<philosophy, philosophical terminology> branch of philosophy concerned with providing a comprehensive account of the most general features of reality as a whole; the study of being as such. Questions about the existence and nature of minds, bodies, god, space, time, causality, unity, identity, and the world are all metaphysical issues. From Plato onwards, many philosophers have tried to determine what kinds of things (and how many of each) exist. But Kant argued that this task is impossible; he proposed instead that we consider the general structure of our thought about the world. Strawson calls the former activity revisionary metaphysics, and the latter descriptive metaphysics. Recommended Reading: A Companion to Metaphysics, ed. by Jaegwon Kim and Ernest Sosa (Blackwell Pub, 1996); Metaphysics: The Big Questions, ed. by Peter Van Inwagen and Dean W. Zimmerman (Blackwell, 1998); Metaphysics: An Anthology, ed. by Jaegwon Kim and Ernest Sosa (Blackwell, 1999); and D. M. Armstrong, A World of States of Affairs (Cambridge, 1997).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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