Portal:Metaphysics

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Metaphysics

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world.[1] Its name derives from the Greek words μετά (metá) (meaning "above" or "beyond") and φυσικά (physiká) (meaning "above or beyond physics"), "physics" referring to those works on matter by Aristotle in antiquity.[2] Metaphysics addresses questions that have existed for as long as the human race - many still with no definitive answer. Examples are:

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What is the nature of reality?
  • What is humanity's place in the universe?
  • Does the world exist outside the mind?
  • What is the nature of objects, events, places?
  • Is there any existence of spirit, and can the spirit manifest itself without body?
  • What is consciousness?
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The Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect. 8th century, Japan
Causality denotes a necessary relationship between one event (called cause) and another event (called effect) which is the direct consequence of the first.[3]

While this informal understanding suffices in everyday use, the philosophical analysis of how best to characterize causality extends over millennia. In the Western philosophical tradition, discussion stretches back at least as far as Aristotle, and the topic remains a staple in contemporary philosophy journals.

Though cause and effect are typically related to events, candidates include objects, processes, properties, variables, facts, and states of affairs; which of these make up the causal relata, and how best to characterize the relationship between them, remains under discussion.

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Martin Heidegger (26 September 1889 – 26 May 1976) (German pronunciation: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈhaɪ̯dɛɡɐ]) was an influential German philosopher. His best known book, Being and Time, is generally considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century. Heidegger remains controversial due to his involvement with Nazism.

Heidegger claimed that Western philosophy has, since Plato, misunderstood what it means for something "to be," tending to approach this question in terms of a being, rather than asking about being itself. In other words, Heidegger believed all investigations of being have historically focused on particular entities and their properties, or have treated being itself as an entity, or substance, with properties. A more authentic analysis of being would, for Heidegger, investigate "that on the basis of which beings are already understood," or that which underlies all particular entities and allows them to show up as entities in the first place.[4] But since philosophers and scientists have overlooked the more basic, pre-theoretical ways of being from which their theories derive, and since they have incorrectly applied those theories universally, they have confused our understanding of being and human existence. To avoid these deep-rooted misconceptions, Heidegger believed philosophical inquiry must be conducted in a new way, through a process of retracing the steps of the history of philosophy.

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  1. ^ Geisler, Norman L. "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics" page 446. Baker Books, 1999.
  2. ^ More specifically, the writings concerning what Aristotle called the "first philosophy" – and what is now called "metaphysics" – appeared after his articles on matter (on "physics"). Hence meta- ("above/beyond") physics ("matter").
  3. ^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary
  4. ^ Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, pp. 25–26.