Metaphysics in Philosophy

Aristotle’s Metaphysics is one of his most well-known works. His ideas led to a new branch of philosophy which influenced the thinkers of his time and thereafter. The word metaphysics literally means ‘after physics’ as it was chronologically written after the books on nature. His work focuses on reality, existence, and being in terms of what it is. For example, a metaphysical philosopher ponders “What is the world?” while a physicist poses the question “How does the world work?”.

Plato and Aristotle

Metaphysics is the study of all reality including the natural and supernatural. The natural world is identified as things which can be scientifically proven (energy, matter) whereas the supernatural world is identified as things which cannot be scientifically proven (the existence of god). It is the study of the world which we can – and – cannot see. Although when people use the term today, they often overlook the natural side and use metaphysics as a way to question reality from a supernatural standpoint.

There are two main questions of metaphysics. The first one asks, “What is reality?”. In asking this, metaphysical philosophers search for the underlying rules and principals of existence. They hunt for the common thread that proves and binds reality – those things which are unchanging. The second question asks, “What is the real reality?”. This contrasts from the first question as it is focuses on discovering ultimate truth. Often times, this can contradict to the world as we perceive and experience it.

Metaphysics is difficult to define as it is broad in its scope and can include the sciences. Most notably, cosmology is aligned with metaphysics and aspires to identify the very beginnings of existence. It is not only a western philosophy but can also be seen in Buddhist and Hindu philosophy as well.

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