I recently finished this book, which aims at correcting current ways of doing metaphysics by insisting that metaphysicians take seriously what contemporary physics tells us about the world.
The problem is that “many” (I guess) contemporary metaphysicians suppose that the world, ultimately, is composed of tiny, billiard-ball like particles, which bang in to each other, and somehow generate the macroscopic world we experience. Sure, there are supposed to be some complications coming from the direction of quantum mechanics, but metaphysicians typically suppose that whatever complications there are may be safely ignored.
Not so, say these guys. Lots of claims passing for “apriori” or “intuitively certain” among metaphysicians are just false, if we take physics seriously. The positive campaign of this book is to show what a scientifically-respectable metaphysics would look like. As it turns out, we are wrong to think of thing-like particles as fundamental. What’s fundamental, it seems, are certain structures best described through mathematics, from which we derive claims about so-called “particles” and “waves” and “fields”. So what’s real, ultimately, are structures. Further down the road, we discover that these structures somehow contribute, at some level of analysis, to “patterns,” which we may identify as macroscopic objects (including you and me), and their characteristic behaviors. Structures and patterns; that’s it. Every thing must go!
I skimmed 80% of the book, since I’m not well-educated enough to follow all the science. But I hope I’ve come through with a roughly accurate summary. I like the way it confirms Nz’s view that we are wrong to let our grammar determine our ontology, and Spinoza’s view that individuals aren’t genuinely real, when all is said and done. But I’m wary, since more than once I’ve read something like this and entered into discussion with physicists, only to discover I’ve been sold a bill of goods. It really does frustrate me that there’s no easy way to get a decent synopsis of all this important stuff, and incorporate it into philosophy, without doing all the real work required to have a thorough understanding. What’s a lazy guy like me to do?