Msg#: 207                                          Date: 09-14-96  01:37
  From: Don Allen                                    Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: 01:Traditional Metaphysic
                     M e t a p h y s i c a l   R e v i e w
                     Essays on the Foundations of Physics
  Metaphysics: The study of the fundamental or primary causes and the
        underlying nature of things
 Vol. 3                    September 1,  1996                         No. 3
                                                         ISSN 1083-1908

Table of Contents
                                           line number        page number

Traditional Metaphysics and the Boundaries of Science
 Howard P. Kainz .....................  26 ................   1
New web-site,  Volume 2 Cumulative Issue,
Subscription and Paper Submission ..........  486  ...............   8

            Traditional Metaphysics and the Boundaries of Science        
                            Howard P. Kainz

                       Department of Philosophy
                         Marquette University
                          Milwaukee, WI 53233
                      (received: July 21, 1996)
   As is well-known metaphysics as originally propounded by Aristotle had a
close connection with the natural sciences. This lasted through the middle
ages, but recent centuries have witnessed the gradual splitting off of science
from philosophy, then the largely unsuccessful attempts of various 
philosophical systems to attain validity and universal acceptance in relative
or complete autonomy from the natural sciences, and more recently largely
unsuccessful attempts to develop either autonomous metaphysical systems (e.g.,
twentieth-century Thomism) or autonomous replacements for metaphysics (e.g.,
phenomenology, analytic philosophy) or a metaphysics more explicitly related
to contemporary developments in the natural sciences (e.g. the philosophies of
Whitehead and Bergson).
   The last-mentioned attempt at coordinating metaphysics with science must
inevitably encounter two major problems in the modern world:
   1) Because of the "information explosion," ever-increasing
specialization, and rapid developments in many natural sciences, it seems
almost inconceivable that a metaphysics could be developed which would be
coordinated with other sciences, except in a very superficial manner.
   2) Metaphysics from time immemorial has been asking apparently
unanswerable questions: e.g., what is the cause of the universe as a whole?
What are the ultimate constituents of matter? If such questions haven't been
satisfactorily answered after 2500 years of investigation, why continue to
treat of them?
   With reference to problem #1, it should be observed that a holistic or
synthesizing metaphysics which attempts to take into account results from other
disciplines, is not necessarily doomed to superficiality, any more than the
"general practitioner" in medicine or law must be necessarily superficial.
Superficiality in such cases, and similarly for metaphysicians, can be avoided
by avoiding incursion into areas lying outside of one's competence, and by
appropriate consultation with specialists. In the specific case of the
generalist in metaphysics, superficiality can be avoided by careful 
concentration only on areas of "interface" between metaphysics and the other
disciplines. Some competence in these disciplines may, of course, be required
for the metaphysician to understand and interpret the areas of interface.
   With reference to problem #2, it is important to note that some of the
difficulty metaphysicians have had in answering "ultimate" questions, may be
due to their tendency to ape science and mathematics in formulating their
responses. It seems contrary even to common sense to expect that e.g. an
ultimate question like "What is the cause of the universe?" might be answered

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  Msg#: 208                                          Date: 09-14-96  01:37
  From: Don Allen                                    Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: 02:Traditional Metaphysic
in the form, "As a result of meticulous observations and careful calculations,
we have discovered that the ultimate cause of the universe is X." A healthy
suspicion should be triggered in us when we reflect that all the multifarious
attempts in the history of metaphysics to adhere to ideals of mathematical,
logical or scientific rigor have not resulted in one incontrovertible theory
or solution. And the fact that metaphysical endeavors have historically led
to unseemly and unwieldy paradoxes should make us doubly suspicious:  But
perhaps paradox is not threatening to, but rather positively beneficial to,
and even integral to, the development of a viable metaphysics.  Paradoxes
cannot supply "answers" in the usual sense of the word, but they can supply
insights in a paramount sense. Recent philosophical inquiries point to the
conscious use of paradox as a definite possibility and a positive alternative
to traditional "linear" modes of discourse, and the final parts of this paper
will be devoted to fully investigating this possibility and its applicability
to metaphysics.
   For the purpose of the present article, we will be including under the
term, "science," "soft" sciences such as psychology, as well as the "hard"
sciences like physics. In attempting to redefine and reestablish the
relationship between metaphysics and the sciences, I will try to avoid two
extremes: a) the notion that metaphysics is a kind of super-science whose
mission it is to direct, and give "grounding" to, other disciplines; and b)
the notion that metaphysics, having proven itself incompetent, should be
replaced by the more humble, service-oriented, watchdog-type activities of
merely assisting the scientists (who have all the important things to say
about the world) to refine and clarify their words and expressions and their
use of logic.
   From our rather middling position, then, I would point out how some of
the most interesting metaphysical problems emerge from within science, e.g.
the question about local causality as a paradigm, defended by Einstein, but
apparently called into question by experiments related to Bell's theorem; and
the pressing questions being raised by parapsychology about the notion of a
bona fide "natural" phenomenon.
   From the side of metaphysics, it seems foolish to a) continue to
deliberate in an "a priori" way questions e.g. about the ultimate constituents
material reality without consulting quantum physics; or about the existence
and/or nature of consciousness without addressing the ongoing debate
concerning the existence and nature of an "unconscious" or b) completely
ignore such traditional philosophical questions because they are "the proper
domain of science."
   The distinctive objective of this essay will be to show, then, how
basic metaphysical problems emerge in contemporary disciplines and are
actually formulated in those disciplines, and to work at a response without
necessarily aping the notion of a "scientific solution." And if it so happens
that attempts to answer specific questions lead to paradoxes, I will try to
show how the paradoxes emerge, what are their grounds, and specifically what
state of conflict or opposition they give expression to.

   I. A. Macrocosmic Limits
   According to Kant's "First Antinomy" in his _Critique of Pure Reason_
(A430, B458), human reason is involved in an incessant and inevitable
vacillation with regard to the origin of the universe. On the one hand, it is
impelled to posit some definite and absolute "first cause," in order to avoid
the impossible task of imagining an actually infinite serial succession of
causes. On the other hand, when we come to elaborate the context of any
assumed "first cause," we are necessarily led into inconvenient assumptions of
a "time" before time, and a "space" outside of space. Thus we are forced into
the antithesis of declaring the world spatially and temporally infinite -- and
the "vicious circle" begins all over again.
   It is easier to apply Kant's First Antinomy to ancient (e.g.
Aristotelian) cosmology and Newtonian cosmology, than to contemporary
cosmology, in which Einstein's General and Special Theories of Relativity
prevail. When suitable qualifications are made, it becomes evident that the
proponents of a "big-bang" theory are following roughly the pattern of
"thesis" in the First Antinomy, i.e. those who want to obviate an infinite
succession by positing a "singularity" which bears a striking resemblance to
the idea of a first cause. The "steady state" theory as well as the numerous
contemporary theories which involve the conceptions of an indefinite
succession of emerging and dying universes may be taken as movements in the
direction of the "antithesis" in the First Antinomy. The "big bang" theory is
currently in the ascendancy, but questions may be raised about the nature of

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  Msg#: 209                                          Date: 09-14-96  01:37
  From: Don Allen                                    Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: 03:Traditional Metaphysic
the "spontaneity" (or singularity) of the initial hypothesized explosion.
"Spontaneity" sometimes is taken to be an acausal occurrence; but this seems
to imply, by contrast, a preexisting causal context which is flouted by this
particular occurrence (and this sort of context would be inconvenient for the
initial singularity). "Spontaneity" also is taken to be a characteristic of
organic, i.e. living entities. The idea of an organic universe has been
proposed in Hindu cosmology, and intermittently in the history of Western
cosmology.  The "Gaia hypothesis," advocates methodologically construing
terrestrial phenomena as organically interconnected. The "strong" version of
the "anthropic principle" in cosmology holds that the universe as a whole may
be teleologically organized to produce living beings; which raises the
question: is organic life in some sense already implicit in the evolution of
the universe.  Insofar as an organic conception of the universe introduces
the concept of self-causation, it may avoid the neat antitheses set up by
Kant. If this idea is untenable, we are led to two final but possibly
interrelated questions: 1) Is there any important sense of "spontaneity" not
encompassed by the above two connotations, but applicable to the "Big Bang"
theory? and 2) aside from organic cosmological theories, is there any viable
"middle-ground" between the two options presented to us by Kant in the First
   I. B. Microcosmic Limits
   According to the "thesis" of Kant's "Second Antinomy" in the _Critique of
Pure Reason_ (A434, B462), an immediate and rational response to the existence
of composite entities is to analyze them into certain simple atomic 
constituents that are not further divisible, even if we have no empirical
evidence of such constituents. On the other hand, if we face up to the fact
that even the smallest constituent, if it is spatially extended, would have to
allow further divisibility ad infinitum into smaller but still extended parts
-- we are led to posit the antithetical conclusion that everything is
essentially composite.  The atomic theory propounded by Dalton and his
successors corresponded very well with the "thesis" of the 2nd antinomy until
modifications by quantum theorists produced a certain ambivalence concerning
the stability and distinguishability of atomic constituents.
   In particle physics the search for quarks seems to be the chief
contemporary example of the continued pursuit of ultimate constituents capable
of supplying relatively predictable building blocks for matter. But  quarks
are never found in isolation from other quarks; at the present stage of
investigation, quarks could not be described as ultimate, indivisible
building-blocks of matter.  The mainstream in particle physics understandably
gravitates in the direction of the "antithesis" of Kant's Second Antinomy --
towards webs of conversions and interactions among particles in which
stability of position, identifiability, and indivisibility become relatively
   It might be claimed that at least Leibniz among the classical modern
thinkers escaped the Kantian antinomy by hypothesizing ultimate constituents
called "monads," which were immaterial, simple units of 
perception/consciousness, not susceptible to extension and division.  In like
manner, the quantum physicists may claim a certain immunity to the Kantian
critique, if they are dealing not primarily with "first-order" realities, i.e.
the particles themselves, but largely with models and with statistical
projections of probability related to a "second-order" reality, i.e. the
wave-functions on graphs. In this sense, if a physicist, applying the
Indeterminacy Principle, states that a particle cannot simultaneously have
position and momentum -- this statement might apply primarily to the limits of
his equations and the limitations of his measuring apparatus, rather than to
some intrinsic property of particles. But this sort of separation of
subjective factors -- instrumentation, methodology, etc. -- from objective
reality runs counter to the claim of the Indeterminacy Principle that there
can be no such separation. Pursued to its logical conclusion, the
Indeterminacy Principle may indicate that the answer to Kant's Second Antinomy
is also indeterminate -- that is, the physicist can fashion his/her procedures
to deal either with a world of indivisible particles, or with a world of
divisible particles -- the resultant "world" being largely the result of
subjective determinations.

   II. A. The Unconscious
   The notion of an "unconscious" did not emerge for the first time with
Freud, but has been found in various formulations in both western and oriental
philosophy over the past 2500 years. So an important first step will be to

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  Msg#: 210                                          Date: 09-14-96  01:38
  From: Don Allen                                    Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: 04:Traditional Metaphysic
distinguish the current psychological connotation(s) of the concept from many
of those other historical connotations, although in some cases a convergence
of meaning will be found.
   Contemporary psychological theories of the unconscious have been
developed primarily by "depth" psychologists or psychoanalysts, especially
Freud and Jung, but interest in the notion of an "unconscious" is also to be
found among psychologists of a more "behaviorist" orientation, e.g. Shervin.
An initial, tentative classification of contemporary theories might also be
based on the diverse possible combinations of the following alternatives: a)
materialistically or organically based views, vs. views open to the existence
of an immaterial or spiritual dimension; and b) emphasis on an individual
unconscious, vs. emphasis on a collective unconscious.
   Some of the questions raised, explicitly or implicitly, by psychologists,
have to do with verification: e.g. whether the best way to probe the
unconscious is through hypnotism, dream analysis, free association, Rorschach
tests, examination of mythology and folklore, stimulation of brain centers,
testing of subliminal responses to stimuli, etc. These questions have an
epistemological ring, but they are also patently metaphysical, since they
explicitly or implicitly presuppose a preference for this or that conception
of the ontological structure of the human psyche. Psychologists who accept
the existence of an unconscious also raise important questions about the
"location" of this unconscious, and the way that it could interact with or
enter into, the contents of consciousness; about the precise structures of
what is designated "consciousness"; and about the possible determination of
human behavior through unconscious drives, attitudes, or archetypes.  These
latter questions bear some obvious similarities to traditional philosophical
questions about the existence, origin and nature of a "mind" or "soul", and
about the reality and scope of "free will."
   With regard to this latter point, it is perhaps significant that most
existentialist, personalist and humanist psychologists, who are 
philosophically committed to fostering personal freedom, are rather 
uninterested in, or even opposed to, the supposition of an unconscious.
Jean-Paul Sartre in his _Being and Nothingness_ (Part Four, 2, I; see also Part
I, 1, I) includes an exposition of "existential psychoanalysis" which bears
some similarity to the Freudian version of psychoanalysis, but is also sharply
divergent from certain Freudian presuppositions, especially the hypothesis of
an unconscious. Sartre objects to the supposition of an unconscious, insofar
as it is not only a pseudo-scientific-repository of causal mechanisms, but
also is conceptually self-contradictory (one would have to be in some way
conscious of the "unconscious" in order to deal with it and achieve a Freudian
breakthrough). For the unconscious Sartre substitutes the "prereflective"
consciousness, which is later replaced by "the lived" (le vecu); and his own
existential psychoanalysis concentrates on the inculcation of an awareness of
one's own powers of self-determination rather than on one's determination by
"unconscious" drives or residues built up from the past.
   The issue concerning the existence and nature of an unconscious is also
relevant to other questions raised by philosophers: Questions about morality
and conscience may not be unrelated to the existence of a super-ego, questions
about concepts of God and religion may well be elucidated through the Jungian
theory of supernal collective Archetypes, and questions about free choice
should perhaps take into consideration Freud's theory of the instinctive
drives of the Id, and the less well-known theory of temperament (according to
the three dimensions of id, ego, and super-ego) also developed by Freud.
Certain "epistemological" issues in philosophy would also seem to require
examination in the light of depth psychology: Are our ideas just
representations of external reality? (In order to answer this in the
affirmative, we have to effectively rule out the possibility that these ideas
are determined by inner needs, desires, drives or archetypes). What is the
most certain and indubitable basis for experience? (In order to establish
this we would have to rule out the possibility of unconscious motivation,
Projection mechanisms," and delusions). Is there any privileged area of
"mind" (independent not only from the body but from individual psycho-physical
and collective archetypal determinism)? And how are we to interpret the
borderline experiences of dreams, for which philosophers since Aristotle have
produced tantalizing but still unsatisfactory explanations?
   We must also consider the objections brought by opposing schools of
psychology against the depth psychologists and their sympathizers, in order to
make eventually an enlightened choice among the competing schools of
psychologists. In particular, we must consider the peculiar nature of
"phenomena" investigated by the depth psychologist, and the special problems of
verification inherent in their discipline. For the depth psychologist is not
concerned with external responses, word associations, etc. (which are only
"symptoms" of underlying syndromes), but more properly with internal
mechanisms, drives, barriers, projections, etc. - "phenomena" which presumably
no surgeon's knife could ever hope to isolate or make observable.  The fact

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  Msg#: 211                                          Date: 09-14-96  01:38
  From: Don Allen                                    Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: 05:Traditional Metaphysic
that particle physics has been able to overcome somewhat similar obstacles
with reference to unobservable submicroscopic phenomena, perhaps offers a
pertinent precedent and a meaningful analogy. But explicit and specific
justification has to be given to the expansions of the concepts of "phenomena"
and "evidence" involved in depth psychology.
   II.B. The Paranormal
   David Hume in his Enquiry on Human Understanding (X, Part II, 93-94) sums
up the basic Enlightenment opposition to belief in preternatural and
paranormal, as well as supernatural, phenomena: we can only grant credence to
phenomena which are demonstrated to be in accordance with the laws of nature;
publicly acceptable "proof" of an exception to these laws would be 
self-contradictory. Later commentators on Hume have brought out a latent
ambiguity in Hume's reference to "nature": if "nature" means "the cosmos as a
whole" which could presumably include supernatural beings, his arguments would
be weakened; but if "human nature" is focused on, the arguments would have
greater force. With specific reference to ESP and psychokinesis, C. D.
Broad's widely utilized "Basic Limiting Principles" (causes must come before
effects, minds can't have direct influence on matter, knowledge must have some
basis in sensations, etc.) have given further definition and specification to
Hume's position, although some ambiguity between human "nature" and "nature"
in a broader sense can still be detected in Broad's version.
   The very existence of a "science" of parapsychology is paradoxical:
Parapsychology falls heir to verification problems even more acute than those
(mentioned above) encountered by depth psychology, because the internal
"phenomena" of principal interest here are not just invisible, but presumably
go against the laws of nature as usually understood in psychology (according
to which only present objects, not hidden objects, can cause perceptions;
commands of the mind cannot cause external movements distant from a person;
future events cannot have an effect on our present perceptions and knowledge;
and so forth).  In addition, the psychic phenomena at issue are, by
definition, anomalous (not found, or not activated, in the ordinary psyche).
So we end up discussing the possibility of preternatural events found in a
select group of subjects. Precedents and analogies for this kind of
verification problem are to be found in quantum mechanics -- for example, the
unexplainable and unpredictable spin of photons in tests related to Bell's
theorem. But in a way the problems are more acute in parapsychology.  For
unless the theoretical apparatus (including metaphysical constructs involving
causality, temporality, nature, normality, and mind) are reexamined and found
applicable to parapsychology, a conscientious and consistent scientist, even
when witnessing paranormal phenomena, might be unable to recognize and accept
them, but would ascribe them to deceit on the part of the subjects being
tested or on the part of the parapsychologist purportedly presenting the
evidence to scientific colleagues.
   Parapsychologists in university laboratories in the U. S. have
concentrated in the latter half of the twentieth century on establishing as a
fact the existence of paranormal phenomena. They have pursued this goal with a
combination of controlled laboratory observations and statistical calculations
in line with the laws of probability. The results have sometimes been
impressive - e.g. probable demonstrations of clairvoyance or precognition
which, with particularly "gifted" subjects, produced significant statistical
evidence of "Psi" (psychokinesis, or the various forms of ESP) in 
reduplicatible experiments over a long period of time. However, they are
trying to establish the validity of something which is supposedly in conflict
with the laws of nature; the more successful they are, the more likely they are
to be accused of contradicting basic "givens" of science, and thus of being
unscientific themselves. One way out of this impasse may be in an application
of Thomas Kuhn's theory of the evolution of scientific paradigms. In other
words, we revise what we take as "givens" in science -- we revise "normal"
laws. Another way may be an acceptance of the Yogic hypothesis that "Psi" is a
normal power which can be brought out by special techniques in the same way
that talents may be brought out by processes of education -- in which case
"psi" would have to be reclassified as normal and natural.
   Even if the evidence for the existence of Psi turns out to be conclusive
and convincing, a whole host of metaphysical problems will remain, most of
them centering on the basic models we have for the structure of the human
psyche. For example, neither the usual reductive materialist model nor the
usual dualist model of the psyche in Western philosophy could give a
satisfactory account for telepathy. The reductive-materialist model, which
says that the "mind" is reducible to something material, e.g. chains of neural
discharges, would need some kind of physical explanation for transmission of a
psychic message, e.g. microwaves. The dualist model, which presupposes that
ideas are transmitted from the mind of A through A's body or speech and
through some physical medium to B's five senses and ultimately to B's mind --
is even more complex and unwieldy in the explanation of telepathy.  Similar

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  Msg#: 212                                          Date: 09-14-96  01:38
  From: Don Allen                                    Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: 06:Traditional Metaphysic
problems result, as will be shown, with regard to the interpretation of
clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis, in terms of current models of
the psyche. And thus the major challenge for philosophy lies in devising a
model of psychic structures which could accommodate the "paranormal" as well
as the normal functions of consciousness. Inability to construct such a model
may be viewed either as a counter-indication to the possibility of Psi as
currently interpreted, or as an explanation for the considerable continuing
resistance of scientists to acceptance of evidence for Psi.
   I would like to draw attention to one final "boundary" of a rather unique
sort, namely, the boundaries of language and thought.
   "Philology" in the contemporary world is an umbrella term, which
sometimes includes more, sometimes fewer, disciplines.  I am using
"philology" here in a wide sense, as including all disciplines or branches of
disciplines which have to do specifically with words and the uses of words and
word-formations, or the proper correspondence between words and concepts.
Thus I am including here the work of logicians, concerned with the proper
methods of inferences from terms and propositions to conclusions; of literary
critics concerned with the artful and elaborate diction of fiction and poetry;
of theologians concerned with the specific ways salvific truths are presented
in canonical scriptures; and of philosophers concerned with developing more
adequate means for expressing ultimate and metaphysical conceptual truths.
   A consensus seems to emerge from all these sources that paradox is the
result of pushing language and/or thought to or beyond its limits; so that
paradox is a kind of natural "boundary" for systems of language and associated
systems of thought. Among logicians, who have hoped for thousands of years to
develop a highly flexible yet rigidly consistent system of logic, the
existence of paradoxes has always been a frustrating reminder of lacunae in
their systems, as well as an instigation to renewed attempts to produce more
complete systems in which the so-called "logical" paradoxes will no longer
pose even specious threats to the integrity of logical thinking.  Some
literary critics in recent decades have been much more positive about the
existence of paradoxes. Exponents of the so-called "New Criticism," for
example, have even pointed to paradox (implicit or explicit) as essential to
the literary quality of poetry. For such critics paradox becomes not just an
embarrassing limit, but a boundary in the most positive sense, i.e. the
culmination of the finest things that a language and its literature can
accomplish. Some Christian theologians in the twentieth century have pointed
to the paradoxes of the Gospel as the ultimate religious truth and the
ultimate expressions of religious language; and their observations could
easily be extended beyond Christianity to the religious insights of Buddhism,
Hinduism, and especially Taoism. Finally, some philosophers, noticing that
philosophical concepts, when fully elaborated, tend to merge with their
opposites, have begun to recognize paradoxical thinking as necessary and
productive. For example, G.W.F. Hegel in a chapter on "Understanding" in his
_Phenomenology of Spirit_ argues that progress in understanding eventually
to certain limits, beyond which an "inverted world" begins to appear, i.e. a
world where opposites are unified and paradoxes become rife. He attributes
such an emergence to the heightened development of human self-consciousness.
More recently, the French phenomenologist Jacques Derrida, focusing on the
limits of language, points out that there are contradictory or paradoxical
shades of meaning in language itself, which can be disclosed through a process
of systematic "deconstruction."
   By an extensive examination of both the negative and positive
philological assessments of paradox, philosophers may be able to come to a
better understanding of the "strange loops of the mind" which give rise to
paradox. And it is worth noting that paradoxes are endemic in the major
issues we have discussed above: e.g. (I.A) the old (Kantian) paradox that a
"First Cause" outside the universe could not strictly be a cause at all --
this is paradoxical as applied to current cosmology, leading, as I mentioned,
even to a consideration of the possibility of an ultimate cause for the
universe within the universe itself; (I.B) the traditional paradox that an
ultimate particle would have to be unextended and massless, and hence not a
particle at all, and the relatively new paradox that the ultimate "particles"
of quantum mechanics seem to be waves, or even, in the estimation of some of
the more speculatively inclined physicists, seamless garments of interwoven
events; (II.A) the psychological paradox that we seem to be impelled to become
conscious of the unconscious, but if we completely understood unconscious
events, they would no longer be unconscious; (II.B) the parapsychological
paradox that paranormal phenomena would have to follow the normal laws of
nature in order to be fully understood and elucidated, but if they were fully
understood they would no longer be paranormal; and lastly, (III) the
philological paradox that paradox itself, in literature, religion, and
philosophy, may be the clearest and even simplest way to express concepts

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  Msg#: 213                                          Date: 09-14-96  01:38
  From: Don Allen                                    Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: 07:Traditional Metaphysic
which would lose their force or even their validity if expressed in more
normal speech modes.

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copyright 1996 Metaphysical Review
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The authors and original publishers of the articles, letters and
comments retain all the rights and ownership of their contributions.

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 ! Origin: A bad day at the beach beats a good day at work