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What is Metaphysics? -Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Is Metaphysics?
  • 0:27 Central Questions
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Flint Johnson

Flint has tutored mathematics through precalculus, science, and English and has taught college history. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow

In this lesson we willl be exploring metaphysics, which is a wide-ranging topic covering a lot of philosophical questions about the universe and our place in it.

What Is Metaphysics?

Have you ever wondered why? Why are the stars out there? Why is the universe made up of elements? Why is gravity so important to the universe and not colors or textures? If you have wondered things like these, then you've probably had an interest in metaphysics. Metaphysics is the study of many different topics but they all revolve around the core question of what we are and what our purpose is. The topics covered in metaphysics can be referred to as its central questions. Let's take a closer look at the central questions of metaphysics:

Central Questions

Existence and Reality

Believe it or not, the question of whether or not we really exist was one of the first questions asked in metaphysics. Yoda once said we are 'luminous beings.' Many religions believe that everything we are is in our souls and that our bodies are nothing more than shells holding our souls inside.

Empirical and Conceptual Objects

Empirical objects are things that your senses can confirm, like the bowl you ate your cereal out of this morning, or the computer mouse you have your hand on right now. Conceptual objects are trickier. 'Love' is conceptual because there is no way to measure it - no way to touch, smell, hear, see, or taste it. The same goes with numbers. The number 3 doesn't really exist in a physical sense; it just makes understanding the world a little easier. Does your mind hurt yet?

Cosmology and Cosmogony

Both subjects focus on the origins of the universe, its composition, and its purpose. A cosmologist might ask if the universe was designed or just came to be by luck. If it was designed, then what was the purpose? Are all the billions of stars the equivalent of a child's ant farm, or was the universe created as part of some scientific experiment?

Free Will and Determinism

These concepts can be found in the Matrix trilogy, where every machine and program keeps telling the hero, Neo, that what has happened before will happen again, and that everything is predetermined. Meanwhile, the humans are doing everything they can to build their own future, thus exercising their free will. In essence, free will is the belief that people can influence outcomes while determinism says that the future can't be changed.

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