A Short Piece Featured in (Re)constructing “A Is A” by O.G. Rose
The Metaphysicist and the Metaphysician
A fascinating change in terms, suggested by Alexander Bard, which might hint at something we are subconsciously trying to tell ourselves (at least in English).
In a recent discussion on Returning to Metaphysics, Alexander Bard suggested that we should use the language of “metaphysicist” versus “metaphysician,” for Metaphysics isn’t concerned with medicine. I thought this was a fascinating point, and it occurred to me how funny it was that the name of the branch, “Metaphysics” alluded to “Physics,” while the term “Metaphysician” alluded to medicine. Why the variation regarding the same field? Was humanity subconsciously trying to tell itself something?
Those who do Physics are called “physicists,” those who do Biology are called “biologists,” Math “mathematicians,” and so on — I cannot think of any other fields where there is a strange “transition” between the name of the field and the name of the practitioners like there is in “Metaphysics.” This isn’t to say there aren’t other fields where this occurs, and I also don’t know if this change is unique to English, but it got me thinking: How was this transition “for” consciousness gaining “self-consciousness?” (to offer a Hegelian question, as expanded on in “Absolute Knowing” by O.G. Rose). In other words, was there something we were subconsciously and consciously trying to tell ourselves (at least in English)?
It’s just a thought, but maybe this strange transition suggests that we subconsciously understand that “understanding the universe correctly” is a form of medicine (a “Hegelian Slip,” perhaps?). When we get our physics wrong, we get our minds wrong, and when our minds are wrong, we are “mentally ill.” This suggests points made both by Cadell Last and Alexander Elung on the consequences for mental health when we lack a “Vector Theory” and/or “theory of mind that doesn’t reduce mind to brain,” per se, and also points to the thinking of Dr. Gregg Henriques. In this way, “meta-physics” and “meta-medicine,” per se, overlap, for “reductionism” in the sciences can result in a reduction of us.
If Physics today contributes to a reduction of humans to something in line with “hard materialism” — if we are “just a brain” versus “mind and brain” be distinct, for example — then Physics (as a general stand-in to represent science) could be contributing to mental illness. On the other hand, if metaphysics could contribute to deconstructing “hard materialism” in favor of something like “Vector Theory,” for example, then metaphysics could contribute to better mental health, which is in a way meta-physician-al, per se. Perhaps it could be argued that instead of “meta-physician” we need to go by “meta-psychologist” to make the point I’m making here, and that’s fine with me: I mainly want to quickly suggest the lexiconic “split” in English suggests a need for dialectical thinking (as indeed Bard, Last, Elung, Henriques, and others suggest).
Hegel brilliantly inverses Kant’s noumenon as evidence that consciousness is “for” itself and thus a reliable source of understanding about itself while it also seeks self-understanding (as discussed in “Absolute Knowing” and explained by Dr. Last). This in mind, I find myself asking: “How is the linguistic split between ‘metaphysics” and ‘metaphysician’ ‘for’ consciousness gaining self-understanding?” Not everything means something, and this point easily doesn’t mean anything (especially outside of English), but it’s still interesting to me to consider. The “split” seems to suggest a need for dialectical tension (“a theory of A/B vs A/A,” as elaborated on elsewhere), and general understanding that “Physics” entails “physician-al” implications.
This all being the case, if we do Metaphysics, we are simultaneously a “meta-physicist” and “meta-physician” and should do our best to think dialectically as such (which we will not do if we don’t take Bard’s point on the term “meta-physicist” seriously). As a final point, I find it interesting that the “split” “opens up” (in English) as the field of “Metaphysics” moves to describe “a person who does Metaphysics”: it’s as if we subconsciously realize that “understanding reality” becomes “physician-al” once we make this move to “describing the subject,” per se. However, while the language of “Metaphysics” suggests this, the transition from “Physics” to “Physicist” does not, suggesting that we might know subconsciously that the tendency for problematic “unified theories” rests more on the side of science than on the side of Metaphysics. Hard to say, but perhaps a Hegelian understanding of “the split” leads us to conclude a need to think of metaphysics as medical (a “medical science,” perhaps). The physical science of Metaphysics is, for us, also a medical science, but we lose the healing as soon as we lose the Physics. The challenge of Metaphysics is maintaining a difficult and complex both-ness.