Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 M - Metaphysics - minimal


Minimal metaphysics: Two assumptions that together embody the metaphysics of common sense, say, namely: Personalism: There are other persons than you yourself who feel, think, believe and desire along similar lines as you do, and Realism: there is one reality in which all persons live and die.

The interesting fact is that both personalism and realism involve assumptions, and have been denied.

Someone who rejects the notion that there are other human beings who feel, think, believe and desire along similar lines as you do - being a member of the same species as you are, and like you born out of a woman and reared and educated by humans, with the sort of body and the sort of needs you have - if not stark raving mad or a none to bright philosophy undergraduate, are called solipsists (from 'solo ipse' = 'only I myself' (exist, feel my exquisite feelings and think my incomparably deep thoughts, and everybody else is my illusion, dream or projection)).

Even so, it is quite interesting philosophically, logically and psychologically that almost every human being is convinced that other human beings - that, apart from ESP, one only knows as a body, without experiencing the other's experiences, feelings or ideas - do have capacities to feel, experience, sense, believe, reason, desire etc.

Also, there are some deep problems here: See Qualia and Other minds.

Someone who rejects the notion of realism either is a kind of idealist (here in the sense: a believer that all of reality is mental, like experience) or else  - more likely these days - a postmodernist: Someone who, in the end because of the pleasures of wishful thinking, wishes to maintain everybody is as confused, partial, biased, prejudiced and ignorant as she is, for this is what postmodernists (often feminists) believe and proclaim: All of reality is just a text, a tale told by the ghost of Foucault, and everything (other than the postmodernist's own bank-balance) is 'relative', 'interpretation' etc.

Indeed, the major difficulty with relativists and postmodernists, apart from the fact that they tend to be unintelligent and prejudiced, is precisely that there is just one single world in which all of humankind must try to fit itself peacefully with their different ideas of how to explain the reality they are all part of.

It should also be mentioned that in fact most ordinary men practice versions of personalism and realism that are socially restricted:

They act as if and believe there are persons like them, but predominantly or only in the groups they themselves belong to, and they act as if and believe there is an independent reality, but predominantly or only as described by the ideology current in their society or religion, and with whatever mythology this also may assume. Both tendencies, which are quite pronounced in most ordinary men, are due to a combination of social safety, lack of intelligence and totalitarian tendencies.

See: Postmodernism, Natural Philosophy, Natural Realism


See: Metaphysics


Aristotle, Edwards, Hawkins, Klaus & Kuntz, Russell, Toraldo, Stegmüller,

 Original: May 28, 2005                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top