12 thoughts on “Metaphysics and C.G. Jung in a post-metaphysic world

  1. I think the tricky thing is that the word “metaphysics” means different things to different people, and the word can play different roles in different language games. Even though we may agree on an “official definition” the word may not mean same things for us on a deeper level. I don’t think we should be so harsh with people that denies metaphysics, before we set clear what in the essence they want to deny. Denying metaphysics may not mean to deny anything imaginable. I know one of my favorite philosophers, Wittgenstein dismisses “metaphysics” for standing for something without content, and another favorite philosopher, Bourdieu, who speaks of “metaphysics” as something sensible. I don’t take it as they really disagree with each other, or as if Bourdieu senses something which Wittgenstein weren’t able to sense, I just take it as they use words differently… Maybe I’m naive to think so…?

    • Dandre, thanks for your interesting comment. You are quite right with your observation: Metaphysics is an alarmingly abstract and open term, concerned with what behind the physical world of experience. IMHO Greek philosophy was in the beginning of pure metaphysical character originally presented as physics, simply concerned with the being as such. Platonism to the end of the Greek philosophy took that mystical turn to Neoplatonism with had considerable influence to Christianity via Augustine and to Gnostic Systems. It was later Kant who thought his empiric metaphysics can be seen as substitute for for traditional metaphysics, concerned with God and defined border of proper use of reason. The latter is my crude definition and where I was coming from. In my understanding enemies of metaphysics are divided, but hostile opposition came obviously from the positivists and more recent from post-modernist and deconstructionists, who proclaim that philosophy, or at least metaphysics is dead and God anyway.
      To me your question is not naive at all. Sensing is a key word in a Jungian system. As you know the second dichotomy, SN (S stands for Sensing and N – for iNtuition), represents the way in which an individual receives information. According to C.G. Jung sensing and intuition are called “irrational” functions – sensation- refers to the means by which a person knows something exists, derived by our senses and -intuition- is knowing about something without conscious understanding of where that knowledge comes from. The ”irrational” function, according to Jung, is typical for mental and perceptual activity that predominantly (and, for the most part, unconsciously) operates with opportunities, i.e. various possible outcomes and sensations result from some premises and sensations, mostly driven by unconscious processes. If Bourdieu speaks of “metaphysics” as something sensible that may very well be, that Bourdieu senses something which Wittgenstein weren’t able to sense in his abstract world. To me, philosophy includes amongst other things a passion for concepts and arguments and striving for essential questions. A lot is however just an abstract linguistic Language Game. Bourdieu, or some other sociologist provide difficult definition of metaphysics if at all. I found Jean Baudrillard or Pascal Bruckner more applicable if one goes in the sociological direction.

  2. OK, thanks for an interesting response. As for me, I’m not very well oriented in the history of philosophy, but I do consider myself to know Wittgenstein on a deeper level. Wittgenstein dismissed metaphysics, but also I’ve read that he used the term in different sense from how it has been used by others.

    About Bourdieu, I think it was a bit of miscommunication there, sorry. I’m no native English speaker, and never learned the language very well. By sensible I only meant “makes sense” (first I wrote “senseful”, but it said this was misspelled, so I changed to “sensible”) which is expression I use in a wide sense. I don’t think Bourdieu speaks of metaphysics in his sociological investigations, I just heard him mention metaphysics once in an interview on some random topic.

    • Thanks for the clarification. I do not know Wittgenstein nor Bourdieu on a deeper level but I am eager to learn what their definition of metaphysics is and why they dismissed it.

      “About what one can not speak, one must remain silent.” The catchy last line of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus tends to resonate with (post)moderns, sceptics, atheists (believers), and subsciber of relativity. Not to scientists nor to spiritual persons, however. To me Wittgenstein is dismissing here metaphysics only formally in his frame of reference, as an unsayable truth, because his sociology is narrowed down to linguistic language games within a constructed perception of reality and a void of sprituality. The latter was a personal value statement only.

      • I think important to not try and read in too much in what Wittgenstein says. It is not wrong to take it as a mere tautology – and as any tautology it’s devoid of content. Tractatus is full of that, sometimes in even simpler sense such as quote “what one cannot think one cannot think”. You can of course try and read in things in that too… But you realize then you get in messy situation.

        Another small thing. Speaking of sociology and linguistics that is both empirical sciences. Wittgenstein on the other hand didn’t make any empirical claims at all. Thus I don’t think it’s quite fair to speak of any sociology or linguistics of Wittgenstein (though it’s not completely uncomplicated to say so either) .

        About Bourdieu, I don’t think he dismissed metaphysics.

  3. Thanks for your kind and helpful response. I suppose you refer to the famous “About what one can not speak, one must remain silent.” as a mere tautology. Not an Earlier/rhetorical tautology that is true merely by saying the same thing twice but the propositional formula empty of meaning now as multiple defined as metaphysics. That is a very interesting thought / hint.

    With my limied knowledge, I think early Wittgenstein’s logical positivism struggled against “metaphysics” from the positions of empiricism – the truth of every scientific statement must be ascertained by comparing it directly with the evidence/facts. Did not Wittgenstein desert later the correspondence theory of truth view ? Suggesting that the true interpretation of a text is not constant or fixed, it comes from the meaning people give it in their lives, which seems to me very relativistic and anti-spiritual message: Language is a picture of truth, and as any picture is only a mapping of a particular reality. Any truth about reality is possible. The meaning of the words is like rules of a game (neither right nor wrong nor true or false).

    I follow your argument that it isn’t quite fair to speak of any sociology or linguistics of Wittgenstein. He had rather a mathematically skilled mind anyway. I guess I fell prey, that a few years ago all were all sociologists and Wittgenstein was read as a sort of philosophical sociologist of culture. Yes, sociology and linguistics are under the umbrella term social science and use sometimes empirical methods. That is, if applying the broader soft science definition – and including also ideologies. Hard sciences would not necessarily regard sociology as empirical science i.e. relying on quantifiable empirical data, relying on the scientific method, and focusing on accuracy and objectivity.

  4. Yes indeed, that line. I wouldn’t quite call it different kinds of tautology though, rather I meant one tautology is more obvious as it’s repeating exactly the same words, but both equally much tautologies.
    I think one indeed can say that Wittgenstein’s struggle against “metaphysics” was similar to that of the logical positivists – you’re probably right on that. But it must be noted that while the logical positivists found inspiration from Wittgenstein… Wittgenstein didn’t like the logical positivists at all. Partly I think because of different values, while the positivists valued scientific progress, Wittgenstein valued personal purity.
    You are right about mathematical mind. It is important to note that it was how he got into philosophy in the first place. He was interested in the foundations of mathematics. But also, he called himself disciple of Freud (if I recall correctly) and was very much in to the writings of Leo Tolstoy and other novelists. No coincidence he’s been called “philosopher of the poets and composers, playwrights and novelists”.
    I mean whether or not one uses empirical methods in sociology and linguistics, one is still making empirical claims. About Wittgenstein it’s not just that he doesn’t use empirical method, but also that he denies making empirical claims, as quote “our interest does not fall back upon these causes of the formation of concepts; we are not doing natural science; nor yet natural history – since we can also invent fictitious natural history for our purposes” (one can argue he is not completely faithful to this himself though). But these distinctions are indeed tricky, I don’t think it would be completely off to call Wittgenstein a kind of linguist or sociologist or psychologist anyway.

  5. Oh, and about theory of truth. Wittgenstein himself denied that one should have theories about anything in philosophy. He would probably deny he had any theory of truth. However, it is agreed that he spoke of truth as correspondence. Most obviously he did this in Tractatus, later on he might’ve been more vague on that point…

    • If I may say so, you present Wittgenstein, very well.

      Interesting assertion, that Wittgenstein didn’t like the logical positivists at all, but favoring personal purity before shall I say a materialistic progress. I can relate to that.

      In sociology at least I am not always sure if there claims are empirical claims or just value statements or normative claims in disguise.

      It seems also agreed that the latter Wittgenstein changed his position in regards to Tractatus quite a bit. Later he let room for interpretation to some traces of coherentist strands, I agree …
      He has been interpreted a lot e.g. the meaning of “The logic has to care of iself” – if the correctness of the logic rests in itself is implies there is no external standard to comply with needed or correctness is within its own signlanguage.

      I became very curious of the psychological Wittgenstein and definitely will try to understand his work better. There seems to be a strong connection between Freud and Wittgenstein. Vienna is not so large and given the intellectual brilliance and society ranking of both it is inevitable that they meet each other. I read for Wittgenstein psychoanalysis was based in myth, not science. Now, coming from C.G. Jung (who was purely empirical) and taking Wittgenstein’s position not merely a criticism of Freud I would agree with this assertion to psychoanalysis in general. IMHO Jung went beyond a scientific theory to explain the scientifically unexplainable. I don’t really subscribe to Freud’s his disciple’s view is that his theory is a science (to me that is a myth). C.G. Jung, however, has prediction power e.g. no navigate high context cultures. It seems that Freud’s psychoanalysis somewhat interacts with Wittgenstein’s view of his own developed philosophical method, leaving Wittgenstein to see himself as a disciple of Freud: “the manner of speaking” of his mature philosophical method, is form linguistic analysis which in broad terms consists in the use of the language game. A pity he did not meet C.G. Jung that would have been fire and water. Maybe not.

      • You are right, it’s indeed tricky to tell what is empirical claim, value claim, or disguised normative claim.

        I would like to tone down the difference between Tractatus and the later Wittgenstein. As I see it he was much the same person all the time. He did change his attitude in some senses, but not that seriously. I’ve read that he had plans of publishing his Tractatus and the Investigations together as one piece, indicating that he still stood for what he wrote in his earlier work. Speaking of both coherence and correspondence can be kind of confusing. Mostly I think important to stress that he didn’t want to have any theory of truth. Example, I found this quote by W “[my] method consists essentially in leaving the question of truth and asking about sense instead,”

        The relation Wittgenstein, Freud I know very little of. You may know more than me on that. I only read a little of Freud and little of Jung. And from the little I’ve read I’ve enjoyed Jung more. Indeed it would be interesting to see a meeting between Wittgenstein and Jung… I would’ve guessed they’d get along fine, but I don’t know. I’ve tried to search if someone put them in same context, but didn’t find much.

  6. I enjoyed C.G Jung more as well. Freud is largely discredited today. There is Nil about Jung and Wittgenstein if you google, although they seem to have a lot in common. They fancied both catchy phrases. I like the later Wittgenstein’s approach against Neo-positivsm of the Vienna Circle.That he somewhat discarded Russel’s soul-less logic understanding the language is polymorphic and has different merits besides the pure logical view. Wittgensteinian doctrine of polymorphism certainly has a common-sense appeal. There is much more here than meets the eye.The more I read about Wittgenstein, the more I think there is some content connection too besides both were interpreted a lot.All I came up was this: “Philosophers cannot agree on how to understand Wittgenstein. It strains credibility how deep the disagreements go, and what a variety of positions people have. (The problem with Wittgenstein is that he is dyslexic; Wittgenstein’s greatest accomplishment is his fundamental logicism; W. is an ur-Rorty; W. is a Zen master; W. doesn’t practice what he preaches; W. is hostile to philosophy; W. is really an idealist or an empiricist or a logical monist or a mystic or emasculated by his self-hatred or a Heraclitean or an ecofeminist; I’m waiting for someone to discover that really he is a hippie.) It is impossible to sort through just the exposition questions. In general, I recommend just working on the problems issue by issue instead, using whatever help we can find from Wittgenstein and Wittgensteinians (and remembering that C.G. Jung’s cautionary line could be altered to apply here: “Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian!”)…”
    I will study Wittgenstein a bit to draw parallels in an essay.

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