by Daniel A. Kaufman
The aim of these prolegomena has been to advocate on behalf of a pluralist metaphysics, but what is a metaphysics? Prior to the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries, a metaphysics was a First Philosophy: a set of propositions the purpose of which is to describe the most fundamental aspects of being, per se. Aristotle’s numerous scientific treatises may have been based in empirical investigation, but his metaphysical investigations are rationalistic and a priori. For example, when Aristotle concludes, in Metaphysics Zeta, that the most fundamental element of reality is Form – in apparent contradiction to his earlier claim in the Categories that it is the discrete, individual object that is metaphysically fundamental – it is not on the basis of empirical investigation, but a series of deductions.
The notion that one can obtain substantive knowledge this way may have been credible, when the world was just one part of a larger “reality” infused with divinity and divine purpose; a manifestation of ultimately supernatural, supersensible agents and forces, but today it no longer is. That analytic philosophers have revived this discredited conception of metaphysics – inspired by a hypostatic treatment of modal logic of all things – is depressing, though unsurprising. A good part of the history of philosophy is an exercise in philosophers repeating things that were once understood but have been forgotten or which have been willfully ignored.
So, when I say that I am sketching the outlines of a metaphysics, I am not suggesting a First Philosophy or an account of the most fundamental aspects of being. Indeed, I am not engaging in the project of pre-modern metaphysics or its ill-conceived offspring in any way. A metaphysics is simply one part of a philosophy, and a philosophy, as I maintained in my last installment, is something that:
(a) describes and analyzes the logics, grammars, ontologies, and epistemologies of the different types of discourses/investigations/forms of life in which we engage, and;
(b) endeavors to develop a framework within which these all can be understood as pictures of/activities within/lives belonging to a single world.
Once we understand that there is just the world and no further “reality” beyond, below, above, adjacent to, or slightly askew from it – no intelligence-infused substrate or space beyond the proverbial veil – it is easy to see that all substantive knowledge must begin with experience: from our ordinary, common encounters with people and events and things to the highly disciplined and controlled observations and experiments conducted within the context of the sciences. The result of our myriad investigations and analyses of these experiences is a series of “pictures” of different parts (aspects, dimensions, etc.) of the world that can be placed alternatively within the Manifest and Scientific Images, as we have been discussing them throughout. Our metaphysics is the philosophical account we give of the ontological commitments we make as a result of these encounters and investigations and the principles of individuation that governs the “things” to which we commit.
Humanism is the view that we – people – are special, an idea born of our alleged likeness to God. It survived the intellectual secularization of the 17th and 18th centuries, because this likeness was always understood as being metaphorical; as lying in our capacity for theoretical and practical reason, agency, and artistic creation, in the broad sense of the term (i.e. including everything from bridge-building to poetry writing). The fraying of the humanistic idea today (a disaster, in my view) is due to a series of self-inflicted blows to our collective morale in the form of wars, genocides, and horrific sociopolitical experiments and more recently, an increasingly confused understanding of our relationship to nature and in particular, to wild and domesticated animals. 
But, there is yet another sense in which we are special. The appearance in the world of mammals capable of certain kinds of thinking, language, and action meant the emergence of a discursive, axiological, and active space within which what I have been calling “social reality” arises and persists. We add a dimension to the world by way of our activity that would not be there otherwise and which requires us to countenance the existence of all sorts of “things” – institutions, political entities, laws, moral principles, political systems, etc. – that also would not be a part of the world otherwise. This even includes us, qua people, the identity conditions and principles of individuation for whom are to a good extent dependent on this social reality.
The specialness I am thinking of, then, is not that expressed by Kant in the sections of the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals devoted to our place in the so-called “Kingdom of Ends” (though I do think Kant’s is a useful and appropriate way to account for human specialness, as part of the effort to defend liberal principles) but rather specialness in the sense of introducing a number of distinct and important complexities that function as constraints on any account of the world that purports to be adequate and complete.
The world just is the world. It is only when there are people who desire and endeavor to understand that world that there come pictures of it. Some of these pictures belong to the Scientific Image and are concerned with the world in its depersonalized state. Others belong to the Manifest Image and are focused on the world in its personalized state. Yet it is important to remember that even the Scientific Image, being an image, depends upon people to whom it is such, and consequently, it is infused with personalized elements: most significantly, as discussed in an earlier installment (and raised numerous times in my dialogues with Massimo), a narrational structure and form. This is why, as we’ve already seen, Sellars insists that “each theoretical image is a construction on a foundation provided by the manifest image, and in this methodological sense presupposes the manifest image.” 
For the sorts of reasons discussed over the course of these prolegomena – a hypostatic conception of ontological commitment; a desire for explanatory unity; a failure to properly distinguish the logic of reasons from the logic of causality – philosophers have expended enormous effort in reductive and eliminativist projects, pointing in both directions. These philosophers, whether Idealists (who want to reduce the Scientific to the Manifest) or Reductive/Eliminative Materialists (who want to reduce/eliminate the Manifest to/in favor of the Scientific) share a common monistic impulse; a conviction that the world is fundamentally, metaphysically homogeneous. And the failure of their reductive and eliminative projects has led philosophers either to reembrace earlier, discredited philosophies or to develop the kinds of new “crazy” ones that served as the initial “spark” for these prolegomena.
The metaphysical heterogeneity and pluralism that I have proposed is aimed at cutting off these ill-conceived and misguided philosophical developments at their roots. Sellars’ conception of two “Images,” Scientific and Manifest, which describe the world in its two most fundamental aspects, personalized and depersonalized, which can be combined – but only in a stereoscopic fashion – to yield a single, though irreducibly heterogeneous and complex picture of the world, seems the ideal framework within which to do so.
Returning to the matter of humanism for a moment and as a final note, there is a certain irony in the fact that the whole idea of divine intelligences occupying a supra-sensible, transcendent space was in part motivated by an inability to see how the world could be intelligible otherwise, but as it turns out, this intelligibility is entirely (and merely) a matter of the world including within it intelligent animals like us. It is an intelligibility that lies in the world’s representation, not in the world itself, an insight that we owe to Kant and his first Critique. And it is an intelligibility that can survive neither the aspirant-quasi supernaturalism of the idealists and panpsychists, nor the representation-abolishing efforts of the reductive and eliminative materialists.
 As readers know, I am a great admirer of Bernard Williams’ essay, “The Human Prejudice” in which these questions are addressed with great sophistication and wisdom.
 Wilfrid Sellars, “Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man” (1962)
http://www.ditext.com/sellars/psim.html , Part IV, ¶5.