We must not underestimate the fact that the absurd ambitions of science in the West to replace philosophy, are grounded on the corruption of the catholic faith, a corruption that was already surprising in medieval scholasticism, when theology itself became 'scientific'.
In Wulf's "Introduction to Scholastic Philosophy", he points out this:
"...the nature of this synthetic process: as abstraction is the law of the human mind. "
Everything man does includes "abstraction". Everytime we make a universal, like "trees", "plants", "mankind" are abstractions. Justice is an abstraction that has no physical empirical evidence. All humans abstract. It is part of knowledge. Every scientist that studies biology and chemistry and such abstracts. All definitions require abstraction. Taxonomy requires abstraction.
I have come to the conclusion that Metaphysics is the science that orders our abstractions. Since everybody abstracts, it is easy to make mistakes and there is a lot of mistakes out there. Metaphysics is used in the Nicene Creed when it says "homoousia", (same substance). We have to have a science of abstraction in order that human thought works well.
For instance if as some sophists decreed, "All is Change" then we can't know anything. There is no unchanging reality. This is what Plato and Aristotle were fighting. Amongst Change, there is something concrete, unchanging. Socrates and Plato came up with the Forms; Aristotle corrected this with primary substance or essence. While all sorts of things change, essence does not change.
Metaphysics is very important for it is about refuting relativism and establishing the concreteness of abstraction.
I believe this Greek word "theoria" is our English word "abstraction". We all abstract. We must abstract all elements from reality in order to properly read reality.
Metaphysics is only this--it is the science ordering abstraction.
By your remarks I can infer that you are yourself a victim of scholasticism. Of course philosophy needs abstraction, and theology too, as the first Greek fathers understood, the Cappadocians, and recommended the studying of ancient Greek philosophy, which they used in their interpretations of the new faith. It is one thing to use a layer of abstraction and a completely different thing to make all of theology an abstract and mechanical activity. As Arendt expresses this most accurately, "a theology that is not grounded to Revelation as a reality, but regards God as an abstract idea, would be unacceptable exactly like a zoology that would not be sure anymore about the corporeal tangible existence of the animals..." (The Totalitarian System). The main purpose of faith and of theology itself is not to let us discuss endlessly about God, but to enter in a direct personal relationship, communion and contact with Him.
While it is true that all human concepts are, in a way, abstractions, we should be careful as to what we mean by such word. It is not because we "abstract" a reality that it or the word that expresses it become unreal.
Words themselves, as you say, can be abstractions. "Tree," "stone," are not the actual, physical tree or stone, yet they are not less real than the actual things. Because they express a reality, words are themselves reality, as are all other concepts, including that of "homoousia." The latter word is not so much an abstraction as the expression, in human words, of an inexpressible reality. It is itself reality. Unless, of course, language is purposeless and meaningless, in that case we cease to loose our humanity.
Thanks for all the comments. They are helping me understand metaphysics.
Yes, you could say I am a Scholastic. Scholasticism is the philosophy of the West. Jacque Maritain states it as "moderate realism". De Wulf does expose the errors of Scholasticism in his book in order that they are corrected. Otherwise the whole body is sound. I am a Western Man living in a culture in which one of the roots is scholasticism. The basis of Scholasticism is Aristotle.
But no medieval scholastic nor I confuse philosophy with faith. God is personal and real. Faith is a personal relationship and most medieval scholastics would agree. Philosophy is different from Faith. Philosophy is the launching from Nature that was created thru Jesus. Faith is from Divine Revelation.
I offer De Wulf's book on an excellent survey on Scholasticism. It is about strenghening it to meet today's challenges and correcting what went wrong with it. He is very honest and sincere.
Laellius said something important. These abstractions we make must match reality. This is what Apostolos Makrakis said is the definition of Truth: "Truth is the faithful representation of reality".
In order to understand Three persons in One God, which is a mystery, the term "homoousios" is very important. Understanding that the substance is the same between Father and Son but they are different as persons. He is begotton, not made. Just like a cell splits into two.
Metaphysics is launched from things in reality. Since Nature is Logical, metaphysics has to be logical. And then when Nature is logical, we can use logic, like Cause and effect, and move to acknowledge other truths.
For instance, the German classicist Werner Jaeger laconized this from the Cretan excerpt in the Laws, "Look on Creation, See Order, Know God". Order presupposes intelligence and intelligence exists in something, There is a God. This was the rational explanation that they saw in nature that proved the existence of God.
Abstractions are just names of phenomena in nature where those abstractions are true when they (a) are a faithful representation of reality and (b) or a logical consequence of premises based in reality.
The Natural Law is Logical in and of itself. Within the Natural Law there are two logical streams, (a) Cause and Effect and (b) Macrocosm/Microcosm, that things repeat in all the spheres.
No effect happens without a cause and a cause has a specific concrete effect. This can be reversed into the past to discover truths or advanced into the future to somewhat know the future (since humans can not know all things that might occur, this is only scantily done) For example we can predict where and when an asteriod approaches the earth.
Then Macrocosm/Microcosm can be used in any direction. These systems is the basis of Logic. Truth must be a component of our abstractions.