Philosophy – An Age Old Conflict
In its broader sense, the word “world” denotes the totality of natural entities, which includes all the existing and potential entities existing at any given time, in any region of the universe. The nature of this world is conceptualized in many different ways in different disciplines. Some conceptions regard the entire world as highly rational and unique while other talk of a “plurality of worlds”. On the other hand, there are also other approaches to characterize the world as having a subjective character.
For some philosophers, reality is nothing but a series of successive experiences. The initial experience of a thing consists in the apprehension of its nature, and each subsequent experience adds to and develops the prior one. For others, reality consists in the succession of successive evaluations made on the basis of previous ones. It is on these conceptions that the world comes to be a series of independent entities. Although Parmenides, the teacher of ethics, conceived the world in this way, most other philosophers, following his lead, have denied that it could be reduced to this kind of description.
Descartes holds that the world consists in definite places and motions, with nothing extra existing. Though he denies that the world consists in concepts, he also maintains that it can be experienced. Thus, for him the world consists in experience, in which what has occurred before can be experienced again and a new reality produced by the combination of previous ones. According to him, it is a simple truth that what has taken place before can again take place after.
In the modern period, the conception of the world is a product of progress in the sciences and technology. Modern philosophy schools have, on the one hand, attempted to describe the world in physical terms, as determinants of definite places and motions. metaphysics, on the other hand, have sought to explain the concepts involved in this subject in terms more acceptable to natural science. Thus, both philosophies attempt to describe the world, on the one hand, and to find a common ground upon which both can agree.
Descartes’s theory of the world may be described as physical metaphysics. According to him, all things are composed of bodies, which move in a definite manner and can be experienced as existing at certain places and in a certain time. A Cartesian could say that experience produces a knowledge of the world, because through experience man comes to know the world through its objects. By appealing to this example of the world, many other philosophers have attempted to explain the nature of objects and the relationship between the objects and their places in the world.
According to many philosophers, metaphysics provides the only explanation of physical phenomena, which they then attempt to prove. However, even those philosophers who accept this metaphysics, express little belief in the reality of the world at large, content to explain it primarily in physical terms. The development of philosophy in the Middle Ages gave rise to many schools of thought, each with its own metaphysics and methods of verification.