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Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that investigates principles of reality transcending those of any particular science, traditionally, cosmology and ontology. It is also concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of being and the world.[1] Its name derives from the Greek words μετÜ (metá) (meaning "after") and φυσικÜ (physiká) (meaning "physics"), "physics" referring to those works on matter by Aristotle in antiquity. The prefix meta- ("after") simply meant the chapters in Aristotle's work that physically followed after the chapter "physics". Aristotle called them "first philosophy". Over time, the meaning of "meta" has shifted to mean "beyond; over; transcending" in English. Therefore, metaphysics is also the study of that which transcends physics. Many philosophers such as Immanuel Kant would later argue that certain questions concerning metaphysics (notably those surrounding the existence of God, soul, and freedom) are inherent to human reason and have always intrigued mankind. Some examples are:

What is the nature of reality?
Why does the world exist, and what is its origin or source of creation?
Does the world exist outside the mind?
If things exist, what is their objective nature?
A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into what types of things there 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.

More recently, the term "metaphysics" has also been employed by non-philosophers to refer to "subjects that are beyond the physical world". A "metaphysical bookstore", for instance, is not one that sells books on ontology, but rather one that sells books on spirits, faith healing, crystal power, occultism, and other such topics. The philosophic pursuit of metaphysics generally does not include any of the above.

Before the development of modern science, scientific questions were addressed as a part of metaphysics known as "natural philosophy"; the term "science" itself meant "knowledge". The Scientific Revolution, however, made natural philosophy an empirical and experimental activity unlike the rest of philosophy, and by the end of the eighteenth century it had begun to be called "science" in order to distinguish it from philosophy. Thereafter, metaphysics became the philosophical enquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence.