What's Metaphysics All About?

Even philosophers can't figure it out.

When I say “metaphysics”, you might think of that weird new-agey section of the bookstore on
crystals, astrology, vibrations, life-changing secrets of the universe, and other silly mumbo-jumbo.
Philosophers are interested in a different kind of metaphysics — and while some have
thought that it, too, is silly mumbo-jumbo, many of us believe it’s a good deal more intellectually
serious than the new-agey bookstore kind.

We get the name “metaphysics” from one of Aristotle’s editors, who titled a number of his
writings “meta ta phusika" — literally, “after the physics.” Some questions that we normally
consider metaphysical questions are: What sorts of stuff is the world made up of? What does it
mean for something to exist? Do numbers exist? Are there universals or forms (is there Catness
in addition to particular cats, or Blueness in addition to blue things, or Beauty in addition to
beautiful things)? Is reality just in the mind or i

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