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 cause and effect. According to Aristotle, metaphysics is the study of being qua being, or the study of existence itself. In this article, we will explore Aristotle’s definition of metaphysics in detail.

The Origins of Metaphysics

The term “metaphysics” was coined by Aristotle’s editors after his death. In his writings, he referred to this branch of philosophy as “first philosophy” or “wisdom”. The subject matter of metaphysics was traditionally divided into three main areas: ontology (the study of being), cosmology (the study of the universe), and theology (the study of God).

Aristotle’s Definition

Aristotle defined metaphysics as the study of being qua being. This means that it is concerned with the most fundamental aspects of reality that exist independently of anything else. He believed that everything in existence has a cause and an effect, and that these causes can be traced back to a first cause or unmoved mover.

According to Aristotle, there are two types of causes: material causes and formal causes. Material causes refer to the physical matter that makes up an object, while formal causes refer to its shape or form. He also identified two other types of causes: efficient causes (the agent that produces an effect) and final causes (the purpose for which something exists).

The Four Causes

Aristotle’s theory on causality is often referred to as his doctrine of the four causes. These include:

The Unmoved Mover

Aristotle believed that everything in existence has a cause and an effect, and that these causes can be traced back to a first cause or unmoved mover. This unmoved mover is a necessary being that exists outside of time and space, and is the ultimate cause of all motion and change in the universe.

According to Aristotle, the unmoved mover is perfect and unchanging, and does not interact with the physical world. Instead, it serves as a source of inspiration for all other beings in the universe to strive towards perfection.

The Importance of Metaphysics

Metaphysics is important because it helps us understand the fundamental nature of reality. By studying metaphysics, we can gain insight into the underlying causes and principles that govern our world. It also allows us to explore questions about existence, purpose, and meaning.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Aristotle’s definition of metaphysics as the study of being qua being has had a lasting impact on philosophy. His theory on causality and his doctrine of the four causes have helped us understand how things come into existence and what their purpose is.

The idea of an unmoved mover has also influenced many religious and philosophical traditions throughout history. By studying metaphysics, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe.