Metaphysics

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Metaphyics

Word made up from the Greek terms tà metà tà physiká.. It means, literally, what goes after Physics or what lies beyond Physics. Today, the word Metaphysics denotes both a part of Philosophy and a form of philosophical activity. In this case, it implies the philosopher is facing problems related to being, which are not necessarily considered real by all of Philosophy. The expression was used for the first time by Andronicus of Rhodes, a 1st century Aristotelian who published a series of yet unpublished works by Aristotle and which, in fact, make up the core of Aristotelian philosophy as we know it today. These texts were written to be used at the Lyceum, with very different subjects and style from those published during Aristotle’s life. Andronicus sorted the texts according to his own criterion and, after having those relative to Nature, giving them the title Physics (fisis is Nature in Greek) he placed a series of rolls (14 in total) which he called tà metà tà physiká. Some authors claim that Andronicus named them so after seeing they dealt with matters which were hard to understand, so he just gave them the title “those which come after the Physics tomes”. Others, on the contrary, claim that Andronicus knew they dealt with the core of Philosophy; that which transcends the merely physical. In them the problem of being is raised: whether there is something and, if so, why is there something instead of nothing. The last great Metaphysicist was Martin Heidegger. Analytic Philosophy, on the other hand, has been critical towards this kind of questions: they are, their representatives claim, just confusions stemming from language. Asking about being as an entity is to ignore how the verb “to be” operates grammatically, which is just as a link between subject and predicate. Therefore, asking oneself if what is can stop being is meaningless. The question can be easily rephrased: can that which is green stop being so? Furthermore, the propositions in Metaphysics (including those concerning the existence of God) are not verifiable, according to analytic philosophers, which implies they are meaningless. The fact that the word “Metaphysics” was coined by Andronicus and referred to Aristotelian works does not mean previous authors did not pose metaphysical questions. In fact, an important part of the so-called pre-Socratic Philosophy deals with matters which are nowadays considered metaphysical, and Nietzsche states that Plato was the creator of the metaphysical split.

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