It would be important to recognise this need, not only in the general sense Schopenhauer intended, but also with attention to the particular needs which particular forms of metaphysics might meet, or appear to meet. One ‘need’ today would surely be a means of comprehending and addressing the place of humans in the cosmos, given the actuality of an ecological crisis which threatens humans themselves, a crisis which many feel is ignored not only in mainstream and even radical politics, but also in both mainstream and radical philosophy…. It would therefore be important for those of us critical of the turn to anti-anthropocentric (can we say geocentric?) philosophies, in which new forms of realism, monism and ontology all share a family resemblance, to recognise the legitimacy of the need expressed in this turn despite the turn’s many flaws, in order not abstractly to negate it in criticising it, but address the need which motivates it with an alternative, more compelling explanation. The implicit need – here, it is being suggested, for a philosophy which can make sense of the crisis and allow a thinking and action that could alter the current, dangerous path of human societies – might well be legitimate, merely taking misguided and problematic form.
I like this suggestion to take seriously the needs behind problematic thinking. Compare this to the post and commentary at Cognition and Culture on evolutionary debunking of religious thinking. The gist of the post is that the need behind religious (and perhaps metaphysical) thinking is an evolutionary cognitive bias toward agency detection as a function of threat avoidance. This bias would have little inherent truth-value because in the evolution game, better safe than sorry. The analysis undermines all kinds of agentic and causal beliefs, not just religion, which may turn out to be fantastically emergent.