Saturday 20 May 2023

The 'psychological' nature of mainstream modern metaphysics

In retrospect, I can see that for most of my adolescent and early-mid adult life, I was engaged in the common modern practice of "looking inside myself" for answers to the chronic life problems of dissatisfaction and alienation.

Such is part of a very fundamental assumption, which is very common, that the main problems of life are psychological; and that changing our assumptions and attitudes is the way to cure them

Because this is a fundamental (i.e. metaphysical) assumption; it cannot be disproved by experience, because it is itself the way that experience is structured. 

For instance, the ancient Greek philosophers seem first to have articulated the fundamental problems of 'change' which I often term 'entropic'; that is disease, ageing and death - for the ancients these were what needed to be explained - and they were dealt with by assuming some other mode of reality that was Not subject to these kinds of change.

The same applies to some religions, including Christianity; which assumes that 'entropic' problems are fundamental to this mortal life, but can be solved by resurrection into Heaven. 

Other religions solve 'entropic' problems by positing a perfection of changeless bliss, which is real whereas ''entropic' change, as we experience it, is either an illusion, or at least merely temporary - hence less fundamental.  

But all of these regard 'entropy' as a problem of existence - not of psychology. 

However; for mainstream modern Man; these are re-framed as psychological problems. A disease is not necessarily disease, nor is ageing; these can be reframed by a change of attitude. The 'problems' of disease and ageing are seen as being caused by attitudes to them; and the solution of 'problems' of disease and ageing, is therefore to change these attitudes. 

Sex (male and female) is not fundamental, but can be re-shaped open-endedly by the spread of different attitudes. These assertions are not disproveable within the assumption that psychology is fundamental 

Even death has (often) been reframed by such ideas that death is not part of life, therefore not our concern; or that (it is assumed) we won't be there to experience death - so we shouldn't worry about it. Or asserting that we can know nothing of death, therefore we should ignore the subject (and we will, presumably, find out later, whether there is anything to worry about or not). 

In sum; the usual modern idea is that psychology is real, but nothing else is real; and when there are problems these are psychological problems, and have psychological solutions. This constitutes much of current politics: even 'science' is now defined in terms of a consensus (a psychological process) between persons/ committees who are accorded (by a decision, i.e. by psychological mechanisms) the authority to form binding consensus. 

It is futile, therefore, to argue that even death/ sex or disease is a 'fact of life' in a system that regards only psychology as real; and where the realities of psychology are part of the system. It is, like all systems, closed and circular; all justifications come from within the system, and nothing out-with the system is relevant, because anything out-with is unconceivable within the system. 

And why the system has landed on psychology as the ultimate nature of reality is a question than can only be asked from outside the system!

This is not a problem - except that he only coherent way to reject the system is to reject it as a whole, and its valuations. 

Reality can be understood on the basis of other assumptions; but we aren't going to get these from the system - we must do this for ourselves...

Which is something that Christians have reason to believe that we can do, each as an individual; because even without the system to feed-us its approved attitudes, we are not alone; but are actual children of God.

And the Christian God is understood to be creator of the real system; therefore out-with 'the system' of psychological explanations.


Luke said...

I find for mainstream modern Man that disease is just about disease, and ageing is just about ageing but maybe for mainstream media and younger generations what you say I think may be true. There does seem to be a weak, residual, twilight of common sense (religious) attitudes to things like disease and death, which are just about holding the fort in people's minds and hearts and culture and conversation. 

I may be too far gone then because I do think in some sense the main problems of life are psychological, and that changing our assumptions and attitudes is the way to cure them.....if the psychological is seen as a sub-set of the effects of spiritual practices, assumptions and attitudes, and cure means diminish their power.

For example, ageing, disease, suffering do diminish in their power by orientating one's psychology to Christ. If one seeks the kingdom of God and His justice first, then we don't have to worry about what sufferings we have, for they have diminished in their power with our psychology not focussed on these sufferings but with seeking first God's kingdom. And I think the metaphysical assumption of this can be tested and proven with experience. If you focus off a problem and focus on the highest, rewarding good.... you're sufferings will diminish and your sense of meaning say or of gratitude will increase.

I may be saying that the main problems of life are entropy, psychology and spiritual, and that changing our spiritual assumptions and attitudes with their effect in psychology, does diminish and cure some of the effects of entropy that are really exaggerated by our psychological day to day focus on or attitudes towards them.

Maybe I'm saying that Christianity's solution to entropy isn't just resurrection into Heaven.

Sorry if I haven't grasped your post, and made a sensible comment.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Luke "in some sense the main problems of life are psychological"

I would semi-agree that in some sense, some - but not all - of the main problems of life are psychological -

"changing our assumptions and attitudes is the way to cure them" - but seldom 'cure', only palliate, usually temporarily.

All the tenets of mainstream totalitarian secular Leftism have some truth, or they would have no traction. The problem is that - in some situations, and whenever They deem it appropriate - these are used in public discourse as if they were the whole and universal truth: the fundamental truth.

Leftist-satanism has no concern about being consistent or coherent - but will enforce its rules piecemeal and only in the direction and at the targets it requires. It is therefore commonplace and normal to find warmongering pacifists, and egalitarians who create and enforce systems of prejudice and discrimination.