1.2.2 Truth is hard and easy
In metaphysics what we are arguing for cannot be assumed to be known from a known principle, it must be discovered from an unknown principle. Metaphysics does not only ask what a thing is but where it comes from. Where a thing comes from is taken to be the same as what the object is. “Man begets man” normally means one human brings out another human, but this ultimately just means the continuity the human. This is a reductionism of the specification of a thing to what it is as determining these details. For example it a a human not a goat that took on the role of Steve with glasses in the office. And although we take this as a given, the ethical implication of it is not given as it answers why Steve is Steve and not John.
In all other forms of study the capacity to know is merely taken for granted and is not paid attention to when the subject under investigation is something other than knowledge as an object, but the object of this knowledge, what it deals with. When knowledge talks about itself, recounts that it is doing something as it is doing something, talking about my self talking, talking about a chair, I am talking about my self talking about the chair, talking about my self talking about my self talking about the chair. This regress is the forthright behind the thought that takes on infinite possible forms as it exercises its expression on a single thing, it has already thought another thing, which now became the single thing expressed. in metaphysics the capacity to know is the object under investigation and that our object presents itself through that.
In all other sciences we use thought to confirm the existence of a particular object like a cell or an atom, and even if the object of thought, be it an atom or a cell, is not known, we still have them in reference to a known thought, which is the capacity for them to be known, we know that to be there otherwise we would not be able to know what to know. In metaphysics when thought is taken in reference to nothing else but itself, it is unknown to itself, and this is the only known form of knowledge it begins with. And so we cannot adequately argue for something we lack knowledge of, yet this is exactly what is required by the knowledge that the existence of thought cannot he doubted. Aristotle argues;
“THE investigation of the truth is in one way hard, in another easy. An indication of this is found in the fact that no one is able to attain the truth adequately, while, on the other hand, we do not collectively fail, but every one says something true about the nature of things, and while individually we contribute little or nothing to the truth, by the union of all a considerable amount is amassed. Therefore, since the truth seems to be like the proverbial door, which no one can fail to hit, in this respect it must be easy, but the fact that we can have a whole truth and not the particular part we aim at shows the difficulty of it.” (Metaphysics book 2 part 1)
The truth is easy because on some level it is given, or at least the capacity for truth is naturally acquainted. However what this capacity to know is after or trying to get of hold of is difficult because it can never fully be gained but only partially, it can be gained partially always.
There is the fake modesty especially in modern times where persons are not trying to impose or promote their view, they are just simply trying to “understand” the truth, or they have no opinion on the matter at hand, they strive for an impartial view. This agnosticism is also a particular view of the truth that is being promoted by the individual. If someone is truly ignorant of the truth than they are actively ignoring it because truth naturally presents itself to the individual, as the relativist say ‘every individual has their own truth’, which is taken to mean that truth is reduced to the views of individuals. But this is not what the term “view” means, which is defined as something objective, i.e, everyone has a specific view, literally means truth considered in a particular way, which is the only way to consider truth. A view is a perspective, not an opinion, means a standpoint from where truth is conceived, like a passage or medium of nature something passes through, like a position from where an object is perceived; except unlike perceiving an object from a certain position, you are, the individual, is the particular standpoint of truth. In this way every person knows the truth, or as Aristotle notes “every one says something true”. Yet at the same time everyone feels as if they are missing something absolutely essential.
The only thing an individual can offer is their view which does not mean that because it is their view it is by default false because here we are saying that some views are true, at least in pointing out a particular conception of the truth, like the toe nail of a dinosaur is a partial artifact of it. However for the same reason a limited view is a false because it is an obscurity of the whole truth, e.g, you cannot derive how the dinosaur looks just by studying it’s toenail. So we have to step outside a particular truth and look at a more collective compilation of truth, sum set of individual contributions to the truth. But this collection of truth is still subject to the same limitation that an individual truth is because a group of truths is still a particular form of truth in being identified as a totality, as distinct from the individual who receives it. The truth is not the sum set of views but it is the thing these conceptions are based on and to which they approach as a limit but never fully attain because if they do, that just becomes a particular conception of the truth. Everyone knows their own truth and there is no confusion about it because it is self-evidently their experience, and by this definition truth is that which exists the most, yet we ask about whether there is truth or not as if we lack something essential.
in metaphysics there is no pre-knowledge of what to expect other than to expect nothing and proceed in the activity of thought. This does not mean there should be no structure, but an already reestablished structure cannot entirely guide the thought flow, only that, thought structures itself during the duration of its continuity. Thought is itself the structure, in other words, structure is a built in feature of thinking.
The content metaphysics deals with does not allow truth to be independent from the method – a true method is identical with the truth of what it ascertains. Hegel elaborates; “But not only the account of scientific method, but even the Notion itself of the science as such belongs to its content, and in fact constitutes its final result; what logic is cannot be stated beforehand, rather does this knowledge of what it is first emerge as the final outcome and consummation of the whole exposition.” Metaphysics is science where the establishment and application of its own content constitutes somehow at the same time the Being of what it demonstrates.
1.2.5 Thinking is a meditation
According to ancient Buddhist traditions, thinking is an involuntary operation in nature like the growing of trees or the change of weather. Thinking is a spontaneous occurrence. The voluntary element of thinking is the reflective element on the natural operations of thought happening in the mind. Thinking is the same natural process as “growing your hair, or breathing”, the only difference is that the philosopher communicates what he conceives from this process as honestly and accurately as possible (Alan Watts our of your mind: essential listening, session 1). A fundamental presupposition in the method of ontology is not to view thought as something personal so that it can be a proper object for study, or what is personal can still be taken as part of an objective subject matter.
Reading an ontological work requires one to keep up in the mental fitness of concentration and this is why philosophy is on some level a meditation because it requires the practice of maintaining attention on the natural operations of thought. Most people often fail to keep attention after a certain period of time when reading philosophical works like Aristotle or Hegel because their thought wonders off loosing track of the reading. This is due to the inability to detach their mind from the act of reading so that it becomes laborious without the reward of the idea that backs it up. It is natural to develop fatigue from reading philosophy but the reader should not feel discouraged and then conclude that either they are unable to understand or the content itself is lacking. Usually the academic types go for the claim that the content is lacking whenever they do not understand something because they are encouraged to be “critical thinkers” and they cannot admit, in an environment where the understanding is an honour, that their own understanding is lacking. It is first important to understand the work before you can critically assess it. For example, academics dismiss the truth of Hegel precisely based on his writing style alone and this just shows enough the difference between the shallowest of thinker who lack the mental fitness to go beyond the language barrier into the deeper meaning accessed through it.
1.2.6 Naturally what “doubt” is
The reader will naturally encounter a feeling of incompleteness when reading metaphysics but this is not necessarily due to the content of the subject matter lacking. Alan Watts says that “every poet, every artist, feels when he gets to the end of his work, that there is something absolutely essential that was left out”. This is in fact naturally what doubt is, a discontinuity between one thought from another, and we interpret this discontinuity as a lack of thought, ineptitude of thought, or thought that is lacking, but it is the nature of thought to involve this discrete measure, or a pause, to distinguish one idea from another. As long as the reader is not discouraged by this hurdle, he can proceed onwards to the thoughts that fill this void with content, and piece these contents together to form a general narrative.
The skeptics fixate on this ineptitude of thought, where or what a thought is not, as reason to dismisses any thought. They take the lack of thought as power to dismiss all thought.
The claim that “nothing can be talked about adequately” is an interesting sentence because it bears a double negative; on the one hand it means the concept of “nothing” can be talked about adequately, which is a positive affirmation, this does not mean that you cannot talk about anything, in fact you can talk about everything, including you can even talk about nothing. But what it implies is that no subject can be talked about completely, or that partial knowledge can not be talked about adequately. The term “nothing” suggests no single thing on its own can be talked about adequately. Alan Watts says “the whole art of poetry is to say what cannot be said” is another affirmative contradiction which ordinarily in language is taken to be an error, but in philosophy it can be looked at as a positive logical move since it points out both sides of the story. If we say something that cannot be said, we just denied that by saying it, but there is still something that is left unsaid, which is the lack of clarification on what was denied. Both of these situations simultaneously require investigation. These affirmative contradictions are present everywhere in philosophy.
The lay person understands philosophy as a completely subjective endeavour because they reduce it to opinion on matters and “who can say that your opinion is wrong” as if something belonging to yourself cannot be wrong. The reasoning for this is perhaps why would someone choose something wrong for themselves as the point of the self is the preservation of the self. But the reality of psychoanalysis clearly shows that people always chooses the wrong things for themselves. the problem with reducing thoughts to opinions is that they say how can you disapprove one opinion by using another opinion. It is supposedly wrong to use one thing to prove itself, on other words using thought to prove the propositions made by thought. We are somehow suppose to use something else other than the thing to prove it, as in the case of empiricism, the material of objects is used to prove the theory of them. While in logic the same substance of thought is used to make and then prove its proposition.
in the special sciences the claim is that there is empirical standard of measuring its claims such as hard facts you can feel and perceive.
In this line of work, metaphysics does not go anywhere else to find the proof other than what is given in it’s material. In fact all forms of writing uses the self-evidence of a thing to prove its truth. For example, writing uses the same material that posits the question to provide the answer, in other words, it uses the same logic and language which brought out the question to answer and explain it. The content of the writing may point to other things to prove topic, but it nevertheless uses the same capacity that brought about the question to answer it. The application to answer the question is their continuity. Metaphysics is based on the principle that thought takes itself as the object, or it makes itself the object. This is perhaps the oldest and most ancient of ideas and will constitutes the general principle of the inquiry.
the most common affirmative contradiction associated with philosophy is that it results in the notion “there is no truth”, which is itself a truth claim, or rather it is a claim about the nature of truth, I.e, the truth is that there is no truth. It is impossible to escape from making a claim about truth because something must be presupposed to deny or affirm or to make any claim about it. As to whether truth is known or not is a different question from whether there is truth or not.
1.2.7 Reading ontology
As to the structure of reading an ontological work, we are accustomed to read from the top of the page down to the bottom. Meaning that we begin with the paragraph at the top of the page and read down to the last paragraph. But we can perhaps find the same result if we began from the bottom and read up to the bottom paragraph. Although this is not necessarily recommended in a storyline, the point is that it may bring about the same result in thinking. The trick for understanding metaphysical writing involves informal reading habits. This means two things; first, meditation in the realm of reading requires that the mind should not focus on the act of reading, but pay attention to the mood and attitude that thought has in reaction to what is being read. This has the danger of the mind to wonder off into thought not related to the reading and the meaning of what is being said gets lost. The continuity between thought and what is being read is a conception external to both maintaining a concentration on both doing their own thing in relation to each other. Second, philosophical writings should be read in an abrupt fashion. When the reader feels like they are not absorbing the content or that the content starts to seem discombobulated, one must stop reading and look out into their environment and meditate on the thoughts that naturally occur after the reading. Worrying about loosing track should indicate that the reader lost track, and an intermediary stoppage is required simply to see if what they remember from the reading presents itself naturally in the mind. This is why this inquiry is divided into many subsections, not only because the aim is to talk specifically about certain topics, but it is to help the reader maintain some checkpoints in thought. In fact the reader is discouraged from relaying on the heading of each section as if it should indicate the topic under discussion. The heading of each section is not the topic but a general sense or a key word that captures the attention of the reader so that they can maintain some check point throughout the inquiry. There is no special topic to be discussed in this study.
Moreover there is no track to keep on in a true ontological work but only a general sense for a thought flow. The reader therefore can start anywhere and find the same result. This will become clearer as the reader discovers the ultimate point of ontology. Automatically the reader will think that their understanding misrepresents what they have read, but this so called misrepresentation is really a kind of paraphrasing the mind makes about the essential idea written in the particular way by the author. There is the possibility of confirmation bias where the reader thinks what they have read confirms an already existing belief or idea. But this is precisely where the continuity of what you read and what you think merge into a contradiction to be unraveled by the understanding. The reader is encouraged to be confident in their thoughts that bring into doubt the discussion and should listen to these thoughts as they are natural responses of logic to what is being received by the reading. The reader should take on the position of the observer meditating what is being read, with the way their thoughts responds to the work. This dialectic will naturally become more evident and clearer as one continuous on longer with metaphysics.
The writing style of metaphysics is a certain attitude of thought. Hegel famously writes during his last moments to describe his work in this phrase, “only one man ever understood me, and even he did not understand me”. There is also a famous saying of Saint Augustine of Hippo when he was asked; what is time? He replied “I know what it is, but when you ask me, I don’t”. These mean that you can know something but not understand it. Ontology alludes to what we know but not yet understand. This study proceeds to explain things we know but do not under
1.2.3 “faith” in Reason
Ontology is suppose to establish a proper ground for a thesis which cannot be found at the beginning of the inquiry. In this way reading an ontological work requires “faith” on the part of the reader because the idea develops in the mind after the fact, when the thinker stops reading. Meaning is not what is merely communicable between people, but an ontological work should allow the experience to follow naturally from the explanation such that when you read something you should be able to witness it.
Just like a scientific fact is perceivable in its physical circumstances, an ontological fact is presentable in the mind by abstract conceptions. Pragmatist like William James associate the function of belief, which is the specification of faith, with being the efficacy of choice. William James defines having “option” as “the decision between two hypothesis”. To understand the function of belief consider the difference between doing the wrong means to attain a good end versus doing the right means to attain a good end, what is the difference if the end is ultimately in both scenarios the same, or that both arrive at the same result? The answer is that both do not potentially arrive at the same result. This question presupposes the result to be given without explaining how it is arrived at. The difference is obvious because the wrong means can bring with it wrong circumstances that affects the attainment of the good end, while the right means bring about the right affects, and so there is no chance in the latter in the same way as the former. Doing the wrong means brings about the possibility which is more probable than unlikely of the wrong things happening. For example, if I am trying to catch a bus, the shorter route could be to enter illegally without paying my fare, which can make me catch the bus faster and get a free ride, while paying for the fare requires that I go in the station and around to catch the bus, which will make me miss it and I will have to wait for the next one. The good end is catching the bus but the wrong means while if successful brings about the best case scenario has the possibility of also resulting in the worst case scenario, which is getting caught and being fined thousands of dollars, which will also miss the bus which is the worst thing can happen in doing the right means.
Actions are based on beliefs not only because decisions are motivated by what we believe in but we believe in something because we think it is true. William James says that “A chemist finds a hypothesis live enough to spend a year in its verification: he believes in it to that extent.” The interesting meaning of hypothesis in the context of belief suggests that we know something is true but unsure of it and this is why we have belief in it. The importance of belief is especially relevant if we take as the bare extent of action the “conception”, which is an unconsciously mental action, as we say ‘conceive something into being’ as if there is an aspect that you conceived your circumstances you are in. There are actions at the brink of being and these are the fundamental decisions. What we are acquainted with as actions are conscious decisions we actively employ, like moving your hand up when you want to. But there are fundamental actions known as “conceptions” that are actually the causes of the circumstances we are conscious of at the present moment because we assume the moment we are in is merely given, we just stumbled upon it, however we have to ask even how this is generated. James argues that people do not have voluntary control over their beliefs, but this does not mean that people’s beliefs are predetermined, like having a genetic predisposition to belief, which could be the case, like you do not see a Caucasian as a Hindu or a Muslim unless they are a convert of some sort, but importantly, this involuntary element of beliefs alludes to the spontaneity of a conception, this is why what you believe in automatically manifest as a conception, which is responsible for producing the circumstances the individual finds themselves in at a given conscious moment. This means that you do not make a decision during the present moment, but you have on some level already made your decision mentally to be in the moment you are in. The importance of ontology can be stated as the science of belief or rather the belief of science, which in studying the nature of action as a belief responsive, we are aiming to capture that moment where a decision conceived a reality. The moment behind the moment, behind the scenes of our awareness, this is the fundamental mechanics of becoming as a basis of action.
Hegel in one of his works “the philosophy of history” looks to what happened during the development of human history as direct evidence that the world is governed by a rational principle. History is interesting because so far as the present moment is concerned the past does not even exists yet it is the past that necessarily lead to the present and is maintained as a record in the mind with the highest of importance. Hegel argues for a “belief” in “Reason” that should be adopted in the onset and then proved throughout the duration of the work, he says;
“In those of my hearers who are not acquainted with Philosophy, I may fairly presume, at least, the existence of a belief in Reason, a desire, a thirst for acquaintance with it, in entering upon this course of Lectures. It is, in fact, the wish for rational insight, not the ambition to amass a mere heap of acquirements, that should be presupposed in every case as possessing the mind of the learner in the study of science. If the clear idea of Reason is not already developed in our minds, in beginning the study of Universal History, we should at least have the firm, unconquerable faith that Reason does exist there; and that the World of intelligence and conscious volition is not abandoned to chance, but must show itself in the light of the self- cognizant Idea. Yet I am not obliged to make any such preliminary demand upon your faith. What I have said thus provisionally, and what I shall have further to say, is, even in reference to our branch of science, not to be regarded as hypothetical, but as a summary view of the whole; the result of the investigation we are about to pursue; a result which happens to be known to me, because I have traversed the entire field.” (Hegel Phil of history 23-24)
Religion says to have faith but we take that to be mindless hope in things without evidence, but having faith in the reason does not need to be inept of evidence because the proof is the world, “And, especially in all that pretends to the name of science, it is indispensable that Reason should not sleep — that reflection should be in full play”. The world is rational if the individual chooses to understand it, Hegel says;
“To him who looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn presents a rational aspect. The relation is mutual.” (Phil is history 24-25)
1.2.4 Metaphysics is first and last philosophy.
Ontology is not merely exercise for the understanding but it is more fundamentally code for unlocking ideas that require understanding. This is where thought is introduced to intellectual labour, you do not just receive the message but also “think about it”. This is what it means to not fully understand a text while reading it, but only come to understand it afterwards, which seems to defeat the purpose of reading, but not if the purpose is to elicit reflective thinking. Hegel says “thinking things over — in a general way involves the principle (which also means the beginning) of philosophy.”  Principle is defined as “beginning” and thought is defined as the principle of philosophy. Philosophy does not assume thought as the beginning in the same way as the other sciences begin with their subject matter. Hegel explains:
1.2.1 Writing style
Metaphysics is unique because it bears a peculiar, and to most, an orthodox way of writing. The general reader, or someone accustomed to a more public style of writing, found in fiction for example, will sometimes acclaim that metaphysical works are often obscure because it is difficult to follow the word flow and the writing does not lead to some “punch line”. The conclusion of the thesis is not merely handed over by the author in the form of a distinct summery the reader can skip to bypassing the body of work, nor does the body of work necessarily follow from what is sought out in the thesis.
In school we learn the generic formate of “argumentative essays” where there is an introduction with a thesis that argues against or in support of a concept. The thesis is followed by a set of body paragraphs, usually no less than three, that expand on the points outlined in the thesis by proving them with evidence usually in the form of examples. Finally the conclusion reflects on how the body paragraphs succeeded in carrying out the aim of the thesis. Although the structure of this thesis style is valid because it assumes the need to demonstrate an argument and not just simply propose it, students are taught to simply purpose the application without question. They are taught in school to apply this outline in a ridged manner where the student simply inputs the content of their information into a manual like formate and it comes out as if it is a ready made argument. This essay structure does not necessarily assume that an argument has to be true only that it follows a necessary structure because we can input a wrong argument, or an argument arguing for the wrong thing, and have it structured in accordance with the essay formate, and it will be considered a proper argument.
In metaphysics the body paragraphs are simply a series of introductions and conclusions. We introduce an idea whether a historical philosopher talks about it or is a general scientific concept, and we apply that to make a conclusion about a fundamental operation of nature. On some level the study of ontology is just entirely an introduction about final conclusions. Moreover in metaphysics an argument kinda defeats its own purpose because it is not trying to convince or persuade the reader of anything because the purpose is the free activity of thinking, it is pointless to use thought to try to prove thought for the proof is really in the action. Ontology however deals with the judgment of truth, we have to be able to say when something is ugly, as the saying goes ‘give credit where credit is due’. Something ugly still involves complex structure and is structured properly to be a being, but in relation to alike beings, there is the common structure configured in a certain way to exhibit the intention of that particular being, and it is the intentions that is judged as-ethically. The intentions of a being is exhibited by its as-ethical value. Among other aspects, how a being looks like characterizes their intentions and thoughts and it is these qualities as-ethically reflected that allow for an ethical judgment by the other. We claim in modern times that how you look is a product of mere chance, yet all the sciences look at the way a phenomenon presents itself as the measure of its processes, a hydrogen atom acts exactly the same way as it presents itself. The idea that ‘you are what you look like’ is a notion explored by ontology, and it is not a question of whether this is true or not but the question is as to what degree is this true. How a thing reflects its internal relations is the phenomenological aspect of ontology. We reflect from our head a universally proper form of logic and try to make it transmittable, and this is what we are doing here in this style of writing and one which constitutes the true aim of an argument.
Metaphysics in theory is "first philosophy" because it establishes fundamental principles, but in application it is the final science because it evaluates the ontological merit of empirical and analytical findings by relating them back to primary principles of reason. Thoughts became logical principles not because they are laws written down somewhere to be applied and followed but because they are always arrived at by logic. Universal principles are the actions of thought that cannot be otherwise. In the same way the existence of an object like light cannot be doubted, the only thing in doubt is the nature in which it exists, not the fact that it exists.
Philosophy has no beginning because the content is ever occurring, its initiation is the philosopher entering somewhere in this continuous flow of thought. The difficulty in metaphysics is how we can achieve an objective view of things we deem purely subjective. The observer is taken as the proper object for study and it is contended that we can have an objective view about our object no matter how subjective it may be. This is not to reduce phenomenons to mere objects because in the science of Metaphysics we cannot presuppose any result to be given without explaining how that result is part of a process, which itself is also a result, is part of a process and so on. Metaphysics deals with the operations of thought that are presupposed but not mentioned in the results we take for granted.
The method of ontology concerning writing style and philosophical exposition, involves considering philosophers and ideas together in an interwoven way, instead of the more standard method of expositing their views separately then drawing connections thereafter. This interconnected style of writing is naturally dialectical because it involves the figuring out and establishing the subject matter instead of simply analyzing it. The ultimate key for the writing method of ontology is to allow ideas to naturally negate each other and resolve each other, and the thinker in this manner simply officiates this process by mitigating it into a communicable system. Truth is not to prove something to someone for some advantage as is in the case of law, but is the mere self-conscious expression of the natural operations of thought as they organically occur in the mind. Metaphysics is the catalogue of the logical spontaneity of thought into a system that is communicated.
“It may seem as if philosophy, in order to start on its course, had, like the rest of the sciences, to begin with a subjective presupposition. The sciences postulate their respective objects, such as space, number, or whatever it be; and it might be supposed that philosophy had also to postulate the existence of thought. But the two cases are not exactly parallel. It is by the free act of thought that it occupies a point of view, in which it is for its own self, and thus gives itself an object of its own production. Nor is this all. The very point of view, which originally is taken on its own evidence only, must in the course of the science be converted to a result — the ultimate result in which philosophy returns into itself and reaches the point with which it began. In this manner philosophy exhibits the appearance of a circle which closes with itself, and has no beginning in the same way as the other sciences have. To speak of a beginning of philosophy has a meaning only in relation to a person who proposes to commence the study, and not in relation to the science as science. The same thing may be thus expressed. The notion of science — the notion therefore with which we start — which, for the very reason that it is initial, implies a separation between the thought which is our object, and the subject philosophising which is, as it were, external to the former, must be grasped and comprehended by the science itself. This is in short, the one single aim, action, and goal of philosophy — to arrive at the notion of its notion, and thus secure its return and its satisfaction.” [Hegel encyclopaedia 7)