Over at A Brood Comb, Tanasije Gjorgoski posts a quote from Hegel’s Philosophy of Logic that is one of my favorites. I used to use part of it all the time in discussions with people (mostly scientists) who thought that all metaphysics was nonsense to be avoided at all cost.
The Atomic philosophy forms a vital stage in the historical evolution of the Idea. The principle of that system may be described as Being-for-itself in the shape of the Many. At present, students of nature who are anxious to avoid metaphysics turn a favourable ear to Atomism. But it is not possible to escape metaphysics and cease to trace nature back to terms of thought, by throwing ourselves into the arms of Atomism. The atom, in fact, is itself a thought; and hence the theory which holds matter to consist of atoms is a metaphysical theory.
Newton gave physics an express warning to beware of metaphysics, it is true, but to his honour be it said, he did not by any means obey his own warning. The only mere physicists are the animals: they alone do not think: while man is a thinking being and a born metaphysician. The real question is not whether we shall apply metaphysics, but whether our metaphysics are of the right kind: in other words, whether we are not, instead of the concrete logical Idea, adopting one-sided forms of thought, rigidly fixed by understanding, and making these the basis of our theoretical as well as our practical work. It is on this ground that one objects to the Atomic philosophy.
Hegel’s not only good for arguing against anti-metaphysical sentiments. His section on phrenology in Phenomenology of Spirit also provides some nice arguments against reductionism in philosophy of mind. All in all, Hegel’s a pretty useful guy.