Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy exploring the fundamental nature of reality
While various views and methods have been called ‘metaphysics’ across history, this article approaches metaphysics first from the perspective of contemporary analytical philosophy, and then explores metaphysics in other traditions. In this vein, metaphysics seeks to answer two basic questions
Ultimately, what is there?
What is it like?
Topics of metaphysical investigation include existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into the basic categories of being and how they relate to one another.
There are two broad conceptions about what “world” is studied by metaphysics. The strong, classical view assumes that the objects studied by metaphysics exist independently of any observer, so that the subject is the most fundamental of all sciences. The weaker, more modern view assumes that the objects studied by metaphysics exist inside the mind of an observer, so the subject becomes a form of introspection and conceptual analysis. Some philosophers, notably Kant, discuss both of these “worlds” and what can be inferred about each one.
Some philosophers and scientists, such as the logical positivists, reject the entire subject of metaphysics as meaningless, while others disagree and think that it is legitimate.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of existence, being and the world. Arguably, metaphysics is the foundation of philosophy: Aristotle calls it “first philosophy” (or sometimes just “wisdom”), and says it is the subject that deals with “first causes and the principles of things”.
It asks questions like: “What is the nature of reality?”, “How does the world exist, and what is its origin or source of creation?”, “Does the world exist outside the mind?”, “How can the incorporeal mind affect the physical body?”, “If things exist, what is their objective nature?”, “Is there a God (or many gods, or no god at all)?”
Originally, the Greek word “metaphysika” (literally “after physics”) merely indicated that part of Aristotle’s oeuvre which came, in its sequence, after those chapters which dealt with physics. Later, it was misinterpreted by Medieval commentators on the classical texts as that which is above or beyond the physical, and so over time metaphysics has effectively become the study of that which transcends physics.
Aritstotle originally split his metaphysics into three main sections and these remain the main branches of metaphysics:
Ontology (the study of being and existence, including the definition and classification of entities, physical or mental, the nature of their properties, and the nature of change)
Natural Theology (the study of God, including the nature of religion and the world, existence of the divine, questions about the creation, and the various other religious or spiritual issues)
Universal Science (the study of first principles of logic and reasoning, such as the law of noncontradiction)
Metaphysics has been attacked, at different times in history, as being futile and overly vague, particularly by David Hume, Immanuel Kant and A.J. Ayer. It may be more useful to say that a metaphysical statement usually implies an idea a
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