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by Peter van Inwagen

In this classic, exciting, and thoughtful text, Metaphysics , Peter van Inwagen examines three profound questions: What are the most general features of the world? Why is there a world? and What is the place of human beings in the world? Metaphysics introduces to readers the curious notion that is metaphysics, how it is conceived both historically and currently. The author's work can serve either as a textbook in a university course on metaphysics or as an introduction to metaphysical thinking for the interested reader. This second edition, revised though not fundamentally changed, includes the basis of the first edition with a new chapter on the nature of time.
Download Metaphysics: Second Edition (Dimensions of Philosophy Series) epub
ISBN: 0813365872
ISBN13: 978-0813365879
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Peter van Inwagen
Language: English
Publisher: Westview Press; 2 edition (July 2002)
Pages: 288 pages
ePUB size: 1290 kb
FB2 size: 1884 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 229
Other Formats: lrf mobi docx doc

Fast Lovebird
A very well written introduction to metaphysics in general. Van Inwagen is an excellent writer and was methodical about his explorations of the big metaphysical questions until he got to the subject of dualism to which he gives rather short-shrift and fails to consider many implications of some kinds of dualism. On the other hand, the new editions "part III" on ontology is one of the best expositions of this metaphysical specialty (see also E. J. Lowe) I've read. All in all I enjoyed this read very much, and except for Inwagen's more superficial treatment of dualism would certainly have given it 5 stars
Scoreboard Bleeding
Metaphysics often plays the role of modern science's curmudgeonly grandfather. While the relatively young discipline of science gains more and more prestige by showing us more and more of what empirical reality consists of and making larger and larger claims about what science will show us ("The Mind of God" one popular physicist proclaimed), Metaphysics is the hoary old guru that tugs on science's collar and squacks, "Look here, sonny, settle down, we don't have all the answers." Whether this explains the claims of some scientists that metaphysics (or philosophy in general) is redundant and irrelevant, who knows. What is known is that Metaphysics, and philosophy in general, is a place for questions that don't yet have answers. This book provides an excellent introduction to the field of metaphysics, and by the end of the book the reader will have a very good idea of its basic (but indefinite) scope and the questions it asks.
The introduction to the book lays the groundwork for philosophical thought. The author warns the reader not to expect to come out of this reading with any new "information" in the way a physics or biology textbook would teach you something concrete and almost unquestionable. Metaphysics is all about questions that dangle on the head of a pin, and the logic and methodologies one uses to sway the question to one side or the other (or maybe both or neither). The introduction basically admits that metaphysics is not a science and one shouldn't expect scientific knowledge from its study. This chapter alone should be required reading for all new philosophy students (I could have used it at the beginning of my studies some years back - it would have saved me a lot of second guessing and frustration).
The book is basically a whirlwind tour of philosophy that incorporates metaphysical questions and historical arguments. The monism of Spinoza and monism in general are examined. Bishop Berkeley's view of the external world (or lack of it) is put to various arguments. Anti-Realism is considered by the author almost incomprehensible (this chapter is pretty interesting). The classic ontological and cosmological arguments are picked apart (the notion of 'possible worlds' is also introduced) and finally subjects concerning human beings themselves are discussed at length: are we physical or non-physical things? Do we have free will? What is rationality? Each subject is put to the test: the author presents both pros and cons of all the positions one can take on the views, but ultimately the author has a side that he's arguing for. He's not shy about it, either, but he does present all sides fairly, not just the ones he's arguing for. Sometimes it's difficult to tell where the author will come out. In some chapters he seems to be arguing overwhelmingly for one position, when he is in fact for the opposite. This will keep you on your mental toes.
One almost shocking thing about this book is that the author presents his beliefs to the reader before he tears into the arguments. This is pretty rare in philosophy texts, and is very admirable considering that these confessed beliefs do not seem to interfere with the logic or reasoning of his arguments. I found that move pretty gutsy.
If you have a philosophy degree, likely the information in this book will not be new. Nonetheless, it is true that a degree is in no way required for reading this book. It was meant to be, as Van Inwagen says in the preface, "...a book that the - I hope not mythical - 'interested general reader' can pick up and read without guidance from an instructor." This doesn't mean that it's an easy read, quite the opposite. Following the logic of the arguments in many places takes patience. If you're new to some of the concepts, letting them soak in will also take some time. Regardless, this is probably the best introduction to the subject of metaphysics currently out there. Too bad about the cover; it makes the book like a dry overly academic textbook, which it's not. Even if you're skeptical about the value of philosophy, this book will give you something to chew on. But don't expect light and lazy rainy afternoon reading.
Good overview.
good info hard to understand, complicated issues
Want to read a thick textbook and come out with no real answers and more questions than you started with? Then Metaphysics is a field of thought for you! Inwagen does a good job introducing the basics of this trippy field of thought, and you can impress your parents when you tell them you're studying metaphysics!
Metaphysics is not really a book for the casual reader. What it is is an introduction into the study of the nature of ultimate reality, for that is what metaphysics is. The nature of ultimate reality is something that most people take for granted. After all what reality is should be obvious to anyone. All you have to do is to open your eyes and look and there it is. If there is anything hidden, science will reveal it. And therein lies the problem for the world is simply not constructed in such a way that science can discover all its aspects by empirical experiment. The world has its objective truths and these are open to the scientific method. But the world also has its subjective truths and these are not solvable by scientific experiment. And it is here that philosophy comes into its own for where science fails the only avenue left open is pure speculative thought. Temper this speculation with logic and the result is philosophy. Where your tools consist of deductive reasoning, logic and the dialectic your answers will never have the certainty of a mathematical equation, but they can illuminate the truth nonetheless.

This is not a book of facts in the same sense as a history book. In a history book one encounters names, places and dates and is expected to learn them by heart. There is plenty of information given in Metaphysics, to be sure, but it is incidental to the task of teaching metaphysics. Metaphysics, and philosophy overall, does not work like that. Philosophy is a discipline of reason. And just as experiments in science are used to advance its knowledge reason is used in philosophy to advance its knowledge. Thousands of years of reasonable argument has produced no creed or dogma or anything that can be called a final answer and it is for this reason that many scientists dismiss metaphysics as irrelevant. The only way that this can be true, however, is if the materialists are right. If reality has any subjective element in it at all then philosophy has its place. And the only groups that can search reality for any of its subjective aspects are philosophers.

The book takes the four most common questions in philosophy, what are the general features of the world and why does it exist, and what is the nature and place of man in that world and uses it as a framework that supports the entire work. A realist the author defends his ideas with great verve while remaining reasonable and respectful of the views of others. In the course of his discussion he manages to bring in most of the common topics of metaphysics, including God and necessary existence, rationality, objectivity, the mind- body problem, ontology, cosmology, teleology and the problem of freedom will. If you are new to metaphysical discourse think of this book as metaphysics 101, a good solid general place to start.

Engaging, thoughtful, provocative and sometimes witty here is a guide through the many twisting paths that are metaphysics. This book was written for the general reader but by that is meant the thinking general reader. This is not light reading. But if you take the trouble to try and understand what is being said you will find that "the little grey cells" have been thoroughly stimulated. The purpose of the book is not to teach you facts but to teach you how to think about facts. For in this lies the essence of metaphysics.