What is Philosophy (or Metaphysics)?

Aristes: “Let us go, Theodore, wherever you will. I am disgusted with all that I see in this material and sensuous world, since I have heard you speak of another word full of intelligible beauty. Lead me to this happy and enchanted region. Make me contemplate all those wonders which you speak to me of the other day in a manner so magnificent and with a look of such content. Come, I am ready to follow you into this country in which you believe to be so inaccessible to only those who listen to their senses.

Theodore: You are enjoying yourself Aristes, and I do not object…But do not mind my telling you, that you speak of that which you do not understand. No, I shall not take you into a strange land, but I shall make you a stranger in your own land…

From Dialogues on Metaphysics by Nicolas Malebranche (1988/2013, p. 70, First Dialogue, Routledge Edition.)

I think that metaphysics, in the broadest sense, and perhaps philosophy in general, about making the familiar strange. We take things that we seem to know all about–perceiving, conscious experience, material objects, persisting through time–and make them seem utterly strange, just by appealing to various independently attractive and commonsense premises, which when taken together seem to lead us into another land entirely. (As Mark Johnston once said, ‘It is, after all the familiar that is so strange)’

(M. Johnston (2006), Hylomorphism, p. 652, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 103, Issue 12, pp. 652-698.)

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