Metaphysics as poetry

ANOTHER blank page...
     No two blank pages are the same, you should know that. Because your situation — sitting here, today, not yesterday, not last week — is different. Not just different, unique. You have never been here before.
     'Travelling through time at one hour per hour.' (Thank you, Craig, for that thought.) We are all time travellers.
     'The meaning of life is one's attitude towards time.' — If there can be many attitudes towards time, then life has many meanings. Q.E.D.
     The topic for the day is metaphysics. Possible? Impossible? What is metaphysics, anyway? What is it after?
     Here's what we know:
     In metaphysics, there can be no indubitable 'axioms', no 'necessary principles'. Descartes' geometrical method is a fraud. You only get out what you put in. The solution? Reductio ad absurdum, the logician's old standby. All assumptions are discharged, because your conclusion is essentially negative.
     And there's the rub: If metaphysics is a series of negatives then it has no positive content. Obviously. The notion of 'metaphysical knowledge', if not empty, is irredeemably banal. A series of signs planted along the road: 'Don't go there... don't go there... don't go there.'
     Banal 'knowledge' is still knowledge. But can we even claim that?
     According to the Ancient Greek sceptic Pyrrho, for every argument there is an equally compelling counter-argument. This isn't a priori claim, just a testable observation about what actually happens when philosophers get together and argue over a point. (You can verify this by paying a visit to any philosophy seminar.) So you can't even 'prove' a negative without someone raising an objection.
     The classic empiricists (Locke, or Hume, for example) dismissed metaphysics as logomachy. We are just bandying words about whose meaning is not associated with any discernible 'idea'. If no 'idea' is expressed then the negation of a metaphysical claim has no more meaning than the original claim.
     Wittgenstein in the Tractatus added a new twist: the only meaningful propositions are those that have truth conditions, and truth conditions necessarily relate to the existence or non-existence of contingent states of affairs. This applies equally to a proposition or its negation. So no room for metaphysics there.
     Finally, the most famous (or infamous) objection: the Verification Principle.
     Coming out of the Vienna Circle, the notion that to be meaningful a proposition must be 'empirically verifiable' is the most dubious of all the objections, but not on that account the least worrying. You don't have to assert the verification principle (which, according to some, would be a 'metaphysical' claim) but just shrug: if a metaphysical claim does not impinge in any way on experience, then how can it possibly make a difference to the world as we experience it?
     So, metaphysics is impossible. Or, even granting that it may be possible, it is only possible in some bastardized, truncated form. You're trying to square the circle.
     However, all these objections are based on the assumption that there is some 'Question' that metaphysics seeks to answer.
     What if the real topic is the questioner?
     Now the axis of the investigation has been turned through 180 degrees. We are not looking out onto the world. We are looking at a mirror: know thyself.
     The answer is in here, maybe not in the way that Plato meant (the soul is 'akin to the Forms', he says in the Phaedo) but in some way, yet to be determined.
     And this is why we write. Because, through writing, what is inside emerges into the world, takes form, becomes real.
     The Verificationists (Ayer, Carnap etc.) said that metaphysics should be seen as a form of poetry. Maybe they were right, after all. Poetry speaks to the universal conditions of human sensibility. Which implies that there is a third class of propositions, neither 'contingent' nor 'necessary', whose function is purely to express.
     Exactly what metaphysical propositions 'express' is something we have yet to determine. (It would be a logical fallacy to deduce from the propositions, 'poetry expresses', 'metaphysics expresses' that metaphysics is poetry.)