METAPHYSICS, CULTURE, AND HUMAN AUTHENTICITY
Meynell, Hugo - University of Alberta, Department of Religious Studies, Edmonton, Canada
The business of culture is to foster human authenticity; the business of metaphysics to outline the overall nature and structure of the world that is to be known by authentic human beings. Culture examines and develops the possibilities in human life; to be authentic is to examine life, one’s own and that of others (cf. Socrates). The basic elements of authenticity are attentiveness to the data of sensation or consciousness; intelligence in envisaging possible explanations for them; reasonableness in making judgments which fit the data (rather than being influenced by fear, sloth, special interest, and so on); and responsibility in acting accordingly (Lonergan). The real is what one tends to get to know so far as one is fully attentive, intelligent, and reasonable; the sciences apply this maxim with respect to particular sets of data, metaphysics with respect to reality in general. Hence, while metaphysics is not the whole of knowledge, it may properly be said to provide the whole in knowledge (Hegel). One may apply this maxim to knowledge of oneself and other human beings, as well as to science and metaphysics; this is the way to the good life. On the other hand, the evils in human life are largely due to the avoidance of attentiveness, intelligence, reasonableness and responsibility with respect both to one’s own needs and feelings and to those of others.