George A. Blair

Copyright © 1997


George A. Blair


Chapter 1: The problem
1.1. What does "real" mean?
1.1.1. Relativism
1.1.2. Self-evidence
1.1.3. Immediate evidence
1.2. Evidence
1.2.1. The Principle of Contradiction The Principle of Identity The Principle of the Excluded Middle
1.3. Opposites
Chapter 2: Science and Metaphysics
2.1. Where are we?
2.2. Scientific curiosity
2.2.1. Scientific observation
2.2.2. Problems
2.3. Hypothesis and explanation
2.4. Experiment and theory
2.5. Prediction and verification
2.6. Metaphysical method
2.6.1. Effect and affected object
2.6.2. Cause and causer
Chapter 3: Causes
3.1. Aristotle's "four causes"
3.2. Causality and condition
3.3. Theorems about effect and cause
3.3.1. Identical and different effects
3.4. Similar effects and analogy
Chapter 4: Consciousness and the Mind
4.1. Approaching reality: the appearance
4.1.1. A rough-and-ready proof
4.2. Interrupted consciousness
4.2.1. The structure of the argument
4.3. Preliminary step: losing consciousness
4.4. Second step: multiple-unit consciousness
Chapter 5: Finite Consciousness and Existence
5.1. Third step: the single act of consciousness
5.1.1. The finite: three definitions
5.2. Fourth step: toward the cause
5.3. Existence and the imaginary
Chapter 6: The Transcendental Properties of Being
6.1. The mystical experience
6.1.1. The existence of consciousness and the mind
6.2. Activity
6.3. Unity
6.4. Truth
6.5. Beauty
6.6. Goodness
Chapter 7: Finite Existence
7.1. Existence and essence
7.1.1. A note on St. Thomas's "real distinction"
7.2. On to the Infinite
7.3. Being as causer
Chapter 8: Levels of Finiteness
8.1. The single finite act
8.2. The form of existence
8.3. Quantity
8.3.1. Energy and spiritual activity
Chapter 9: The Complex Unit
9.1. Types of multiple units
9.1.1. The unifying energy
9.2. Bodies and their behavior
Chapter 10: Change
10.1. Change vs. replacement
10.1.1. Change and the spiritual
10.2. Conditions for change
10.3. Types of changes
10.4. Efficient cause
10.5. Purpose
10.6. Process


The term "metaphysical" nowadays is synonymous with "idly speculative," or "uselessly subtle"; it has nothing to do with anything true, in its present connotations, still less with anything scientific. Now it is true that there have been metaphysical systems throughout the centuries that have been pretty wild; reality has been claimed to be all sorts of things, from pure matter to pure spirit, to nothing at all, to something that is at once nothing and everything.

But this is true of any science. So there's really nothing to worry about, if we're careful and stick to the data.

In one sense, what you will read here is a completely new approach to the subject; but in another, it has roots back to Immanuel Kant and 1800, and to Aristotle around 300 B. C., and a host of others in between, not the least of whom is St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. But a lot of it also grows out of the fact that I studied physics before I gave my full attention to philosophy--and also that this study of physics overlapped my philosophical training, and led me to seek links between the two, since in many cases they were talking about the same things, but in very different ways.

I will have to let the approach speak for itself, of course. In one sense it is "metaphysical" in that it shows reality to be extremely mysterious. But then, if anyone can make sense out of so simple a thing as the hole in a doughnut--and be honest with the evidence before him--he has a greater mind that I have. Reality is mysterious, or the greatest intellects in the world would not have been baffled by it. Those philosophers who "explain" everything by saying, "These geniuses just asked the wrong questions; it's all a misuse of language" haven't looked very hard beyond language itself--or even at language. Let them rant.

But why talk about it? Let's, as the Nike ads say, "just do it."