METAPHYSICS:that which follows or is beyond natural things

The etymological origins of the word 'metaphysics' almost ensures uncertainty, perplexity and idiosyncratic interpretations. To coyly define some aspect of reality as a sort of mysterious subsequent or removed association reads more like the clue to a cryptic crossword than a helpful linguistic definition. 'That which follows rain' could be interpreted as anything from 'puddles', 'germination', 'sunshine', 'flooding' or 'slippery roads'... depending upon ones interests and inclinations. 'That which is beyond hope' could be identified with just about anything in the known universe... depending on individual circumstances. It could mean 'love' or 'sex' or 'a car' or 'seeing a dead loved one once again'... or simply just 'hopelessness'. Interpreting 'metaphysics' to mean... 'that which follows or is beyond natural things'... leaves us with quite a range of possibilities as to what the 'that' might actually be. It would certainly be 'un-natural' would it not?

As an entirely predictable consequence of course, the word has acquired an ambiguity in general communications... both because of the rarefied and abstract nature of an assumed philosophical focus and because of confusion and misappropriation by other interests. Many writers have expounded at considerable length as to what the word 'metaphysics' itself means, as well as on topics that are assumed to be of a 'metaphysical' nature. If we are not careful to at least think about the circumstances or our own education and nurture, and to examine the ramifications and diverse meanings of the language we choose to use, we end up wallowing in the power and omniscience of our own intellect, and extrapolating the implications of our reflections to promote existential viewpoints that have no more substance than a treatise on the nature of extra-terrestrial faeries. Attesting to this phenomenon, there are mustering mountains of library archives populated with tomes on diverse 'theologies', elaborate treatises on the nature of 'thought', innumerable 'ethical' rulebooks specifying exactly how everybody else should think and behave, and volumes unbounded of writings on 'mysticism', 'spirituality', 'magic', 'astrology' and the like. The fact that there is an absolute lack of observable evidence for such writings, is the usual reason offered by a sceptical reader for their total lack of credibility and hence total rejection. Of course... every writing that purports to communicate something significant with respect to 'knowledge' and 'understanding' should be given a fair trial... as it were... because many new and creative ideas will always seem 'other-worldly' to the thinking of the establishment. However... if there is a blatant contradiction in evidence when the assertions are subjected to experimental investigation, then that would probably be sufficient to reject them outright. If there is no evidence that supports the assertions, then they should be shelved and archived and not given any credence until some sort of corroboration from the physical world is forthcoming.

Metaphysics has become nothing more than smoke and mirrors. It is probably worth reminding ourselves that the very first sentence of the original Metaphysics by Aristotle was... "All men by nature desire to know"...
Not a desire to study "that which follows or is beyond natural things", but a desire to 'understand'.
The word 'epistemology'... the study of knowledge... would better suit as a description of the aims and aspirations of scientists and philosophers.

Many writers have rejected outright all or part of what has been categorised as 'metaphysics'. Philosophers and scientists themselves have rejected the study on the grounds that it was not empirical or scientific. Even literary commentators have assessed the ephemeral speculations about love and god by poetical aspirants... designated as 'metaphysical' because of their elaborate and convoluted metaphors... as lacking in rhythm, credibility and significance. There is anything but a consensus opinion as to the meaning or relevance of the word.

Because of the uncertain origins of the word 'metaphysics', the numerous and confusing 'definitions' that have been proposed, and the casual and self serving misuse by philosophical interests, the word should by rights be judged as redundant, and then mulched and layered onto the compost heap of noun-words that have passed their use-by date. However...the various societies for the preservation and maintenance of historical monument-words would undoubtedly invoke so many high level legal challenges to such an attempt, that its use in dialectical discourse is ensured for some time to come. It certainly deserves to be pinned onto a board and placed in a metaphysical glass cabinet somewhere. Perhaps in the fossil basement museum of the unseen university of etymology.