Answer to a Young Metaphysician

This is a reply to a Twitter conversation, too lengthy to post there, concerning the need to overcome and unlearn metaphysics.

The most difficult part of learning is unlearning – a necessity few of us rise to. We invest our identities, years of work, family and heritage in beliefs assumed prior to our ability to question. Unlearning means surrender of all we have and casting ourselves into the risk of the unknown. The vertigo of Nietzsche’s Madman as we struggle to reorient ourselves.

But if we fail to unlearn? We burrow in the dark caves of metaphysics, hiding from the sun and uncounted stars right above us. We persist in the worst treachery metaphysics imposes on us: We try to tell the universe what it is rather than listen to the universe as it unveils itself in song, poetry, and art. What we invent is such a degradation of the awesome mystery of this physical reality of which we are part. We dream in the familiar grays of our dark shelter, hiding from the swirl and blare of colors above. We mince our words, measure our world in pints, throttle the exuberance of life with the morbid machine of ideals and deduction.

In such a state we speak falsely. We tell an arational universe it is governed by reason and causality, much to its initial amusement but later to its disgust as it turns away from us. In our refusal to unlearn we forfeit our birthright of connection to the mystery. In so doing, our lives become meaningless as we invent substitute fictions.

Sometimes, a ray of light sneaks past the threshold of our darkness:

“Fundamental reality has not proven itself to be beyond cognition or beyond logos. Counter-Intuitive places the the limit to our intuition, but we don’t use our intuition isolation. Intuition is not a closed system.”

You are half right, but in that shining half outside the gray shadow is the promise and the danger. If by cognition we mean objective representation and reason, then fundamental reality is undeniably beyond our cognition, and it is futile to deny it. The universe will never conform to our preference. Instead it laughs and dances away. But logos?

But we can’t speak of logos until we have done serious unlearning. Until we rehydrate the word beyond its current sere condition. Until we replant it into the fertile ground where it once thrived.

But then we have to first relearn “ground”. Not it’s desiccate hulk as an idea serving as premise. No, ground as that dirt under our feet from which the truth grows – in all its threatening fecundity, organic odor, its muck. Its wonder.

So how do we resuscitate logos? First by understanding its opposite. You ask if CERN fails to adequately define quanta? I can’t answer that until we throw away “definition” – another metaphysical error. Instead I say that physics must necessarily fail to tell us anything beyond measure and relation of objects. Quantum, wave, field, energy: all are mere metaphors for what we cannot grasp objectively – reality on the other side of the divide of wave collapse. Fundamental reality defies space, time, and causality, but we can’t represent without those categories, so we resort to temporal-spatial metaphor. And metaphors, when taken literally, will always lead to error and block off the deeper truth.

Having discarded definition, are we any closer to logos? Yes, if we accept that words are not for defining but rather for exploring as organic beings themselves. Manifold, physical in sound, always becoming, emanating from the ground below us. That is logos: the revelation of the deeper truth which defies your reason and a priori ideas; ironically the same limitation you denounce in science. But to hear its poetry, we first must recognize its music is physical. It manifests itself right in front of us and dares us to follow. Physicality announces its vibrancy. It reveals the essence that science cannot observe in even its most sensitive devices. But here is the most important bit of unlearning of all: Essence is a derivative of Being, and being authentically means physical manifestation. Before metaphysics, including Christianity – that early Medieval European metaphysical invention, logos was the the unity of Being and the physical. Essence is at the heart of what is presented to us from the ground of Being. We lost our souls when we allowed metaphysical thought to displace essence to an imaginary metaphysical plain, subject to all our desecrations.

Which leads us to the final question: Intention. Might we perceive intention in the universe? Maybe. I suspect so. But if we look for that intention in an imaginary plane instead of right underneath us, right in front of us, in range or our hearing, we will forever remain ignorant. Why would intention need to spring from anything other than essence of Being right here, right now, in the presence of our entanglement?

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