There are people who have not noticed yet that science has already explained many of the things that used to be explained with metaphysics in the past. Metaphysics was sometimes even a useful tool when there was no real knowledge upon these matters. Luckily, now we much more real information and we do not need hairy metaphysics to explain simple everyday phenomena anymore.
People who use metaphysics to explain things like "imagination, creativity, and the very nature of consciousness" have not realized that these things have nothing to do with metaphysics. They are products of our brains. They are produced extremely complex processes that are going on in a human brain all the time.
Our knowledge of how the human brain does work has grown exponentially during the last few years. At the same time, reasons for explaining normal brain processes with metaphysics have faded away. One problem in modern philosophy is lack of understanding on the state of current science. There simply are people in the field of philosophy who are quite unaware of many of the current advances in science.
However, at the same time there are also people who see knowledge as a threat to their religious ideology. They are often people who misuse philosophy and most of all metaphysics as defensive weapons. They simply use it to protect their pet religious ideology. These people tend also to ignore the new advances in science.
Metaphysics is largely an exercise in futility. There is nothing to 'discover' in metaphysics. New claims can be created at will. All of them will rest on a similar layer of nothing. They are often just as wild guesses as the old ones. There is a everlasting beauty contest of ideas going on in metaphysics, as there is no real basis to claim that one theory would be more accurate any other.
However, there is no doubt that metaphysics will survive as long as there is money in it. Most of all professionals in the philosophy-departments in universities will find endless new angles into metaphysics. This happens as long as their paychecks are in the mail.
The incredibly strong forces of authority and tradition do keep also metaphysics alive, even if the real need for it does not exist anymore. Of course, there are also those who do metaphysics as a hobby too. They will speculate endlessly on the qualities of contradictory theories and endless stream of non-provable ideas. They do this, even if there is no money on it. They do it just for the pure joy of mental exercise.
One test for validity of ideas is to look what insights we will be left without if we forget that idea. The sad fact is that nothing will change in our lives or in our universe if even all traces of current metaphysics would be wiped out completely. We can then create an endless stream of new metaphysics that has similar value as the old had. There could even be same ideas popping up after a fresh start. However, it is to be expected that the same old divisions between rationalists and religious people would just re-appear.
Most of all the religious people would be creating again new lot of metaphysics that would support their pet ideology. These ideas will with time get more and more complex. This happens when their presenters try to safeguard these ideas from criticism. They often do this by creating new ideas to counter the objections to their existing theories.
Other major problem with modern philosophy is that it so easily becomes a form of collecting stamps. People just collect and classify different ideas without really putting them in perspective. Most of all people just learn about ideas without really understanding why philosophers of the past have made their wildly differentiating claims in the first place. A person can be admired if he or she can easily categorize even brand new ideas into different schools of philosophy, even without taking any stand on their validity or truth-value.
This "philosophy" is more about collecting difficult-sounding words and concepts than philosophy that humans can really use for something. Some people just seem to confuse deepness of thought with the complexity of expression.
Especially among the followers of modern continental philosophy there are clearly people who hide the lack of true insight behind a smoke-screen of complex-looking phrases and words.
Most of all, existentialism seems to be about a love of hairy concepts and ideas. All too often they seem to evaporate into almost nothing at all, when all the odd concepts are translated into a real language.
Among the modern philosophers, my own favorites are Bertrand Russell, Karl Popper, A.C. Grayling, Alain De Botton and Daniel Dennett. They all have one thing in common: for them philosophy is just a tool for better understanding our world and not an end in itself. They apply their ideas on the real world and see how their ideas do correspond with reality.
They all share clarity of writing and speech, as they need not to hide behind a wall of difficult words and concepts. As they are not defending any clear-cut ideology and form of thinking, they can allow themselves the luxury of an open mind when looking into ideas of others.
On the other hand, the people who populate the philosophy-departments in universities seem to me all too often consist of people who see philosophy as something that exists for its own sake. They can even use it as a smokescreen for pushing their religious ideology.
They seem to see philosophy as a thing that is to be learned by basis of authority of certain philosophers. These philosophers are then to be revered seemingly often just because they have been revered by many for a long time. In practice under the name of metaphysics are classed those abstract ideas that are just speculation without real evidence.
The question still remains: why these questions are labeled under the heading of 'metaphysics'? One can question the wisdom of trying to find universal answers to questions that do not and cannot have any kind of universal answers. Metaphysics is a classical case of trying to find a black cat in the dark room without really knowing if this cat even exists and if the room is the right one. All people just have not given up the bad habit of speculating on some of the issues that have been settled by science a long time ago.
Mostly this happens to protect religious beliefs. They seem to sorely need the existence of metaphysics to give them some protection them from forces of reason. This little essay does naturally present just one opinion on the issue, and it cannot be any kind of ultimate truth. However, I think that it is necessary to raise this debate. Discussion over even extremely basic ideas is needed from time to time.
"Metaphysicians cannot avoid making their statements nonverifiable, because if they made them verifiable, the decision about the truth or falsehood of their doctrines would depend upon experience and therefore belong to the region of empirical science. This consequence they wish to avoid, they pretend to teach knowledge which is of a higher level than that of empirical science. Thus, they are compelled to cut all connection between their statements and experience; and precisely by this procedure they deprive them of any sense."
ó Rudolf Carnap