What Is Meant by Metaphysics in Philosophy?


Vincent White

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the fundamental nature of reality and the universe. It is concerned with questions that go beyond our physical experiences and observations, such as the nature of existence, time, space, causation, and free will. The term “metaphysics” comes from the Greek words “meta” meaning “beyond” or “after” and “physics” which refers to the study of nature.

What Is Metaphysics?

At its core, metaphysics explores the most fundamental questions about reality. It aims to understand the underlying principles that govern everything in existence. It is concerned with exploring concepts like substance, identity, existence, causality, and change.

One of the central questions in metaphysics is whether there is a single ultimate reality or whether reality is multiple or pluralistic. This question has been debated for centuries by philosophers from different schools of thought.

History of Metaphysics

The history of metaphysics can be traced back to ancient Greece when philosophers like Plato and Aristotle were developing their ideas about the world. In his famous work called ‘Metaphysics,’ Aristotle explored many topics related to metaphysics such as substance, form, matter, and causation.

During the medieval period in Europe, metaphysical ideas were closely tied to religious beliefs. Many philosophers sought to reconcile Christian theology with Aristotelian philosophy.

In modern times, metaphysical inquiry has become more secularized and scientific. Many contemporary philosophers approach metaphysical questions using logic and reason rather than relying on religious or spiritual beliefs.

Metaphysical Concepts

There are several key concepts within metaphysics that are essential for understanding this branch of philosophy.

Substance: Substance refers to something that exists independently and has its own unique properties. For example, a tree is a substance because it exists independently with its own set of properties like height, width, and color.

Identity: Identity refers to the distinguishing characteristics of a substance that make it unique. For example, two trees may be similar in many ways but they are still distinct entities with their own identity.

Causation: Causation refers to the relationship between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect). It is concerned with understanding how one event leads to another.

Change: Change refers to the process of transformation over time. It is concerned with understanding how things come into being and how they evolve over time.

The Importance of Metaphysics

Metaphysics is important because it helps us understand the most fundamental questions about our existence. It provides us with a framework for understanding reality and our place within it.

By exploring metaphysical concepts, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. We can also gain insights into issues like free will, morality, and the nature of consciousness.


Metaphysics is a fascinating branch of philosophy that explores some of the most fundamental questions about our existence. By examining concepts like substance, identity, causation, and change, we can gain a deeper understanding of reality and our place within it. Whether you are interested in philosophy or simply curious about these big questions, metaphysics is an essential area of study that has much to offer.