What Is the Meaning of Existence in Metaphysics?


Vincent White

Existence is a fundamental concept in metaphysics, the branch of philosophy that explores the nature of reality. It is a complex and multifaceted concept that has puzzled philosophers for centuries. In this article, we will explore what it means to exist and the different theories that have been proposed to explain existence.

What Is Existence?

Existence can be defined as the state of being alive or present in the world. But in metaphysics, existence has a much broader and more abstract meaning.

It refers to the ontological status of things, or their beingness. In other words, existence is not just about whether something is alive or not, but whether it has a real and substantial existence in reality.

Theories of Existence

There have been many different theories proposed to explain existence throughout history. Some of these theories are based on religious or spiritual beliefs, while others are purely philosophical.


One theory that has been proposed to explain existence is essentialism. Essentialism holds that things have an inherent essence or nature that defines their beingness. For example, according to essentialism, a tree exists because it has a specific set of qualities and characteristics that make it a tree.


Another theory that has gained popularity in recent decades is existentialism. Unlike essentialism, which emphasizes the inherent nature of things, existentialism focuses on individual experience and subjective meaning-making. According to existentialism, existence is not something that can be objectively defined or understood; rather, it is something that each individual must create for themselves.


Materialism is another theory of existence that holds that everything can be reduced to matter and energy. According to materialists, everything that exists can be explained in terms of physical laws and properties.

The Problem of Existence

Despite the many different theories of existence, there is still a fundamental problem that remains unsolved: why is there something rather than nothing? This question has puzzled philosophers for centuries and has led to many different debates and arguments.

The Cosmological Argument

One argument that has been proposed to explain the problem of existence is the cosmological argument. The cosmological argument holds that everything that exists must have a cause, and that this cause must be God or some other higher power.

The Ontological Argument

Another argument that has been proposed is the ontological argument. The ontological argument holds that the very concept of God implies existence. In other words, if we can conceive of a perfect being, then this being must exist in reality.


Existence is a complex and multifaceted concept that has puzzled philosophers for centuries. Despite the many different theories and arguments that have been proposed to explain existence, it remains a fundamental mystery. Whether you believe in essentialism, existentialism, materialism, or some other theory of existence, it is clear that this question will continue to challenge us for years to come.