Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. Member
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Jan 2019
    • Posts: 337
    #1

    the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    Hi,

    The following is from Frankenstein. I'd like to know why "phsyical" is regarded as the highest sense of "metaphysical":

    . . . my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.

    I'd appreciate your help.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    VIP Member
    Other
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 6,982
    #2

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    The way I read it, to Dr. Frankenstein, metaphysics are simply areas of science that have not been explained. His inquiries are directed at unlocking those secrets.

    Let's see what others think.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  3. Member
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Jan 2019
    • Posts: 337
    #3

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    Maybe the question that needs to be addressed first is the reference of "its" in ". . . my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world." Does the "its" refer to "metaphysical" or "physical"?

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    VIP Member
    Other
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 6,982
    #4

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    Maybe the question that needs to be addressed first is the reference of "its" in ". . . my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world." Does the "its" refer to "metaphysical" or "physical"?
    It refers to the physical secrets of the world.

    It might seem odd because it usually refers to a singular word, not a plural (secrets). But here, the whole phrase the physical secrets of the world is treated as one general concept.

    I'm afraid I can't explain it any better than that. That's why I'm waiting for one of the pros to jump in.
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 16-Jun-2020 at 23:35.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  5. Member
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Jan 2019
    • Posts: 337
    #5

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    Could the "its" refer to the word "metaphysical," so that "in its highest sense" might mean "in the highest sense of the word 'metaphysical'"?

  6. emsr2d2's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 56,428
    #6

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    I'm with Charlie on this. I read it to mean The highest sense (meaning/definition) of the word "metaphysical" is "the physical secrets of the world.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  7. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    VIP Member
    Other
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 6,982
    #7

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    Could the "its" refer to the word "metaphysical," so that "in its highest sense" might mean "in the highest sense of the word 'metaphysical'"?
    That's not how I understand it. Notice the word or. If that weren't there, I'd agree with you.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  8. emsr2d2's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 56,428
    #8

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    I take "or" to mean "or to put it a different way".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  9. jutfrank's Avatar
    VIP Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 12,384
    #9

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    The reference word its refers to the metaphysical.

    It's up to the reader to answer for himself why a doctor and physical scientist like Victor Frankenstein might regard the physical as the metaphysical in its highest sense.

    Remember that the relationship between what Shelley describes here as the physical (i.e. body) and the metaphysical (i.e. soul) goes to the very thematic heart of the novel. In fact, it is in this passage that this central theme is first established. As far as this passage serves as a characterisation of Victor as the novel's main character, the takeaway for the reader is that he is motivated to uncover both the physical and metaphysical secrets of the world, since they are essentially one and the same thing.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 16-Jun-2020 at 16:38.

  10. Member
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Jan 2019
    • Posts: 337
    #10

    Re: the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical

    I think the different ideas about what the "its" refers to hinge on the meaning of "the highest sense."

    Depending on whether "the highest" refers to "the most elusive or abstract," or to "the most practical," one reading but not the other makes sense:

    . . . still my enquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its most practical sense, the physical secrets of the world.
    (The "its" in the original would refer to the word "metaphysical.")

    . . . still my enquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its most elusive sense, the physical secrets of the world.
    (The "its" in the original would refer to the word "physical.")
    Last edited by raymondaliasapollyon; 19-Jun-2020 at 08:50.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •