How does one set off answering the question I brought up in the last post from Sartre: that something is there rather than nothing being there?
In philosophy, this is referred to as the area of metaphysics (meta; after, along with, beyond, behind and physics; the science that deals with matter, energy, motion and force). In particular, metaphysics is the area of ‘being and existence’. Philosophers have long known that one of the fundamental questions of life is to be able to explain why we’re here at all, how we came to be here, why anything we observe in the world around us is there, and how it came to be there. In other words one can sum it up in terms of ‘being and existence’, and the question becomes ‘Why does anything exist at all?’ Subsets of this question then become myriad, ‘Why are we here on earth?’, ‘Why are the sun and stars out there?’, ‘Why are there fish in the seas?’ They can all be summed up in the question of ‘being and existence’, or metaphysics. So to label it is to call it: the metaphysical question.
Francis Schaeffer has said that ‘Nothing that is worth calling a philosophy can sidestep the question of the fact that things do exist and that they exist in their present form and complexity.’
So, what are the options for answering the metaphysical question? I’m sure you can think of several. Evolution with its blind, uncaused and random, time plus chance beginnings of nothing into something, and here I mean ‘absolutely nothing’, or a personal-infinite Creator God who has brought into being everything that exists. In today’s world, most people would fall into one of these two categories.
Please remember in this that both philosophy and religion deal with the same basic questions. The questions are not different, although the answers are different and in different terms. Both philosophy and religion are trying to answer the metaphysical question; the question of ‘being and existence’. The second thing we must keep in mind concerns the two meanings of the word ‘philosophy’. Philosophy on the one hand is an academic discipline that one studies in university and can get degreed in, and yet on the other hand there is a second meaning that we must not miss. For philosophy also means a person’s worldview. It is in this sense of worldview that all persons are philosophers, for every one of us has a worldview. No one can live without a worldview, and so ‘philosophy’ is universal in scope and therefore no one who is not a philosopher.
In order to answer the metaphysical question correctly; to see which answer best fits the facts around us will be the topic of our next posts.
Vaya con Dios mis hijas,
Dear ol’ Dad