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Metaphysics, Thinking, and Being

From the book Idealism, Relativism, and Realism

  • Sebastian Rödl


This essay critically analyzes Barry Stroud’s book Metaphysical Dissatisfaction. With reference to Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Rödl challenges Stroud’s claim of an inherent dialectic of knowledge and dissatisfaction internal to the project of metaphysics as a systematic knowledge of what is insofar as it is. According to Rödl, Stroud takes metaphysics to be the endeavor of comparing the ways in which we think with what is in order to establish whether we, as we think in these ways, can actually grasp what is as well. But this construal of metaphysics makes it appear that there are two things, independently described and subsequently compared: i) how we think, and ii) how what is is, as we are thinking it. According to Rödl, Stroud is right to hold that metaphysics (i. e. the science of what is, insofar as it is) investigates being and thinking. But metaphysics does not investigate a relationship between the two. Rather, metaphysics arises from thought, from the kind of understanding of its object that thought itself is.

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