Metaphysics and the practice of phenomenology

Main idea: Metaphysics provides a nuanced understanding of beingness and a vocabulary for naming essences and relations, supplying phenomenology with a robust toolbox.


I dipped my toe in the phenomenology pool in my dissertation and, despite the difficulties of that process and the hurdles in understanding and carrying out phenomenological research, I discovered that I rather liked it. I had no idea this enjoyment would be stimulated once again by my initial reading of Metaphysics by Aristotle. But it was.

So far in my reading, metaphysics is about naming and understanding the beingness of things, both their essences and accidents. The practice of phenomenology is concerned with describing the whatness and howness of things or experiences. From what I can gather, whatness is essence and howness is at least related to accidents (I'm a bit fuzzier here).

I am beginning to see that a deepening understanding of metaphysics will supply a deepening capacity for phenomenology by developing a better naming toolbox.

The learning continues.


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A kind disposition and a well-stocked naming vocabulary as tools for making conceptual connections

Main idea: A kind disposition opens the mind to see beyond internal assumptions, and a well-stocked naming of vocabulary strengthens the capacity to grasp components of ideas and make connections.


Kindness and conceptual connections. The same way kindness opens up paths of communication between persons, so does a disposition of kindness open the mind to the conceptual connections already present and the created order. One with a negative disposition will have a closed mind, unable to see beyond assumptions about how things are. Conversely, one with a kind disposition looks to see what things and ideas actually are in themselves, setting aside their own assumptions and willing to be made aware of the perspectives of others.

Naming and conceptual connections. Naming things and ideas and the relations among them creates conceptual handles. These handles allow one to think deeply and carefully about things and ideas, both in themselves and in the context of reality. This analysis, in turn, fuels integrative synthesis.

So, approaching conceptual engagement with a kind disposition and adequate philosophical tools, the thinker is more likely to discern, understand, and describe conceptual connections.


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Musings of a peripatetic wannabe-sage by Laura Springer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License..

I am a fan of the dictionary

Main idea: Taking the time to define concepts increases clarity of thinking and writing by recognizing the limits of meeting and revealing conceptual connections.

I love the dictionary and have since childhood. In fact, at one time I set out to read it. I didn't get very far: insufficient plot. Still, I get the dictionary.com word of the day. I look up words all the time, sometimes pondering the definitions in my zibaldone. I'm a fan.

But there's more to it than that. Defining terms clarifies thinking, distinguishing this from that, and narrows ideas to a range of concepts. Definitions set bounds around ideas, highlighting this particular concept and exposing differences from and connections with other ideas.

I think that's why I'll end up liking Aristotle. In the lexicon section of Metaphysics, he is clarifying concepts by defining terms. It's just lovely.


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Musings of a peripatetic wannabe-sage by Laura Springer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License..

Dwelling and Sojourning

Main idea. Dwelling in God is recognizing that our permanent home is in him, even as we sojourn here in time.

For the past year or so, I’ve been reading a Psalm nearly every day. Throughout this time, dwelling in God's presence comes up frequently. I’ve noticed that dwelling carries with it a sense of permanence. It carries the idea of being as opposed to the “being here for now” of sojourning.

Indeed, the contrast with sojourning sets up the image of the life of faith. Those who trust Christ are sojourners in the world. This is not our home, but we live here for now. God himself is our dwelling-place. He is our forever home. He completes our intention to dwell in him with the fruit of abiding in his presence (reflection on Psalm 91).


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Musings of a peripatetic wannabe-sage by Laura Springer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License..