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Metaphysics - Essay Example

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In this paper, the author examines the concept of metaphysics by surveying the changes in the use of the term, from the ancient, philosophic sense, to the contemporary esoteric sense, such as that found in New Age teachings. Ancient Metaphysics The term “metaphysics” was coined by Andronicus, the editor of Aristotle’s works, to refer to the collection of writings that dealt with a subject outside of physics, that is, Aristotle’s works on the natural or physical sciences. Aristotle himself did not refer to his works as being divided into the Physical and the Metaphysical. Instead, he somewhat classified his works as dealing primarily with the nature of the natural or physical world, and those that deal with first causes. But does it make sense to make such a distinction? It appears that it does make sense, because in seeking to understand the nature of the physical world, Aristotle argues that the latter is characterized by change. Thus, Aristotle’s physics deals with change. Consequently, the “metaphysics” or those “beyond or after the physics” deals with first causes, or those that do not change. This latter point explains why the concept of Being is central to Aristotle’s metaphysics. ...
In tackling the question of Being and existence, metaphysics deals essentially with the question of reality. In book 12 of his Metaphysics, Aristotle writes that “the subject of our inquiry is substance; for the principles and the causes we are seeking are those of substances. For if the universe is of the nature of a whole, substance is its first part” (“Metaphysics”). Indeed, if the observable world is subject to change, of what substance is this world made of? Could there be an unchanging, hence, metaphysical substance? In other words, he was preoccupied with examining the nature of reality. Modern Metaphysics In the e-book, Metaphysics (2006), Ethan Vorly states that “Metaphysics is the science of all realms, their laws and functions”(2). He defines metaphysics as the “study of multi-dimensional energies, forces and substances” (5). This view of metaphysics clearly delves into the esoteric interpretation of the term. In discussing metaphysics along the lines of energy forces and dimensions of existence, Vorly has much in common with the Eastern philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism. For example, he writes of reality in terms of an Ultimate Reality, not very different from the Eastern concept of Tao. In this sense, an esoteric understanding of metaphysics is somewhat consistent with the ancient Greek conception of the term, to the extent that there is a search for an ultimate principle or substance, as Aristotle would refer to it. However, while the ancient Greek approach to the question of reality was meant to gain an understanding of the nature of reality itself, the modern esoteric interpretation of metaphysics tends ... Read More
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