Ontological grounds for criticism of metaphysics and the return of metaphysics

Olga E. Stol­yaro­va
Insti­tute of Phi­los­o­phy, Russ­ian Acad­e­my of Sci­ences

Onto­log­i­cal grounds for crit­i­cism of meta­physics and the return of meta­physics

Abstract. We affirm that today meta­physics returns to phi­los­o­phy. This means there was a time with­out meta­physics, or at least its over­com­ing was con­sid­ered a respectable posi­tion, a philo­soph­i­cal main­stream, oth­er­wise it would be point­less to talk about its return. The denial of meta­physics does not mean, how­ev­er, the absence of an ontol­ogy, but only the absence (at least in an explic­it form) or the ille­git­i­ma­cy of a pos­i­tive ontol­ogy, which makes judg­ments about over-sen­si­ble real­i­ty. The pos­i­tive ontol­ogy is replaced by a neg­a­tive (apophat­ic) ontol­ogy, which puts lim­its of thought, prov­ing the impos­si­bil­i­ty of spec­u­la­tive think­ing, and pro­vides crit­i­cism of meta­physics. The crit­i­cism of meta­physics is an act and a fact of col­lec­tive thought, and, as in the case of a reflec­tion of a lone­ly skep­tic, it reveals the onto­log­i­cal con­di­tions for its own pos­si­bil­i­ty. The dis­cov­ery of these con­di­tions is a tru­ly philo­soph­i­cal task, since phi­los­o­phy from the begin­ning claims itself that it moves from facts to the con­di­tions of their pos­si­bil­i­ty. Doubt­ing the crit­i­cism of meta­physics for phi­los­o­phy is tan­ta­mount to doubt­ing the act (and fact) of its own think­ing, which delin­eates the realm of the exist­ing. Crit­i­cism of meta­physics that is con­sid­ered as a philo­soph­i­cal fact brings skep­ti­cism to the onto­log­i­cal lev­el. It allows us to talk about the return of meta­physics, which means the dis­cov­ery of the onto­log­i­cal con­di­tions of philo­soph­i­cal doubt as a fact. Dialec­tics of two philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tions, pos­i­tive ontol­ogy and neg­a­tive ontol­ogy, pro­vides a way to deter­mine the phe­nom­e­non of the return of meta­physics as a legit­i­mate response to crit­i­cism of meta­physics.

Key­words: meta­physics, crit­i­cism of meta­physics, real­ism, skep­ti­cism, ontol­ogy, his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy.



  1. Aris­to­tle. Metafizika [Meta­physics]. Transl. by A.V. Kubit­skij. Aris­to­tle. Sobranie sochi­nenij (Col­lect­ed Works). Vol. 1–4. Vol. 1. Moscow: Mysl, 1976, pp. 63–367. (In Russ­ian)
  2. Avgustin Blazhen­nyj (Avre­lij). O Troitse. [St. Augus­tine. On the Trin­i­ty]. P. I–II. P. II. Moscow: Obraz, 2005. 256 p. (In Russ­ian)
  3. David­son, D.A Coher­ence The­o­ry of Truth and Knowl­edge. In: E. LeP­ore (ed.). Truth and Inter­pre­ta­tion: Per­spec­tives on the Phi­los­o­phy of Don­ald Da-vid­son. Oxford: Black­well, 1986, pp. 307–319.
  4. Hei­deg­ger, M. The Onto-Theo-Log­i­cal Con­sti­tu­tion of Meta­physics. In: M. Hei­deg­ger. Iden­ti­ty and Dif­fer­ence. Transl. by J. Stam­baugh. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press, 1969, pp. 42–74.
  5. Kant, I. Kri­ti­ka chis­to­go razu­ma [Cri­tique of Pure Rea­son]. Transl. by N.O. Lossky. St. Peters­burg: Taim-Aut, 1993. 302 p. (In Russ­ian)
  6. Kant, I. Pro­le­gome­ny ko vsjakoj budush­hej metafizike, mogush­hej pojav­it­s­ja kak nau­ka [Pro­le­gom­e­na to Any Future Meta­physics]. In: Kant I. Sobranie sochi­nenij [Col­lect­ed Works], vol. 1–6, vol. 4 (1). Moscow: Mysl, 1965, pp. 67–211. (In Russ­ian)
  7. Lebe­dev, A.V. (ed). Frag­men­ty ran­nih grech­eskih filoso­fov. Ch. I. Ot jepich­eskih teokos­mogo­nij do vozni­knoveni­ja atom­isti­ki [The Frag­ments of the Ear­ly Greek Philoso­phers. Part I: From the Epic Theo­cos­mogo­nies to the Birth of the Atom­istics]. Moscow: Nau­ka, 1989. 576 p. (In Russ­ian)
  8. Losev, A.F. Istori­ja antich­noj jesteti­ki. Aris­to­tel i pozd­n­ja­ja klas­si­ka [His­to­ry of Ancient Aes­thet­ics. Aris­to­tle and the Late Clas­sics]. Moscow: Iskusst­vo, 1975. 776 p. (In Russ­ian)
  9. Meil­la­soux, Q. After Fini­tude. An Essay on the Neces­si­ty of Con­tin­gency. Lon­don: Con­tin­u­um, 2008. 160 p.
  10. Nagel, T. The View from Nowhere. Oxford: Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1986. 256 p.
  11. Pla­to. Sochi­neni­ja (Col­lect­ed Works). Vol. 1–3. Vol. 2. Moscow: Mysl, 1970. 610 p. (In Russ­ian)
  12. Put­nam, H. Rea­son, Truth and His­to­ry. Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1981. 236 p.
  13. Rick­less, S. Plato’s Par­menides. In: E.N. Zal­ta (ed.) The Stan­ford Ency­clo-pedia of Phi­los­o­phy (Spring 2016 Edi­tion). Avail­able at: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2016/entries/plato-parmenides/ (accessed on: March 31, 2018).

Comments are closed.