Philosophy is the study which deals with general and fundamental problems in the universe such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values etc. Different types of philosophies have different answers to these questions. Therefore based on these basic problems philosophy can be subdivided into three main areas; metaphysics, epistemology and axiology.
Metaphysics is the name given to the branch of philosophy, which deals with issues of the fundamental nature of reality and what is beyond experience. The word Metaphysics is a combination of two words-Meta, meaning over or beyond and physics means physical or nature. Thus, metaphysics means “beyond the nature”, it works to answer the question “What is the ultimately reality?”. Metaphysics admits all that exists as well as the nature of existence itself. It states whether the universe is real, or merely an illusion. It is a fundamental aspect of the world around us. Metaphysics has been called ‘the science of sciences’ because it is not merely interested in the accumulation of facts but also in the systematic reflection on these facts uncovered by the various scientific disciplines.
The emergence of philosophy, starting with the Pre-Socratics, was metaphysical in nature. Metaphysical studies generally are in quest of explaining inherent or universal elements of reality which are not easily seen or experienced in our daily life. As such, it is being involved in explaining the characteristics of reality that exist beyond the physical universe and our immediate senses. Thus, metaphysics uses logics, based on the implication of human terms, preferably on a logic clinched to human sense perception of the impersonal universe. Metaphysics might comprehend the study of the nature of the human psyche, the definition and meaning of being, or the nature of space, time and provenance.
The following are among the mystify variety of questions that raise metaphysical issues: What is reality? Why is there something, rather than nothing? Is the self a bundle of powers? Can there be things that exist that are not in time? Is everything that exists an actual entity? Is change really possible? What is it for something to be an actual entity? Is time real, or an illusion? Are there laws of nature? What is consciousness? Is there anything that is not part of the spatiotemporal world? Is there a purpose of life? Does life have a meaning?
Branches of Metaphysics
Metaphysics has three branches, namely (1) ontology, (2) theology and (3) cosmology.
Ontology is a branch of metaphysics which studies existence or reality. The word is derived from the Greek terms On, which means ‘reality’ and Logos, which means ‘study of’. Ontology is concerned with the classification of the entities of the universe, such as physical or mental entities; the nature of the properties of entities; and the nature of change. Ontology also deals with the ultimate nature of vitality, and of all actuality in general.
Theology is a rational inquiry into religious questions like, does the God exist, what a God is, what the God wants, etc. The word is derived from two Greek words Theo, means ‘god’ and Logos, means ‘study of’. Thus theology is the systematic study of the existence and nature of God and his relationship to and influence upon other beings.
Cosmology is the sphere of metaphysics that studies the origin, evolution and nature of the universe. Cosmologists study the cosmos as a whole: its origin, evolution, architecture, size and eventual outcome. The central question that cosmology asks, “How does the world work?” was derived from questions such as “What’s going on everywhere?” which was asked by age-old men.
Metaphysics of different philosophies
Idealism holds that the reality lies in the mind. The physical world is only a manifestation of the mind or spirit that each human feels in him. Reality is not material in nature; it is moral and spiritual. The material objects that we see can be destroyed but the idea behind the object cannot be destroyed. For example, all the electric lamps can be destroyed at once but the idea of the electric lamp will remain. We can construct thousands of such lamps with the idea. Therefore, the object is not real but the idea is real.
The metaphysical position of the philosophers who believe in naturalism is that the visible universe does only exist, what can be observed, touched, tasted, etc. What cannot be observed, touched, tasted, etc., does not exist. They deny the existence of supernatural things. The nature is best accounted for the reference to material principles like mass, energy, and other physical and chemical properties.
A disapproval towards idealism leads to the emergence of realism. Realism says that the world around us is real. Our universe is a world of objects, not of ideas. Realists disagree with the existence of God. They gave more importance to material world rather than personal wants and feelings as it is subjective.
Metaphysical concept of pragmatism is quite different than idealism and naturalism. According to pragmatism, reality is in constant flux. Our world is in a constant state of change. The world is incomplete and unfinished and thus, it is growing. There is nothing in the world as static, perennial or everlasting.
Metaphysics in education
Metaphysics deals with ultimate reality. It searches what is there beyond nature. A person should be able to elicit the actual truth in whatever he sees, hears and experiences rather than merely agreeing to the outer nature. He should be able to critically analyse whatever knowledge he receives from the world. Teachers, by following activity oriented methods rather than lecture method, can imprint this nature in students. Students foster with a nature of enquiry will always be in a search of truth.