The Task of the Course and Its Fundamental
Orientation, Starting with a General
Elucidation of the Title of the Course
The Detours toward Determining the Essence of
Philosophy (Metaphysics), and the Unavoidability of
Looking Metaphysics in the Face
§1. The incomparability of philosophy.
a) Philosophy neither science, nor the proclamation of a worldview.
The course is announced under the title "The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics." Presumably there is little we can think of that falls under this title, and yet it is completely clear as regards its form. It sounds, for instance, like the course titles: The Fundamental Features of Zoology; The Fundamental Elements of Linguistics; Outline of the History of the Reformation, and suchlike. This indicates that we are faced with a fixed discipline, called 'metaphysics'. It is then a matter of depicting its most important aspects—while avoiding lengthy details—within the scope of a semester. Since metaphysics is the central discipline in the whole of philosophy, the treatment of its fundamental features becomes a condensed report on the main contents of philosophy. Because philosophy is the universal science, as opposed to the so-called individual sciences, it will give our studies the right breadth and round them off. In this way everything is completely in order and the business of the university can begin.
Indeed it has long since begun, and is underway to such an extent that some are already beginning to sense something of the barrenness and waywardness of this activity. Has something perhaps already shattered at the very heart of the machinery? Is it now held together only by the obtrusiveness and banality of organisation and of convention? Is there a falseness and a hidden despair somewhere in all this activity? What if it were a prejudice that metaphysics is a fixed and secure discipline of philosophy, and an illusion that philosophy is a science that can be taught and learned?
Yet why do we need explicitly to ascertain such things? After all, it has long