By Steven Hodes, M.D.
Physician to Meta-Physician
As many of my readers already know, I am completely and unequivocally enamoured with the term ‘metaphysics’. It seems to completely and concisely explain my own quest–to understand the nature of reality.
Some have complained that the term is too ‘esoteric’ or ‘confusing’ or may tend to ‘turn off’ potential readers.I can accept those comments as being well-intentioned and perhaps accurate. Still I defend the term as, once explained, easily usable.
I have to say that there is one usage of the word I am going to reconsider, and that is “Metaphysical Postulate,”a term I coined. It may be too confusing and unhelpful.
I do strongly support the meaning behind the term–an understanding of the credibility of individuals who report personal paranormal/spiritual experiences. This refers to the ‘drop-off’ in credibility that occurs the further anyone is from the actual experience itself. Vaguely analagous to the inverse law of gravity in which the power of gravity between two bodies drops off precipitously the further one body is from the other.
To the actual individual who has had a deeply personal, highly subjective experience, there is no doubt to its reality. This phenomenon has been studied by many over the centuries. William James wrote about it in his VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES. Raymond Moody also described the phenomenon in his landmark book on the near-death experience, LIFE AFTER LIFE. Both referred to the inability of the subject to adequately convey the experience to others in words. In fact the word ineffable. means just that. (A bit of an oxymoron perhaps).
Strangely, I could find no term in any previous readings which was applied to this entire phenomenon. Hence I came up with “metaphysical postulate”.
If one is speaking directly to an individual who has had such an experience [or had one personally] and in particular if one knows that individual to be sincere, honest and without motivation to fabricate, a great deal of the feeling/credibility behind the experience can then be ‘transfered’ to the second individual. If, however, that second person then repeats the experience of the first individual to a third party–much of the ‘credibility’ is diminished. The process continues to dilute the power of the experience itself. Finally, to read about a stranger’s experience in a book leaves the reader with a small particle of the initial ‘energy’ of the incident itself.
Such is the nature of phenomenon which are not personally experienced. Language is, itself, a weak communicator of these experiences. Usually, however, if one speaks to another about a beautful sunset or an exqusite member of the opposite sex, that second individual can tap into their own memory banks of subjective experience and relate to the story they have just heard. That brings credibility to the experience of the other.
Does this truth make the entire process of describing in writing or lecturing on the paranormal/spiritual experiences of others entirely worthless? Not at all. It accurately describes the nature of the process. It may alert anyone interested in the phenomena to be aware of their own reactions when they are listening to or reading about the experiences of others. And, further, it may motivate interested parties to pursue their own direct encounters with individuals they know and trust who have had experiences.
That possibility is far more likely than most people realize. It is a truth that I can speak about–once I made it known to those around me that I was open-minded and genuinely interested, I found that individuals I had known personally for years came forward with previously undiscussed paranormal/spiritual experiences. Their genuine reluctance to share these experiences out of fear of ridicule only increased their power.
So finally, the time has come to change the terminology for this phenomenon. What was formerly known as the “Metaphysical Postulate” will henceforth be known as the “Credibility Quotient.” Hopefully, this change will be make the concept more easily accepted and understood.
© Steven E. Hodes, MD., 2006
Steven E. Hodes, M.D. is a board certified gastroenterologist with over 25 years private practice based in Edison and Old Bridge New Jersey. He also has a degree in Religious Studies and teaches Contemporary Metaphysics at Brookdale College as well as lecturing and writing on Kabbalah and Healing, the Jewish View of Afterlife and on Near-Death Experience. Visit him at his Blog, Physician to Meta-Physician at www.meta-md.com