What Is the Main Problem of Metaphysics?


Vincent White

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality. It seeks to answer questions about existence, causality, time, space and many other concepts that are fundamental to our understanding of the world around us. However, despite its long history and numerous scholars working in this field, metaphysics continues to face one major problem.

The Problem: The main problem of metaphysics is that it deals with concepts that are difficult to define or even understand. For instance, what exactly is “existence” or “reality”?

These terms have been debated for centuries without any clear consensus being reached. This makes it challenging to create a coherent system of thought around metaphysical concepts.

The Nature of Reality

One of the primary concerns of metaphysics is understanding the nature of reality. This involves exploring what exists and how it comes into being.

At its core, this question asks whether reality is objective or subjective. Objective reality refers to things that exist independently of human perception or experience; subjective reality refers to things that exist only in our minds.

The Problem with Objective Reality

The problem with objective reality is that it’s challenging to prove its existence beyond doubt. We might assume that objects exist independently, but how can we be sure? There’s always the possibility that what we’re perceiving isn’t real at all but rather a product of our imagination.

The Problem with Subjective Reality

Subjective reality has its own set of problems as well. If everything exists solely in our minds, then how can we ever be sure that anything exists outside ourselves? This leads to a solipsistic view where everything ultimately boils down to individual consciousness.

Causality and Determinism

Another critical area of inquiry for metaphysics is causality and determinism. Causality refers to the relationship between events where one event is seen as the cause of another. Determinism refers to the idea that all events are predetermined and follow a fixed order.

The Problem with Causality

The problem with causality is that it’s difficult to determine whether it’s a real relationship or just a coincidence. For instance, if we see a fire in the distance after hearing an explosion, we might assume that the explosion caused the fire. However, it could be that they’re both unrelated events that happened to occur simultaneously.

The Problem with Determinism

Determinism faces its own set of challenges. If everything is predetermined, then how can we have free will?

How can we make choices if everything has already been determined? This leads to questions about whether humans have agency or if we’re just acting out predetermined scripts.


Metaphysics remains an important area of inquiry for philosophers, but its main problem persists. The difficulty in defining and understanding key concepts makes it challenging to create a coherent system of thought around metaphysical ideas. However, despite these challenges, philosophers continue to explore these fundamental questions about reality and existence, seeking answers that may one day help us better understand our place in the universe.