Tag Archives: critique of the metaphysics of existence

Existence is Relative; and Relative Existence is Ability: Why Existence cannot be the metaphysical primary

By what means can causality occur?  Absent interaction between objects, the root of which is action, how can we describe causality in the first place?  Without action, what is a cause?  It is nothing.  And without action, what is an effect?  It is nothing.

Is not cause-and-effect interaction rooted in the existence of the object of the cause—the thing which causes—and the object of the effect—the thing which is caused upon?  Perhaps we can argue this, but not without the premise that the existence of the objects interacting is necessarily bound by relativity. That is, there is no cause and/or effect absent, not existence, but relative existence. Said another way, not existence, but relativity.

Allow me to state that in a slightly modified way.

I can admit that each object in the cause and effect equation must “exist” in some sense a priori to the cause and effect interaction—otherwise it can be said that there is nothing which causes, and nothing which is caused upon. Yet also what must be true is that cause and effect is a relative relationship.  That is, the object which is being caused upon and the object which is doing the causing must be relatively considered (from the point of view of the observer). Without relativity, a distinction cannot be made between that which causes and that which is caused upon.  And if this distinction cannot be made then by what rational proof can we claim that existence is the metaphysical primary?  If we cannot make relative cause and effect distinctions between objects, because relativity between objects which co-exist is not necessarily implied (by the metaphysical primary of existence) then how can we describe reality at all?

What I mean is that if all objects are fundamentally in a vacuum of their own static existence qua existence, then interaction is not really possible.  And if interaction is not possible then relative distinctions cannot be made and thus the whole of objective reality cannot possibly be defined.

Without interaction action is irrelevant.  That is, without the interaction of objects then ANY object action, in and of, and to and from itself is not only meaningless but impossible. Interaction—that is, relativity—is the foundation of reality.  Relativity is interaction, rooted in object action…and even deeper, the object’s ability to act. Without ability and action as metaphysical prerequisites, existence does not and cannot actually mean existing.

In summary:

Relative existence, or relativity, not mere existence, underlies cause-and-effect; and cause-and-effect is interaction; and interaction is action. Existence alone, certainly existence as the metaphysical primary, fits nowhere into this equation.  Existence, by itself, is not relative and does not imply relativity, and thus is not active, and thus does not do anything, which means it does not actually exist.  For if it did exist—if it did DO existence—then it would be able to exist, which means it would be active, which means it would be relative. Because to act non-relatively to another object is an impossible definition of action. A thing cannot act in an absolute vacuum of itself, because in such a case it cannot be said to move anywhere…to go, or shift, or change.  All of these things can only be done relative to the position of something else.

If existence does exist, then it is able to exist which means it is active which means it is relative. And relativity is object interaction, thereby making the ability to act a prerequisite of an object’s existence.  Existence then, alone, is simply not the metaphysical primary. For existence to be efficacious it must be active. And active existence demands that the metaphysical primary is ability, which then implies relativity.

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Why Metaphysics Cannot Get Away From Ability as Metaphysical Primary

Let’s use “chair” as an example for this explication of the metaphysics of Ability vs. Existence.

We don’t say that the chair IS existence, we say that the chair HAS existence.

But “having” implies action, which implies the ABILITY to act. In this case, the chair’s ability to have existence is the root WHY of itself. That is, existence is not why the chair HAS (action) existence, the chair’s ABILITY (to exist you could even say) is why the chair HAS (action) existence .

Now, I understand that the chair cannot have ability unless it IS, in fact, the chair. I get it, chair implies ability and ability implies chair…you don’t get ability without someTHING having it; and you don’t get an it without the ABILITY to BE . But that’s precisely my point. When dealing in metaphysics it is all about corollaries.  The trick is finding the REAL and rationally perfect corollary, not a contradiction masquerading as one.

What this shows us is that not only is the chair, itself (or specifically its ability), why it “has existence”, or why it is (being) the chair, but that the chair is entirely DISTINCT from existence. Meaning that “existence” is NOT a natural corollary to “chair” at all. The chair and existence, though they may have some conceptual relationship, are not in essence one and the same. Chair and the existence of the chair are not essential corollaries. The chair must be able to be the chair BEFORE it can possess existence…its singular (to itself qua itself) ABILITY TO BE the chair is why it is also ABLE TO HAVE existence. The CHAIR is; and the CHAIR has. Existence here really has nothing to do with it. Existence only enters the picture (at the epistemological level) AFTER the chair has already been made manifest by its ABILITY to be (its ability to be and its being are of course corollary, as I explained above). This seems quite a contradiction to the commonly understood notion of “existence”…that is, existence at the metaphysical level.

It is the chair and its ABILITY which are metaphysical corollaries, not the chair and its existence. Existence, however, we are told is supposed to be the metaphysical synonym for “chair”…the general primary of “existence” supposedly implying the specific ( in this case chair). But as I have explained it actually does not because we don’t say the chair IS existence, we say the chair HAS existence. Which again, contrary to existence, implies ABILITY at root…of the chair to act…to be…to have. Ability is the root essence which implies chair, not existence. Ability = action = a specific thing which acts.

The metaphysical corollary is like this: Ability implies chair (in this case), and chair implies Ability. “Chair has Ability and Ability has chair” is also a logical way to render it; chair does Ability and Ability does chair. Ability manifests chair, manifests ability. It’s a perfect corollary.

In summary:

We cannot say that the chair has existence WITHOUT IMPLYING ABILITY, thus undercutting existence as the metaphysical primary. However we CAN say that the chair has ability—is able to act as (be)—without implying existence. For “being” is an act, not an is. DOING/ACTION cannot be divorced from chair. AT ALL. Metaphysics is active, not passive. Ability, not existence, implies a PLURALITY of objects which all share the same exact, absolute root. Ability ALONE reconciles the paradox of a metaphysical singularity which not only allows for but NECESSITATES a rational, efficacious plurality.