is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining
the nature of the world. It is the study of being or reality.
It addresses questions such as: What is the nature of
reality? Is there a God? What is man's place in the universe?
A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation
into what categories of things are in the world and what
relations these things bear to one another. The metaphysician
also attempts to clarify the notions by which people understand
the world, including existence, objecthood, property,
space, time, causality, and possibility.
To call one a metaphysician in this traditional, philosophical
sense indicates nothing more than his or her interest
in attempting to discover what underlies everything. Old
materialists, who said that there is nothing but matter
in motion, and current naturalists, who say that everything
is made of lifeless, non-experiencing energy, are just
as much to be classified as metaphysicians as are idealists,
who maintain that there is nothing but ideas, or mind,
A commonly employed, secondary, popular, usage of metaphysics
includes a wide range of controversial phenomena believed
by many people to exist beyond the physical. Popular metaphysics
relates to two traditionally contrasted, if not completely
separable, areas, (1) mysticism, referring to experiences
of unity with the ultimate, commonly interpreted as the
God who is love, and (2) occultism, referring to the extension
of knowing (extrasensory perception, including telepathy,
clairvoyance, precognition, retrocognition, and mediumship)
and doing (psychokinesis) beyond the usually recognized
fields of human activity.
The academic study of the occult (literally hidden) has
been known as psychical research and, more recently, parapsychology.
Both New Age and New Thought emphasize mysticism and its
practical, pragmatic application in daily living, but
New Thought discourages involvement in occultism.