Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, and potentiality and actuality. It seeks to answer questions about the nature of existence, knowledge, truth, and morality.
However, what is the focus question of metaphysics? In this article, we will explore the primary inquiry that guides metaphysical investigation.
What is Metaphysics?
Before we dive into the focus question of metaphysics, let’s first define what it is. Metaphysics literally means “beyond physics” or “after physics” in Greek.
It was coined by Aristotle to describe his philosophical inquiries beyond physical science. Today, metaphysics encompasses a wide range of philosophical questions that deal with abstract concepts and principles.
The Focus Question of Metaphysics
The focus question of metaphysics is often phrased as “What is real?” or “What exists?”
This inquiry seeks to understand the fundamental nature of reality and what entities exist within it. It also aims to discern how these entities relate to one another.
At its core, metaphysical investigation aims to distinguish between appearance and reality. Many philosophers argue that our perceptions may not accurately reflect the true nature of reality. For example, some argue that objects may only appear solid because our senses cannot detect their microscopic particles.
Ontology: The Study of Being
One subfield within metaphysics that directly addresses its focus question is ontology. Ontology is the study of being or existence itself.
It asks questions such as “What things exist?” and “How do they exist?”
Ontology also explores different categories or types of existence. For example, some philosophers argue that there are two types of existence: concrete objects like tables and chairs and abstract entities like numbers and concepts.
There are various metaphysical theories and systems that attempt to answer the focus question of metaphysics. Some of these include:
- Materialism: The belief that only material substances and their interactions are real.
- Idealism: The belief that reality is fundamentally mental or spiritual in nature.
- Dualism: The belief that reality consists of both material and non-material substances.
- Monism: The belief that there is only one fundamental substance or principle in the universe.
In conclusion, while metaphysics encompasses a wide range of philosophical questions, its focus question is centered on understanding the nature of reality and what entities exist within it. Ontology, the study of being, is one subfield that directly addresses this inquiry. There are also various metaphysical theories and systems that attempt to provide answers to this fundamental question.