Elements of Metaphysics

  • Axioms

The primary concept which cannot be reduced or refuted. It is valid in itself and cannot be broken further down. These are statements which not only be true but also cannot be denied.

It is important to distinguish between a postulate and an axiom. The postulate is true in certain conditions, but not in all. For eg: In the Euclidian geometry sum of the angles is 180 degrees on a plane but on a surface of a sphere. Hence, this is a postulate and not an axiom.

  • Existence

‘I am aware of something’ requires that something to exist, i.e. there is something rather than nothing. Existence is axiomatic, as it is essential to the knowledge of something as without it nothing would exist. ‘Something’ refers to the identity of that which exists.

  • Identity

Anything that exists has certain characteristics. These characteristics as a whole is ‘Identity’. The table is square, made of wood and has four legs are features which define the identity of the table. It includes all features and not the one which are mentioned or observable.

An object can never have two identities. I cannot be You or a Lion cannot be an Elephant.

An identity is the ‘concept’, which refers to the aspect of existence. To exist something needs to have an identity, without identity, it would be nothing.

Identity is important as it defines that Reality has a particular nature and hence it is knowable.

  • Consciousness

Descartes said that you cannot logically deny your mind’s existence and use the same mind to deny it. ‘I think, therefore I am.’

But later his axioms were refuted. This means that Consciousness requires something outside to exist to reflect on itself. ‘Conscious cannot merely be conscious of itself.

  • Reality

If you want to change the world you must act according to what exists. The actions will have an effect and not prayers or miracles. This establishes the primacy of existence. ‘Reality’ is Absolute.

The primacy of existence says that existence is primary and consciousness secondary. Consciousness requires existence and is nothing without it.

Descartes ‘Cogito’ claims that for Consciousness to identify existence itself must exist. However, Consciousness doesn’t create Reality, it is dependent on Reality and hence a prerequisite.

  • Cause & Effect

Every effect must have a cause and that cause is an effect of a previous cause. Causality states that each cause has a specific effect and is dependent on the identities of the agents.

An Action requires an entity (presupposes) and the change in the identity of an entity is Action. A ball dropped falls towards the ground and the action is dependent on the material of the ball, gravity, air etc.

For something to change (effect) it needs to be acted on (cause) by a previous action.

  • Nothingness

Nothing or non-existence is something that doesn’t exist. It is the denial of existence and hence has no identity. It has no characteristics.

  • Contradiction

A case where two ideas make each other impossible. Reality doesn’t contradict itself, it is our interpretation of reality.

If our knowledge has any contradiction, then either contradiction doesn’t exist or one of the contradicting concepts has an improper foundation.

  • Sum of its parts

An entity is some of its parts. An entity that consists of other entities also has an identity. Their identities are based on the identities of their constituent parts.

  • Mental Entities

Thoughts, ideas, memories are mental entities. They do not exist physically, but they exist and so they have identities. Our minds also have the ability to change these entities.

  • Man Made

Metaphysical vs Man Made:

The confusion between two is because confusing it with each other.

Man made is Metaphysical: It is like assuming a difficult task is an impossible task. If there is a choice in applying then it is possible to change it.

Metaphysical is Man made: Usually we encounter this in ethics, a man can act anyway that is physically allowed for him. One cannot defy reality without consequences. I cannot stop eating food because then I am going to die even though the choice of not eating lies with me.


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