Bruce Aune
Copyright Date: 1985
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    A comprehensive introductory study of the key concepts and problems in traditional and contemporary metaphysics. Aune presents and defends a point of view that is naturalistic, nominalistic and pragmatic-an approach that has the overall advantage of providing a coherent, structured view of the topics he discusses.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8223-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
    (pp. 3-12)

    METAPHYSICS IS POSSIBLY the most basic but certainly the most controversial part of philosophy. It flourished in ancient Greece and in the universities of medieval Europe, but it lost favor in the Renaissance and, in spite of some lively growth in the late seventeenth century, was seen as more or less disreputable by the tough-minded philosophers of the Enlightenment. A scornful attitude towards metaphysics became particularly emphatic in the early years of our century, when logical positivists regarded the word “metaphysics” as synonymous with “philosophical nonsense” and insisted that metaphysical assertions are “cognitively vacuous.”¹ At the present time there is...

  5. Chapter 2 EXISTENCE
    (pp. 13-36)

    A GOOD WAY TO APPROACH a basic philosophical issue is to consider what a great philosopher has said about it. I have already commented on Aristotle’s suggestive strategy for resolving some of the oldest problems about existence (or being), but to understand current thought on the subject it is important to consider the views of a more up-to-date philosopher. The obvious choice here is Bertrand Russell, for contemporary views about existence are deeply indebted to his work. As we shall see, Russell’s conception of existence is not entirely satisfactory; but its defects are not widely appreciated and they raise issues...

    (pp. 37-56)

    THE OBJECT OF this chapter is to consider what sorts of things, very generally speaking, belong to our space-time-causal system. Although most philosophers agree that the system contains particulars, they often disagree about the nature of particulars, some holding that they are events, and others holding that they are continuants—things that, like plants and animals, persist in time and undergo change. In addition to allowing that our world contains particulars of one sort or another, many philosophers insist that it contains universals as irreducible objects. I shall begin by assuming that the world contains continuants and consider whether, in...

    (pp. 57-76)

    IN THE LAST CHAPTER I discussed and ultimately rejected the principal theories of universals that philosophers have historically defended. My aim in this chapter is to consider the arguments frequently offered in support of the fundamental reality of other nonparticulars such as propositions, possibilities, and states of affairs. Since these arguments are based largely on facts about language, and since similar arguments are occasionally used to support a belief in universals, I shall begin with another section on universals and then move on to the major topics of the chapter.

    As a means of supporting their belief in universals of...

  8. Chapter 5 CHANGING THINGS
    (pp. 77-104)

    ACCORDING TO THE ARGUMENT of the last two chapters, only particulars are fundamentally real or existent. The main question to be discussed in this and the following chapter is “What are particulars?” As we know by now, this question has been answered in different ways by different philosophers. A good share of the disagreement springs from problems about the notion of a changing thing, and these problems will be my chief topic in the present chapter. Since selves or persons are particularly interesting examples of changing things, problems about personal identity—or the identity, through time and change, of selves...

    (pp. 105-130)

    THE PARTICULARS I have discussed thus far are continuants, things that persist through time and typically undergo change. In this chapter I shall be concerned with particulars of other kinds or categories—specifically, with events, processes, times, and places. My discussion of these things will lead me into a discussion of such topics as causation, alternative ontologies, and metaphysical realism.

    The point in discussing these other kinds of particulars is that they have a doubtful ontological status. To be sure, some philosophers contend that there is no problem about these things: they are fundamentally real and must be acknowledged in...

    (pp. 131-160)

    ALTHOUGH THE THEORY of meaning is not a standard topic in metaphysics, contentions about the nature of reality have often been supported by an appeal to facts about language. I discussed and rejected one contention of this kind in the last chapter—namely, Strawson’s contention that we can make sense of another person’s remarks about the world only on the assumption that the world contains continuants as basic particulars. Another, more recent contention of this kind has been advanced in favor of the idea that a proper understanding of our language requires us to admit events as basic realities. Since...

    (pp. 161-186)

    A STANDARD CONTENTION in metaphysics is that the world is really different from what it appears to be. I have already discussed some highly general arguments for this contention—specifically, arguments purporting to show that, owing to the nature of time and change, the world cannot really contain the persisting things (the continuants) that it seems to contain. In this chapter I shall be concerned with arguments of a less general kind. The ones I shall now discuss are based on facts about perception, and they purport to show that the world we are aware of in perception is not...

    (pp. 187-206)

    THUS FAR I have found it reasonable to consider a human being as a largely physical system, one with mental or sensory aspects, but not one involving an immaterial soul or spirit. This view raises problems when we think of ourselves as creatures capable of doing things of our own free will. Actions done this way are said to be metaphysically free, and our alleged capacity to perform them raises problems that are as difficult to resolve as any discussed in previous chapters.

    If we neglect the theological concerns that have raised problems about the possibility of human freedom, we...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 207-220)
    (pp. 223-228)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 231-236)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-237)