Statement on Metaphysics

We have got on to slippery ice… Back to
the rough ground! Ludwig Wittgenstein


Metaphysics not only posits human thought in abstraction to material existence, but to objective reality as well. The metaphysical discourses employed in this operation conceive ‘meanings’ as independent of language, and exterior to social and cultural practices, and ‘truth’ is seen as having an ultimate ground, and a final justification, in a ‘higher’, or ‘better’ order – thereby, conveniently closing off all rational analysis and criticism. These abstractions, which metaphysics postulates, facilitate the human, societal activity of substituting some external/internal transcendental force(s) for the actual material forces which affect human existence; the economic, political, and ideological formations of society.1

But why this substitution, this need for something ‘better’, free of contradictions. The answer lies in the fact that humanity distorts, and falsely constructs, the material forces which condition reality, thereby distorting humanity’s social character, its potential for free and creative coactivity.2 In other words, humanity alienates itself from itself through itself. It is this self–alienation which generates the substitution; the replacing of self–alienation for a ‘better’–self, free of contradictions, with meaning and truth, and which bestows unconditional love… but, like ‘the father’, there is always the threat of rescinding it if one violates its ‘rules’.

Still, we yearn for “a higher love,”3 that desire for ‘certainty’ in, what seems, an uncertain world, and quest after the ‘one meaning’ that will give meaning to all other meanings. Here! is the trap set for us by metaphysics, for it poses the question of meaning in the abstract, as something transcending material conditions and practical human activity. It sees a reality that is immutable, it’s truth–claims are universal, absolute, and certain. A world that is beyond our power to change, unless we surrender our-selfs to a power beyond. This illusory ‘ideal’ gives us faith and hope in exchange for freedom and equality. But, if we are to accept the possibility of human emancipation we must comprehend that the world is constituted by human actions, and that those actions are part of a material reality. And only from that viewpoint can we see the world as transformable, and with that, realize “the fully developed human.”4

  1. e.g., in monotheism, the idea of ‘man’ is abstracted, and substituted by the personified image of god. For further reading on this subject see Luce Irigaray
  2. e.g., the division of labor by the sexes is distorted by the construction of a patriarchal social order, leading to a repression, and denial, of the ‘feminine’. Ibid (Luce Irigaray). See also Frederick Engels The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
  3. Stevie Winwood Higher Love
  4. Karl Mark Capital vol. III