For Aristotle, the starting point of Wisdom, or philosophy, was metaphysics. Modernity has more or less rejected metaphysics in its quest for self-destruction. But metaphysics will never go away, because metaphysics is reality itself – the study of the totality of what is. Metaphysics is the starting point in terms of actual foundations of knowledge and presupposition, yet comes at the end of the process of pedagogy, as it is the highest science. Nowadays, aside from some continental philosophers who follow in the train of genius writers like Husserl, theoria and metaphysics have been jettisoned for pragmatism, post-modernism and other forms of nonsense that Ayn Rand aptly describes as the self-destruction of philosophy. There is a long train of contributors to this gradual decline.
Unfortunately, certain basic flaws in Aristotle’s own position led to the decline, particularly his adoption of empiricism. Aristotle cut the world off from the possibility of any other world or reality or dimension, and while it took a millennia or two, this ultimately resulted in materialism, positivism and then, the tossing out of all meaning and purpose. In fact, that last notion was crucial for early moderns like Bacon who did have legitimate scruples with Aristotle. Aristotle had adopted several ideas about the natural world from tradition, such as that the heavens are perfectly unchanged, static realities, or that rocks have an essential quality of “going downward.” Bacon rightly laughed at this, but Bacon didn’t foresee that tossing out Aristotle’s final cause, or telos, would result in the total collapse of philosophy.
The place of Thomas Aquinas can also not be forgotten in this chain. Aquinas followed suit with an Aristotelian-Platonic synthesis (so he thought), which placed human reasoning on an independent basis that never touched the divine, since the absolutely simple divine essence, within which the divine archetypes upon which even “natural” reasoning was based, were never accessed by the mind of man in this life. He held this because of his idea of simplicity, which was such that the divinity, which is also the ground of human knowledge, never interacts with or connects to the abstracted phantasms in man’s mind, since the exemplars themselves are “in the divine essence” is a “First Cause” that is always only able to “reveal” itself by created effects in this life. Bacon departed from these ideas, and turned to a more consistent (so he thought) empiricism.
We don’t observe a telos, or purpose. We observe cause and effect, from a human vantage point. But this is a double-edged sword: If things don’t have any purpose, essence or meaning outside of the arbitrary “meaning” individual, discreet humans ascribe to them, then meaning doesn’t inhere over time, and we end up with the problems Hume elucidated about identity over time. Certainly Bacon still thought there was a Deity and meaning in the world, but he set in motion the train of (flawed) reasoning that would toss out any objective meaning. If one truly adopts Bacon’s more consistent Thomistic more consistent Aristotelian empiricism, then one ends up with Hume’s radical skepticism. And radical skepticism led moderns to adopt bizarre, destructive philosophies like nihilism, post-modernism and other forms of humanism. Kant was thus right to seek for an answer to Hume in transcendental categories, because that is a return to the crucial area of a priori notions where Plato was right and Aristotle was wrong (though Aristotle was right about a lot).
For Kant, the solution was to reconcile how there could be a synthetic a prior claim that was true: how can we make an a priori claim about all experience? Kant, following the Aristotelian notion of transcendental arguments correctly listed preconditional necessary categories that were presupposed in any human experience of cognition. However, Kant messed up in still ascribing to empiricism, and in so doing, his categories never touched the objective, external world. Kant could never know if any of his claims and arguments were actually true of the noumenal world, and so he said they were only true of the phenomena of experience as they appeared. And from there, as a rationalist, he tacked on all kinds of other ideas that only further ended destroying what was one of the greatest insights in the history of philosophy – preconditional categories of experience, proven by indirect, transcendental argumentation.
The solution to this imagined dilemma is rather simple: toss out the imagined divide between the phenomenal and noumenal, and hold to a direct experience of the world, and that the transcendental categories do apply to and explain the objective world that all men are party to. This actually works, it makes sense, and explains how we do things like see, interpret, walk, cognize, build rockets, make sentences, etc. Brilliant philosophers like P.F. Strawson have carried on this monumental work of real philosophy in transcendental arguments, taking into the realm that most obviously demonstrates this: that of linguistics. For a human person to make a single sentence presupposes an entire world, structured in a certain way – this is the salvation and continuation of real philosophy, while the relativists and post-modern losers will be left in the dust.
So we can salute Aristotle in his primacy of metaphysics and be simultaneously saddened in his acceptance of the nascent empiricism that would be the death of the west, ending in total relativism. It may have taken a few thousand years to realize the full implications of the supposedly neutral “scientific method” to collapse, and if there is to be science any longer, it must recognize that theoria and philosophy is necessary. Of course, one of the problems is getting people to even understand what transcendental arguments are and why they are relevant.
These are the kinds of issues that should appeal to the Godel-ish mathematical types, who are often far better minded for such issues than so-called “philosophers” at these pathetic universities, who are in truth nothing more than the sophists Plato and Aristotle argued against. This worthless crew needs to go work in a factory somewhere or commit suicide in league with their nihilistic nonsense, and leave the philosophizing to those who know there is objective truth. They are the enemies of all progress and are agents of destruction and morass. And, it’s no accident that the ancient sophists are an unknown rabble, aside from one or two obscure names. Thousands of years later, the world knows who Plato and Aristotle are. The sooner the modern sophists pass out of existence, the better. We need a return to Aristotle and logic, purged of its errors – a return to sound reasoning – to the trivium and quadrivium, and to the esoteric. Let the relativists destroy and abort themselves out of existence.