It is quite difficult to come up with a strict definition of metaphysics, however, it can be understood as a term in philosophy that generally denotes the exploration of ontology (the study of being, or what-is) and the study of what is real. It was termed by Aristotle in the first-century B.C. as a title for a group of his works. One of these groups was about "the things of nature", titled physics. The other group was simply called "the book after physics" by ancient editors (meta, meaning "after"). Thus, metaphysics literally means "after physics".

Questions generally asked in metaphysics are,

  • What is there? (known as the fundamental question in metaphysics)
  • What is ultimately real?
  • What is the difference between being and non-being?
  • Are there substances, and if so, what are they?
  • What is freedom? Is it real?
  • Is matter real, and if so, what is it?
  • Do humans have minds as well as bodies?

Some of these questions are fundamental when seeking to understand the doctrine of the Trinity. Using metaphysics to understand what substance means can help make more clear the nature of God. Although metaphysics can add support to the study of the Trinity, the understanding of the nature of God should ultimately be grounded in Scripture.

Metaphysical subdisciplines

Further reading

  • Loux, M. J. Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction, 3rd ed. Routledge, 2006.
  • Gale, Richard M. The Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics. Blackwell, 2002.
  • Kim, J. and Ernest Sosa, eds. A Companion to Metaphysics. Blackwell, 2000.