Metaphysics, branch of philosophy that addresses the fundamentals of existence or reality, such as the existence and nature of God, immortality of the soul, meaning of evil, the problem of freedom and determinism, and relationship of mind and body. Metaphysical systems have included Aristotelian scholasticism and the 17th-century rationalistic systems of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Metaphysical thinking was criticized in the 18th century by Immanuel Kant, who claimed that traditional metaphysics, while raising morally necessary questions, sought to go beyond the limits of human knowledge. In the 20th century, the concerns of metaphysics were rejected as being meaningless by the logical positivists.
See also: Philosophy.
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