About metaphysics

The Middle Way aims to avoid metaphysics. But what is metaphysics? It is a convenient label for claims that, because of their absolute and supposedly infallible nature, prevent us from considering alternatives. Such claims can be positive or negative, and form opposed pairs of dualisms or dichotomies. They are reinforced by groups and limit the field of our attention and reason.

Such claims are far more common than is often realised. We are not just dealing with the abstract arguments of philosophers and theologians here, but rather with the rigid belief that skews our everyday judgements. Some forms of metaphysics affect the range of what we recognise as meaningful. Others create boundaries to what we will consider in time or space. Others absolutise ourselves, our freedom or lack of it, or an object. Some bring in God, or absolutise rational or empirical sources of knowledge.

Here is a classification of types of metaphysics (click to enlarge):A classification of types of metaphysical beliefThe following diagram also illustrates how metaphysics functions so as to interfere with the objectivity of our judgements. An absolutised belief avoids challenges because of the assumption that it is infallible. This implies the repression of alternatives, whether within our own minds or offered externally. Our judgement is then constrained, allowing the perpetuation of the absolute belief (click diagram to enlarge).

How metaphysics biases our judgements

For further information see the pages on judgement, objectivity, people and beliefs, and cognitive biases. There is also a short audio ‘What is metaphysics’ on this page and a more detailed audio ‘The trouble with metaphysics’ on this page.

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