Portal:Metaphysics

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Template:/box-header Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world.[1] Its name derives from the Greek words μετά (metá) (meaning "above" or "beyond") and φυσικά (physiká) (meaning "above or beyond physics"), "physics" referring to those works on matter by Aristotle in antiquity.[2] Metaphysics addresses questions that have existed for as long as the human race - many still with no definitive answer. Examples are:

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What is the nature of reality?
  • What is humanity's place in the universe?
  • Does the world exist outside the mind?
  • What is the nature of objects, events, places?
  • Is there any existence of spirit, and can the spirit manifest itself without body?
  • What is consciousness?
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In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the object or substance has contingently, without which the substance can still retain its identity. The concept originates with Aristotle, who used the Greek expression to ti ên einai, literally 'the what it was to be', or sometimes the shorter phrase to ti esti, literally 'the what it is,' for the same idea. This phrase presented such difficulties for his Latin translators that they coined the word essentia to represent the whole expression. For Aristotle and his scholastic followers the notion of essence is closely linked to that of definition (horismos) [3]

In the history of western thought, essence has often served as a vehicle for doctrines that tend to individuate different forms of existence as well as different identity conditions for objects and properties; in this eminently logical meaning, the concept has given a strong theoretical and common-sense basis to the whole family of logical theories based on the "possible worlds" analogy set up by Leibniz and developed in the intensional logic from Carnap to Kripke, which was later challenged by "extensionalist" philosophers such as Quine.

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Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. Described by Bertrand Russell as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived, passionate, profound, intense, and dominating,"[4] Wittgenstein is considered by many to be the greatest philosopher of the 20th century.

He helped inspire two of the century's principal philosophical movements: the Vienna Circle and Oxford ordinary language philosophy. According to an end of the century poll, professional philosophers in Canada and the U.S. rank both his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (TLP) and Philosophical Investigations among the top five most important books in twentieth-century philosophy, the latter standing out as "...the one crossover masterpiece in twentieth-century philosophy, appealing across diverse specializations and philosophical orientations".

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  1. Geisler, Norman L. "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics" page 446. Baker Books, 1999.
  2. More specifically, the writings concerning what Aristotle called the "first philosophy" – and what is now called "metaphysics" – appeared after his articles on matter (on "physics"). Hence meta- ("above/beyond") physics ("matter").
  3. S. Marc Cohen, "Aristotle's Metaphysics", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 20 April 2008.
  4. The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, pg. 329.