What is Metaphysics?July 2, 2021
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy. It was introduced into philosophy by the first philosophers with the word “metaphysics”, which means “beyond the physical sciences”. His studies are on concepts such as existence, existence, universal, property, relationship, cause, space, time, god, event.
The difficulty in defining metaphysics is the change in this field since the century Aristotle gave its name to this field. Subjects that are not the subject of metaphysics are included in metaphysics.
Subjects such as philosophy of religion, philosophy of language and philosophy of science, which have been in metaphysics for centuries, have begun to be examined under their own sub-titles. It would take a lot of space to talk about all the subjects that were once included in the subject of metaphysics.
WHAT IS METAPHYSICS?
The first philosophers to deal with metaphysics consciously were the ancient Greek philosophers. The main metaphysical problem that these thinkers dealt with for the first time is that the mind can be an object of knowledge; but the existence and quality of things (for example, numbers), forms in general, that do not exist in the real world.
Ancient Greek philosophy distinguished the real world perceptible and a mental idea world that is thought, and later philosophers interested in metaphysics also focused on the relations between abstractions and substances, discussing the question of whether they are both real or whether one is more reality than the other.
Therefore, they examined problems such as nature, time and space, the existence and qualities of God, in an effort to grasp the relationship between form and idea.
It is possible to define basic metaphysical problems as subjects that have always been the subject of metaphysics. The common feature of these problems is that they are all ontological (existential) problems. In this sense, metaphysics investigates what it is to be or to exist in general and as a whole, apart from objects that exist individually and in different forms.
The first person to use the word metaphysics is Andronikos. While listing Aristotle’s textbooks, Andronikos named the fourteen books that came after the natural science lessons Meta ta Phusika (books after the natural sciences).
As a matter of fact, Aristotle called these books the first philosophy because they include the knowledge grasped by the senses, that is, the knowledge grasped by reason, which he counts above physics.
For Aristotle, the primacy of this philosophy was that it examined and tried to determine the principles necessary for all sciences. Thus, metaphysics, in its first use, has an intellectual meaning related to the thought that is considered above, beyond or outside of physics.
In this context, Aristotle said, “A horse is a horse. What makes it a horse, in other words, being what it is?” By asking the question, he led metaphysics to define it with a thought in its first steps, in other words, to be a work of logic.
Metaphysics in Antiquity
The basis of metaphysics in Antiquity is in the famous discussion of change and immutability of Antiquity. The first thinkers sought the basis of existence and always found it in a living process of change.
First, Xenophanes put forward the problem of immutability in the theological field and designed a single unchanging God. As seen here, the problem of immutability is fundamentally dependent on the idea of God.
Metaphysics in Antiquity
The fate of metaphysics will be drawn with this dependence for centuries. Parmenides, who followed Xenophanes, developed the argument of immutability, made it the basis of existence and regarded changeability as a delusion of our senses. Until Parmenides, all thinkers have thought about natural experiences.
First, Parmenides left experiment and wanted to arrive at the truth by pure thought. As it is also seen here, the idea of immutability has become radically dependent this time with non-experimentation and the fate of metaphysics has started to be drawn with this dependence from now on.
Thus, two important qualities of metaphysics appeared even in the early thoughts of Antiquity: immutability and inexperience. These two important features of metaphysics have not changed until today. Other Eleans who followed Parmenides further reinforced this argument.
The first metaphysicians of the history of philosophy are Parmenides and Plato. The distinction between the world and the real world, which was seen as one of the most important topics of metaphysics in the following centuries, was first mentioned by these thinkers.
Against the ever-changing, transient objects of the sensible world, Plato placed an unchanging world that is not given to the senses, accessible through thought. Aristotle interpreted this differently. According to him, matter was always in constant motion towards its highest form. Thus, for Aristotle, the material world was a continuum in organic change.
Metaphysics in the Middle Ages
With the development of Christianity, the main problem of metaphysics, which came under religious influence in the Middle Ages, was God. While various reasonings are developed to prove the existence of God, the relations between God and the world (creation, the beginning of time, the existence of God in the world, etc.)