No, I have never seen a ghost and I wouldn’t care – should there be anything for me to learn after I pass away, the after could be the only right time, without any need to hurry. The subtitle is a word play to involve etymologies and contemporary language use. More, I do not really believe in anything non-physical in this physical world, and this is what ghosts are rumored to be – immaterial spirits. You know what things could be like even with a little bit of vacuum in this earthly atmosphere.
Therefore, when I hear the word ‘specter’ I get the etymological association to the ‘spectrum‘. The Latin ‘specere‘, ‘to look’ is to be held exclusively responsible for the fact (fortunately, there is no need for a headache or other discomfort). Seeing and sense happen to open the part of Aristotle’s work to be alleged responsible for the term ‘metaphysics‘. However, the author and the work could not be as responsible as enunciated.
Aristotle is actually innocent of the ‘supernatural’ collocations attached to the term ‘metaphysics’. Let us look to the Greek particle ‘meta-’. It can mean ‘after’ or ‘beyond’, ‘over’, or ‘supra’. Materially, words such a ‘ghost’, ‘specter’, or ‘spirit’ do not occur in ‘Metaphysics’ at all. Aristotle uses the term ‘soul’ (Greek ‘psyche’) in the work. The surviving sense seems yet to be that of a personality or individuality factor, not anything supernatural.
Thus, ‘Metaphysics’ would be ‘that to come after Physics’ in a collection of works. The present-day accounts ascribe the decision on the work ordering to the editor, Andronicus of Rhodes. Simply a piece of work to come after the ‘Physics’, the ‘Metaphysics’ does not deal with any ‘super-’ or ‘supra-physics’. Aristotle was accused of insufficient reverence for gods by his contemporaries.
Let us take a simple test on the meanings of the Greek particle ‘meta-’. Let us imagine two axes, one vertical, and one horizontal. Let us think about representing progress in time and progress in space on the axes. Both time and distance could refer to the sense of ‘meta-’ to denote ‘after’. You might feel like representing progress in time with the vertical axis and the distance with the horizontal, like in figure 1. Traveling this Earth tends to take a horizontal perspective. Going up and down would leave one the same geographical location. One could feel more flexible as to representing time.
Whatever actually your choice as for time and distance, try to think about representing a hierarchy (‘beyond’, ‘over’,) and time or distance (‘after’). You might feel like using the vertical axis for the hierarchy and the horizontal one for the time or distance, like in figure 2. There could be a psychological aspect of distance to hierarchy; there would not be always a hierarchy to distance, yet.
‘Where are you?’ could be a natural question when you see a friend reading a book you know. It might be interesting to think whether your perspective on the book and the progress someone is making in it would be vertical or horizontal. The fact that the Ancients mostly scrolled to read might make not much difference, taken the fact that walking always has been different from climbing, anyway.
Interpretations of the Greek particle ‘meta-’ in the term ‘metaphysics’ could have gone from the horizontal into the vertical representation over the centuries. Psychologically a very interesting phenomenon, the ‘super-’ as well as ‘supra-natural’ associations would not be mandated by the piece of Aristotle’s work at all, however – ‘all things may be ‘so and not so’, still there is a ‘more’ and a ‘less’ in the nature of things’ (Aristotle).
What is ‘Metaphysics’ really about? It is mostly about the substance as compared with the essence and matter. A very concrete, material thing. Aristotle makes an interesting observation about language here. If you divide water, a part of water is water. A part of a syllable is not a syllable, however. He discusses what an element is (the primary component indivisible in kind into other kinds). Aristotle maybe does not split the atom, but his works are very good exercises for the gray matter.
‘If, then, the affirmative can be predicated, the negative must be predicable too; and if the affirmative is not predicable, the negative, at least, will be more predicable than the negative of the subject itself. If, then, even the latter negative is predicable, the negative of ‘trireme’ will be also predicable; and, if this is predicable, the affirmative will be so too’ (Metaphysics).
‘There must, then, even so be something which denotes substance. And if this is so, it has been shown that contradictories cannot be predicated at the same time’ (Metaphysics).
There must, then, even so be something which denotes substance. And if this is so, it has been shown that contradictories cannot be predicated at the same time.
OK, let us be back to specters and their chances to talk sense. Speech is perceivable as physically sound waves to a working human ear. The sound waves need to have their specific contours to be intelligible and may be produced by human articulators or artificially. Still, human voice or a computer, speech takes matter and shows in physical sound spectra. The specter is not going to talk sense…
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