What exactly is metaphysics in simple terms

Summary of metaphysics

Greece at the time of Aristotle ’

The first half of the fourth century BC in Greece was marked by clashes between the dominant city-states. Although Sparta had taken military power over large parts of the Peloponnese peninsula, it was not in a position to fulfill this leadership role in the long term. In the Corinthian War (395–387 BC) Argos, Athens, Corinth and Thebes fought against the Spartans. This was followed by the so-called King's Peace, from which the Persians in particular benefited, who got hold of Asia Minor and Cyprus. The fragmentation of small wars weakened ancient Greece to an ever greater extent. Sparta's hegemony was followed by that of Thebes, but this dominance, too, did not last. Smaller states took advantage of it. For example, Corinth and Megara were largely spared from armed conflicts during this time and experienced a veritable heyday.

Ultimately, the Macedonian king drew the ultimate benefit from the constant guerrilla warfare Philip II By building a powerful army and through victories against the united city-states, he made Macedonia the leading military power in Greece. After the murder of Philip, his son continued Alexander the Great his father's expansion plans were put into practice at a remarkable rate. First he brought the rebellious Greek cities to their knees and destroyed Thebes. Then he opened the gate to a new world for the Greeks: he defeated the Persian armies and finally advanced as far as India.


An exact dating of Aristotle ’ metaphysics is not possible due to the loose bundling of the individual texts and the subsequent publication. It is certain that the writings and lectures were written during his time in Assos (348–345 BC) and continued and finally completed during his second stay in Athens (335–322 BC). Some innovators of Aristotelian philosophy, including probably Andronikos of Rhodes, summarized in the first century BC a number of thematically related, but content independent lecture writings of Aristotle on the work metaphysics together. The title literally means "according to physics" and, according to popular opinion, is simply due to the fact that the writings of the metaphysics according to which the physics were arranged. In the work itself there is no mention of metaphysics, instead Aristotle speaks of the “First Philosophy”. But there are also voices who contradict this view and claim that the term was already used before Andronikos, and quite explicitly in a philosophical sense as “what is behind things”.

Impact history

The depth and scope of Aristotle ’ metaphysics spans a whole philosophical cosmos. The work had a decisive influence on thinking up into the Christian Middle Ages and gave its name to a sub-discipline of philosophy. The work does not yet seem to have made a particularly lasting impression on the philosophers of Aristotle's time, as can be seen from the small number of commentators who have dealt with it. The comments only increased during the imperial era of the Roman Empire. At that time the Greek philosophers, especially the Platonists and Pythagoreans, were very popular. The philosophy of Aristotle had an enormous effect - especially his Metaphysics - from the twelfth century onwards to the western philosophy and religion of the Middle Ages, driven by translations and translations from Arabic. It was embarrassing that the medieval theologians had to refer to a pagan of all people, and to one who was translated, commented on and made accessible by other unbelievers (namely Muslims). But all these deviations from correct belief were accepted because Aristotle's method of disputing was so successful. The method of weighing up arguments and counter-arguments, which goes back to the Greek philosopher, was called scholasticism.

Metaphysics was an integral part of philosophizing for a long time. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that attempts were made to put an end to metaphysics under the influence of the natural sciences, materialism and positivism (Auguste Comte, Ludwig Wittgenstein) - while at the same time other philosophers like Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida took new approaches in metaphysics and metaphysics criticism.