Of Physical Laws and Fictional Characters

Stories & Soliloquies

This is the final installment of a series on the tie between language and metaphysics, mathematics, and magic.

Most people are pretty clear that the laws of physics are real, and that fictional characters are not. But I’m not so sure the distinction is as easy as that.

When people, even people who are students of philosophy, hear the word “metaphysics”, they typically think of ghosts, gods, and souls. This list isn’t wrong, exactly, but it is terribly limited. Using this list as their guide, people reject metaphysics as anti-empirical, and affirm without a trace of irony that “reason” tells them to reject anything not empirically validated. But there’s a lot more to metaphysics than the supernatural – reason itself is a metaphysical construct, a grammar for thinking that has no physical form. Ideas and concepts are metaphysical. Descriptive categories are metaphysical. Mathematical abstraction is metaphysical.

In order to…

View original post 1,252 more words

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