What is Metaphysics?

met·a·phys·ics /ˌmedəˈfiziks/


  1. the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.

Metaphysics is something that philosophers have been contemplating since, well, forever. One of the most well known philosophers, Immanuel Kant, used the metaphor that we see the world through "rose colored glasses"--meaning our experiences affect our perception of the world.

There are five basic areas of metaphysics. Each tries to answer the question of how things affect our reality and existence.

1) Ontology, or being: the area that is concerned with understanding existence and reality. For example, how do we know we exist? How do we know that people around us exist?

2) Knowing: One of the most famous sayings is "I think therefore I am" which was written by Renee Descartes. He argued that because we can think, that means that we know that we exist. Simply being able to touch something wasn't enough proof to show that we exist. It could, after all, be a construct of our imagination.

3) Space and Time: Time is largely a construct of humans, but it is important to help us have a frame of reference for events. Most people only know of time existing linearly, that is past-present-future. But there have been emerging theories that time is not two-dimensional, but exists in multiple directions. Objects exist in space and time, but to what extent do objects occupy space? Does space and time exist independently of objects, in some form? Humans have invented measurements and systems to quantify time and space, but do they exist independently of those constructs?