3.4.4 Metaphysics of Metamorphosis


Butterfly, by Paul Horner.

From the origins of cancer to the nature of personal identity, the life sciences do not merely provide us with ever-greater numbers of disconnected facts. They also offer us the best data for putting together a broader picture of what the world is really like, a picture that confounds many common assumptions about what things are and where they come from.

Is it possible to have a science-based metaphysics? In other words, can empirical study offer insights into reality beyond what is material? According to the author, questioning how we view the world can have profound implications for our self-awareness as well as for the life sciences. To engage this very interesting and not entirely uncontroversial question, enjoy this provocative article in Aeon.

Read: Metaphysics of Metamorphosis // Aeon

Guiding Questions:

  1. What are epistemology and metaphysics? How do they differ?
  2. Can we understand the “essence” of a thing by what it does and what it is made up of? How do proteins challenge essentialism?
  3. What implications does a “process” based view of the world have for our understanding of identity? What about for medicine–such as the treatment of cancer?
  4. How does the author call into question the idea of self-sufficiency and stasis?
  5. In your own words, how does metaphysics matter to our understanding of being?

Thumbnail: Butterfly. Photo credit: Paul Horner, 2009. CC BY-SA 2.0.