Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that explores the nature of being. Metaphysics is a difficult subject to precisely define, as it is not an exact science such as chemistry or biology. The term “metaphysics” derives from the writings of Aristotle, to the title Ta meta ta phusika (“the ones after the physicals”), given to a collection of his works over a century following his death. Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on Metaphysics that follows your guidelines.
Origins of Metaphysics
According to the World Metaphysical Association, traditional metaphysics seeks to answer such big questions as the causes of things and being. By the early modern period, metaphysics was characterized by the writings of the Enlightenment, including such thinkers as:
Renee Descartes, whose famous summation—Cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I exist”), is a succinct encapsulation of metaphysical thought. The context in which the famous statement appears is important to see its relevance to the concept of self and the subject of mind entailed in it. Descartes writes, "But I soon noticed that while I thus wished to think everything false, it was necessarily true that I who thought so was something. Since this truth, I think, therefore I am [statement in italics in original], was so firm and assured that all the most extravagant suppositions of sceptics were unable to shake it, I judged that I could safely accept it as the first principle of philosophy I was seeking." In this passage, Descartes specifies mind as the "first principle" of the philosophy he was seeking. If one accepts that it must be a mind that does the thinking, one sees that by his famous statement, Descartes irrevocably puts mind, as well as the subjects of self and existence, into consideration for modern philosophy. In the following passage, Descartes implies that the mind has a separate existence from matter, and that this existence is more relevant to individuals than the existence of matter, which he discusses later. "I then examined closely what I was, and saw that I could imagine that I had no body, and there was no world nor any place that I occupied, but that I could not imagine for a moment that I did not exist. On the contrary, from the very fact that I doubted the truth of other things, or had any other thoughts, it followed very evidently and very certainly that I existed."
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant sought to define metaphysics and create an over arching framework for all philosophy. Kant believed that metaphysical knowledge does not derive from the senses but exists in reality. The existence of God, according to Kant, is ultimately unknowable to human beings.
Modern philosophers have attempted to refine the definition of metaphysics. Some thinkers hold that metaphysics is the continued attempt to describe ultimate reality. It is perhaps the continuing inability to answer such questions that perpetuates philosophy.