There are positive metaphysics which make assertions about reality beyond what can be experienced, and there are negative metaphysics which deny the possibility of making such assertions.
A person who has worked at thinking through problems that started out unthinkable — who had to begin with confronting unthinkability and overcoming it by finding new modes of thinking capable of rendering the unthinkable thinkable — will gradually come to see “beyond experience” differently.
Beyond experience stops being an object of thought, a truth, and rather becomes a zone of indeterminate possibility — with distinctive characteristics one can recognize and about which one can make positive assertions:
- It compels: we are attracted to it by something within us to transcend our current way of thinking.
- It repels: the exits from our limitations fill us with anxiety and engulf us in dread.
- It demands intuition: It can be navigated only by a wordless intelligence that knows, does and values without any ability to explain or justify itself.
- It demands sacrifice: how we used to think is the chief obstacle to the new way of thinking.
- It demands rethinking: much of what we once knew will have to be understood anew (metanoia).
- It generates rebirth: the rethinking changes one’s basic experience of everything, all at once.
- It is fruitful: it produces new ideas, understandings, interconnections and possibilities that were imperceptible, and in fact, unthinkable prior to transcendence. (Added July 16, 2020. Thanks to Nick Gall.)
- It increases truth: what came before was not false, but what comes after is more true.
- It is radically unexpected: with each transcendence truths come into view that were literally unimaginable prior to transcendence.
- It intensifies expectation: experiencing the radically unexpected assures us that the unimaginable is entirely possible.
- It is ubiquitous: once we learn to recognize these characteristics, we start noticing them everywhere we look. Existence is pregnant with shocking possibility.
This is why I love philosophy.
This is why I have become religious.