Metaphysics as Mediating Dialogue
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Metaphysics is not often spoken of as a venue for dialogue about anything, let alone culture or religion, which are more readily associated with phenomenology or hermeneutics in contemporary thinking. This collection of essays, however, by the late Boston College philosopher Oliva Blanchette, maintains the absolute necessity of metaphysics as a prerequisite for examining any particular ‘realm of being,’ in all areas of human inquiry, from the particular sciences to historical cultures and religions. Blanchette proposes metaphysics as a fundamental and necessary level of intelligence presupposed in any exercise of judgment, discourse, or dialogue, among rational beings. At the same time, he defends the idea that dialogue is the first and most fundamental form in which such reasoning takes place in human experience, on a radically intersubjective level through language.
Metaphysics is not an abstraction removed from human experience. Rather, it is a science in its own right defining itself in relation to ‘being as being’, its subject matter, as it depends on all the particular sciences and bodies of knowledge. Firmly standing on the ground of human experience, and on the human person as primary analogate of being, it opens up an entire realm of questioning that the particular sciences and bodies of knowledge, operating in functional separation, cannot pose on their own, especially when they take, in a reductionist fashion, their own object to be the prime analogate.
Metaphysics, in fact, insinuates itself into each and every particular science in exploring its own subject matter of ‘being as being’ in the analogical sense, advancing to more and more complex stages of analogy through dialogue among different spirits and cultures, and reaching its terminus in the transcendent aspect of spirit and religion. In this sense, metaphysics has much to say to theologians: without metaphysics, theology reduces to mere superstition.
"While this work can be read as a collection of essays, each of which is relatively free standing and can be read on its own, together they form a constellation of explorations and reflections whose character reveals a recurrent theme, or set of themes, as well as a particular orientation in thinking. A significant contribution...a worthy addition to the significant body of work Blanchette has already produced from the same sources of inspiration."~William Desmond, author of The Voiding of Being: The Doing and Undoing of Metaphysics in Modernity