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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Did You Know?

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 Mystical experiences seem to corroborate mind-centric metaphysics. John Horgan, Scientific American, "I'm Agonizing over My Naive Realism," 19 Mar. 2021 The Puritan minister Jonathan Edwards grappled with metaphysics and epistemology in his writings and sermons. Michael Luo, The New Yorker, "The Wasting of the Evangelical Mind," 4 Mar. 2021 Essentially, Churchman paints a wide variety of disparate subjects as a means to portray his interest in metaphysics. Matthew Bourbon, Dallas News, "From Buddha to the iPhone: Artist casts a wide net to explore metaphysics at the Modern," 16 Feb. 2021 Their mistake doesn’t arise from bad social psychology but from bad metaphysics. Chilton Williamson Jr., WSJ, "The Woke See No Evil—and Nothing but Evil," 25 Dec. 2020 Those who are new to Tarr’s work may wonder at first why a seemingly straightforward romantic drama has been freighted with so much atmosphere, so much metaphysics, so much — well, cinema. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Best 2020 double feature: Two favorite discoveries in film’s toughest year," 11 Dec. 2020 The show, presented by Dutch Kills Theater Company, tries to mix mundane office tasks and metaphysics. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "When the Critic Is Also the Star. And the Audience.," 15 Nov. 2020 Above all, the two men differed in their opinion of the value of metaphysics. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, "Philosophy in the Shadow of Nazism," 12 Oct. 2020 In an age of triumphant physics, did philosophy still need to bother with metaphysics? Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, "Philosophy in the Shadow of Nazism," 12 Oct. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for metaphysics

Time Traveler

The first known use of metaphysics was in 1569

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Statistics for metaphysics

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Metaphysics.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for metaphysics



English Language Learners Definition of metaphysics

: the part of philosophy that is concerned with the basic causes and nature of things

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