What Was Metaphysics Originally Called?


Jane Flores

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the fundamental nature of reality and the universe. It has been studied by philosophers for thousands of years and has played a vital role in shaping our understanding of the world around us.

But did you know that metaphysics was not always called by this name? In this article, we will explore what metaphysics was originally called and how it has evolved over time.

The Origin of Metaphysics

The term “metaphysics” was first used by a Greek philosopher named Aristotle. Aristotle’s works were later compiled into a collection known as the Corpus Aristotelicum, which included his book on philosophy titled “Metaphysics.” The title “Metaphysics” was not given by Aristotle himself but was instead added later by the scholars who compiled his works.

The Pre-Socratic Philosophers

Before Aristotle, there were a group of philosophers known as the Pre-Socratics who also explored questions related to metaphysics. However, they did not call their work metaphysics.

Instead, they referred to it as “first philosophy” or “theology.” These philosophers believed that there was an underlying principle or substance that made up the universe, which they referred to as “arche.”

The Platonic Era

During the Platonic era, which followed the Pre-Socratic period, metaphysics began to take on a new form. Plato believed that there were two realms of existence: the material world and the world of Forms. The material world was seen as imperfect and constantly changing while the world of Forms represented eternal and unchanging truths.

The Aristotelian Tradition

Aristotle’s contributions to metaphysics were significant in shaping its development. He believed that everything in nature had a purpose and function. He also introduced concepts such as causality and substance which became central to later discussions on metaphysics.

The Evolution of Metaphysics

Over time, metaphysics continued to evolve as new philosophers added their own ideas and insights. The Middle Ages saw the development of Scholasticism, an intellectual movement that combined Christian theology with Aristotelian philosophy. During the Renaissance, philosophers such as Descartes and Leibniz introduced new concepts such as mind-body dualism and the principle of sufficient reason.

In modern times, metaphysics has become more focused on ontology, the study of being and existence. Questions related to the nature of reality, time, space, and causation continue to be explored by contemporary philosophers.


Metaphysics has a long and rich history that has been shaped by many influential philosophers over thousands of years. While it was not always called metaphysics, the questions it seeks to answer have remained constant throughout its evolution. From the Pre-Socratic philosophers to contemporary thinkers, metaphysics continues to be a vital area of study for those seeking to understand the fundamental nature of reality.