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Old 11-23-2020, 11:59 AM   #1
oneofmanynameless
 
Join Date: May 2012
Default Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

I just had an idea for a magic system which takes into account competing metaphysics questions and it led me to wondering what the best skill for covering metaphysics was.

The Philosophy skill is described as a system of principles to live by, and notes that if you study a religious philosophy buy Theology instead. This seems to imply that it's mostly about Value Theory. Does it also cover metaphysics, and epistemology? Does it cover those only in relationship to the value theory? And does it cover logic?

Theology is described as the study of a particular religion, including it's god(s), cosmology, doctrines, scriptures, etc. This seems to include the religions explorations of metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory.

If I wanted to have a skill that covered metaphysics without covering value theory what skill should I use?
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Old 11-23-2020, 12:58 PM   #2
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

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Originally Posted by oneofmanynameless View Post
The Philosophy skill is described as a system of principles to live by, and notes that if you study a religious philosophy buy Theology instead. This seems to imply that it's mostly about Value Theory. Does it also cover metaphysics, and epistemology? Does it cover those only in relationship to the value theory? And does it cover logic?
Philosophy skill exists to give a skill and difficulty for the many different schools and styles of thought that get classified as "philosophy" often for want of anything better to call them. It requires specialisation in a school, and it covers metaphysics, epistemology and logic to the extent that the school you're studying does.

The GURPS skill list does not seriously attempt to divide all possible knowledge and thought into well-defined skill descriptions, so you have to interpret the specific descriptions fairly widely.

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If I wanted to have a skill that covered metaphysics without covering value theory what skill should I use?
Well, it's going to be an IQ/H skill, so you might as well call it a specialisation of Philosophy. It could be "Comparative Metaphysics" if you wanted to study metaphysics across several schools of philosophy, or a school if you're interested in that school's metaphysics.

You might find difficulty in getting taught one particular school's metaphysics without anything else from the school; schools of philosophy tend to grow out of a few basic concepts, which would make them something you need to study as a whole, rather than in a single aspect.

Of course, if you have a setting where one set of metaphysics are demonstrably correct, then those metaphysics will be part of a more practical skill, like Physics, applied Theology or Thaumatology.
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Old 11-23-2020, 01:09 PM   #3
Anders
 
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

An Expert Skill (Metaphysics) would allow you to roll against all specialties of Philosophy, Physics, and Theology when it comes to metaphysics. In most campaigns it would be rarely used.
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Old 11-23-2020, 01:13 PM   #4
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

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Originally Posted by oneofmanynameless View Post

If I wanted to have a skill that covered metaphysics without covering value theory what skill should I use?
Thaumatology. If you want a skill that actually functionally deals with things like "How the soul interacts with the mind and how the mind interacts with the body" and how to use magic to mess with those connections then of the published skills, Thaumatology is the way to go. Purely hypothetical thought about those issues without any practical application is Philosophy however. It's just useless in game terms for anything except impressing other Philosophy students. The use that the game gives for Philosophy doesn't actually describe the limits of what people who have it think about. It just describes the limits of what Philosophy is actually useful for in a game.
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Old 11-23-2020, 01:43 PM   #5
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

In one of her essays, Ayn Rand says that metaphysics and epistemology are the theoretical part of philosophy, and ethics is the applied part: "what exists? how do you know? so what?" That would suggest that there could be two skills, like Physics/Engineering or Economics/Finance.

I'm not sure that's quite right, as epistemology, at least, has a practical, applied aspect, in the form of scientific methodology. You go to epistemology if you want to know the cognitive functions of logic, observation, experiment, and simulation, or if you want to have the most effective ways to carry them out set forth. (Mathematics (Statistics) could be considered a branch of epistemology.)

But in any case, most ethical systems have a metaphysical and epistemological subtext, though how much emphasis they give it varies. Utilitarianism, for example, grows out of empiricism, whereas natural rights theory grows out of Aristotelian realism, and Marxism comes from Hegelianism. But a lot of people stop at the ethics and don't dig into the theoretical foundations.

If you really want to fit in theoretical philosophy, I'd suggest splitting the skill up, the way Psychology or Mathematics is split up.
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Old 11-23-2020, 02:49 PM   #6
Polydamas
 
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

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Originally Posted by oneofmanynameless View Post
I just had an idea for a magic system which takes into account competing metaphysics questions and it led me to wondering what the best skill for covering metaphysics was.

...

If I wanted to have a skill that covered metaphysics without covering value theory what skill should I use?
In most settings I would use one of GURPS' placeholders for an academic skill with essentially no value on adventures, like Kromm's Hyper-Specialization perk and an Expert Skill. I would be inclined to build applied logic into the various skills which use it such as Mechanic, History, Psychology, and so on. Formal logic could be part of Mathematics, Philosophy, or Expert Skill (Natural Philosophy).

A setting where the more estoeric parts of philosophy let you do cool things, like Combat Epistemology in Charlie Stross' Laundryverse, is another thing. I am not functional enough to suggest a good solution this year (I can do facts but not creative). One case to look at is Psychology, which by default is applied and not necessarily backed by any formal academic study, but can be specialized to get the academic, rats-in-mazes-and-first-years-filling-out-forms kind which is mostly useless on adventures. If a mandatory specialization can turn a fast applied skill into a slow academic one, a mandatory specialty of Philosophy to cover the metaphysics of magic would be fair- what you call a skill does not really matter, as long as the difficulty and base attribute are reasonable.
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Last edited by Polydamas; 11-23-2020 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 11-23-2020, 02:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

I agree with johndallman (it's a specialization of Philosophy), subject to DavidJohnson2's carve-out about Thaumatology in a magic-empowered setting.
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:58 PM   #8
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

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A setting where the more estoeric parts of philosophy let you do cool things, like Combat Epistemology in Charlie Stross' Laundryverse, is another thing.
A couple of the power groups in Powers: The Weird sort of rest on applied esoteric philosophy. You might fit them into a Magic as Powers system.

Or use the Transcendental Philosophy weird science style from that book. It has Illuminated as a prerequisite, Philosophy as a limiting skill, and its other required skills are Autohypnosis, Meditation, and Teaching. It also has a couple of techniques . . .

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Old 11-24-2020, 08:03 AM   #9
Gumby Bush
 
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

Metaphysics without value theory basically only exists... well, never, but logical positivism tried in the 20th century. Even that, however, came with claims about the connections of evaluative claims to matters of fact a la Hume and other early modern philosophers (Hobbes and Pufendorf already saw evaluative claims as having to be added on to factual ones).

You would literally fail Aristotelian and Platonic metaphysics if you didn't have a basic grasp on their respective value theories. A similar claim can be made with Kant and likely others.

If you want a metaphysician who really just specializes in metaphysics, I'd call it an optional specialization within whatever tradition they work in. E.g., Philosophy (Analytic Metaphysics)--but even that may be somewhat broad.

I would allow specializations in Philosophy by either of the following:
Tradition of philosophy you work in (Aristotelian, analytic, phenomenology, Marxist...)
Field of Philosophy (Mind, Action, Applied Ethics, Aesthetics, Epistemology, Language)
With the option of getting an optional specialization by combining them.

I could see treating Philosophy as IQ VH for these purposes, since Philosophy as described in Basic is mostly focused on Applied Ethics of various sorts: Stoic, Aristotelian, Utilitarian, etc., but that would rely on the GM making other specializations relevant.

Many of those specializations would suggest other, supporting skills, btw: Physics, Psychology, Linguistics, Mathematics, Connoisseur, and History, depending on one's field, not to mention Writing and Teaching for a philosophy professor. Some traditions of philosophy might require Writing more generally, too: analytic philosophy is hard to imagine apart from writing.

Metaphysics as most people use the term (i.e., as distinct from epistemology and ethics--and maybe from logic) covers a whole lot of ground, too:
What is the nature of a proposition?
Do numbers actually exist?
What is the nature of existence, anyway?
Are all propositions either true or false and not both?
What is causation?
Is reality mind-independent? What is the best way of characterizing mind-independence?
Does God exist? Is he in time?
What is the nature of time?
Can truths about the future be changed?
What is intention?
Are there basic actions?
What is action?
What is mind?
Does good exist? Is it mind-independent?
What is grounding?
What is necessity?
Is anything contingent? How?
Is anything necessary? How?

Most philosophers dabble in some of these, focusing on only a few, and there's a lot of bleed between metaphysics and other fields (logic, epistemology, ethics). Metaphysics proper mostly focuses on some of the more basic ones: numbers, existence, properties, causation, etc. Some think most of those are just us being confused by language (Ludwig Wittgenstein, for instance).

(NB: I have my BA in philosophy, and am hoping to get into a PhD program in philosophy in the (near) future.)
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Old 11-24-2020, 09:18 AM   #10
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Metaphysics, Philosophy, and Theology

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
Purely hypothetical thought about those issues without any practical application is Philosophy however. It's just useless in game terms for anything except impressing other Philosophy students. The use that the game gives for Philosophy doesn't actually describe the limits of what people who have it think about. It just describes the limits of what Philosophy is actually useful for in a game.
That sounds right to me. It's an optional specialization of Philosophy - it covers stuff I'd let anybody with an appropriate Philosophy skill roll for at no penalty in the unlikely event it ever came up in a game, but excludes stuff that Philosophy would normally cover. If you wanted, I'd probably let you add Incompetence (any game useful applications of Philosophy) to get you another point.

If you have a setting where this *isn't* a color skill, but has usefulish applications, then it probably carves an entirely new skill out of Philosophy - in exactly the same way as Mathematics or Physics or Economics have historically.
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