Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter , between substance and attribute , and between potentiality and actuality. Metaphysics studies questions related to what it is for something to exist and what types of existence there are. Metaphysics seeks to answer, in an abstract and fully general manner, the questions: . Topics of metaphysical investigation include existence , objects and their properties , space and time , cause and effect , and possibility. Metaphysical study is conducted using deduction from that which is known a priori.
Do the objects have to retain their identity over time or can they change? Can theories be reformulated by converting properties or predicates such as "red" into entities such as redness or redness fields or processes 'there is some redding happening over there' appears in some human languages in place of the use of properties. Is the distinction between objects and properties fundamental to the physical world or to our perception of it?
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Much recent work has been devoted to analyzing the role of metaphysics in scientific theorizing. Since   "he showed the ways in which some un-testable and hence, according to Popperian ideas, non-empirical propositions can nevertheless be influential in the development of properly testable and hence scientific theories. These profound results in applied elementary logic An example from biology of Lakatos' thesis: David Hull has argued that changes in the ontological status of the species concept have been central in the development of biological thought from Aristotle through CuvierLamarckand Darwin.
Darwin's ignorance of metaphysics made it more difficult for him to respond to his critics because he could not readily grasp the ways in which their underlying metaphysical views differed from his own. In physics, new metaphysical ideas have arisen in connection with quantum mechanicswhere subatomic particles arguably do not have the same sort of individuality as the particulars with which philosophy has traditionally been concerned.
Whitehead is famous for creating a process philosophy metaphysics inspired by electromagnetism and special relativity. In chemistry, Gilbert Newton Lewis addressed the nature of motion, arguing that an electron should not be said to move when it has none of the properties of motion. Katherine Hawley notes that the metaphysics even of a widely accepted scientific theory may be challenged if it can be argued that the metaphysical presuppositions of the theory make no contribution to its predictive success.
Metametaphysics is the branch of philosophy that is concerned with the foundations of metaphysics. In the 16th century, Francis Bacon rejected scholastic metaphysics, and argued strongly for what is now called empiricismbeing seen later as the father of modern empirical science. In the 18th century, David Hume took a strong position, arguing that all genuine knowledge involves either mathematics or matters of fact and that metaphysics, which goes beyond these, is worthless. He concludes his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding with the statement:.
If we take in our hand any volume [book]; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence?
Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. Although he followed Hume in rejecting much of previous metaphysics, he argued that there was still room for some synthetic a priori knowledge, concerned with matters of fact yet obtainable independent of experience. He also argued for the freedom of the will and the existence of "things in themselves", the ultimate but unknowable objects of experience.
Wittgenstein introduced the concept that metaphysics could be influenced by theories of aesthetics, via logicvis. In the s, A. Ayer and Rudolf Carnap endorsed Hume's position; Carnap quoted the passage above. Thus, while Ayer rejected the monism of Spinoza, he avoided a commitment to pluralismthe contrary position, by holding both views to be without meaning.
Arguing against such rejections, the Scholastic philosopher Edward Feser held that Hume's critique of metaphysics, and specifically Hume's forkis "notoriously self-refuting". Some living philosophers, such as Amie Thomassonhave argued that many metaphysical questions can be dissolved just by looking at the way we use words; others, such as Ted Siderhave argued that metaphysical questions are substantive, and that we can make progress toward answering them by comparing theories according to a range of theoretical virtues inspired by the sciences, such as simplicity and explanatory power.
The prefix meta- "after" indicates that these works come "after" the chapters on physics. However, once the name was given, the commentators sought to find other reasons for its appropriateness. For instance, Thomas Aquinas understood it to refer to the chronological or pedagogical order among our philosophical studies, so that the "metaphysical sciences" would mean "those that we study after having mastered the sciences that deal with the physical world".
The term was misread by other medieval commentators, who thought it meant "the science of what is beyond the physical". A person who creates or develops metaphysical theories is called a metaphysician. Common parlance also uses the word "metaphysics" for a different referent from that of the present article, namely for beliefs in arbitrary non-physical or magical entities. For example, "Metaphysical healing" to refer to healing by means of remedies that are magical rather than scientific.
Metaphysics as a subject does not preclude beliefs in such magical entities but neither does it promote them. Rather, it is the subject which provides the vocabulary and logic with which such beliefs might be analyzed and studied, for example to search for inconsistencies both within themselves and with other accepted systems such as Science. Cognitive archeology such as analysis of cave paintings and other pre-historic art and customs suggests that a form of perennial philosophy or Shamanic metaphysics may stretch back to the birth of behavioral modernityall around the world.
Similar beliefs are found in present-day "stone age" cultures such as Australian aboriginals. Perennial philosophy postulates the existence of a spirit or concept world alongside the day-to-day world, and interactions between these worlds during dreaming and ritual, or on special days or at special places. It has been argued that perennial philosophy formed the basis for Platonismwith Plato articulating, rather than creating, much older widespread beliefs.
Bronze Age cultures such as ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt along with similarly structured but chronologically later cultures such as Mayans and Aztecs developed belief systems based on mythologyanthropomorphic godsmind-body dualismand a spirit worl to explain causes and cosmology. These cultures appear to have been interested in astronomy and may have associated or identified the stars with some of these entities. In ancient Egypt, the ontological distinction between order maat and chaos Isfet seems to have been important.
He made use of purely physical explanations to explain the phenomena of the world rather than the mythological and divine explanations of tradition. He is thought to have posited water as the single underlying principle or Arche in later Aristotelian terminology of the material world.
His fellow, but younger Miletians, Anaximander and Anaximenesalso posited monistic underlying principles, namely apeiron the indefinite or boundless and air respectively. Another school was the Eleaticsin southern Italy. Methodologically, the Eleatics were broadly rationalist, and took logical standards of clarity and necessity to be the criteria of truth. Parmenides' chief doctrine was that reality is a single unchanging and universal Being. Zeno used reductio ad absurdumto demonstrate the illusory nature of change and time in his paradoxes.
Heraclitus of Ephesusin contrast, made change central, teaching that "all things flow". His philosophy, expressed in brief aphorisms, is quite cryptic. For instance, he also taught the unity of opposites.
Democritus and his teacher Leucippusare known for formulating an atomic theory for the cosmos. Metaphysics in Chinese philosophy can be traced back to the earliest Chinese philosophical concepts from the Zhou Dynasty such as Tian Heaven and Yin and Yang. The fourth century BCE saw a turn towards cosmogony with the rise of Taoism in the Daodejing and Zhuangzi and sees the natural world as dynamic and constantly changing processes which spontaneously arise from a single immanent metaphysical source or principle Tao.
The Taoists held that the ultimate, the Tao, was also non-being or no-presence. This school was very influential in developing the concepts of later Chinese metaphysics. Neo-Confucians like Zhang Zai under the influence of other schools developed the concepts of "principle" li and vital energy qi.
Socrates is known for his dialectic or questioning approach to philosophy rather than a positive metaphysical doctrine. His pupil, Plato is famous for his theory of forms which he places in the mouth of Socrates in his dialogues.
Platonic realism also considered a form of idealism  is considered to be a solution to the problem of universals ; i. Platonism developed into Neoplatonisma philosophy with a monotheistic and mystical flavour that survived well into the early Christian era. Plato's pupil Aristotle wrote widely on almost every subject, including metaphysics. His solution to the problem of universals contrasts with Plato's.
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Whereas Platonic Forms are existentially apparent in the visible world, Aristotelian essences dwell in particulars. Potentiality and Actuality  are principles of a dichotomy which Aristotle used throughout his philosophical works to analyze motioncausality and other issues. The Aristotelian theory of change and causality stretches to four causes : the material, formal, efficient and final.
The efficient cause corresponds to what is now known as a cause simplicity. Final causes are explicitly teleologicala concept now regarded as controversial in science. The opening arguments in Aristotle's MetaphysicsBook I, revolve around the senses, knowledge, experience, theory, and wisdom. The first main focus in the Metaphysics is attempting to determine how intellect "advances from sensation through memory, experience, and art, to theoretical knowledge".
More on Indian philosophy: Hindu philosophy. Samkhya is strongly dualist. The end of this imbalance, bondage is called liberation, or mokshaby the Samkhya school. The existence of God or supreme being is not directly asserted, nor considered relevant by the Samkhya philosophers. Realization of the nature of Self-identity is the principal object of the Vedanta system of Indian metaphysics.
In the Upanishadsself-consciousness is not the first-person indexical self-awareness or the self-awareness which is self-reference without identification,  and also not the self-consciousness which as a kind of desire is satisfied by another self-consciousness. The word Self-consciousness in the Upanishads means the knowledge about the existence and nature of Brahman. It means the consciousness of our own real being, the primary reality.
The Atman is unknowable in its essential nature; it is unknowable in its essential nature because it is the eternal subject who knows about everything including itself. The Atman is the knower and also the known. Metaphysicians regard the Self either to be distinct from the Absolute or entirely identical with the Absolute.
They have given form to three schools of thought - a the Dualistic schoolb the Quasi-dualistic school and c the Monistic schoolas the result of their varying mystical experiences. Prakrti and Atmanwhen treated as two separate and distinct cts form the basis of the Dualism of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. Self-consciousness is the Fourth state of consciousness or Turiyathe first three being VaisvanaraTaijasa and Prajna.
These are the four states of individual consciousness. There are three distinct stages leading to Self-realisation.
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The First stage is in mystically apprehending the glory of the Self within us as though we were distinct from it. The Second stage is in identifying the "I-within" with the Self, that we are in essential nature entirely identical with the pure Self. The Third stage is in realising that the Atman is Brahmanthat there is no difference between the Self and the Absolute.
The Fifth stage is in realising that Brahman is the "All" that exists, as also that which does not exist. In Buddhist philosophy there are various metaphysical traditions that have proposed different questions about the nature of reality based on the teachings of the Buddha in the early Buddhist texts.
The Buddha of the early texts does not focus on metaphysical questions but on ethical and spiritual training and in some cases, he dismisses certain metaphysical questions as unhelpful and indeterminate Avyaktawhich he recommends should be set aside. The development of systematic metaphysics arose after the Buddha's death with the rise of the Abhidharma traditions.
Noa Ronkin has called their approach " phenomenological ". Later philosophical traditions include the Madhyamika school of Nagarjunawhich further developed the theory of the emptiness shunyata of all phenomena or dharmas which rejects any kind of substance. This has been interpreted as a form of anti-foundationalism and anti-realism which sees reality as having no ultimate essence or ground.
More on medieval philosophy and metaphysics: Medieval Philosophy. Between about an philosophy as a discipline took place as part of the Catholic church 's teaching system, known as scholasticism.
Scholastic philosophy took place within an established framework blending Christian theology with Aristotelian teachings. Although fundamental orthodoxies were not commonly challenged, there were nonetheless deep metaphysical disagreements, particularly over the problem of universalswhich engaged Duns Scotus and Pierre Abelard. William of Ockham is remembered for his principle of ontological parsimony. In the early modern period 17th and 18th centuriesthe system-building scope of philosophy is often linked to the rationalist method of philosophy, that is the technique of deducing the nature of the world by pure reason.
The scholastic concepts of substance and accident were employed. Christian Wolff had theoretical philosophy divided into an ontology or philosophia prima as a general metaphysics which arises as a preliminary to the distinction of the three " special metaphysics "  on the soul, world and God: rational psychologyrational cosmology and rational theology.
This scheme, which is the counterpart of religious tripartition in creature, creation, and Creator, is best known to philosophical students by Kant's treatment of it in the Critique of Pure Reason. In the "Preface" of the 2nd edition of Kant's book, Wolff is defined "the greatest of all dogmatic philosophers.
British empiricism marked something of a reaction to rationalist and system-building metaphysics, or speculative metaphysics as it was pejoratively termed. The skeptic David Hume famously declared that most metaphysics should be consigned to the flames see below. Hume was notorious among his contemporaries as one of the first philosophers to openly doubt religion, but is better known now for his critique of causality. John Stuart MillThomas Reid and John Locke were less skeptical, embracing a more cautious style of metaphysics based on realism, common sense and science.
Other philosophers, notably George Berkeley were led from empiricism to idealistic metaphysics. Immanuel Kant attempted a grand synthesis and revision of the trends already mentioned: scholastic philosophy, systematic metaphysics, and skeptical empiricism, not to forget the burgeoning science of his day. As did the systems builders, he had an overarching framework in which all questions were to be addressed. Like Hume, who famously woke him from his 'dogmatic slumbers', he was suspicious of metaphysical speculation, and also places much emphasis on the limitations of the human mind.
Kant described his shift in metaphysics away from making claims about an objective noumenal world, towards exploring the subjective phenomenal world, as a Copernican Revolutionby analogy to though opposite in direction to Copernicus ' shift from man the subject to the sun an object at the center of the universe. Kant saw rationalist philosophers as aiming for a kind of metaphysical knowledge he defined as the synthetic apriori -that is knowledge that does not come from the senses it is a priori but is nonetheless about reality synthetic.
Inasmuch as it is about reality, it differs from abstract mathematical propositions which he terms analytical aprioriand being apriori it is distinct from empirical, scientific knowledge which he terms synthetic aposteriori. The only synthetic apriori knowledge we can have is of how our minds organise the data of the senses; that organising framework is space and time, which for Kant have no mind-independent existence, but nonetheless operate uniformly in all humans.
Apriori knowledge of space and time is all that remains of metaphysics as traditionally conceived. There is a reality beyond sensory data or phenomena, which he calls the realm of noumena ; however, we cannot know it as it is in itself, but only as it appears to us. He allows himself to speculate that the origins of phenomenal God, morality, and free will might exist in the noumenal realm, but these possibilities have to be set against its basic unknowability for humans.
Although he saw himself as having disposed of metaphysics, in a sense, he has generally been regarded in retrospect as having a metaphysics of his own, and as beginning the modern analytical conception of the subject.
Nineteenth century philosophy was overwhelmingly influenced by Kant and his successors. SchopenhauerSchellingFichte and Hegel all purveyed their own panoramic versions of German IdealismKant's own caution about metaphysical speculation, and refutation of idealismhaving fallen by the wayside. The idealistic impulse continued into the early twentieth century with British idealists such as F.
Bradley and J. Followers of Karl Marx took Hegel's dialectic view of history and re-fashioned it as materialism.
I love music, nature, metaphysics, quantum physics, movies, animals and anything to develop the brain. olympia Washington babababar 53 Man Seeking Women. IS it in the Stars? Dating in the top 50 American, Canadian, and Australian Cities. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". Metaphysics, branch of philosophy whose topics in antiquity and the Middle Ages were the first causes of things and the nature of being. Later, many other topics came to be included under the heading 'metaphysics.' The set of problems that now make up the subject matter of metaphysics .
During the period when idealism was dominant in philosophy, science had been making great advances. The arrival of a new generation of scientifically minded philosophers led to a sharp decline in the popularity of idealism during the s. Analytic philosophy was spearheaded by Bertrand Russell and G. Russell and William James tried to compromise between idealism and materialism with the theory of neutral monism. The early to mid twentieth century philosophy saw a trend to reject metaphysical questions as meaningless.
The driving force behind this tendency was the philosophy of logical positivism as espoused by the Vienna Circlewhich argued that the meaning of a statement was its prediction of observable results of an experiment, and thus that there is no need to postulate the existence of any objects other than these perceptual observations.
At around the same time, the American pragmatists were steering a middle course between materialism and idealism. System-building metaphysics, with a fresh inspiration from science, was revived by A. Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. The forces that shaped analytic philosophy-the break with idealism, and the influence of science-were much less significant outside the English speaking world, although there was a shared turn toward language.
Continental philosophy continued in a trajectory from post Kantianism. The phenomenology of Husserl and others was intended as a collaborative project for the investigation of the features and structure of consciousness common to all humans, in line with Kant's basing his synthetic apriori on the uniform operation of consciousness. It was officially neutral with regards to ontology, but was nonetheless to spawn a number of metaphysical systems.
Brentano 's concept of intentionality would become widely influential, including on analytic philosophy. Heideggerauthor of Being and Timesaw himself as re-focusing on Being-qua-being, introducing the novel concept of Dasein in the process.
Classing himself an existentialistSartre wrote an extensive study of Being and Nothingness. The speculative realism movement marks a return to full blooded realism. There are two fundamental cts of everyday experience: change and persistence. Until recently, the Western philosophical tradition has arguably championed substance and persistence, with some notable exceptions, however. According to process thinkers, novelty, flux and accident do matter, and sometimes they constitute the ultimate reality.
In a strict sense, process metaphysics may be limited to the works of a few founding fathers: G. Whitehea and John Dewey.
While early analytic philosophy tended to reject metaphysical theorizing, under the influence of logical positivism, it was revived in the second half of the twentieth century. Philosophers such as David K. Lewis and David Armstrong developed elaborate theories on a range of topics such as universals, causation, possibility and necessity and abstract objects.
However, the focus of analytic philosophy generally is away from the construction of all-encompassing systems and toward close analysis of individual ideas. Among the developments that led to the revival of metaphysical theorizing were Quine's attack on the analytic-synthetic distinctionwhich was generally taken to undermine Carnap's distinction between existence questions internal to a framework and those external to it.
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The philosophy of fictionthe problem of empty names, and the debate over existence's status as a property have all come of relative obscurity into the limelight, while perennial issues such as free will, possible worlds, and the philosophy of time have had new life breathed into them. The analytic view is of metaphysics as studying phenomenal human concepts rather than making claims about the noumenal world, so its style often blurs into philosophy of language and introspective psychology.
Compared to system-building, it can seem very dry, stylistically similar to computer programming, mathematics or even accountancy as a common stated goal is to "account for" entities in the world.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality. For other uses, see Metaphysics disambiguation. Plato Kant Nietzsche.
Buddha Confucius Averroes. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
October Learn how and when to remove this template message. Further information: Epistemology. See also: Ontology. See also: Identity philosophy and Philosophy of space and time. See also: Philosophy of space and time. See also: Causality. See also: Modal logic and Modal realism. See also: Cosmology metaphysics. See also: Philosophy of mind. See also: Determinism and Free will.
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Main article: Philosophy of mathematics. May Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: Rationalism. Main article: Empiricism.
Main article: Late modern philosophy.
Main article: Process philosophy. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 5th ed. Retrieved 24 November Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 14 November Hall, Ned In Edward N. Zalta ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Fall ed. Retrieved 5 October Oxford University Press. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Retrieved 22 June Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. Supplementary Volume Miracles: A Preliminary Study. Geoffrey Bles Ltd. In Zalta, Edward N. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Summer ed. Journal of Philosophy. Retrieved 18 January Metaphysics: An Introduction.
Metaphysics and Measurement. Harvard University Press. Watkins Nijhoff International Philosophy Series. Watkins 1 July Stuart Brown ed. Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Social Service Review. Cambridge University Press. The Physics is not about the quantitative science now called physics ; instead, it concerns philosophical problems about sensible and mutable i.
Accordingly, metaphysica is the root of the words for metaphysics in almost all western European languages e. The relation between these two definitions is a much-debated question. While it is certainly true that all the problems that Aristotle considered in his treatise are still said to belong to metaphysics, since at least the 17th century the word metaphysics has been applied to a much wider range of questions.
Indeed, if Aristotle were somehow able to examine a present-day textbook on metaphysics, he would classify much of its content not as metaphysics but as physics, as he understood the latter term. To take only one example, the modern book would almost certainly contain a great deal of discussion of philosophical problems regarding the identity of material objects i. An ancient example of such a problem is the following: A statue is formed by pouring molten gold into a certain mold.
The statue is then melted down and the molten gold poured into the same mold and allowed to cool and solidify. Is the resulting statue the same statue as the original?
Such problems evidently do not concern at least not directly either being as such or the first causes of things. The question of why modern metaphysics is a much broader field than the one conceived by Aristotle is not easy to answer. Some partial or contributing causes, however, may be the following.
As regards the problem of the gold statue, for example, modern physics can explain why the melting point of gold is lower than the melting point of ironbut it has nothing to say about the identity of recast statues.
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It should be pointed out that metaphysicians are not interested in recast statues-or any other remade physical object-as such. Rather, they use such examples to pose very general and abstract questions about timechange, compositionand identity and as illustrations of the application of principles that may govern those concepts. Similarity of method between Aristotelian and modern metaphysics.
Perhaps, indeed, this is the only method available in any branch of philosophy. Overlap of subject matter between Aristotelian metaphysics and Aristotelian physics.