in philosophy or theology as meaningful, how can we know that the mystic's is? How does one know when one has found Being? The introduction of a mystic's path to being needs further comment for the mystic is not an easy person to define. The mystic comes in two breeds. The first mystic claims that the journey inward through meditation leads to oneness with Being. Being is found within. It is claimed that I am one with the World-Soul. Since there is a union between me and the world soul, the only obstacle to knowing Being, is in me. If I transcend my personal identity in meditation, I come to Being.
Metaphysics - Wikipedia
Rooting out the ego leads to the depth of internal being. The second breed of mystic is the one who seeks a union with God which is outside himself. By means of meditation, purgation of the soul, and prayer, the mystic seeks to achieve a union with God who is outside or external to man's being. The mystic's path to Being is questionable. Neither of these two forms asks the obvious question: why is Being God hidden? We don't see "Being" as we see the truth, neither do we see God in the same way.
If we equate man and God and seek a knowledge of Being or God inwardly, then we change theology knowledge about God into anthropology, or a knowledge about man.
The distinctions between man and God are blurred and probably meaningless. If we follow the second mystics route of trying to achieve union with a God who is outside of himself, then what is the basis of our trying to achieve this? This is the better model of mysticism, but who calls for this type of practice and can man by searching, find the hidden God?
Man can certainly suspicion, or intuit that God is about, but can you know a Being Person who does not allow Himself to be known?
On the other hand, granting that God does reveal Himself, the "means" of the mystic then are superfluous. A competing theory of being comes from the influence of religious thought. This form of the two-world's theory is described as a contingent dualism: i. The previous view was essentially a spiritual monism in which the physical world is a secondary part of the theory.
Man must transcend the physical and live in the Spirit alone. While it advances beyond naturalism to include the Spirit, it has little use for the physical ultimately. This two-world theory now combines the visible and the invisible.
Augustine' City of God develops something of this. Part of the differences between these two-world theories can be seen in the following contrasts:. God is identified with the God creates the world, but world. Nature and God are God is eternal; nature is external. Nature is created. This form of the two-world's theory involves the following. God is creator. The material world exists because He spoke it into existence.
Its continued existence is dependent upon his will. Thus, we have a contingent dualism in which matter is dependent upon Spirit, but is not the same as Spirit. Matter has its being or existence in God, but is not a part of God, or a manifestation of God. How does man get to know Being? He can know one part by means of the senses, the physical part. How can he know the other part? Ultimately, God cannot be known unless God is Personal and reveals himself and his nature. At best there may be hints of this expressed in nature, but as it stands, the world does not have perfection.
Even if by means of nature the conclusion is reached that God is, there is no means of bridging the gulf separating man from God. It is at this point that Being or God must be viewed as personal. Anything less than personal could not communicate with man, nor man with it. Christians claim that the Incarnation event gives a way in which man can come to know Being. God became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. He was true-God and true-man. He was the embodiment of the visible and invisible. He combines the temporal and the eternal.
Granting this view as an explanation, one is able to have a knowledge about God who seeks, who reveals himself. In summary, man's search for being has lead to various conclusions. Philosophers with a restricted scientific outlook have been satisfied to stop at nature. Others have found this empty and have sought a spiritual dimension to the world.
Yet others in the Christian tradition have not only argued for a spiritual dimension, but have felt that ultimate reality can be known only in the way of Incarnation. There is no single book to which you can point as you do to Euclid, and say: This is metaphysics; here you can find the noblest object of this science, the knowledge of a highest Being, and of a future existence, proved from principles of pure reason.
The influence of Kant has been strong in dissuading metaphysical activity.
Meditations on First Philosophy
But the last phrase would be inapplicable to those who seek a religious metaphysics. The Bible does not attempt to "prove from principles of pure reason. Here is where you find out about the Highest Being and a future Existence. If it is not in the last alternative, then philosophy per se has not taught it, nor has it the tools to do so.
We seem to be shut up to some alternative: either we know Being by means of self-revelation, or we are pushed toward meager or skeptical knowledge about being. If I could come to the edge of space, would I be able to stick my arm through it or not? If I could not, what would prevent my doing it? If I could, then, have I come to the end of space.
This question was raised in antiquity by Archytas, a Pythagorean. His questions are profound since it is quite difficult to view space as either finite or infinite. Equally difficult is the question of the nature of space. Is space something? Filled space obviously has something in it, but what is empty space. Space as a term refers to several meanings. Conceptual space is the space of geometry. It exists when man thinks about it, and ceases when he stops thinking.