From the History of Mathematics to Critical History. Chapter 4 Deleuze Foucault and History. Chapter 6 PostHuman Humanities. Chapter 8 Time Out of Joint.
Chapter 9 The Crumpled Handkerchief. The Education of Henry Adams. Author Index. To say that A caused B means that if A had not happened then B would not have happened. Causality is usually required as a foundation for philosophy of science , if science aims to understand causes and effects and make predictions about them. Metaphysicians investigate questions about the ways the world could have been. David Lewis , in On the Plurality of Worlds , endorsed a view called Concrete Modal realism , according to which facts about how things could have been are made true by other concrete worlds, just as in ours, in which things are different.
Other philosophers, such as Gottfried Leibniz , have dealt with the idea of possible worlds as well. The idea of necessity is that any necessary fact is true across all possible worlds. A possible fact is true in some possible world, even if not in the actual world. For example, it is possible that cats could have had two tails, or that any particular apple could have not existed. By contrast, certain propositions seem necessarily true, such as analytic propositions , e. A less controversial view might be that self-identity is necessary, as it seems fundamentally incoherent to claim that for any x , it is not identical to itself; this is known as the law of identity , a putative "first principle".
Aristotle describes the principle of non-contradiction , "It is impossible that the same quality should both belong and not belong to the same thing This is the most certain of all principles Wherefore they who demonstrate refer to this as an ultimate opinion. For it is by nature the source of all the other axioms. What is "central" and "peripheral" to metaphysics has varied over time and schools; however contemporary analytic philosophy as taught in USA and UK universities generally regards the above as "central" and the following as "applications" or "peripheral" topics; or in some cases as distinct subjects which have grown out of and depend upon metaphysics:.
Metaphysical cosmology is the branch of metaphysics that deals with the world as the totality of all phenomena in space and time. Historically, it formed a major part of the subject alongside Ontology, though its role is more peripheral in contemporary philosophy. It has had a broad scope, and in many cases was founded in religion. The ancient Greeks drew no distinction between this use and their model for the cosmos. However, in modern times it addresses questions about the Universe which are beyond the scope of the physical sciences. It is distinguished from religious cosmology in that it approaches these questions using philosophical methods e.
Cosmogony deals specifically with the origin of the universe. Modern metaphysical cosmology and cosmogony try to address questions such as:. Accounting for the existence of mind in a world otherwise composed of matter is a metaphysical problem which is so large and important as to have become a specialized subject of study in its own right, philosophy of mind.
Substance dualism is a classical theory in which mind and body are essentially different, with the mind having some of the attributes traditionally assigned to the soul , and which creates an immediate conceptual puzzle about how the two interact. Idealism postulates that material objects do not exist unless perceived and only as perceptions. Panpsychism and panexperientialism , are property dualist theories in which everything has or is a mind rather than everything exists in a mind. For the last century, the dominant theories have been science-inspired including materialistic monism , Type identity theory , token identity theory , functionalism , reductive physicalism , nonreductive physicalism , eliminative materialism , anomalous monism , property dualism , epiphenomenalism and emergence.
Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition, decision and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. It holds that nothing happens that has not already been determined. The principal consequence of the deterministic claim is that it poses a challenge to the existence of free will. The problem of free will is the problem of whether rational agents exercise control over their own actions and decisions. Addressing this problem requires understanding the relation between freedom and causation, and determining whether the laws of nature are causally deterministic.
Some philosophers, known as Incompatibilists , view determinism and free will as mutually exclusive. If they believe in determinism, they will therefore believe free will to be an illusion, a position known as Hard Determinism. Proponents range from Baruch Spinoza to Ted Honderich. Henri Bergson defended free will in his dissertation Time and Free Will from Others, labeled Compatibilists or "Soft Determinists" , believe that the two ideas can be reconciled coherently. Adherents of this view include Thomas Hobbes and many modern philosophers such as John Martin Fischer. Incompatibilists who accept free will but reject determinism are called Libertarians , a term not to be confused with the political sense.
Robert Kane and Alvin Plantinga are modern defenders of this theory. The earliest type of classification of social construction traces back to Plato in his dialogue Phaedrus where he claims that the biological classification system seems to "carve nature at the joints". In his essay The Analytical Language of John Wilkins , Borges makes us imagine a certain encyclopedia where the animals are divided into a those that belong to the emperor; b embalmed ones; c those that are trained; According to Quine this notion is closely related to the notion of similarity.
There are different ways to set up the notion of number in metaphysics theories. Platonist theories postulate number as a fundamental category itself. Others consider it to be a property of an entity called a "group" comprising other entities; or to be a relation held between several groups of entities, such as "the number four is the set of all sets of four things".
Many of the debates around universals are applied to the study of number, and are of particular importance due to its status as a foundation for the philosophy of mathematics and for mathematics itself. Although metaphysics as a philosophical enterprise is highly hypothetical, it also has practical application in most other branches of philosophy, science, and now also information technology.
Such areas generally assume some basic ontology such as a system of objects, properties, classes, and space time as well as other metaphysical stances on topics such as causality and agency, then build their own particular theories upon these. In science , for example, some theories are based on the ontological assumption of objects with properties such as electrons having charge while others may reject objects completely such as quantum field theories, where spread-out "electronness" becomes a property of space time rather than an object.
For example, they may postulate the existence of basic entities such as value, beauty, and God. Then they use these postulates to make their own arguments about consequences resulting from them. When philosophers in these subjects make their foundations they are doing applied metaphysics, and may draw upon its core topics and methods to guide them, including ontology and other core and peripheral topics.
As in science, the foundations chosen will in turn depend on the underlying ontology used, so philosophers in these subjects may have to dig right down to the ontological layer of metaphysics to find what is possible for their theories. For example, a contradiction obtained in a theory of God or Beauty might be due to an assumption that it is an object rather than some other kind of ontological entity.
Prior to the modern history of science , scientific questions were addressed as a part of natural philosophy. Originally, the term "science" Latin scientia simply meant "knowledge". The scientific method , however, transformed natural philosophy into an empirical activity deriving from experiment , unlike the rest of philosophy. By the end of the 18th century, it had begun to be called "science" to distinguish it from other branches of philosophy. Science and philosophy have been considered separated disciplines ever since.
Thereafter, metaphysics denoted philosophical enquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence. Metaphysics continues asking "why" where science leaves off. For example, any theory of fundamental physics is based on some set of axioms , which may postulate the existence of entities such as atoms, particles, forces, charges, mass, or fields.
Stating such postulates is considered to be the "end" of a science theory. Metaphysics takes these postulates and explores what they mean as human concepts. For example, do all theories of physics require the existence of space and time,  objects, and properties? Or can they be expressed using only objects, or only properties? Do the objects have to retain their identity over time or can they change? Can theories be reformulated by converting properties or predicates such as "red" into entities such as redness or redness fields or processes 'there is some redding happening over there' appears in some human languages in place of the use of properties.
Is the distinction between objects and properties fundamental to the physical world or to our perception of it? Much recent work has been devoted to analyzing the role of metaphysics in scientific theorizing. Since   "he showed the ways in which some un-testable and hence, according to Popperian ideas, non-empirical propositions can nevertheless be influential in the development of properly testable and hence scientific theories. These profound results in applied elementary logic An example from biology of Lakatos' thesis: David Hull has argued that changes in the ontological status of the species concept have been central in the development of biological thought from Aristotle through Cuvier , Lamarck , and Darwin.
Darwin's ignorance of metaphysics made it more difficult for him to respond to his critics because he could not readily grasp the ways in which their underlying metaphysical views differed from his own. In physics, new metaphysical ideas have arisen in connection with quantum mechanics , where subatomic particles arguably do not have the same sort of individuality as the particulars with which philosophy has traditionally been concerned.
Whitehead is famous for creating a process philosophy metaphysics inspired by electromagnetism and special relativity. In chemistry, Gilbert Newton Lewis addressed the nature of motion, arguing that an electron should not be said to move when it has none of the properties of motion. Katherine Hawley notes that the metaphysics even of a widely accepted scientific theory may be challenged if it can be argued that the metaphysical presuppositions of the theory make no contribution to its predictive success.
A number of individuals have suggested that much or all of metaphysics should be rejected. In the 16th century, Francis Bacon rejected scholastic metaphysics, and argued strongly for what is now called empiricism , being seen later as the father of modern empirical science. In the 18th century, David Hume took a strong position, arguing that all genuine knowledge involves either mathematics or matters of fact and that metaphysics, which goes beyond these, is worthless.
He concludes his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding with the statement:. If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Although he followed Hume in rejecting much of previous metaphysics, he argued that there was still room for some synthetic a priori knowledge, concerned with matters of fact yet obtainable independent of experience. These included fundamental structures of space, time, and causality.
He also argued for the freedom of the will and the existence of "things in themselves", the ultimate but unknowable objects of experience.
Wittgenstein introduced the concept that metaphysics could be influenced by theories of aesthetics, via logic , vis. In the s, A. Ayer and Rudolf Carnap endorsed Hume's position; Carnap quoted the passage above. Thus, while Ayer rejected the monism of Spinoza, he avoided a commitment to pluralism , the contrary position, by holding both views to be without meaning. Arguing against such rejections, the Scholastic philosopher Edward Feser has observed that Hume's critique of metaphysics, and specifically Hume's fork , is "notoriously self-refuting".
Some living philosophers, such as Amie Thomasson , have argued that many metaphysical questions can be dissolved just by looking at the way we use words; others, such as Ted Sider , have argued that metaphysical questions are substantive, and that we can make progress toward answering them by comparing theories according to a range of theoretical virtues inspired by the sciences, such as simplicity and explanatory power.
The prefix meta- "after" indicates that these works come "after" the chapters on physics. However, Aristotle himself did not call the subject of these books metaphysics: he referred to it as "first philosophy. However, once the name was given, the commentators sought to find other reasons for its appropriateness. For instance, Thomas Aquinas understood it to refer to the chronological or pedagogical order among our philosophical studies, so that the "metaphysical sciences" would mean "those that we study after having mastered the sciences that deal with the physical world".
The term was misread by other medieval commentators, who thought it meant "the science of what is beyond the physical".
A person who creates or develops metaphysical theories is called a metaphysician. Common parlance also uses the word "metaphysics" for a different referent from that of the present article, namely for beliefs in arbitrary non-physical or magical entities. For example, "Metaphysical healing" to refer to healing by means of remedies that are magical rather than scientific.
Metaphysics as a subject does not preclude beliefs in such magical entities but neither does it promote them.
Opposed to postmodernism's abolition of the "subject," he elaborates a notion of "subject" stripped of modern subjectivism. Hence the placing of this section. This began to occur in the s. Similar to Nietzsche's "perspectivism," postmodernism critiques "objective" truth and favors a theory of multiple "interpretations" of texts. That grouping can mislead. Heidegger, Martin Discourse on Thinking. In this fundamental experience being, in its univocity as meaningful presence, is revealed.
Rather, it is the subject which provides the vocabulary and logic with which such beliefs might be analyzed and studied, for example to search for inconsistencies both within themselves and with other accepted systems such as Science. Cognitive archeology such as analysis of cave paintings and other pre-historic art and customs suggests that a form of perennial philosophy or Shamanism metaphysics may stretch back to the birth of behavioral modernity , all around the world.
Similar beliefs are found in present-day "stone age" cultures such as Australian aboriginals.
Perennial philosophy postulates the existence of a spirit or concept world alongside the day-to-day world, and interactions between these worlds during dreaming and ritual, or on special days or at special places. It has been argued that perennial philosophy formed the basis for Platonism , with Plato articulating, rather than creating, much older widespread beliefs. Bronze Age cultures such as ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt along with similarly structured but chronologically later cultures such as Mayans and Aztecs developed belief systems based on mythology , anthropomorphic gods , mind-body dualism , and a spirit world , to explain causes and cosmology.
These cultures appear to have been interested in astronomy and may have associated or identified the stars with some of these entities. In ancient Egypt, the ontological distinction between order maat and chaos Isfet seems to have been important. He made use of purely physical explanations to explain the phenomena of the world rather than the mythological and divine explanations of tradition.
He is thought to have posited water as the single underlying principle or Arche in later Aristotelian terminology of the material world. His fellow, but younger Miletians, Anaximander and Anaximenes , also posited monistic underlying principles, namely apeiron the indefinite or boundless and air respectively. Another school was the Eleatics , in southern Italy.
Methodologically, the Eleatics were broadly rationalist, and took logical standards of clarity and necessity to be the criteria of truth. Parmenides' chief doctrine was that reality is a single unchanging and universal Being. Zeno used reductio ad absurdum , to demonstrate the illusory nature of change and time in his paradoxes. Heraclitus of Ephesus , in contrast, made change central, teaching that "all things flow". His philosophy, expressed in brief aphorisms, is quite cryptic.
For instance, he also taught the unity of opposites. Democritus and his teacher Leucippus , are known for formulating an atomic theory for the cosmos. Metaphysics in Chinese philosophy can be traced back to the earliest Chinese philosophical concepts from the Zhou Dynasty such as Tian Heaven and Yin and Yang. The fourth century BCE saw a turn towards cosmogony with the rise of Taoism in the Daodejing and Zhuangzi and sees the natural world as dynamic and constantly changing processes which spontaneously arise from a single immanent metaphysical source or principle Tao.
The Taoists held that the ultimate, the Tao, was also non-being or no-presence. This school was very influential in developing the concepts of later Chinese metaphysics. Neo-Confucians like Zhang Zai under the influence of other schools developed the concepts of "principle" li and vital energy qi. Socrates is known for his dialectic or questioning approach to philosophy rather than a positive metaphysical doctrine.
His pupil, Plato is famous for his theory of forms which he places in the mouth of Socrates in his dialogues.
Platonic realism also considered a form of idealism  is considered to be a solution to the problem of universals ; i. Platonism developed into Neoplatonism , a philosophy with a monotheistic and mystical flavour that survived well into the early Christian era. Plato's pupil Aristotle wrote widely on almost every subject, including metaphysics. His solution to the problem of universals contrasts with Plato's. Whereas Platonic Forms are existentially apparent in the visible world, Aristotelian essences dwell in particulars.
Potentiality and Actuality  are principles of a dichotomy which Aristotle used throughout his philosophical works to analyze motion , causality and other issues. The Aristotelian theory of change and causality stretches to four causes : the material, formal, efficient and final. The efficient cause corresponds to what is now known as a cause simplicity.
Final causes are explicitly teleological , a concept now regarded as controversial in science. The opening arguments in Aristotle's Metaphysics , Book I, revolve around the senses, knowledge, experience, theory, and wisdom. The first main focus in the Metaphysics is attempting to determine how intellect "advances from sensation through memory, experience, and art, to theoretical knowledge". More on Indian philosophy: Hindu philosophy. Samkhya is strongly dualist. The end of this imbalance, bondage is called liberation, or moksha , by the Samkhya school.
The existence of God or supreme being is not directly asserted, nor considered relevant by the Samkhya philosophers. Realization of the nature of Self-identity is the principal object of the Vedanta system of Indian metaphysics. In the Upanishads , self-consciousness is not the first-person indexical self-awareness or the self-awareness which is self-reference without identification,  and also not the self-consciousness which as a kind of desire is satisfied by another self-consciousness.
The word Self-consciousness in the Upanishads means the knowledge about the existence and nature of Brahman. It means the consciousness of our own real being, the primary reality. The Atman is unknowable in its essential nature; it is unknowable in its essential nature because it is the eternal subject who knows about everything including itself. The Atman is the knower and also the known.
Metaphysicians regard the Self either to be distinct from the Absolute or entirely identical with the Absolute. They have given form to three schools of thought — a the Dualistic school , b the Quasi-dualistic school and c the Monistic school , as the result of their varying mystical experiences. Prakrti and Atman , when treated as two separate and distinct aspects form the basis of the Dualism of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. Self-consciousness is the Fourth state of consciousness or Turiya , the first three being Vaisvanara , Taijasa and Prajna.
These are the four states of individual consciousness. There are three distinct stages leading to Self-realisation. The First stage is in mystically apprehending the glory of the Self within us as though we were distinct from it. The Second stage is in identifying the "I-within" with the Self, that we are in essential nature entirely identical with the pure Self. The Third stage is in realising that the Atman is Brahman , that there is no difference between the Self and the Absolute.
The Fifth stage is in realising that Brahman is the "All" that exists, as also that which does not exist. In Buddhist philosophy there are various metaphysical traditions that have proposed different questions about the nature of reality based on the teachings of the Buddha in the early Buddhist texts.
The Buddha of the early texts does not focus on metaphysical questions but on ethical and spiritual training and in some cases, he dismisses certain metaphysical questions as unhelpful and indeterminate Avyakta , which he recommends should be set aside.
The development of systematic metaphysics arose after the Buddha's death with the rise of the Abhidharma traditions. Noa Ronkin has called their approach " phenomenological ". Later philosophical traditions include the Madhyamika school of Nagarjuna , which further developed the theory of the emptiness shunyata of all phenomena or dharmas which rejects any kind of substance. This has been interpreted as a form of anti-foundationalism and anti-realism which sees reality has having no ultimate essence or ground. Islamic metaphysics was highly active during Europe's 'Dark Ages', beginning with the arrival and translation of Aristotle into Arabic.
More on medieval philosophy and metaphysics: Medieval Philosophy. Between about and , philosophy as a discipline took place as part of the Catholic church 's teaching system, known as scholasticism. Scholastic philosophy took place within an established framework blending Christian theology with Aristotelian teachings. Although fundamental orthodoxies were not commonly challenged, there were nonetheless deep metaphysical disagreements, particularly over the problem of universals , which engaged Duns Scotus and Pierre Abelard.
William of Ockham is remembered for his principle of ontological parsimony. In the early modern period 17th and 18th centuries , the system-building scope of philosophy is often linked to the rationalist method of philosophy, that is the technique of deducing the nature of the world by pure reason. The scholastic concepts of substance and accident were employed. British empiricism marked something of a reaction to rationalist and system-building metaphysics, or speculative metaphysics as it was pejoratively termed.
The skeptic David Hume famously declared that most metaphysics should be consigned to the flames see below. Hume was notorious among his contemporaries as one of the first philosophers to openly doubt religion, but is better known now for his critique of causality. John Stuart Mill , Thomas Reid and John Locke were less skeptical, embracing a more cautious style of metaphysics based on realism, common sense and science.
Other philosophers, notably George Berkeley were led from empiricism to idealistic metaphysics. Christian Wolff had theoretical philosophy divided into an ontology or philosophia prima as a general metaphysics,  which arises as a preliminary to the distinction of the three "special metaphysics"  on the soul, world and God:   rational psychology ,   rational cosmology  and rational theology. This scheme, which is the counterpart of religious tripartition in creature, creation, and Creator, is best known to philosophical students by Kant's treatment of it in the Critique of Pure Reason.
In the "Preface" of the 2nd edition of Kant's book, Wolff is defined "the greatest of all dogmatic philosophers. Immanuel Kant attempted a grand synthesis and revision of the trends already mentioned: scholastic philosophy, systematic metaphysics, and skeptical empiricism, not to forget the burgeoning science of his day. As did the systems builders, he had an overarching framework in which all questions were to be addressed. Like Hume, who famously woke him from his 'dogmatic slumbers', he was suspicious of metaphysical speculation, and also places much emphasis on the limitations of the human mind.
Kant described his shift in metaphysics away from making claims about an objective noumenal world, towards exploring the subjective phenomenal world, as a Copernican Revolution , by analogy to though opposite in direction to Copernicus ' shift from man the subject to the sun an object at the center of the universe. Kant saw rationalist philosophers as aiming for a kind of metaphysical knowledge he defined as the synthetic apriori —that is knowledge that does not come from the senses it is a priori but is nonetheless about reality synthetic.
Inasmuch as it is about reality, it differs from abstract mathematical propositions which he terms analytical apriori , and being apriori it is distinct from empirical, scientific knowledge which he terms synthetic aposteriori. The only synthetic apriori knowledge we can have is of how our minds organise the data of the senses; that organising framework is space and time, which for Kant have no mind-independent existence, but nonetheless operate uniformly in all humans.
Apriori knowledge of space and time is all that remains of metaphysics as traditionally conceived. There is a reality beyond sensory data or phenomena, which he calls the realm of noumena ; however, we cannot know it as it is in itself, but only as it appears to us. He allows himself to speculate that the origins of phenomenal God, morality, and free will might exist in the noumenal realm, but these possibilities have to be set against its basic unknowability for humans. Although he saw himself as having disposed of metaphysics, in a sense, he has generally been regarded in retrospect as having a metaphysics of his own, and as beginning the modern analytical conception of the subject.
Nineteenth century philosophy was overwhelmingly influenced by Kant and his successors. Schopenhauer , Schelling , Fichte and Hegel all purveyed their own panoramic versions of German Idealism , Kant's own caution about metaphysical speculation, and refutation of idealism , having fallen by the wayside.
The idealistic impulse continued into the early twentieth century with British idealists such as F. Bradley and J. Followers of Karl Marx took Hegel's dialectic view of history and re-fashioned it as materialism. During the period when idealism was dominant in philosophy, science had been making great advances. The arrival of a new generation of scientifically minded philosophers led to a sharp decline in the popularity of idealism during the s.
Analytical philosophy was spearheaded by Bertrand Russell and G. Russell and William James tried to compromise between idealism and materialism with the theory of neutral monism. The early to mid twentieth century philosophy saw a trend to reject metaphysical questions as meaningless.