Metaphysics and (lack of) grounding

Scientia Salon

by Massimo Pigliucci

I must admit to always having had a troubled relationship with metaphysics. My first exposure to it was during my three years of philosophy in high school (in Italy), where the bulk of our exposure to metaphysics came down to the medieval Scholastics (of course, we also studied Aristotle and Descartes, among others). The Scholastics still have a bad reputation in philosophical circles, where the very term “Scholasticism” is a polite synonym for mental masturbation, despite the fact that medieval logicians actually did excellent work (think William of Ockham and Buridan, to name just a couple) [1,2]. As a teenager prone to (intellectual) rebelliousness, though, I couldn’t but reject the Scholastics.

A bit later on, in college, I discovered (logical and empirical) positivism, which dealt yet another blow to my regard, such as it was, for metaphysics. The positivists, (in)famously, applied their verification principle to establish not…

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