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The term Metaphysics can be used in a general (and even poetic and metaphoric) sense to means the opposite of science.  Science uses "left-brain thinking", reason and scientific method to come to an understanding of reality.  Metaphysics uses "right-brain thinking", reason in the service or intuition, or even intuition or imagination alone.

Used in this context, Metaphysics incorporates Religion, Non-materialistic Philosophical speculation, Mysticism, and Esotericism, and even fantasy, mythology, and imagined worlds.

In a more precise context however, Metaphysics means literally "after (not "beyond") physics".  This confusing word was originally used in the context of Aristotle's writings.  When the great philosopher's works had all been compiled, the volumes on Theology and other such subjects came after those on the natural world ("physics": phusis - nature), and hence were collectively referred to as "metaphysics".

Metaphysics begins with questions like: what is the nature of the World?  Of the Soul, if any?  Of God, if such a being does exist?  In other words, questions concerning the ultimate nature and meaning of existence.

Metaphysics can be divided into various secondary fields of inquiry, such as the relationship between mind or spirit and body (the "mind-body problem"), the problem of free will and determinism, the nature of God (Theology), of man, and of the universe (Cosmology), the nature of Being (Ontology), and so on.

Web links Links - Metaphysics Web links

on-line book Metaphysics By Aristotle (350 B.C.E ) - Translated by W. D. Rossh - The complete works - Internet Classics Archive

Metaphysics Research Lab The Metaphysics Research Lab - Stanford University.

"Whereas physics is the attempt to discover the laws that govern fundamental concrete objects, metaphysics is the attempt to discover the laws that govern the fundamental abstract objects presupposed by the logic of physical theories, such as natural numbers, real numbers, functions, sets and properties, physically possible objects and events, to name just a few.  The goal of metaphysics, therefore, is to develop a formal ontology, i.e., a formally precise systematization of the logical space these abstract objects define."

Includes an on-line version of their Principia Metaphysica, and tutorial.  Very complex.

Wikipedia page Metaphysics - Wikipedia

Web Site Metaphysics by Default - a study in metaphysics - ranges from Proclus to neurology to the nature of the soul.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page revised 17 March 1999, corrected 7 July 2011