Nonphilosophers, if they think of philosophy at all, may wonder why people work in metaphysics. After all, metaphysics, as Auden once said of poetry, makes nothing happen. Yet some very intelligent people are driven to spend their lives formulating and arguing for metaphysical claims. Part of what motivates metaphysicians is the appeal of grizzly puzzles (like the paradox of the heap or the puzzle of the ship of Theseus). But the main reason to work in metaphysics, for me at least, is to understand the shared world that we all encounter and interact with.
The title of this book, The Metaphysics of Everyday Life, may bring to mind the title of Freud's lively book, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, published in 1904. Although scientifically obsolete, Freud's little volume aptly describes numerous kinds of familiar phenomena. In The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud focused on ordinary mistakes that go unnoticed: forgetting proper names, mistakes in reading, mislaying things, forgetting to do things, and so on. These banal errors appear to be random but, according to Freud, are products of subconscious desires. Putting aside Freud's own explanations, we can applaud Freud's seeing significance in occurrences that are usually overlooked as haphazard and purposeless. Whereas Freud saw psychological significance in ordinary things and our interactions with them, I see ontological significance in ordinary things and our interactions with them.