noun, plural in form but singular in construction
meta·​phys·​ics | \ ˌme-tə-ˈfi-ziks How to pronounce metaphysics (audio) \

Definition of metaphysics

1a(1) : a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology metaphysics … analyzes the generic traits manifested by existences of any kind— J. H. Randall
b : abstract philosophical studies : a study of what is outside objective experience steered philosophy away from metaphysics and toward the disciplines of natural science and linguisticsTime

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Just as physics deals with the laws that govern the physical world (such as those of gravity or the properties of waves), metaphysics describes what is beyond physics—the nature and origin of reality itself, the immortal soul, and the existence of a supreme being. Opinions about these metaphysical topics vary widely, since what's being discussed can't be observed or measured or even truly known to exist. So most metaphysical questions are still as far from a final answer as they were when Plato and Aristotle were asking them.

Examples of metaphysics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Even Neil deGrasse Tyson has, more recently, backed away from his Muskian metaphysics. Jason Kehe, Wired, 9 Mar. 2022 The hollowness of both films goes beyond metaphysics. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 30 Mar. 2022 But the tendency to think this way is mostly our inheritance of an inadequate and un-ecological folk-metaphysics. Justin E. H. Smith, Wired, 3 Mar. 2022 Western thinkers and their societies did not return to classical metaphysics to understand their predicament. Richard M. Reinsch Ii, National Review, 17 Feb. 2022 In this manner, the Western mind accepts Marxism in its nihilistic aspects and remains, as Del Noce observes, incapable of surpassing it with a school of thought that recovers the old language of classical metaphysics and the religion of the Bible. Richard M. Reinsch Ii, National Review, 17 Feb. 2022 The documentary centers on a lengthy conversation between David and his longtime friend/Seinfeld and Curb director Larry Charles, with the duo discussing non-showbiz matters — like fatherhood and metaphysics — as well as David’s television career. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 16 Feb. 2022 He and the reader wade together through a mysterious cosmos that operates by an unseen metaphysics, observing it and learning its rules. Gregory Barber, Wired, 10 Feb. 2022 Visionaire was launched in 1991, and the abstract equation of these three objects—magazine, garment, pattern—speaks to the growing acceptance of fashion as a realm with its own metaphysics. Laura Jacobs, WSJ, 5 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'metaphysics.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of metaphysics

1569, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for metaphysics

Medieval Latin Metaphysica, title of Aristotle's treatise on the subject, from Greek (ta) meta (ta) physika, literally, the (works) after the physical (works); from its position in his collected works

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The first known use of metaphysics was in 1569

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Last Updated

3 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Metaphysics.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

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