Short summaries of the main thinkers and arguments.

What is it? 

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 possibility and actuality. It also considers the nature of existence, time, and causality.

Metaphysics is one of the traditional four main branches of philosophy, alongside ethics, logic, and epistemology. It is an ancient subject that continues to draw human curiosity: what is the nature of reality? 

Metaphysics is the undercurrent of western philosophy that has, from the time of Ancient Greece until now, inquired into that which is - that is, into Being and its reasons.

The philosophical importance of the question of Being is greater than its place in the history of thought. This question has been important since the Greeks because Being, in one single word, defines the universe as a whole along with our own ephemeral existence in it. Fragile as it is, Being, including our own, might well have never come into existence. Yet Being is and we are, at least for a time. It is this mystery and our perplexed relation to it that is the origin of philosophy and of metaphysics. The attempt to think "Being" reaches into something unknown, and possibly unknowable. How do we even begin to describe the reality of something that exists? 

All explanations can only explain Being from Being. Although one may derive Being from another principle (like God), the ensuing explanation does not really explain why there is something rather than nothing. Thus the following paradox: Being, which calls for an explanation, resists all meaning and explanation. 

Some Definitions:  

Aristotle,  Book IV of Metaphysics:  There is a science which investigates Being as Being and the attributes which belong to this in virtue of its own nature. Now this is not the same as any of the so-called special sciences; for none of these others treats universally of Being as Being. They cut off a part of Being and investigate the attribute of this part, this is what the mathematical sciences for instance do.

Immanuel Kant, 1724-1804:  As for the name metaphysics, it is hard to believe that it was born out of chance since it fits this science so well: if we call nature physis and if we can only arrive at the concepts of nature by experience, then the science that follows after it is called metaphysics (from meta, trans, and physica). It is, in a way, a science that is beyond the physical realm.

Metaphysics has as the proper object of its inquiries three ideas only: God, freedom, and immortality.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, 1646-1716: And nobody will be surprised if the queen of the sciences that we know as first philosophy and which Aristotle called the desired science (zetouménè), still remains today an elusive science.

Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900:  Mystical explanations are considered deep; the truth is, they are not even shallow.

Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860I have described religion as the metaphysics of the people....Music is the occult metaphysical exercise of a soul not knowing that it philosophizes.

Theodore Adorno, 1903-1969:  Mysticism is the metaphysics of idiots.   

Questions that lead us to the idea of metaphysics: 

Metaphysics addresses some of the following problems:


Discussion Question: