TheInfoList

Metaphysics is the branch of
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of
consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is or of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial, being "at once t ...

and the relationship between
mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fun ...

and
matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particl ...
. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among
he study of He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun) In Modern English, ''he'' is a Grammatical number, singular, Grammatical gender, masculine, Grammatical person, third-person personal pronoun, pronoun. Morphology In Standard English, Standard M ...
the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

’s works into the treatise we now know by the name ''Metaphysics'' (μετὰ τὰ φυσικά, ''meta ta physika'', lit. 'after the ''Physics'' ', another of Aristotle's works). 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: # What ? # What is it ? Topics of metaphysical investigation include
existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociolog ...

, objects and their
properties Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the abstract is what belongs to or with something, whether as an attribute or as a component of said thing. In the context of this article, it is one or more components (rather than attributes), whether phys ...
,
space Space is the boundless three-dimensional Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called parameter A parameter (from the Ancient Greek language, Ancient Gre ...

and
time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...

,
cause and effect Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one event, process, state or object (a ''cause'') contributes to the production of another event, process, state or object (an ''effect'') where the cause is ...
, and
possibility Possibility is the condition or fact A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience Experience is the process through w ...
. Metaphysics is considered one of the four main branches of philosophy, along with
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the concerned with . Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic , the of , and various related issues. Epistemology is considered a major subfield of philosophy, along with other major ...

,
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

, and
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics"/ref> The field of ethics, al ...

.

# Epistemological foundation

Metaphysical study is conducted using deduction from that which is known ''
a priori ''A priori'' and ''a posteriori'' ('from the earlier' and 'from the later', respectively) are Latin phrases used in philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaph ...
''. Like foundational mathematics (which is sometimes considered a special case of metaphysics applied to the existence of number), it tries to give a coherent account of the structure of the world, capable of explaining our everyday and scientific perception of the world, and being free from contradictions. In mathematics, there are many different ways to define numbers; similarly, in metaphysics, there are many different ways to define objects, properties, concepts, and other entities that are claimed to make up the world. While metaphysics may, as a special case, study the entities postulated by fundamental science such as atoms and superstrings, its core topic is the set of categories such as object, property and causality which those scientific theories assume. For example: claiming that "electrons have charge" is a scientific theory; while exploring what it means for electrons to be (or at least, to be perceived as) "objects", charge to be a "property", and for both to exist in a topological entity called "space" is the task of metaphysics. There are two broad stances about what is "the world" studied by metaphysics. According to
metaphysical realism Philosophical realism is usually not treated as a position of its own but as a stance towards other subject matters. Realism about a certain kind of thing (like numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract co ...
, the objects studied by metaphysics exist independently of any observer so that the subject is the most fundamental of all sciences. Metaphysical anti-realism, on the other hand, assumes that the objects studied by metaphysics exist inside the mind of an observer, so the subject becomes a form of
introspection Introspection is the examination of one's own conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology, the process of introspection relies on the observation of one's Mental representation, mental state, while in a Spirituality, spiritual context it may r ...
and
conceptual analysis Philosophical analysis refers to a set of techniques, typically used by philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wi ...
. This position is of more recent origin. Some philosophers, notably
Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

, discuss both of these "worlds" and what can be inferred about each one. Some, such as the
logical positivists Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western worl ...
, and many scientists, reject the metaphysical realism as meaningless and unverifiable. Others reply that this criticism also applies to any type of knowledge, including hard science, which claims to describe anything other than the contents of human perception, and thus that the world of perception ''is'' the objective world in some sense. Metaphysics itself usually assumes that some stance has been taken on these questions and that it may proceed independently of the choice—the question of which stance to take belongs instead to another branch of philosophy,
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the concerned with . Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic , the of , and various related issues. Epistemology is considered a major subfield of philosophy, along with other major ...

.

# Central questions

## Ontology (being)

Ontology is the branch of
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

that studies concepts such as
existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociolog ...

,
being In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, la ...

, becoming, and
reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The Imaginary (psychoanalysis), a concept by ...

. It includes the questions of how entities are grouped into basic categories and which of these entities exist on the most fundamental level. Ontology is sometimes referred to as the ''science of being''. It has been characterized as ''general metaphysics'' in contrast to ''special metaphysics'', which is concerned with more particular aspects of being. Ontologists often try to determine what the ''categories'' or ''highest kinds'' are and how they form a ''system of categories'' that provides an encompassing classification of all entities. Commonly proposed categories include substances,
properties Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the abstract is what belongs to or with something, whether as an attribute or as a component of said thing. In the context of this article, it is one or more components (rather than attributes), whether phys ...
,
relations Relation or relations may refer to: General uses *International relations, the study of interconnection of politics, economics, and law on a global level *Interpersonal relationship, association or acquaintance between two or more people *Public ...
,
states of affairsIn philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, langua ...
and
events Event may refer to: Gatherings of people * Ceremony, an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion * Convention (meeting), a gathering of individuals engaged in some common interest * Event management, the organization of event ...
. These categories are characterized by fundamental ontological concepts, like ''particularity'' and ''universality'', ''abstractness'' and ''concreteness'' or ''possibility'' and ''necessity''. Of special interest is the concept of ''ontological dependence'', which determines whether the entities of a category exist on the ''most fundamental level''. Disagreements within ontology are often about whether entities belonging to a certain category exist and, if so, how they are related to other entities.

## Identity and change

Identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression and affiliation * Cultural identity, a person's self-affiliation (or categorization by others ...
is a fundamental metaphysical concern. Metaphysicians investigating identity are tasked with the question of what, exactly, it means for something to be identical to itself, or – more controversially – to something else. Issues of identity arise in the context of
time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...

: what does it mean for something to be itself across two moments in time? How do we account for this? Another question of identity arises when we ask what our criteria ought to be for determining identity, and how the reality of identity interfaces with linguistic expressions. The metaphysical positions one takes on identity have far-reaching implications on issues such as the
Mind–body problem The mind–body problem is a debate concerning the relationship between thought and in the human mind, and the brain as part of the physical body. It is distinct from the question of how mind and body function chemically and , as that question ...
,
personal identity 300px, What does it take for a person to persist from moment to moment—for the same person to exist at different moments? Personal identity is the unique numerical identity In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of genera ...
,
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics"/ref> The field of ethics, al ...

, and
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
. A few ancient Greeks took extreme positions on the nature of change.
Parmenides Parmenides of Elea (; grc-gre, Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; ) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit ...

denied change altogether, while
Heraclitus Heraclitus of Ephesus (; grc-gre, Ἡράκλειτος ; , ) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ...

argued that change was ubiquitous: "No man ever steps in the same river twice." Identity, sometimes called
numerical identity In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, lan ...
, is the relation that a thing bears to itself, and which no thing bears to anything other than itself (cf.
sameness In philosophy, identity, from ("sameness"), is the relation each thing bears only to itself. The notion of identity gives rise to List of unsolved problems in philosophy, many philosophical problems, including the identity of indiscernibles (if ' ...
). A modern philosopher who made a lasting impact on the philosophy of identity was
Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz ; see inscription of the engraving depicted in the "#1666–1676, 1666–1676" section. ( – 14 November 1716) was a German polymath active as a mathematician, philosopher, scientist, and diplomat. He is a promin ...

, whose ''Law of the Indiscernibility of Identicals'' is still widely accepted today. It states that if some object ''x'' is identical to some object ''y'', then any property that ''x'' has, ''y'' will have as well. Put formally, it states :$\forall x \; \forall y \; \left(x = y \rightarrow \forall P \; \left(P\left(x\right) \leftrightarrow P\left(y\right)\right)\right)$ However, it does seem that objects can change over time. If one were to look at a tree one day, and the tree later lost a leaf, it would seem that one could still be looking at that same tree. Two rival theories to account for the relationship between change and identity are
perdurantismPerdurantism or perdurance theory is a philosophical theory of persistence and identity.Temporal parts< ...
, which treats the tree as a series of tree-stages, and
endurantism Endurantism or endurance theory is a philosophical theory of persistence and Identity (philosophy), identity. According to the endurantist view, material objects are persisting three-dimensional individuals wholly present at every moment of their ...
, which maintains that the organism—the same tree—is present at every stage in its history. By appealing to
intrinsic and extrinsic properties In science and engineering, an intrinsic property is a property of a specified subject that exists itself or within the subject. An extrinsic property is not essential or inherent to the subject that is being characterized. For example, mass ...
, endurantism finds a way to harmonize identity with change. Endurantists believe that objects persist by being strictly numerically identical over time. However, if Leibniz's Law of the Indiscernibility of Identicals is utilized to define numerical identity here, it seems that objects must be completely unchanged in order to persist. Discriminating between intrinsic properties and extrinsic properties, endurantists state that numerical identity means that, if some object ''x'' is identical to some object ''y'', then any ''intrinsic'' property that ''x'' has, ''y'' will have as well. Thus, if an object persists, ''intrinsic'' properties of it are unchanged, but ''extrinsic'' properties can change over time. Besides the object itself, environments and other objects can change over time; properties that relate to other objects would change even if this object does not change. Perdurantism can harmonize identity with change in another way. In
four-dimensionalism In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, lan ...
, a version of perdurantism, what persists is a four-dimensional object which does not change although three-dimensional slices of the object may differ.

## Space and time

Objects appear to us in space and time, while abstract entities such as classes, properties, and relations do not. How do space and time serve this function as a ground for objects? Are space and time entities themselves, of some form? Must they exist prior to objects? How exactly can they be defined? How is time related to change; must there always be something changing in order for time to exist?

## Causality

Classical philosophy recognized a number of causes, including
teleological Teleology (from and )Partridge, Eric. 1977''Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English'' London: Routledge, p. 4187. or finalityDubray, Charles. 2020 912 Year 912 ( CMXII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will disp ...
future causes. In
special relativity In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular s ...
and
quantum field theory In theoretical physics Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict List of natural phenomena, natural phenomena. This is in co ...
the notions of space, time and causality become tangled together, with temporal orders of causations becoming dependent on who is observing them. The laws of physics are symmetrical in time, so could equally well be used to describe time as running backwards. Why then do we perceive it as flowing in one direction, the
arrow of time The arrow of time, also called time's arrow, is the concept positing the "one-way direction" or "asymmetry Asymmetry is the absence of, or a violation of, symmetry (the property of an object being invariant to a transformation, such as re ...
, and as containing causation flowing in the same direction? For that matter, can an effect precede its cause? This was the title of a 1954 paper by
Michael Dummett Sir Michael Anthony Eardley Dummett (1925–2011) was an English academic described as "among the most significant British philosophers of the last century and a leading campaigner for racial tolerance and equality." He was, until 1992, Wykeham ...
, which sparked a discussion that continues today. Earlier, in 1947, C. S. Lewis had argued that one can meaningfully pray concerning the outcome of, e.g., a medical test while recognizing that the outcome is determined by past events: "My free act contributes to the cosmic shape." Likewise, some interpretations of
quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with ...
, dating to 1945, involve backward-in-time causal influences.
Causality Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one Event (relativity), event, process, state or object (a ''cause'') contributes to the production of another event, process, state or object (an ''effect'') ...
is linked by many philosophers to the concept of
counterfactuals Counterfactual conditionals (also ''subjunctive'' or ''X-marked'') are conditional sentences which discuss what would have been true under different circumstances, e.g. "If Peter believed in ghosts, he would be afraid to be here." Counterfactual ...
. To say that A caused B means that if A had not happened then B would not have happened. This view was advanced by
David LewisDavid or Dave Lewis may refer to: Academics *A. David Lewis (born 1977), American comic writer and scholar of religion and literature *David Lewis (academic) (born 1960), English scholar of development *David Lewis (lawyer) ( – 1584), Welsh ...
in his 1973 paper "Causation". His subsequent papers further develop his theory of causation. Causality is usually required as a foundation for
philosophy of science Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methodology, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern Demarcation problem, what qualifies as science, the reliability of sc ...
if science aims to understand causes and effects and make predictions about them.

## Necessity and possibility

Metaphysicians investigate questions about the ways the world could have been.
David LewisDavid or Dave Lewis may refer to: Academics *A. David Lewis (born 1977), American comic writer and scholar of religion and literature *David Lewis (academic) (born 1960), English scholar of development *David Lewis (lawyer) ( – 1584), Welsh ...
, in ''
On the Plurality of Worlds ''On the Plurality of Worlds'' (1986) is a book by the philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom'. The c ...
'', endorsed a view called concrete
modal realism Modal realism is the view propounded by David Kellogg Lewis that all possible worlds are real in the same way as is the actual world: they are "of a kind with this world of ours." It is based on the following tenets: possible worlds exist; pos ...
, according to which facts about how things could have been are made true by other
concrete Concrete is a composite material A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite, which is the common name) is a material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a ter ...
worlds in which things are different. Other philosophers, including
Gottfried Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz ; see inscription of the engraving depicted in the "#1666–1676, 1666–1676" section. ( – 14 November 1716) was a German polymath active as a mathematician, philosopher, scientist, and diplomat. He is a promin ...
, have dealt with the idea of possible worlds as well. A necessary fact is true across all
possible world A possible world is a complete and consistent way the world is or could have been. They are widely used as a formal device in logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously ...
s. A possible fact is true in some possible world, even if not in the actual world. For example, it is possible that cats could have had two tails, or that any particular apple could have not existed. By contrast, certain propositions seem necessarily true, such as
analytic proposition Generally speaking, analytic (from el, ἀναλυτικός, ''analytikos'') refers to the "having the ability to analyze" or "division into elements or principles". Analytic can also have the following meanings: Natural sciences Chemistry * ...
s, e.g., "All bachelors are unmarried." The view that any
analytic truth Generally speaking, analytic (from el, ἀναλυτικός, ''analytikos'') refers to the "having the ability to analyze" or "division into elements or principles". Analytic can also have the following meanings: Natural sciences Chemistry ...
is necessary is not universally held among philosophers. A less controversial view is that self-identity is necessary, as it seems fundamentally incoherent to claim that any ''x'' is not identical to itself; this is known as the
law of identity In logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative, translit=logikḗ)Also related to (''logos''), "word, thought, idea, argument, ...
, a putative "first principle". Similarly, Aristotle describes the
principle of non-contradiction In logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative, translit=logikḗ)Also related to (''logos''), "word, thought, idea, argument, ...
: :It is impossible that the same quality should both belong and not belong to the same thing ... This is the most certain of all principles ... Wherefore they who demonstrate refer to this as an ultimate opinion. For it is by nature the source of all the other axioms.

# Peripheral questions

## Metaphysical cosmology and cosmogony

Metaphysical cosmology is the branch of metaphysics that deals with the
world In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is. The nature of the world has been conceptualized differently in different fields. Some conceptions see the world ...

as the totality of all
phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...

in
space Space is the boundless three-dimensional Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called parameter A parameter (from the Ancient Greek language, Ancient Gre ...

and
time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...

. Historically, it formed a major part of the subject alongside Ontology, though its role is more peripheral in contemporary philosophy. It has had a broad scope, and in many cases was founded in religion. The ancient Greeks drew no distinction between this use and their model for the cosmos. However, in modern times it addresses questions about the
Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...

which are beyond the scope of the physical sciences. It is distinguished from religious cosmology in that it approaches these questions using philosophical methods (e.g.
dialectic Dialectic or dialectics ( grc-gre, διαλεκτική, ''dialektikḗ''; related to dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States Engli ...
s).
Cosmogony Cosmogony is any model concerning the origin of either the cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and ...
deals specifically with the origin of the universe. Modern metaphysical cosmology and cosmogony try to address questions such as: * What is the origin of the Universe? What is its first cause? Is its existence necessary? (see
monism Monism attributes oneness or singleness (Greek: μόνος) to a concept e.g., existence. Various kinds of monism can be distinguished: * Priority monism states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct from them; e.g., i ...
,
pantheism Pantheism is the belief that reality is identical with divinity, or that all things compose an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheist belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psych ...

,
emanationism Emanationism is an idea in the cosmology Cosmology (from Ancient Greek, Greek κόσμος, ''kosmos'' "world" and -λογία, ''-logia'' "study of") is a branch of astronomy concerned with the studies of the origin and evolution of the unive ...
and
creationism Creationism is the religious belief A belief is an attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world whic ...

) * What are the ultimate material components of the Universe? (see
mechanism Mechanism may refer to: *Mechanism (engineering) In engineering, a mechanism is a Machine, device that transforms input forces and movement into a desired set of output forces and movement. Mechanisms generally consist of moving components which m ...
, dynamism,
hylomorphism Hylomorphism (or hylemorphism) is a philosophy, philosophical theory developed by Aristotle, which conceives wiktionary:being, being (''ousia'') as a compound of matter and Substantial form, form. The word is a 19th-century term formed from the Gre ...
,
atomism Atomism (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million ...
) * What is the ultimate reason for the existence of the Universe? Does the cosmos have a purpose? (see
teleology Teleology (from and )Partridge, Eric. 1977''Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English'' London: Routledge, p. 4187. or finalityDubray, Charles. 2020 912 Year 912 ( CMXII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will dis ...
)

## Mind and matter

Accounting for the existence of
mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fun ...

in a world largely composed of
matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particl ...
is a metaphysical problem which is so large and important as to have become a specialized subject of study in its own right,
philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of that studies the and nature of the and its relationship with the body. The is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy of mind, although a number of other issues are addressed, such as the and the nature of parti ...

.
Substance dualism Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and takes up space * Substance th ...
is a classical theory in which mind and body are essentially different, with the mind having some of the attributes traditionally assigned to the
soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as ...
, and which creates an immediate conceptual puzzle about how the two interact. This form of substance dualism differs from the dualism of some eastern philosophical traditions (like Nyāya), which also posit a soul; for the soul, under their view, is ontologically distinct from the mind.
Idealism In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, l ...

postulates that material objects do not exist unless perceived and only as perceptions. Adherents of
panpsychism In philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy of mind, although a number o ...
, a kind of
property dualism Property dualism: the exemplification of two kinds of property by one kind of substance Property dualism describes a category of positions in the philosophy of mind which hold that, although the world is composed of just one kind of substance the ...

, hold that everything ''has'' a mental aspect, but not that everything exists ''in'' a mind.
Neutral monism Neutral monism is an umbrella term for a class of Metaphysics, metaphysical theories in the philosophy of mind. These theories reject the dichotomy of mind and matter, believing the fundamental nature of reality to be neither mental nor physical; in ...
postulates that existence consists of a single substance that in itself is neither mental nor physical, but is capable of mental and physical aspects or attributesthus it implies a dual-aspect theory. For the last century, the dominant theories have been science-inspired including materialistic monism, type identity theory, token identity theory, functionalism, reductive physicalism, nonreductive physicalism,
eliminative materialism Eliminative materialism (also called eliminativism) is the claim that certain types of mental states that most people believe in do not exist. It is a materialist Materialism is a form of philosophical monism that holds that matter In ...
,
anomalous monismAnomalous monism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality is the sum ...

,
property dualism Property dualism: the exemplification of two kinds of property by one kind of substance Property dualism describes a category of positions in the philosophy of mind which hold that, although the world is composed of just one kind of substance the ...

,
epiphenomenalismEpiphenomenalism is a position on the mind–body problem which holds that physical and biochemical events within the human body ( sense organs, neural impulses, and muscle contractions, for example) are causal with respect to mental events (thoug ...
and
emergence In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, la ...

.

## Determinism and free will

Determinism Determinism is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality is the ...
is the
philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real o ...

proposition In logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, lab ...
that every event, including human cognition, decision and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. It holds that nothing happens that has not already been determined. The principal consequence of the deterministic claim is that it poses a challenge to the existence of
free will Free will is the capacity of agents to choose between different possible courses of action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake ( ...

. The problem of
free will Free will is the capacity of agents to choose between different possible courses of action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake ( ...

is the problem of whether rational agents exercise control over their own actions and decisions. Addressing this problem requires understanding the relation between freedom and causation, and determining whether the laws of nature are causally deterministic. Some philosophers, known as incompatibilists, view determinism and free will as
mutually exclusive In logic and probability theory, two events (or propositions) are mutually exclusive or disjoint if they cannot both occur at the same time. A clear example is the set of outcomes of a single coin toss, which can result in either heads or tails, ...
. If they believe in determinism, they will therefore believe free will to be an illusion, a position known as ''Hard Determinism''. Proponents range from
Baruch Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Por ...

to
Ted Honderich Ted Honderich (born 30 January 1933) is a Canadian-born British professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondar ...
.
Henri Bergson Henri-Louis Bergson (; 18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, Ré ...

defended
free will Free will is the capacity of agents to choose between different possible courses of action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake ( ...

in his dissertation '' Time and Free Will'' from 1889. Others, labeled compatibilists (or "soft determinists"), believe that the two ideas can be reconciled coherently. Adherents of this view include
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an , considered to be one of the founders of modern . Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ', in which he expounds an influential form ...
and many modern philosophers such as
John Martin Fischer John Martin Fischer (born December 26, 1952) is an American philosopher. He is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside and a leading contributor to the philosophy of free will and moral responsibility. Ed ...
, Gary Watson, Harry Frankfurt, and the like. Incompatibilists who accept
free will Free will is the capacity of agents to choose between different possible courses of action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake ( ...

but reject determinism are called
libertarians Libertarianism (from french: libertaire, "libertarian"; from la, libertas, "freedom") is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of ...
, a term not to be confused with the political sense. Robert Kane and
Alvin Plantinga Alvin Carl Plantinga (born 1932) is an American analytic philosopher Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaph ...

are modern defenders of this theory.

## Natural and social kinds

The earliest type of classification of social construction traces back to
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

in his dialogue Phaedrus where he claims that the biological classification system seems to carve nature at the joints. In contrast, later philosophers such as
Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault (, ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, History of ideas, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and Literary criticism, literary critic. Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship ...

and
Jorge Luis Borges Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; ; 24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Spanish literature, Spanish-language and universal literature. His best- ...

have challenged the capacity of natural and social classification. In his essay The Analytical Language of John Wilkins, Borges makes us imagine a certain encyclopedia where the animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained;... and so forth, in order to bring forward the ambiguity of natural and social kinds. According to metaphysics author Alyssa Ney: "the reason all this is interesting is that there seems to be a metaphysical difference between the Borgesian system and Plato's". The difference is not obvious but one classification attempts to carve entities up according to objective distinction while the other does not. According to Quine this notion is closely related to the notion of similarity.

## Number

There are different ways to set up the notion of number in metaphysics theories.
Platonist Platonism is the philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of ...
theories postulate number as a fundamental category itself. Others consider it to be a property of an entity called a "group" comprising other entities; or to be a relation held between several groups of entities, such as "the number four is the set of all sets of four things". Many of the debates around
universals In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example ...
are applied to the study of number, and are of particular importance due to its status as a foundation for the
philosophy of mathematics The philosophy of mathematics is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a bra ...
and for
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
itself.

## Applied metaphysics

Although metaphysics as a philosophical enterprise is highly hypothetical, it also has practical application in most other branches of philosophy, science, and now also information technology. Such areas generally assume some basic ontology (such as a system of objects, properties, classes, and space-time) as well as other metaphysical stances on topics such as causality and agency, then build their own particular theories upon these. In
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

, for example, some theories are based on the ontological assumption of objects with properties (such as electrons having charge) while others may reject objects completely (such as quantum field theories, where spread-out "electronness" becomes property of space-time rather than an object). "Social" branches of philosophy such as philosophy of morality,
aesthetics Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of m ...

and
philosophy of religion Philosophy of religion is "the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions". Philosophical discussions on such topics date from ancient times, and appear in the earliest known s concerning philo ...
(which in turn give rise to practical subjects such as ethics, politics, law, and art) all require metaphysical foundations, which may be considered as branches or applications of metaphysics. For example, they may postulate the existence of basic entities such as value, beauty, and God. Then they use these postulates to make their own arguments about consequences resulting from them. When philosophers in these subjects make their foundations they are doing applied metaphysics, and may draw upon its core topics and methods to guide them, including ontology and other core and peripheral topics. As in science, the foundations chosen will in turn depend on the underlying ontology used, so philosophers in these subjects may have to dig right down to the ontological layer of metaphysics to find what is possible for their theories. For example, a contradiction obtained in a theory of God or Beauty might be due to an assumption that it is an object rather than some other kind of ontological entity.

# Relation to other disciplines

## Science

Prior to the modern
history of science The history of science covers the development of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in the form of ...

, scientific questions were addressed as a part of
natural philosophy Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from Latin ''philosophia naturalis'') was the philosophy, philosophical study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. From the ancient world, a ...
. Originally, the term "science" ( la, scientia) simply meant "knowledge". The
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence ...

, however, transformed natural philosophy into an
empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity which is s ...
activity deriving from
experiment An experiment is a procedure carried out to support or refute a hypothesis, or determine the efficacy or likelihood of something previously untried. Experiments provide insight into Causality, cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome oc ...

, unlike the rest of philosophy. By the end of the 18th century, it had begun to be called "science" to distinguish it from other branches of philosophy. Science and philosophy have been considered separated disciplines ever since. Thereafter, metaphysics denoted philosophical enquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence.Peter Gay, ''The Enlightenment'', vol. 1 (''The Rise of Modern Paganism''), Chapter 3, Section II, pp. 132–141. Metaphysics continues asking "why" where science leaves off. For example, any theory of fundamental physics is based on some set of
axiom An axiom, postulate or assumption is a statement that is taken to be truth, true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Greek ''axíōma'' () 'that which is thought worthy or fit' o ...

s, which may postulate the existence of entities such as atoms, particles, forces, charges, mass, or fields. Stating such postulates is considered to be the "end" of a science theory. Metaphysics takes these postulates and explores what they mean as human concepts. For example, do all theories of physics require the existence of space and time, objects, and properties? Or can they be expressed using only objects, or only properties? Do the objects have to retain their identity over time or can they change? If they change, then are they still the same object? 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? Much recent work has been devoted to analyzing the role of metaphysics in scientific theorizing.
Alexandre Koyré Alexandre Koyré (, ; born Alexandr Vladimirovich (or Volfovich) Koyra (russian: Александр Владимирович (Вольфович) Койра); 29 August 1892 – 28 April 1964), also anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or ...
led this movement, declaring in his book ''Metaphysics and Measurement'', "It is not by following experiment, but by outstripping experiment, that the scientific mind makes progress." That metaphysical propositions can influence scientific theorizing is John Watkins' most lasting contribution to philosophy. Since 1957 "he showed the ways in which some un-testable and hence, according to Karl Popper, 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...represented an important corrective to positivist teachings about the meaninglessness of metaphysics and of normative claims". Imre Lakatos maintained that all scientific theories have a metaphysical "hard core" essential for the generation of hypotheses and theoretical assumptions. Thus, according to Lakatos, "scientific changes are connected with vast cataclysmic metaphysical revolutions." 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 Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

through Georges Cuvier, Cuvier, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Lamarck, and Charles Darwin, 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 Introduction to quantum mechanics, quantum mechanics, where subatomic particles arguably do not have the same sort of individuality as the particulars with which philosophy has traditionally been concerned. Also, adherence to a deterministic metaphysics in the face of the challenge posed by the quantum-mechanical uncertainty principle led physicists such as Albert Einstein to propose Hidden variable theory, alternative theories that retained determinism. Alfred North Whitehead, A.N. 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.

## Theology

There is a relationship between theological doctrines and philosophical reflection in the philosophy of a religion (such as Christian philosophy), philosophical reflections are strictly rational. On this way of seeing the two disciplines, if at least one of the premises of an argument is derived from revelation, the argument falls in the domain of theology; otherwise it falls into philosophy's domain.

# Rejections of metaphysics

Meta-metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that is concerned with the foundations of metaphysics. A number of individuals have suggested that much or all of metaphysics should be rejected, a meta-metaphysical position known as metaphysical deflationism or ontological deflationism. In the 16th century, Francis Bacon rejected Scholasticism, scholastic metaphysics, and argued strongly for what is now called empiricism, being 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'' (1748) 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?'' No. ''Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence?'' No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Thirty-three years after Hume's ''Enquiry'' appeared, Immanuel Kant published his ''Critique of Pure Reason''. Although he followed Hume in rejecting much of previous metaphysics, he argued that there was still room for some Analytic–synthetic distinction, synthetic ''a priori'' knowledge, concerned with matters of fact yet obtainable independent of experience. These included fundamental structures of space, time, and causality. 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
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

, vis. a world composed of "atomical facts". In the 1930s, A.J. Ayer and Rudolf Carnap endorsed Hume's position; Carnap quoted the passage above. They argued that metaphysical statements are neither true nor false but meaningless since, according to their Verificationism, verifiability theory of meaning, a statement is meaningful only if there can be empirical evidence for or against it. Thus, while Ayer rejected the monism of Spinoza, he avoided a commitment to pluralism (philosophy), pluralism, the contrary position, by holding both views to be without Meaning (philosophy), meaning. Carnap took a similar line with the controversy over the reality of the external world. While the logical positivism movement is now considered dead (with Ayer, a major proponent, admitting in a 1979 TV interview that "nearly all of it was false"),Oswald Hanfling, ch 5 "Logical positivism", in Stuart G Shanker, ''Philosophy of Science, Logic and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century'' (London: Routledge, 1996)
pp. 193–94
it has continued to influence philosophy development. Arguing against such rejections, the Scholastic philosopher Edward Feser held that Hume's critique of metaphysics, and specifically Hume's fork, is "notoriously self-refuting". Feser argues that Hume's fork itself is not a conceptual truth and is not empirically testable. Some living philosophers, such as Amie Thomasson, have argued that many metaphysical questions can be dissolved just by looking at the way we use words; others, such as Ted Sider, have 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.

# Etymology

The word "metaphysics" derives from the Ancient Greek, Greek words wikt:μετά, μετά (''Meta, metá'', "after") and wikt:φυσικά, φυσικά (''physiká'', "physics"). It was first used as the title for several of
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

's works, because they were usually anthologized after the works on physics (Aristotle), physics in complete editions. The prefix ''meta-'' ("after") indicates that these works come "after" the chapters on physics. However, Aristotle himself did not call the subject of these books metaphysics: he referred to it as "first philosophy" ( el, πρώτη φιλοσοφία; la, philosophia prima). The editor of Aristotle's works, Andronicus of Rhodes, is thought to have placed the books on first philosophy right after another work, ''Physics'', and called them (''tà metà tà physikà biblía'') or "the books [that come] after the [books 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". Following this tradition, the prefix ''meta-'' has more recently been prefixed to the names of sciences to designate higher sciences dealing with ulterior and more fundamental problems: hence metamathematics, Wikt:metaphysiology, metaphysiology, etc. 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 Magic (paranormal), magical entities. For example, "Metaphysical healing" to refer to healing by means of remedies that are magical rather than scientific. This usage stemmed from the various historical schools of speculative metaphysics which operated by postulating all manner of physical, mental and spiritual entities as bases for particular metaphysical systems. 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.

# History and schools of metaphysics

## Pre-history

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 modernity, all around the world. Similar beliefs are found in present-day "stone age" cultures such as Australian Aboriginal Australians, 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 Platonism, with Plato articulating, rather than creating, much older widespread beliefs.

## Bronze Age

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 mythology, anthropomorphic gods, mind–body dualism, and a Spirit world (Spiritualism), spirit world, 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 (mythology), chaos (Isfet (Egyptian mythology), Isfet) seems to have been important.

## Pre-Socratic Greece

The first named Greek philosopher, according to
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

, is Thales of Miletus, early 6th century BCE. 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 Aristotelianism, Aristotelian terminology) of the material world''. His fellow, but younger Miletians, Anaximander and Anaximenes of Miletus, Anaximenes, also posited monistic underlying principles, namely ''apeiron'' (the indefinite or boundless) and air respectively. Another school was the Eleatics, in southern Italy. The group was founded in the early fifth century BCE by
Parmenides Parmenides of Elea (; grc-gre, Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; ) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit ...

, and included Zeno of Elea and Melissus of Samos. 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 absurdum'', to demonstrate the illusory nature of change and time in his Zeno's paradoxes, paradoxes.
Heraclitus Heraclitus of Ephesus (; grc-gre, Ἡράκλειτος ; , ) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ...

of Ephesus, in 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 Leucippus, are known for formulating an atomic theory for the cosmos.#Barnes, Barnes (1987). They are considered forerunners of the scientific method.

## Classical China

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 (book), Zhuangzi) and sees the natural world as dynamic and constantly changing processes which spontaneously arise from a single immanent metaphysical source or principle (Tao).Perkins, Franklin
"Metaphysics in Chinese Philosophy"
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
Another philosophical school which arose around this time was the School of Naturalists which saw the ultimate metaphysical principle as the Taiji (philosophy), Taiji, the "supreme polarity" composed of the forces of Yin and Yang which were always in a state of change seeking balance. Another concern of Chinese metaphysics, especially Taoism, is the relationship and nature of Being and non-Being (you 有 and wu 無). The Taoists held that the ultimate, the Tao, was also non-being or no-presence. Other important concepts were those of spontaneous generation or natural vitality (Ziran) and "correlative resonance" (Ganying). After the fall of the Han Dynasty (220 CE), China saw the rise of the Neo-Taoist Xuanxue school. This school was very influential in developing the concepts of later Chinese metaphysics. Buddhist philosophy entered China (c. 1st century) and was influenced by the native Chinese metaphysical concepts to develop new theories. The native Tiantai and Huayen schools of philosophy maintained and reinterpreted the Indian theories of shunyata (emptiness, kong 空) and Buddha-nature (Fo xing 佛性) into the theory of Huayan#Interpenetration, interpenetration of phenomena. Neo-Confucianism, Neo-Confucians like Zhang Zai under the influence of other schools developed the concepts of "principle" (Li (Neo-Confucianism), li) and vital energy (qi).

## Classical Greece

### Socrates and Plato

Socrates is known for his
dialectic Dialectic or dialectics ( grc-gre, διαλεκτική, ''dialektikḗ''; related to dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States Engli ...
or questioning approach to philosophy rather than a positive metaphysical doctrine. His pupil,
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

is famous for his theory of Platonic forms, 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.e., what particular objects have in common is that they share a specific Form which is universal to all others of their respective kind. The theory has a number of other aspects: * Epistemological: knowledge of the Forms is more certain than mere sensory data. * Ethical: The Form of the Good sets an objective standard for morality. * Time and Change: The world of the Forms is eternal and unchanging. Time and change belong only to the lower sensory world. "Time is a moving image of Eternity". * Abstract objects and mathematics: Numbers, geometrical figures, etc., exist mind-independently in the World of Forms. Platonism developed into Neoplatonism, a philosophy with a monotheistic and mystical flavour that survived well into the early Christian era.

### Aristotle

Plato's pupil
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

wrote widely on almost every subject, including Metaphysics (Aristotle), metaphysics. His solution to the problem of universals contrasts with Plato's. 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 Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

used throughout his philosophical works to analyze motion (physics), motion, four causes, causality 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
teleological Teleology (from and )Partridge, Eric. 1977''Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English'' London: Routledge, p. 4187. or finalityDubray, Charles. 2020 912 Year 912 ( CMXII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will disp ...
, a concept now regarded as controversial in science. The Matter/Form dichotomy was to become highly influential in later philosophy as the substance/essence distinction. The opening arguments in Aristotle's ''Metaphysics'', Book 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". Aristotle claims that eyesight provides us with the capability to recognize and remember experiences, while sound allows us to learn.

## Classical India

''More on Indian philosophy: Hindu philosophy''

### Sāṃkhya

''Sāṃkhya'' is an ancient system of Indian philosophy based on a dualism involving the ultimate principles of consciousness and matter. It is described as the rationalism, rationalist school of Indian philosophy. It is most related to the Yoga (philosophy), Yoga school of Hinduism, and its method was most influential on the development of Early Buddhism.Roy Perrett, Indian Ethics: Classical traditions and contemporary challenges, Volume 1 (Editor: P Bilimoria et al.), Ashgate, , pp. 149–158 The Sāmkhya is an enumerationist philosophy whose
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the concerned with . Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic , the of , and various related issues. Epistemology is considered a major subfield of philosophy, along with other major ...

accepts three of six pramanas (proofs) as the only reliable means of gaining knowledge. These include ''pratyakṣa'' (perception), ''anumāṇa'' (inference) and ''śabda'' (''āptavacana'', word/testimony of reliable sources). * Eliott Deutsche (2000), in Philosophy of Religion : Indian Philosophy Vol 4 (Editor: Roy Perrett), Routledge, , pp. 245–248; * John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, State University of New York Press, , p. 238John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, State University of New York Press, , p. 238 Samkhya is strongly dualism (Indian philosophy), dualist. Sāmkhya philosophy regards the universe as consisting of two realities; purusha, puruṣa (consciousness) and prakṛti (matter). Jiva (a living being) is that state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakṛti in some form. This fusion, state the Samkhya scholars, led to the emergence of ''buddhi'' ("spiritual awareness") and ''ahaṅkāra'' (ego consciousness). The universe is described by this school as one created by purusa-prakṛti entities infused with various permutations and combinations of variously enumerated elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind.Samkhya – Hinduism
Encyclopædia Britannica (2014)
During the state of imbalance, one of more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage, particularly of the mind. The end of this imbalance, bondage is called liberation, or moksha, by the Samkhya school.Gerald James Larson (2011), Classical Sāṃkhya: An Interpretation of Its History and Meaning, Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 36–47 The existence of God or supreme being is not directly asserted, nor considered relevant by the Samkhya philosophers. Sāṃkhya teleology, denies the Four causes#Final cause, final cause of Ishvara (God). While the Samkhya school considers the Vedas as a reliable source of knowledge, it is an atheistic philosophy according to Paul Deussen and other scholars.Lloyd Pflueger, Person Purity and Power in Yogasutra, in Theory and Practice of Yoga (Editor: Knut Jacobsen), Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 38–39 A key difference between Samkhya and Yoga schools, state scholars, is that Yoga school accepts a "personal, yet essentially inactive, deity" or "personal god". Samkhya is known for its theory of guṇas (qualities, innate tendencies). Guṇa, it states, are of three types: ''sattva'' being good, compassionate, illuminating, positive, and constructive; ''rajas'' is one of activity, chaotic, passion, impulsive, potentially good or bad; and ''tamas'' being the quality of darkness, ignorance, destructive, lethargic, negative. Everything, all life forms and human beings, state Samkhya scholars, have these three guṇas, but in different proportions. The interplay of these guṇas defines the character of someone or something, of nature and determines the progress of life.James G. Lochtefeld, Guna, in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A–M, Vol. 1, Rosen Publishing, , p. 265 The Samkhya theory of guṇas was widely discussed, developed and refined by various schools of Indian philosophies, including Buddhism. Samkhya's philosophical treatises also influenced the development of various theories of Hindu ethics.

### Vedānta

Realization of the nature of Self-identity is the principal object of the Vedanta system of Indian metaphysics. In the Upanishads, self-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. It is Self-realisation; the realisation of the Self consisting of consciousness that leads all else. The word ''self-consciousness'' in the Upanishads means the knowledge about the existence and nature of ''manusya'', human being. It means the consciousness of our own real being, the primary reality. Self-consciousness means self-knowledge, the knowledge of Prajna i.e. of Prana which is attained by a Brahman. According to the Upanishads the Atman (Hinduism), Atman or Paramatman is phenomenally unknowable; it is the object of realisation. 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 school'', b) the ''Quasi-dualistic school'' and c) the ''Monistic school'', as the result of their varying mystical experiences. Prakrti and Atman (Hinduism), Atman, when treated as two separate and distinct aspects form the basis of the Dualism of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. Quasi-dualism is reflected in the Vaishnavite-monotheism of Ramanuja and the absolute Monism, in the teachings of Adi Shankara. Self-consciousness is the Fourth state of consciousness or ''Turiya'', the first three being ''Vaisvanara'', ''Taijasa'' and ''Prajna''. These are the four states of individual consciousness. There are three distinct stages leading to Self-realisation. 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 (Hinduism), Atman is Brahman, that there is no difference between the Self and the Absolute. The Fourth stage is in realising "I am the Absolute" – ''Aham Brahman Asmi''. The Fifth stage is in realising that Brahman is the "All" that exists, as also that which does not exist.

## Buddhist metaphysics

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 the unanswered questions, certain metaphysical questions as unhelpful and indeterminate Avyakta, which he recommends should be set aside. The development of systematic metaphysics arose after the Buddha's death with the rise of the Abhidharma traditions. The Buddhist Abhidharma schools developed their analysis of reality based on the concept of ''dharmas'' which are the ultimate physical and mental events that makeup experience and their relations to each other. Noa Ronkin has called their approach "Process philosophy, phenomenological". Later philosophical traditions include the Madhyamika school of Nagarjuna, which further developed the theory of the emptiness (shunyata) of all phenomena or dharmas which rejects any kind of Dravya (Jainism), substance. This has been interpreted as a form of anti-foundationalism and anti-realism which sees reality as having no ultimate essence or ground. The Yogacara school meanwhile promoted a theory called "awareness only" (Yogachara#Vijñapti-mātra, vijnapti-matra) which has been interpreted as a form of
Idealism In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, l ...

or Phenomenology (philosophy), Phenomenology and denies the split between awareness itself and the objects of awareness.

## Islamic metaphysics

Major ideas in Sufi metaphysics have surrounded the concept of weḥdah (وحدة) meaning "unity", or in Arabic توحيد tawhid. waḥdat al-wujūd literally means the "Unity of Existence" or "Unity of Being." The phrase has been translated "
pantheism Pantheism is the belief that reality is identical with divinity, or that all things compose an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheist belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psych ...

." Wujud (i.e. existence or presence) here refers to Allah's wujud (compare tawhid). On the other hand, waḥdat ash-shuhūd, meaning "Apparentism" or "Monotheism of Witness", holds that God and his creation are entirely separate.

## Scholasticism and the Middle Ages

Between about 1100 and 1500, 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 universals, which engaged Duns Scotus and Pierre Abelard. William of Ockham is remembered for his principle of ontological parsimony.

## Continental rationalism

In the early modern period (17th and 18th centuries), the 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. *
Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz ; see inscription of the engraving depicted in the "#1666–1676, 1666–1676" section. ( – 14 November 1716) was a German polymath active as a mathematician, philosopher, scientist, and diplomat. He is a promin ...

proposed in his ''Monadology'' a plurality of non-interacting substances. * Descartes is famous for his Mind-body dualism, dualism of material and mental substances. * Spinoza believed reality was a Monism, single substance of God-or-nature.

### Wolff

Christian Wolff (philosopher), 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 Trichotomy (philosophy), three "special metaphysics" on the soul, world and God: rational psychology, rational Cosmology (philosophy), cosmology and rational theology. The three disciplines are called empirical and rational because they are independent of revelation. 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

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 David Hume#Causation, critique of causality. John Stuart Mill, Thomas 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.

## Kant

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 Kantian architectonics, 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 Revolution, by 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 ''analytical-synthetic distinction, synthetic apriori''—that is knowledge that does not come from the senses (it is a priori and a posteriori, a priori) but is nonetheless about reality (synthetic). Inasmuch as it is about reality, it differs from abstract mathematical propositions (which he terms analytical apriori), and 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.

## Late modern philosophy

Nineteenth century philosophy was overwhelmingly influenced by Kant and his successors. Schopenhauer, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Schelling, Fichte and Hegel all purveyed their own panoramic versions of German Idealism, Kant's own caution about metaphysical speculation, and Critique of Pure Reason#The refutation of idealism, refutation of idealism, having fallen by the wayside. The idealistic impulse continued into the early twentieth century with British idealists such as F. H. Bradley and J. M. E. McTaggart. Followers of Karl Marx took Hegel's dialectic view of history and dialectical materialism, re-fashioned it as materialism.

## Early analytic philosophy and positivism

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 1920s. Analytic philosophy was spearheaded by Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore. 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 Circle, which 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. N. Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne.

## Continental philosophy

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 (philosophy), 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. Franz Brentano, Brentano's concept of intentionality would become widely influential, including on analytic philosophy. Heidegger, author of ''Being and Time'', saw himself as re-focusing on Being-qua-being, introducing the novel concept of ''Dasein'' in the process. Classing himself an existentialist, Sartre wrote an extensive study of ''Being and Nothingness''. The speculative realism movement marks a return to full blooded realism.

## Process metaphysics

There are two fundamental aspects 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 broad sense, process metaphysics is as old as Western philosophy, with figures such as Heraclitus, Plotinus, Duns Scotus, Leibniz, David Hume, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, Gustav Theodor Fechner, Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg, Charles Renouvier, Karl Marx, Ernst Mach, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Émile Boutroux, Henri Bergson, Samuel Alexander and Nicolas Berdyaev. It seemingly remains an open question whether major "Continental" figures such as the late Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, or Jacques Derrida should be included. In a strict sense, process metaphysics may be limited to the works of a few founding fathers: G. W. F. Hegel, Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, Henri Bergson, A. N. Whitehead, and John Dewey. From a European perspective, there was a very significant and early Whiteheadian influence on the works of outstanding scholars such as Émile Meyerson (1859–1933), Louis Couturat (1868–1914), Jean Wahl (1888–1974), Robin George Collingwood (1889–1943), Philippe Devaux (1902–1979), Hans Jonas (1903–1993), Dorothy M. Emmett (1904–2000), Maurice Merleau Ponty (1908–1961), Enzo Paci (1911–1976), Charlie Dunbar Broad (1887–1971), Wolfe Mays (1912–2005), Ilya Prigogine (1917–2003), Jules Vuillemin (1920–2001), Jean Ladrière (1921–2007), Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995), Wolfhart Pannenberg (1928–2014), and Reiner Wiehl (1929–2010).

## Contemporary analytic philosophy

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 Lewis (philosopher), David K. Lewis and David Malet Armstrong, 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 Willard Van Orman Quine, Quine's attack on the analytic–synthetic distinction, which was generally taken to undermine Rudolf Carnap, Carnap's distinction between existence questions internal to a framework and those external to it. The philosophy of fiction, the 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.Van Inwagen, Peter, and Dean Zimmerman (eds.) (1998), ''Metaphysics: The Big Questions.'' 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).

* Computational metaphysics * Feminist metaphysics * Fundamental question of metaphysics * Grounding (metaphysics), Metaphysical grounding * Metaphilosophy ** Meta-ontology ** Meta-epistemology ** Metasemantics ** Meta-ethics * Metacognition * :Metaphysical fiction novels, Metaphysical fiction novels * Metaphysics of presence * Philosophical logic * Philosophical realism * Philosophical theology * Philosophy of science

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