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The sense of metaphysics / ontology

Object, method, concept, grounds, criticism

Subject Patronage:

Conference organizer

University of Occupational Safety Management in Katowice invites you to the conference, which will be held in Katowice (Poland) and online.

Date: June 6-7, 2024 (paper submission by April 30).

Place: Poland, Katowice, 8 Bankowa St. and online (Teams application)

Language: Polish, English (simultaneous interpreting)

Regulations: PDF file

Participant registration: 30.04.2024

Paper and/or article submission: 30.04.2024

Submission of the finished article: 30.09.2024

Conference and/or article publication payment: 07.05.2024

The participation fee includes the costs of the conference, conference materials, catering on both days of the conference. The publication fee includes the cost of publishing the participant’s article in the post-conference monograph (printed version).

Onsite participation

Participation with paper – 35

Participation without paper – 35

Online participation

Participation with paper – 25

Participation without paper – 0

Submission of an article for publication – 35

Account no (IBAN): PL 80 1140 1078 0000 4048 1400 1042


University of Occupational Safety Management in Katowice

Address: Bankowa 8
40-007 Katowice, Poland

payment reference: name and surname – Sense of Metaphysics

payment deadline: by May 7, 2024.
you can also pay separately for the publication of the article until June 30, 2024

Conference Scientific Committee

prof. Peter van Inwagen (University of Notre Dame)
prof. dr hab. Jan Hertrich-Woleński (University of Information Technology and Management)
dr hab. prof. UJ Sebastian Kołodziejczyk (Jagiellonian University in Krakow)
rev. dr hab. Miłosz Hołda (The Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow)
Konrad D. Rycyk PhD OFM (The Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow)
Rafał Katamay PhD (University of Occupational Safety Management in Katowice)

Organising Committee

Rafał Katamay PhD (WSZOP)
Konrad D. Rycyk PhD OFM (UPJPII)
Aneta Siwczyk PhD (WSZOP)
Krystyna Sobecka MSc (WSZOP)

Previous conference Platonism in metaphysics / ontology (in Polish)


Lectures and papers on YouTube (in Polish):




“That the human mind would someday entirely give up metaphysical investigations is just as little to be expected, as that we would someday gladly stop all breathing so as never to take in impure air. There will therefore be metaphysics in the world at every time, and what is more, in every human being, and especially the reflective ones; metaphysics that each, in the absence of a public standard of measure, will carve out for themselves in their own manner. Now what has hitherto been called metaphysics can satisfy no inquiring mind, and yet it is also impossible to give up metaphysics completely; therefore (…) it must be examined and put to a general test, since there are no other means to relieve this pressing need, which is something more than a mere thirst for knowledge”.

Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena (trans. G. Hatfield)

“There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical”.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus logico-philosophicus (trans. F.P. Ramsey)

Conference themes

Kant’s critique of metaphysics clipped its own wings, declaring it incapable of living up to its object. Neo-positivists like Rudolf Carnap considered it to be devoid of any sense altogether. If 'sense’ is understood through a too narrow framework, the concept could be misapprehended by the critics of metaphysics who could see it as an opportunity to smuggle in additional assumptions, such as the ontological naturalism or their own vision of ‘a great physical organism’. Meanwhile – it seems – the metaphysical residuum is inherent in almost every field of science incapable of dealing with such problems. Owing to its ongoing critique, metaphysics undergoes constant cycles of rebirth thanks to its different varieties, ranging from phenomenology, neo-Thomism, process philosophy to analytic philosophy or metaphysics of science.

Kant’s critique of metaphysics clipped its own wings, declaring it incapable of living up to its object, which lies beyond the limits of possible experience. Neo-positivists like Rudolf Carnap considered it to be devoid of any sense altogether, merely a substitute for theology, where the presumably transcendent sources of knowledge are replaced “by natural, yet supposedly trans-empirical sources of knowledge. On closer inspection the same content as that of mythology is here still recognizable behind the repeatedly varied dressing (…). The metaphysician believes that he travels in territory in which truth and falsehood are at stake. In reality, however, he has not asserted anything, but only expressed something, like an artist”. (R. Carnap, The Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical analysis of Language)

Assuming a narrow interpretation of sense, restricted to sensory input and rules of logic its lack is apparent not only in the sentences of metaphysics but also those statements supported by the critics of metaphysics, positivists and neo-positivists especially, e.g. the verifiability principle (’the sense of a sentence lies in the method of its verification’). It seems that the sense of metaphysics exists not only outside the realm of rational discourse but stems directly from it. As already argued by Nicolai Hartmann, the metaphysical residuum is inherent in almost every science and involves the problematics posed to us by the world alone, and thus cannot be removed from it but can be investigated by rational reason. Although metaphysical problematics is elusive “to the scientific method – it permeates all fields of inquiry and reaches back into researchers’ attitudes. The existential roots, the core of reality, rationality and meaning do not yield to the empirical method but are present in every twitch of the atom, in every quantum of the field, in every attempt at understanding”. (M. Heller, Filozofia nauki. Wprowadzenie)

Furthermore, metaphysics in the form of hidden presuppositions, such as ontological naturalism, is often already contained in its critique. It seems that “metaphysics can only be overcome by another kind of metaphysics, and speculation – with another kind of speculation”. The criticism of the traditional concept of being may (in the end) be advanced by its new metaphor of “no longer the gradual system of perfections ascending to the absolute, nor […] the light flowing from the centre or the 'creation of existence’, but […] a grand physical organism with diverse, subtle degrees of functional organisation”. (S. Judycki, Co to jest metafizyka? Trzy wielkie koncepcje Zachodu)

Owing to its critique, metaphysics undergoes constant transformations and cycles of rebirth. Thus, the restriction of the object of rational discourse to phenomena, postulated by Kant, opened the way for phenomenology (M. Heidegger, R. Ingarden, E. Lévinas, J.-L. Marion). The „linguistic turn” in neo-positivism allowed for the return of metaphysical questions in analytic philosophy (P. F. Strawson, W.V.O. Quine, N. Goodman, M. Dummett), even if only in some of its varieties (metaphysical deflationism). These two orientations envisaged their object of study and method differently: on the one hand it could focus on what is directly experienced and grasped, while described and grounded further on; on the other it would pertain to the general conceptual scheme of thinking about the world and which we employ to analyze language.

The rebirth of metaphysics in the aftermath of Kantian and subsequently positivist and neo-positivist critiques is also taking place in other directions, moving towards logic (K. Twardowski, S. Leśniewski), object theory (A. Meinong), but also classical theory of being interpreted by neo-Thomists (J. Maritain, É. Gilson, E. Coreth, M. A. Krąpiec). It proceeds further, away from science and towards intuition and philosophy of life (H. Bergson), as well as vice versa, establishing varying degrees of proximity to the sciences, ranging from process philosophy (A. N. Whitehead, Ch. Hartshorne) and the metaphysics of problems (N. Hartmann), through works of philosophers associated with the metaphysics of science and naturalized metaphysics (M. Bunge, D.M. Armstrong, B. Ellis, K. Fine), or those applying mathematics in their ontology (A. Badiou), and finally philosophical physicists (C.F. von Weizsäcker, R. Penrose). In the Anglo-Saxon world, metaphysics solidifies around new versions of classical problems such as kinds of being, identity and change, the necessity and the possible, universals and particulars, causation, space and time (E. J. Lowe, M. J. Loux).

Subject of the conference

What is the nature of the world, how to render it in conceptual terms, what is its basics and why does the world exist at all? If metaphysics is a search for answers to such questions, the domain has to rely on solid foundations itself. The question about the meaning of metaphysics/ontology is a metaquestion concerning its rationality, its cognitive capacity, the object of its inquiry and its method. Furthermore, it is a question about its grounds, what justifies its existence, in particular in the light of its criticism and alleged unsubstantiality. Also important here are the concepts of metaphysics and ontology, classical, modern and contemporary, their different typologies and meta-objective approaches.

The question about the meaning of metaphysics/ontology is also a question about its purpose and value, that is, whether, in addition to its presumed theoretical merit, it also has a practical application, and regarding its value in an axiological or social sense. We ask about the sense of metaphysics/ontology today, but also about the meaning itself. Today will become tomorrow’s history. The perspective employed here focuses on its relevance as such, and therefore invites a look into those aspects of metaphysics and ontology which, if they are to make sense at all, they would have made sense both in Aristotle’s time and now.

What is the nature of the world, why is it the way it is and why does it exist at all, what is the proper way of thinking about the world – these are some of the important questions posed in metaphysics; questions also relevant not professionally involved in philosophy. If metaphysics can be understood as the search for explanations to such questions, then it is equally important for it to have solid foundations, in order to know what are the cognitive capacities of the domain that supplies such important knowledge for human beings, and whether the sometimes extremely divergent answers it provides, involving the assessment of its rationality, do not discredit it already at the outset.

The question regarding meaning of metaphysics/ontology is a metaquestion, where “meaning” is a synonym for broadly understood rationality. Accusing metaphysics of meaninglessness is mostly due to applying a narrowed definition of rationality, confined to a single type, most often the mathematical-empirical paradigm of contemporary natural sciences. The question concerning the rationality of metaphysics regards its cognitive capacity – the object and the method of its explication. Further on, it poses questions of its legitimacy concerning its grounds in the light of its criticism and alleged irrationality, while addressing the criteria for evaluating metaphysical or ontological theories.

Thus, one can ask about the true object of metaphysics – would it be being as such or some particular kind of being (real, absolute, possible); one can raise the question that concerns the concept of being, and whether it is a matter of uncovering its basic categories or one of gaining access to the ultimate reality; whether it pertains to objects graspable in direct (external or internal) experience or, conversely, to the factors conditioning this object in a transcendental or transcendent way, or, perhaps, in an immanent way. Such dilemmas also concern the explanative logic employed by metaphysics – does it proceed by investigating traditional principles and causes of being, or by employing different types of conditioning (e.g. grounding). How do we come to know metaphysical truths? Which methods are admissible for this purpose and how to assess their value, when we have at our disposal such methods as apriori-synthetic, inductive-synthetic, dialectical, analytic, phenomenological, existentialist, intuitionist or historical-hermeneutic, as well as particularistic ones, such as the method of separation in existential Thomism or eidetic reduction in phenomenology.

The conference also invites all participants to inspect different conceptions of metaphysics and ontology, namely, what makes them relatable or sets them far apart, looking into:, classical (Aristotle, Scholasticism), modern (Ch. Wolff, A.G. Baumgarten, I. Kant), and contemporary (N. Hartmann, M. Heidegger, R. Ingarden, P.F. Strawson, M. Dummett) concepts, their various typologies (E. Berti, J. Perzanowski) and meta-subjective approaches in the form of metaontology (W.V.O. Quine, P. van Inwagen) and metametaphysics (T.E. Tahko). Asking about the meaning of metaphysics/ontology also entails posing questions about the purpose and value, that is, whether they (metaphysics and ontology) have practical applications in addition to its presumed theoretical purpose, but also what is its value in an axiological or social sense. We interrogate its meaning today, but also the concept (of meaning) itself. Today will become tomorrow in just a moment. The perspective employed here focuses on its relevance as such, and therefore invites a look into those aspects of metaphysics and ontology which, if they make sense at all, would have made sense also in times of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas or Leibniz and Whitehead alike.

Conference objectives

We want to focus on the broadly conceived rationality of metaphysics / ontology, its object, method, concepts, rationale and criticism. We invite researchers exploring the topic, in particular philosophers concerned with metaphysical or ontological problematics and the methodology involved in these disciplines as well as scientific methodologies in general, without confining the reflection to a concrete tradition or conception of metaphysics / ontology, but opening it up to its various forms, mentioned or omitted above.

Each of the conference’s two days includes an opening lecture, themed sessions, and a panel discussion. Presentations of papers (30 min.) will be followed by a discussion (15 min.). The panel discussion will focus on themes linked to selected papers and will be held as an open exchange of ideas, overseen by a chairing person.

The conference is in hybrid mode. In-person presentations will be delivered onsite, at the WSZOP main building at 8 Bankowa Street in Katowice, while online presentations will take place via MS Teams. Both, the papers delivered at the conference and submitted after will be considered for publication in conference proceedings.


The prospected monograph The sense of metaphysics/ontology will be published in paper form, will be a collection of articles developed from the papers or submitted separately. Each article should range between 20,000 and 40,000 characters including spaces. In case of articles exceeding the limite, please contact us directly (


Conference on WSZOP website

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