Metaphysics Essay, Research Paper
METAPHYSICS What is metaphysics? Metaphysics can be described as those things, which relate to external nature, after physics. The term was first used by the followers of Aristotle as a name for that part of his writings, which came after, or followed, the part, which treated of physics. This was Aristotle’s first philosophy. His main concern was to obtain the type of knowledge that in his eyes earned the title “Wisdom.” He didn’t want to know only Wisdom, but there were things and ideas that he wanted to know just for the sake of knowing. He did not see wisdom as any ordinary type of knowledge. Aristotle believed that because there are different levels of knowledge, and since most people only know what they experience through senses, what we learn through our senses is not Wisdom. The reason behind this was Aristotle knew that knowledge obtained through the senses can only tell a person the “that” of anything and not the “why;” for example; We all know “that” fire is hot but do we know “why.” We also know “that” water is wet but “why” is it wet. These were questions that nobody obtained the answers to but Aristotle was determined to know, and having this type of knowledge would truly earn the title of PAGE 1Wisdom. Now finding the knowledge and answers would be very difficult but Aristotle believed what better way to obtain this then through the use of science. He knew that everything in science deals with learning using more than just senses. There are always deeper meanings and definitions when pertaining to science. In all types of sciences whether physics, ethics, politics etc. they will deal with discovering the “causes” and “reasons” to everything. Physics deal with what causes the material body to move, ethics with what causes good life, and politics with what causes the good state. Using what he knew and the causes to certain ideas such as life, a state, or the body helped him to realize that there is no science that shows the knowledge of true reality. This lead him to studying and creating a science which goes beyond the subject matter of the other sciences and is concerned with “first principles and causes.” What defines first principles and causes is the true foundation of Wisdom, thus leading Aristotle to studying, obtaining the knowledge of and writing his first work or philosophy. Aristotle never titled this work, so those who followed and studied his work actually gave it the title METAPHYSICS. With this idea of Metaphysics Aristotle deals with the highest level of abstraction. It is abstract because it deals with what is universal or “all around us” and not with what is just particular. He wanted to know about everything that could not be seen, touched, tasted, smelled or heard. What made Metaphysics so unique was the fact that it proposed one question; What does it mean to be anything whatsoever? Or what does it mean to be. Aristotle was fascinated by the fact that things could exist, but he was more concerned with the Page 2principles and causes of its existence. The problem of metaphysics as he saw it was therefore the study of Being and its principles and causes. Aristotle had to come up with a subject for being in order to explain its principles and causes. He needed a way to include the categories, which were quality, posture, place, and so on in one subject. He referred to it as substance. In this way metaphysics is concerned with Being (i.e., existing substances) and its causes (i.e., the process by which substances come into being). By Aristotle referring to everything as a substance we know that he thought in a way of “knowing” something. He believed that a person can know something better when we know “what it is” than when we know the characteristics about that something, such as color, size, or posture it has (physical characteristics). He knew that when we speak of things we need to get an essence as to physical characteristics before we get an essence as to what it really is. If a tall person owns a blue book, when we described the two they are understood in their “essence,” in what makes them a book or a person before they are understood as large or healthy. If we were to describe a thing without using it qualities first then our mind would be focusing more on what the thing really is, or its essential nature. Aristotle was applying that there is more to a thing than its particular qualities. There is something beneath all the qualities. He was referring to substance.
Aristotle knew that any specific thing is a combination of qualities as well as (a substratum) something which lies underneath another, to which qualities apply. This led Aristotle to consider just what makes a substance a substance and he defined it as matter and form. Page 3 Aristotle believed that we could never find matter without form or form without matter in nature. To him everything that exists is in some way a concrete unity of matter and form. This means that substance, therefore, is a composite of form and matter. When people use the word matter and form to describe any specific thing they seem to have in mind the distinction between what something is made of and what it is made into. This type of thinking is exactly what makes the mind believe that there is some type of primary or unformed state until it is made into a thing. Aristotle argued that we never find any such thing as “primary matter,” or matter without form. An example of this is when a sculptor is about to make a statue out of marble. He will never find marble without form. It will always be some sort of shape whether it be a square or an irregular one, but he will always work with a piece in which form and matter is already combined. The sculptor will then give it another form. This poses another question. How does one thing become another? Or what is the nature of change? The word change has many different meanings, including motion, growth, decay, generation, and corruption. Some of these changes are natural, others are products of humans. Due to change Aristotle says that there can be four questions asked, (1) what is it? (2) what is it made of? (3) by what is it made? And (4) for what end is it made?He used these four questions and came up with four causes. (1) the formal cause, which determines what a thing is, (2) the material cause, or that out of which it is made, (3) the efficient cause, by what a thing is made, and (4) the final cause, the “end” for which it is made. Aristotle believed that all things are in the process of change. Everything posses a Page 4power to become what its form has as its end. Some things are striving toward external objects, but there is also the striving to achieve ends that pertain to one’s internal nature.Aristotle named the self-contained end of anything entelechy. The fact that things have everything has its own entelechy led Aristotle to consider the distinction between potentiality and actuality. Aristotle saw the visible world as one composed of things in motion, but motion, a mode of change, involves potentiality. Things are potentially in motion but must be moved by something that is actually in motion. To explain motion, Aristotle used the idea of the Unmoved Mover. Aristotle referred to the Unmoved Mover as the “reason for” or the “principle of” motion. For this reason, the Unmoved Mover stood for the actual, and, because there is here no potentiality, the eternal principle of motion. To Aristotle the Unmoved Mover is considered the final cause. By being the final cause , the Unmoved Mover also becomes the efficient cause. Metaphysics has certain parts to it which gives Aristotle’s only on that subject. There is a part entitled Physics which basically talks about how there is no primary matter. By primary matter, Aristotle must have meant the substratum in things that is capable of changing, of becoming other substances or things, of assuming novel forms.Aristotle says that there are certain materials out of which nature makes things and calls these simple bodies, namely air, earth, fire, and water. In the part entitled Biology, Aristotle deals with the body. He states how Matter is always potentiality, whereas form is actuality, and since a body that is actually alive has its life from the source of actuality, namely, form. This meaning that the soul is the f Page 5form of an organized body. Aristotle distinguished between three types of soul in order to indicate the three different ways a body can be organized. He called these the vegetative, sensitive, and rational souls. They represent various capacities of a body for activity.