Hume said metaphysics was “the inevitable source of uncertainty and error”. Metaphysical theories

“arise either from the fruitless efforts of human vanity, which would penetrate into subjects utterly inaccessible to the understanding, or from the craft of popular superstitions, which, being unable to defend themselves on fair ground, raise these entangling branches to cover and protect their weakness” (EHU, 11).

What would Hume say about Zeno’s paradoxes? link1 link2

Zeno’s paradox works on some very modest metaphysical assumptions. Consider the “arrow paradox”.

1. An object (arrow) occupies a space when at rest.
2. An object (arrow) in motion must occupy a space equal to the above at any given moment

These assumptions are a far cry from “entangling branches”. But then, if the above is true, the conclusion follows;

The object (arrow), must therefore be motionless.

Ouch! Thorny entangling branches! Who would ever bother with metaphysics when it stubbornly insists on such ridiculous positions!

The problem above is naive enough and silly enough that it is easy to see the problem. It is practically harmless and transparent.

At the same time it is rather troubling we can get into such thorny positions from such modest premises. How do we know that we are not in such positions in physics? We might start an argument with equally harmless premises such as “Matter is that which has a mass”.

Is there anyway to discriminate between those “common sense” metaphysical premises that lead to thorny situations & those that lead to sound conclusions?

It seems to me if we take Hume at his word, even physics is in trouble for its “metaphysics” about things such as “matter is that which has a mass” etc.

But perhaps the problem isn’t physics, it’s syllogistic reasoning.

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