metaphysics


metaphysics

noun (used with a singular verb)

  1. the branch of philosophy that treats of first principles, includes ontology and cosmology, and is intimately connected with epistemology.
  2. philosophy, especially in its more abstruse branches.
  3. the underlying theoretical principles of a subject or field of inquiry.
  4. (initial capital letter, italics) a treatise (4th century b.c.) by Aristotle, dealing with first principles, the relation of universals to particulars, and the teleological doctrine of causation.

noun

  1. metaphysics.

adjective

  1. metaphysical.

noun (functioning as singular)

  1. the branch of philosophy that deals with first principles, esp of being and knowing
  2. the philosophical study of the nature of reality, concerned with such questions as the existence of God, the external world, etc
  3. See descriptive metaphysics
  4. (popularly) abstract or subtle discussion or reasoning

noun

  1. the system of first principles and assumptions underlying an enquiry or philosophical theory
  2. an obsolete word for metaphysician

adjective

  1. rare another word for metaphysical

n.1560s, plural of Middle English metaphisik, methaphesik (late 14c.), “branch of speculation which deals with the first causes of things,” from Medieval Latin metaphysica, neuter plural of Medieval Greek (ta) metaphysika, from Greek ta meta ta physika “the (works) after the Physics,” title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle’s writings. The name was given c.70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to the customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning “the science of what is beyond the physical.” See meta- + physics. The word originally was used in English in the singular; plural form predominated after 17c., but singular made a comeback late 19c. in certain usages under German influence. n.late 14c., from Medieval Latin metaphysica (see metaphysics). The usual form of metaphysics until 16c.; somewhat revived 19c. under German influence. The field in philosophy that studies ultimate questions, such as whether every event has a cause and what things are genuinely real.

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