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Logos [1-13-10]

“Some metaphysicians claim it is never possible to exclude other metaphysical systems or visions of the whole, hence not possible to reach any metaphysical truth, only more or less high probability.  Hence metaphysical systems belong more to the order of esthetics, of beauty, like works of art, than of genuine knowledge or explanation.  There is a kernel of truth in this, just as there is in simplicity and beauty as indications in science of which is the most fruitful hypothesis, the one most likely to be valid.  Still, I think, with St. Thomas and many others, that one can quite often achieve genuine metaphysical truths that exclude the opposite, though sometimes not.  And there is one decisive difference between a work of art and a metaphysical explanation.  Works of art do not compete with each other; cone can never exclude another as the only possible work of beauty on a given subject–that does not make sense.  But metaphysical systems do.  They always try to show why in some way there is no other reasonable alternative solution to this problem or way of seeing the world, or at least that theirs is the most illuminating and fruitful one, whereas the other competitors are all significantly deficient in some way.  In a word, metaphysical systems compete; works of art do not.”
-Rev. W. Norris Clarke, S.J.

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