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IGNOU BPY 006 Solved Assignment 2022-23
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Submission Date :
- 31st March 2033 (if enrolled in the July 2033 Session)
- 30th Sept, 2033 (if enrolled in the January 2033 session).
1. Give Answer of all five questions.
2. All five questions carry equal marks
3. Answer to question no. 1 and 2 should be in about 400 words each.
4. If any question has more than one part, please attempt all parts.
1. Write an essay on the definition and limits of Metaphysics.
Write short notes on,
i) Metaphorical Analogy
ii) Problem of Falsity
The Word ‘Metaphysics’ and the Concept of Metaphysics
The word ‘metaphysics’ is notoriously hard to define. Twentieth-century coinages like ‘meta-language’ and ‘metaphilosophy’ encourage the impression that metaphysics is a study that somehow “goes beyond” physics, a study devoted to matters that transcend the mundane concerns of Newton and Einstein and Heisenberg. This impression is mistaken. The word ‘metaphysics’ is derived from a collective title of the fourteen books by Aristotle that we currently think of as making up Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Aristotle himself did not know the word. (He had four names for the branch of philosophy that is the subject-matter of Metaphysics: ‘first philosophy’, ‘first science’, ‘wisdom’, and ‘theology’.) At least one hundred years after Aristotle’s death, an editor of his works (in all probability, Andronicus of Rhodes) titled those fourteen books “Ta meta ta phusika”—“the after the physicals” or “the ones after the physical ones”—the “physical ones” being the books contained in what we now call Aristotle’s Physics. The title was probably meant to warn students of Aristotle’s philosophy that they should attempt Metaphysics only after they had mastered “the physical ones”, the books about nature or the natural world—that is to say, about change, for change is the defining feature of the natural world.
This is the probable meaning of the title because Metaphysics is about things that do not change. In one place, Aristotle identifies the subject-matter of first philosophy as “being as such”, and, in another as “first causes”. It is a nice—and vexed—question what the connection between these two definitions is. Perhaps this is the answer: The unchanging first causes have nothing but being in common with the mutable things they cause. Like us and the objects of our experience—they are, and there the resemblance ceases. (For a detailed and informative recent guide to Aristotle’s Metaphysics, see Politis 2004.)
Should we assume that ‘metaphysics’ is a name for that “science” which is the subject-matter of Aristotle’s Metaphysics? If we assume this, we should be committed to something in the neighborhood of the following theses:
- The subject-matter of metaphysics is “being as such”
- The subject-matter of metaphysics is the first causes of things
- The subject-matter of metaphysics is that which does not change
Any of these three theses might have been regarded as a defensible statement of the subject-matter of what was called ‘metaphysics’ until the seventeenth century. But then, rather suddenly, many topics and problems that Aristotle and the Medievals would have classified as belonging to physics (the relation of mind and body, for example, or the freedom of the will, or personal identity across time) began to be reassigned to metaphysics. One might almost say that in the seventeenth century metaphysics began to be a catch-all category, a repository of philosophical problems that could not be otherwise classified as epistemology, logic, ethics or other branches of philosophy. (It was at about that time that the word ‘ontology’ was invented—to be a name for the science of being as such, an office that the word ‘metaphysics’ could no longer fill.) The academic rationalists of the post-Leibnizian school were aware that the word ‘metaphysics’ had come to be used in a more inclusive sense than it had once been. Christian Wolff attempted to justify this more inclusive sense of the word by this device: while the subject-matter of metaphysics is being, being can be investigated either in general or in relation to objects in particular categories. He distinguished between ‘general metaphysics’ (or ontology), the study of being as such, and the various branches of ‘special metaphysics’, which study the being of objects of various special sorts, such as souls and material bodies. (He does not assign first causes to general metaphysics, however: the study of first causes belongs to natural theology, a branch of special metaphysics.) It is doubtful whether this maneuver is anything more than a verbal ploy. In what sense, for example, is the practitioner of rational psychology (the branch of special metaphysics devoted to the soul) engaged in a study of being? Do souls have a different sort of being from that of other objects?—so that in studying the soul one learns not only about its nature (that is, its properties: rationality, immateriality, immortality, its capacity or lack thereof to affect the body …), but also about its “mode of being”, and hence learns something about being? It is certainly not true that all, or even very many, rational psychologists said anything, qua rational psychologists, that could plausibly be construed as a contribution to our understanding of being.
Perhaps the wider application of the word ‘metaphysics’ was due to the fact that the word ‘physics’ was coming to be a name for a new, quantitative science, the science that bears that name today, and was becoming increasingly inapplicable to the investigation of many traditional philosophical problems about changing things (and of some newly discovered problems about changing things).
Whatever the reason for the change may have been, it would be flying in the face of current usage (and indeed of the usage of the last three or four hundred years) to stipulate that the subject-matter of metaphysics was to be the subject-matter of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. It would, moreover, fly in the face of the fact that there are and have been paradigmatic metaphysicians who deny that there are first causes—this denial is certainly a metaphysical thesis in the current sense—others who insist that everything changes (Heraclitus and any more recent philosopher who is both a materialist and a nominalist), and others still (Parmenides and Zeno) who deny that there is a special class of objects that do not change. In trying to characterize metaphysics as a field, the best starting point is to consider the myriad topics traditionally assigned to it.
The Problems of Metaphysics: the “Old” Metaphysics
Being As Such, First Causes, Unchanging Things
If metaphysics now considers a wider range of problems than those studied in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, those original problems continue to belong to its subject-matter. For instance, the topic of “being as such” (and “existence as such”, if existence is something other than being) is one of the matters that belong to metaphysics on any conception of metaphysics. The following theses are all paradigmatically metaphysical:
- “Being is; not-being is not” [Parmenides];
- “Essence precedes existence” [Avicenna, paraphrased];
- “Existence in reality is greater than existence in the understanding alone” [St Anselm, paraphrased];
- “Existence is a perfection” [Descartes, paraphrased];
- “Being is a logical, not a real predicate” [Kant, paraphrased];
- “Being is the most barren and abstract of all categories” [Hegel, paraphrased];
- “Affirmation of existence is in fact nothing but denial of the number zero” [Frege];
- “Universals do not exist but rather subsist or have being” [Russell, paraphrased];
- “To be is to be the value of a bound variable” [Quine].
It seems reasonable, moreover, to say that investigations into non-being belong to the topic “being as such” and thus belong to metaphysics. (This did not seem reasonable to Meinong, who wished to confine the subject-matter of metaphysics to “the actual” and who therefore did not regard his Theory of Objects as a metaphysical theory. According to the conception of metaphysics adopted in this article, however, his thesis [paraphrased] “Predication is independent of being” is paradigmatically metaphysical.)
2. Write a note on Hegel’s dialectic method. And compare it with Socratic dialectic
Discuss and evaluate K. C. Bhattacharya’s idea of metaphysics.
Hegel’s description of his dialectical method
Hegel provides the most extensive, general account of his dialectical method in Part I of his Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences, which is often called the Encyclopaedia Logic [EL]. The form or presentation of logic, he says, has three sides or moments (EL §79). These sides are not parts of logic, but, rather, moments of “every concept”, as well as “of everything true in general” (EL Remark to §79; we will see why Hegel thought dialectics is in everything in section 3). The first moment—the moment of the understanding—is the moment of fixity, in which concepts or forms have a seemingly stable definition or determination (EL §80).
The second moment—the “dialectical” (EL §§79, 81) or “negatively rational” (EL §79) moment—is the moment of instability. In this moment, a one-sidedness or restrictedness (EL Remark to §81) in the determination from the moment of understanding comes to the fore, and the determination that was fixed in the first moment passes into its opposite (EL §81). Hegel describes this process as a process of “self-sublation” (EL §81). The English verb “to sublate” translates Hegel’s technical use of the German verb aufheben, which is a crucial concept in his dialectical method. Hegel says that aufheben has a doubled meaning: it means both to cancel (or negate) and to preserve at the same time (PhG §113; SL-M 107; SL-dG 81–2; cf. EL the Addition to §95). The moment of understanding sublates itself because its own character or nature—its one-sidedness or restrictedness—destabilizes its definition and leads it to pass into its opposite. The dialectical moment thus involves a process of self-sublation, or a process in which the determination from the moment of understanding sublates itself, or both cancels and preserves itself, as it pushes on to or passes into its opposite.
The third moment—the “speculative” or “positively rational” (EL §§79, 82) moment—grasps the unity of the opposition between the first two determinations, or is the positive result of the dissolution or transition of those determinations (EL §82 and Remark to §82). Here, Hegel rejects the traditional, reductio ad absurdum argument, which says that when the premises of an argument lead to a contradiction, then the premises must be discarded altogether, leaving nothing. As Hegel suggests in the Phenomenology, such an argument
is just the skepticism which only ever sees pure nothingness in its result and abstracts from the fact that this nothingness is specifically the nothingness of that from which it results. (PhG-M §79)
Although the speculative moment negates the contradiction, it is a determinate or defined nothingness because it is the result of a specific process. There is something particular about the determination in the moment of understanding—a specific weakness, or some specific aspect that was ignored in its one-sidedness or restrictedness—that leads it to fall apart in the dialectical moment. The speculative moment has a definition, determination or content because it grows out of and unifies the particular character of those earlier determinations, or is “a unity of distinct determinations” (EL Remark to §82). The speculative moment is thus “truly not empty, abstract nothing, but the negation of certain determinations” (EL-GSH §82). When the result “is taken as the result of that from which it emerges”, Hegel says, then it is “in fact, the true result; in that case it is itself a determinate nothingness, one which has a content” (PhG-M §79). As he also puts it, “the result is conceived as it is in truth, namely, as a determinate negation [bestimmte Negation]; a new form has thereby immediately arisen” (PhG-M §79). Or, as he says, “[b]ecause the result, the negation, is a determinate negation [bestimmte Negation], it has a content” (SL-dG 33; cf. SL-M 54). Hegel’s claim in both the Phenomenology and the Science of Logic that his philosophy relies on a process of “determinate negation [bestimmte Negation]” has sometimes led scholars to describe his dialectics as a method or doctrine of “determinate negation” (see entry on Hegel, section on Science of Logic; cf. Rosen 1982: 30; Stewart 1996, 2000: 41–3; Winfield 1990: 56).
There are several features of this account that Hegel thinks raise his dialectical method above the arbitrariness of Plato’s dialectics to the level of a genuine science. First, because the determinations in the moment of understanding sublate themselves, Hegel’s dialectics does not require some new idea to show up arbitrarily. Instead, the movement to new determinations is driven by the nature of the earlier determinations and so “comes about on its own accord” (PhG-P §79). Indeed, for Hegel, the movement is driven by necessity (see, e.g., EL Remarks to §§12, 42, 81, 87, 88; PhG §79). The natures of the determinations themselves drive or force them to pass into their opposites. This sense of necessity—the idea that the method involves being forced from earlier moments to later ones—leads Hegel to regard his dialectics as a kind of logic. As he says in the Phenomenology, the method’s “proper exposition belongs to logic” (PhG-M §48). Necessity—the sense of being driven or forced to conclusions—is the hallmark of “logic” in Western philosophy.
3. Answer any two of the following questions in about 200 words each. 2*10= 20
a) Write an essay on the nature of Substance in Aristotle’s philosophy.
b) “Distinction is the absence of identity.” Explain.
c) Question, Pure desire to know, judgment or Experience of something; In your opinion, what is the starting point of metaphysics? Justify your answer.
d) Figure out some differences between Being as Essence and Being as Esse.
4. Answer any four of the following questions in about 150 words each. 4*5= 20
a) Write a short essay on the possibility of Potency.
b) “Our knowledge of being is an act of intuition.” Justify it.
c) Figure out the salient features of Kant’s idea of beauty.
d) “Truth is a pathless land.” What is the sense of this idea of J. Krishnamurti?
e) Write a note on the concept of Pasu of Kashmir Shaivism.
f) Do you think Accidents have their own ‘to be’? Justify your answer.
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5. Write short notes on any five of the following in about 100 words each. 5*4= 20
c) Retortive method
g) Sui Generis
h) Nirvikalpak Pratyaksha
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