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WHAT IS METAPHYSICS?

Metaphysics is defined as the branch of philosophy that examines the true nature
of reality, whether visible or invisible. Metaphysics is also a branch of philosophy that
investigates principles of reality transcending those of any particular science.
Metaphysics includes the relationship between mind and matter, substance and
attribute, and, fact and value. Basically, metaphysics is the philosophical study of being
and knowing. It is very closely related to spirituality, but it is not a religion. If any, and in
what respect metaphysics differs from science, which tries to answer similar questions
but through more concrete methods.
The word derives from the Greek words (metá) meaning "beyond" or "after" and
(physiká) meaning "physical", "physical" referring to those works on matter by Aristotle
in antiquity. Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major
work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being
qua being", or being understood as being. It examines what can be asserted about
anything that exists just because of its existence and not because of any special
qualities it has. Someone who studies metaphysics would be called either a
"metaphysician “or a "metaphysicist."

History of Metaphysics
Metaphysics is called the "FIRST PHILOSOPHY" by Aristotle. His works, is
thought to have placed the books on first philosophy right after another work, Physics,
and called them (ta meta ta physika biblia) or "the books that come after the books on
physics". Since metaphysics deals with the most fundamental questions of human
knowledge, and since its objects of study encompasses the whole of reality, it is but
natural that particular sciences (which limit themselves to studying partial aspects of
things) depend upon metaphysics in some way. The object of study of every particular
science is a particular kind of being. That is why metaphysical principles, the properties
of being, and other basic notion about reality must somehow be reflected in scientific
research covered by a particular science.
The first known metaphysician, according to Aristotle, was Thales. His concept of
Arche or the source, first principle, or substratum was that of moisture, which is
frequently translated as "water." For Thales, the cosmos had a harmonious structure,
and thus was subject to rational understanding. Parmenides of Elea held that the
multiplicity of existing things, their changing forms and motion, are but an appearance of
a single eternal reality (“Being”), thus giving rise to the Parmenidean principle that “all is
one”. From this concept of Being, he went on to say that all claims of change or of non-
Being are illogical. Because he introduced the method of basing claims about
appearances on a logical concept of Being, he is considered one of the founders of
metaphysics.
Before the development of modern science, scientific questions were addressed
as a part of metaphysics known as "natural philosophy"; the term "science" itself meant
"knowledge" of epistemological origin. The scientific method, however, made natural
philosophy an empirical and experimental activity unlike the rest of philosophy, and by
the end of the eighteenth century it had begun to be called "science" in order to
distinguish it from philosophy. Thereafter, metaphysics became the philosophical
enquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence. In their effort to reach
a full understanding of their object of study, empirical scientists have frequently turned
to philosophical questions. So it’s not surprising therefore that contemporary physicist
such as the famous Einstein have written essays on metaphysical topics.
Metaphysics as a discipline was a central part of academic inquiry and scholarly
education even before the age of Aristotle, who considered it "the Queen of Sciences."
Its issues were considered no less important than the other main formal subjects
of physical science, medicine, mathematics, poetics and music. Since the beginning of
modern philosophy during the seventeenth century, problems that were not originally
considered within the bounds of metaphysics have been added to its purview, while
other problems considered metaphysical for centuries are now typically relegated to
their own separate regions in philosophy, such as philosophy of religion, philosophy of
mind, philosophy of perception, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. It
can be seen that metaphysics play a guiding role with respect to particular science
since it is the summit of human knowledge in the natural order. This role is rightly called
“SAPIENTIAL”, since wisdom has the proper role of guiding human knowledge and
activity.

Branches of Metaphysics
Aristotle’s Metaphysics was divided into three parts, in addition to some smaller
sections related to a philosophical lexicon and some reprinted extracts from
the Physics, which are now regarded as the proper branches of traditional Western
metaphysics:
Ontology
The study of Being and existence; includes the definition and classification
of entities, physical or mental, the nature of their properties, and the nature of change.
The investigation into what types of things there are in the world and what relations
these things bear to one another. The metaphysician also attempts to clarify the notions
by which people understand the world,
including existence, property, space, time, causality, and possibility.

Natural Theology
The study of a God or Gods; involves many topics, including among others the
nature of religion and the world, existence of the divine, questions about Creation, and
the numerous religious or spiritual issues that concern humankind in general.
Universal Science
Universal science or first philosophy treats of "being qua being"—that is, what is
basic to all science before one adds the particular details of any one science.
Essentially "being qua being" may be translated as "being insofar as being goes" or as
"being in terms of being." This includes topics such as causality, substance, species
and elements, as well as the notions of relation, interaction, and finitude.
Famous Philosophers in Metaphysics
Metaphysics is one of the most important parts of philosophy and science. From
the past through present, there were many philosophers who were born to contribute
something to the knowledge pool of metaphysics. Some of the world famous
metaphysic philosophers are the following.
• Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC): He is the pioneer in the studies of metaphysics. The
principle study of Aristotle is "being understood as being”. Aristotle Greek philosopher
and scientist, who shares with Plato and Socrates the distinction of being the most
famous of ancient philosophers.

• Immanuel Kant (1724–1804): He is the famous philosopher of western philosophy.


There is no doubt that his 'Critique of Pure Reason' is the most comprehensive analysis
of Metaphysics. Several major viewpoints were combined in the work of Kant, who
developed a distinctive critical philosophy called transcendentalism. His philosophy is
agnostic in that it denies the possibility of a strict knowledge of ultimate reality; it is
empirical in that it affirms that all knowledge arises from experience and is true of
objects of actual and possible experience; and it is rationalistic in that it maintains the a
priori character of the structural principles of this empirical knowledge.

• David Hume (1711–1776): He is the person who made us realize that the connection
of necessary things is a must if we really want to learn something and gain knowledge.
He made us think about the importance of an open mind. In a revolutionary step in the
history of philosophy, Hume rejected the basic idea of causation, maintaining that
“reason can never show us the connection of one object with another, though' aided by
experience, and the observation of their conjunction in all past instance. When the mind,
therefore, passes from the idea or impression of one object to the idea or belief of
another, it is not determined by reason, but by certain principles, which associate
together the ideas of these objects and unite them in the imagination.

• Bertrand Russell (1872–1970): His main interest was on to describe the most general
and ultimate features of the world which no one has ever thought of doing. Bertrand
Russell British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel laureate, whose emphasis on
logical analysis influenced the course of 20th-century philosophy.

• George Berkeley (1685-1753): He always tried to find out the reasons behind the
origination of the words like uncertain and doubtful. He always thought that there is
nothing which can stop if one really wants to achieve something. George Berkeley, Irish
philosopher and clergyman, generally regarded as the founder of the modern school of
idealism. He held that matter cannot be conceived to exist independent of the mind; the
phenomena of sense can be explained only by supposing a deity that continually
evokes perception in the human mind.

• Albert Einstein (1879-1955): He contributed many quotes and extra knowledge to the
pool of metaphysics by his excellent work. Albert Einstein German-born American
physicist and Nobel laureate, best known as the creator of the special and general
theories of relativity and for his bold hypothesis concerning the particle nature of light.
He is perhaps the most well-known scientist of the 20th century.

There are many other philosophers who have contributed a lot to the kingdom of
metaphysics. Many of them are very famous and many are not, but the contribution
which was made by them will always be read and remembered.

Why is Metaphysics Important?


The highest realm of thought for man is that of metaphysics. Since man is a part
of this realm he can approach metaphysics through his own understanding of life.
Metaphysics is not theology. Man cannot know God but he can understand concepts
that concern the nature of reality and being. Metaphysics deals with the creativity and
destructiveness within creation, with the purpose and the meaning of evolution, and the
way that it functions. Man enters into physical discourse when he creates values and
meanings.
Metaphysics is the foundation of philosophy. Without an explanation or an
interpretation of the world around us, we would be helpless to deal with reality. We
could not feed ourselves, or act to preserve our lives. The degree to which our
metaphysical worldview is correct is the degree to which we are able to comprehend the
world, and act accordingly. Without this firm foundation, all knowledge becomes
suspect. Any flaw in our view of reality will make it more difficult to live.

• Metaphysics is a Speculative Science


From the foregoing it should be clear that metaphysics is a speculative
science and does not serve a utilitarian purpose. It is not studied because it
teaches us how to do certain things but because man seeks to know for the sake
of knowing.

• Metaphysics has Absolute Value


As a pure science, the value of metaphysics can hardly be overrated. For
metaphysics is concerned with being in general, hence its conclusion will apply to
everything which falls under the extension of the concept of being.
• Metaphysics renders secure the Ultimate Foundation of all Science
Without metaphysics the ultimate foundation of all other sciences are left
insecure. In the other sciences we presuppose and take for granted such things
as the principles of contradiction and of casualty, the multiplication of individuals
in the same species, the possibility of change, etc.

• It is the Task of Metaphysics to Examine all Absolute Principles


Man is naturally inclined to philosophize, even if he has not received any
training in philosophy. It may easily happen that in the course of other sciences
one will always assume, or explicitly formulate metaphysical principles which
sounds reason cannot accept.

• The Norms of life Ultimately Depend upon Metaphysical Principles


Man is guided in his life by certain practical philosophical principles, whether
these principles are embodied in an established religious system or remain
purely ethical and personal.

CONCLUSION
Metaphysics is defined as the branch of philosophy that examines the true
nature of reality, whether visible or invisible. Metaphysics includes the relationship
between mind and matter, substance and attribute, and, fact and value. Basically,
metaphysics is the philosophical study of being and knowing. It is very closely related to
spirituality, but it is not a religion and not THEOLOGY. The difference between
metaphysics from all other human sciences is because it’s extension of its material
object. It embraces everything that is or can be whether it is material or immaterial,
limited or unlimited.

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