What is Metaphysics?

Bruno Bérard, Jean Biès, Jean Borella, François Chenique, Martin Heidegger, Aude de Kerros, Kostas Mavrakis, Pamphile, Alain Santacreu, Wolfgang Smith, Emmanuel Tourpe et Jean-Marc Vivenza.

The book is in French – here is a translation of key elements in English.

Metaphysics is confronted here, according to the contributions of several hommes de lettres, philosophers, a physicist and mathematician: to its practice, to art, to politics, to poetry, to its recent history and its rediscovery of analogy, to the logic of which it constitutes the limit, to the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, to physics, to phenomenology and to mysticism, to its possibility in Buddhism, to any dogmatic doctrine which would affirm the truth or absolute doubt, and to the history of its name and concept.


Introduction – Bruno Berard

  1. Overview of Metaphysics, Theory and Practice – Pamphile
  2. “Why is there Something Rather than Nothing?” – “Martin Heidegger”
  3. The Other Side of Speech – Metaphysics and Poetry – Jean Biès
  4. Metaphysics as “Seeing” – Wolfgang Smith
  5. In Search of the Metaphysical Foundations of Politics – Kostas Mavrakis
  6. Metaphysics Yesterday and Tomorrow. Analogy of Love – Emmanuel Tourpe
  7. Given, Given Nothingness: Metaphysics in Christianity – Alain Santacreu
  8. Metaphysics and Logic – François Chenique
  9. The Great Metaphysical Crisis of Art – Aude de Kerros
  10. Metaphysics in Buddhism. The Law of “Conditioned Production” (paicca-samuppāda) and its Ontological Implications – Jean-Marc Vivenza
  11. Metaphysics as Anti-Dogmatism and as Non-System – Bruno Bérard
  12. On Metaphysical Knowledge: Metaphysics as an Epiphany of the Spirit – Jean Borella


It is clear, if one is honest with oneself, that direct access to the metaphysical realities experienced by our intelligence is extremely difficult to obtain, if not impossible. Not that we can doubt their existence and their truth, but because our being here below is not “at their height”. We know them, but “partially” says St Paul, precisely in the intellective mode. And besides, even sticking to the intellective mode alone, let us question ourselves sincerely. When we are told of what is “beyond being”, when we are told of Non-Being or Beyond-Being, what do we think of? What are we considering? Very often we think of “something” which is still “better than being”, meaning a “being” which is “more than being”. We are entitled to wonder if the whole content of this thought is not reduced to the feeling of superiority it gives us over ordinary mortals, over all profane ignorant of what Plato calls, not without irony, a “wonderful transcendence” (Republic, VI, 509 c). Or, seduced by the promise of astonishing discoveries, we rely, with complete confidence, on the authorities who make us see them from afar. Does this mean giving up on metaphysics, rejecting, as nonsense, the meontological (or superontological) perspective towards which it directs us, on the pretext that the initial enthusiasm has been followed by some speculative disappointment? Certainly not. And the most decisive reason in favor of the metaphysical option is that access to the meontological “point of view” alone makes it possible to account for the “possibility of being” and to really answer the question of Leibniz taken up by Heidegger, at least according to whether light is given to a human intelligence.

Whoever wants to enter into metaphysics, therefore, has to become aware, seriously, both of our finiteness as creatures, and of the intrinsic infinitude of the intellective light in which God has allowed us to participate; which means: to reject, on one hand, the puffiness of pride as well as the “mystical” exaltation (even if these erroneous reactions have, in their way, contributed to awakening us), and on the other hand to honor the intelligence as a divine grace and as a kind of theophany.

This is what the mysterious Heraclitus taught two thousand five hundred years ago:

Limits of the soul you cannot find by following your path,

However long the road is, So deep is the Logos that it contains.

[Borella, “Metaphysics as an Epiphany of the Spirit”, pp. 177-178]

Notice of publication

If metaphysics does not stand in a vacuum, it is not only because it involves the metaphysician who thinks it, it is also because it applies to all the things of the world, of thought and of life.

Metaphysics is therefore confronted here, according to the contributions of women and men of letters, philosophers, a physicist and mathematician: to its practice (Pamphile), to art (Aude de Kerros), to politics (Kostas Mavrakis), to poetry (Jean Biès), to its recent history and rediscovery of analogy (Emmanuel Tourpe), to the logic of which it constitutes the limit (François Chenique), to the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo (Alain Santacreu), to physics, phenomenology and mysticism (Wolfgang Smith), to its possibility in Buddhism (Jean-Marc Vivenza), to any dogmatic doctrine that would affirm truth or absolute doubt (Bruno Bérard), and to the history of its name and concept up to the possibility of knowing (Jean Borella).

If this broad panorama, for such a short question and such a short book, was possible, it is because metaphysics is not, essentially, a matter of scholarship. The ultimate questions are simple: why is there something rather than nothing? Who am I? And is it not after having exhausted the necessarily reductive answers of physics, psychology, sociology and many philosophies, that these questions, further refined, will eventually be able, outside of any scholarly construction, to receive an equally ultimate answer?

It is indeed the sole objective of this collective essay to offer everyone the opportunity for such an answer.


Filmed interview on Baglis TV

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