Metaphysics, principle and participation

The metaphysician analyzes the exact same world that everyone else does, but he analyzes it in light of the absolute division of “is” and “is not”. This makes a difference. Only in this mode of analysis is there no intrinsic limitation on the the extent of the subject studied. The method that explicates such a subject has to be such that it can explicate the full and absolute extent of “is” as full and absolute. Though there is no limitation on the subject with respect to its extent, this necessity to remain unlimited character precludes the metaphysician from being able to consider anything from a specialized experience (like an experiment, or a unique cultural or personal insight, or a gift given by God to some but not all).

The absolute division of he “is” and “is not”, which is given in the principle of contradiction, consists in the impossibility that there could be a non-repugnance of being and non being. The principle is an awareness of our worthiness to judge over all things, and say of them that “being which is, is, and cannot be non-being” or “it is impossible to be and not be simul“. It is a truth about data which cannot be corrected by data. Now clearly since human beings take knowledge from things, to have knowledge that cannot be corrected by data is not a properly human way to know something. Metaphysics is therefore a kind of “borrowed” or “participatory” knowledge.


  1. July 31, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Great post, James. The LNC is reasonably inferred to be transcendental, as are some other first principles. Kant would reply that our experience of the “external world” is brought about by the imposition of our mind’s structure onto the things perceived, which would imply a very limited knowledge of the world (as noumena). Still, I’m persuaded that the knowledge of esse, God’s Pure Being, is immune from this objection – the reason being that esse is a necessary condition of some potentiality’s actualization, even analytically-speaking.

  2. July 31, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Kant was right to say that the things we know best are the things that are proportionate to us as spacio-temporal knowers, and that the knowing subject has a role to play in the manifestation of the world. We see motion easier, I would suppose, for some evolutionary reason, and we see in three dimensions and not four because we travel relatively slowly in comparison with the speed of light. Considered in this way, or experience, while objective, is limited. We just don’t see everything that is there.

    But this cannot be said when we consider our experience under the aspect of “is” and “is not”. There we have everything, without limitation. If a fourth dimension exists, we already knew it so far as it is already contained in being. It is not new to us when considered under this light.

    Kant claimed that nothing necessary could be given in experience as such. This is, as far as I can tell, the first principle of his philosophy, since it establishes the difference between the a priori and a posteriori. This strikes me as simply wrong.

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