Introduction to Metaphysics

Introduction to Metaphysics

In his Introduction to Metaphysics early in this century, the eminent French philosopher Henri Bergson said of the "much-desired union of science and metaphysics" that it would "lead the positive sciences, properly so-called, to become conscious of their true scope, often far greater than they imagine." I have come to believe that the time for realization of that dream has arrived.

As a matter of fact, it might be more accurate to speak instead of the reunion of science and metaphysics, for throughout the early history of science the two were strongly linked. The Royal Society, founded in 1660, greatly influenced the early development of science; during this early period science and metaphysics were so intertwined as to be two aspects of a single endeavor. For the first three decades of the Society's existence "`Rosicrucianism', Freemasonry, and the Royal Society were not just to overlap, but virtually to be indistinguishable from one another."(4) The founders of the Royal Society, including Robert Boyle and Christopher Wren, and the first President, Robert Moray, were steeped in the esoteric metaphysical traditions of Freemasonry, Rosicrucian, Neo-Platonic, and Hermetic thought. Isaac Newton, President of the Royal Society from 1703 to 1727, was strongly influenced by the Hermetic tradition throughout his life. When Benjamin Franklin was inducted into the Royal Society, in 1756, it was still strongly oriented towards the worldview of Freemasonry.(4)

The term "metaphysics" has two very different meanings. The first refers to a branch of philosophy, the second to the study of the transcendent or supersensible reality. It is the second sense to which Bergson was referring in his statement, and to which the early members of the Royal Society were aligned. But for the union to take place, it turns out to be necessary to start by re-examining the metaphysical (first sense) assumptions underlying modern science.

Article copyright Institute of Noetic Sciences.

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By Willis W. Harman

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