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Philosophy as Metaphysics (1)

S. L. Katretchko
Moscow State University

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ABSTRACT: Philosophy works with special types of objects: the totalities. The basic characteristics of this type of object are their metaphysical, transcendental, and total character. The character of these objects determines the specificity of language and the methods of philosophy. The language of philosophy represents symbolic language; speculation is the basic method of philosophy. On the one hand, objects of this type emphasis homo sapien as essences capable of constructing such objects, which in turn assumes the ability of human consciousness to make synthetic acts. On the basis of philosophy as metaphysics, an original approach is offered which divides the history of philosophy into periods as well as providing analysis of different philosophical systems.

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Feature of philosophical activity, as against a science, is the work with special, not physical objects — the totalities, which are constituted by the philosopher. One of such objects is the world, and, in this sense, we often say, that philosophy is a wel-tanschauung (world-outlook) . Certainly, the world as some set of things can be studied by physics (sciences in a broad sense), but in this case a researcher can miss the point that the world is a totality, not just a simple set of things. As distinct from scientific study the philosophy takes its objects as the totalities, which the subject of knowledge cannot study as ordinary objects, because the including the learning subject character of these the totalities excludes any standard scientific approach to knowledge in principle. Others examples of the above mentioned objects (the totalities) are Ego and God. Objects of this type (with some reservations) are a lot of human being phenomena, such as love, virtue, conscience, courage, bravery, understanding and so on. All these objects are those, that the precise fixing of objective criteria of their existence is impossible, it is impossible to create the high-grade theory of these phenomena (for example, theory of love or bravery), as they assume not only objective Contemplator (as it occurs in case of objects of scientific knowledge), but also postulate the Actor inside them, that causes essentially twinkling way of them being.(2) Exactly the character of these objects determined essential features of the philosophizing as metaphysical activity.

The underlining of metaphysical character of philosophy objects dictates the special procedures of work with them, distinct from of methods of scientific knowledge. Metaphysical objects — constructs cannot be given in frameworks of physical experience; the study — constructing of these objects occurs by a way of thinking means, procedures of speculation. That is why the one of the most typical mistakes in the researching of these objects is procedures of naturalization metaphysical objects, i.e. consideration of natural (physical) analogs of these objects. For example, instead of work with the world (the world as totality) we consider the world as some sets of physical, chemical, biological etc. objects, and instead of the analysis of phenomenon of consciousness proper as metaphysical object the natural analog of consciousness — brain or mentality of the particular human being, we examine.

Specifying the status of these objects, it is possible to tell, that the subject of the philosophy activity are metaphysical-transcendental objects, i.e. objects having the boundary status of their existence. The boundary character of these objects allows to specify Kantian distinction sensible phenomena and transcendent things in itself. Moreover, metaphysical-transcendental objects are located on border of other known distinctions of classical philosophy.(3) They are, for example, not subjective and not objective, not conscious and not material. It is interesting in this respect appearance of the first proper philosophical category of being, which, in fact, was entered Parmenid`s as boundary metaphysical-transcendental object being-thinking (in this case, alongside with Parmenid`s postulating his first thesis, entering a category of being, presence of the second his thesis, establishing the coincidence of an entered category of being with another category — the category of thinking). In some sense, metaphysical-transcendental objects are Husserl`s phenomenal, from which as a result of procedures of objectivizing and (or) subjectivizing the subjects and objects can be received, i.e. is entered subjective-objective distinction of New time. On the other hand, the boundary character of these objects allows still to work with them ( I specially avoid the term to learn, as far as these procedures are applied only for work with usual objects). Above this mode of working with them was named as speculation, which, as a result, the construction of these objects to occur by a way of thinking means.

The creation such thinking construct is caused by that the person aspires to understand mode of functioning of the totalities, which surround him. And just this phenomenon of surprise before presence of such totalities is a beginning and basic nerve of philosophy. In this sense, philosophizing is possible only as an act of work of the beings, capable to postulate these totalities, due to synthetic acts (Kant), as being, perceiving the environmental world not in itself, but by means of symbolical function (Cassirer), through a prism of the transformed forms (Marx, Mamardaschvili).

Another important characteristic of metaphysical objects is their total-making nature. It means, that the purpose of designing such objects is the attempt of understanding of some phenomenon of totality (for example, the world as whole, totality) in light of a question how (why) this phenomenon is possible?. The answer to this question assumes revealing mechanism of existence of this phenomenon. That is why it is important for the philosopher not to know some common aspect, that is allowed at a level of the primary, superficial description of it and other similar objects, but to know general (total) principle of functioning of objects of this type. For example, if a row of the plane polygons is given to us, a triangle(4) will act as general principle of this variety, because all others plane polygons can be given with the help of a triangle. Thus, philosophical constructs act as transcendental condition of seeing of other physical objects. That the phenomenon of seeing of a house was possible as some totality, it is necessary to postulate a row of transcendental conditions of this phenomenon, among them we can allocate necessity being of the house (Parmenid), recognition (and taking shape) this being by means of idea of home (Plato), fixing the house as an object of perception by some subject (Decartes) within spatial-temporary a priory forms of sensuality (Kant). On the other hand, a row of such philosophical constructs define a horizon, a way of seeing of subjects (Wittgenstein), associated with a certain epoch. For example, the mentioned above transcendental conditions of a phenomenon of seeing of a house define a way of seeing of subjects within the framework of classical philosophy. In this sense these constructs act as total-necessary cultural machines, that set the cultural way of living activity of the person and made imperceptible but essential background of his existence. For example, when a modern man looks at star sky, he sees not simply separate stars, but constellations — and it is impossible to explain to a person from other culture (and the more so, being, which is not having ability to the synthetic acts). Moreover, developing this example with constructing of constellations, it is possible to tell, that exactly it has made possible occurrence of such activity as an astrology.

The above mentioned metaphysical character of philosophy objects causes the specification of the language and methods philosophizing. The language of philosophy has not signal, but symbolical character. Let's stop on it hardly more in detail. Already science differs from the common sense description, because it uses some abstraction, ideal elements, which, in a common case, it is impossible to compare any certain objects of the physical validity. For example, as D. Gilbert says, in mathematics, those are language fictions, and one of the main problems of a substantiation of mathematics is either an exception these fictions, or imposing some certain restrictions — all that prevent the appearance of negative consequences, while using language fictions. Any language works with signs, besides that, any theory deals with mentioned language fictions (= «symbols»), i.e. such kinds of signs, with which nothing corresponds in sensible reality. For example, in physics has concepts a material point, an absolutely black body, etc. They are often called as abstract — ideal objects, which turn out by a way of abstraction (idealization) from any properties of real physical objects. But in physics there are and more fictitious objects: cwarcks, for example, which not only is evident not imagine, but also until last time have acted only as theoretical constructs essentially of unobservable nature. In this case we can postulate a metaphysical mode of existence for these objects. It is important to emphasize, that these metaphysical objects do not exist in the same sense, as it is for the particular objects of a physical reality, such as table, chair,etc. The majority of the philosophy terms, its categorical apparatus have such symbolical character. It is impossible to give any referents of philosophical categories inside a physical reality. We can take as an example of such philosophical categories as being, consciousness etc., for which we can somehow find certain physical analogues (for example, for a philosophical category «being » such analogue is the category «substance» or matter). But there are more humanitarian objects connected with some features of a human being way, for which in general there are no analogues in a nature. These are, for example, concepts virtue, conscience, love, debt, bravery... This specification of the philosophy language, which symbols indicate an existence of a special metaphysical dimension of a reality could be expressed by Kantian exclamation "Excuse me, but it is not, what I speak about (mean)! " in reply to German poet Schiller`s misunderstanding his categorical imperative.

The metaphysical character of the categorical philosophical apparatus predetermines also specification of philosophical reasoning. The postulated non-sense character of perception of objects of the filosophizing assumes the special procedures of work, which were above characterized as a procedure of speculation. The main difficulty thus — is absence of a support on sensible analogy, which often helps us in daily life. The structure a reasoning about pure being (or conscience) is principle different from the reasoning about a tree, or a sex, or other objects of the physical world. Danger, which here waits us — influence of our vital experience, influence sensible hooks, which can destroy the ability for the reflex and philosophical analysis. To explain the idea about involuntary influence ours sensible apparatus, M. Mamardaschvili in the lectures about M. Proust, used as an example biblical commandment when they beat you on the one cheek — put another one as a vivid example of inhibition (Husserl`s «phenomenological reduction») of a standard human reaction (reflex), imposed to us by sense-figurative thinking (if somebody hearts you — reply with the same). Moreover, it is possible, that some other logic operates in area of speculative objects, distinct from usual, earthly logic. In particular, according to opinion of the Russian philosopher and the logic N. A. Vasiljev, validity of the logic law of excluded third, has purely earthly an origin and it is connected with primacy, after Aristotle, of individual existing things.(5) If we, following Plato, consider classes of subjects as primary (for instance, subject a class of tables), the law of excluded third will be incorrect, as the table as one of set of subjects of a class of tables can be simultaneously both white and non-white (in instance, green). Of course, here it is necessary to realize, that the opposite properties are attributed to the different individuals of primary "subject" — different things of the same class). The transfer of the point of view from single objects to classes of objects has allowed N. Vasiljev to formulate imagined logic with the law of excluded fourth. This logic in anything does not concede on its parameters to our habitual logic with the law of excluded third, but expands opportunities of our thinking. Within the framework of this logic the paradoxical coincidence between maximum and minimum, revealed Nikolaj from Kuza, does not cause surprise.

The only acceptable procedure for understanding of philosophical categories within of some philosophical framework is the correlation of the different speculative (metaphysics) objects with the help of a method language game.[4]

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(1) This research is conducted within the research grant No. 096-03-04360 from RHSF.

(2) In the article [1] meta-structures of «The Contemplator» and «The Actor» were revealed while analyzing the phenomenon of the consciousness. In the article [2] meta-temporary («twinkling») character of the way being for consciousness-type objects was underlined. Here this approach is extended on any «who-les».

(3) The classical philosophy paradigm can be reduce to two basic distinctions. The first of them — distinction «external versus internal» (phenomenon and essence, «the world of things» and «the world of ideas»), which rises to metaphysics of Parmenid and Plato, is a nuclear antique philosophizing. The second distinction «the subject versus the object» is revealed and precisely explicated by Decartes in New time. In work [3] there are three basic paradigms in the history of philosophy: antique, classical and modern paradigms of the philosophizing.

(4) Let's emphasize, that in the given example ascending to Aristotel, real existence of «total construct» of a triangle acts as casual quality, and, in a common case, it is not necessary, that such «constructs» real existence.

(5) In Vasiljev`s opinion, a psychophysiological basis of usual «earthly» logic is the specification of a human sensible apparatus, consisting in ability to perceive only pozitive qualities, for example, redness, and in inability of a human being with the help of sensible in direct to perceive absent qualities.


[1] Katretchko S. L. The reflexive approach to studing the phenomenon of consciousness: Humanitarian science in Russia: the winners of Soros (philosophy). Moscow. 1996. pp.139-46.

[2] Katretchko S. L. Conscious objects ways of being: Problems of management in a context of humanitarian culture. Moscow, «University humanitarian Lyceum», 1997. pp.15 - 18.

[3] Katretchko S. L. Philosophy as metaphysics (program of a course of studies). Moscow. University R?E publisher. 1997.

[4] Katretchko S. L. Philosophy as language game»: Materials XI International conferences: Logic, methodology, philosophy of a science. Moscow - Obninsk. 1995. vol.5. pp. 44 - 48.

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