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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Getting the Meaning of Metaphysics with St. Thomas Aquinas

Which came first the chicken or the egg? How do we know that the egg came first, or was it the chicken? What came before the chicken and the egg, or to what do we credit their existence? Once more, I'm plunging headlong into philosophy. Care to join me? Who's your favorite philosopher and why?

Word for the Week

1387, "branch of speculation which deals with the first causes of things," from M.L. metaphysica, neut. pl. of Medieval Gk. (ta) metaphysika, from Gk. ta meta ta physika "the (works) after the Physics," title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. The name was given c.70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a ref. to the customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by L. writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical." Hence, metaphysical came to be used in the sense of "abstract, speculative" (e.g. by Johnson, who applied it to certain 17c. poets, notably Donne and Cowley, who used "witty conceits" and abstruse imagery). The word originally was used in Eng. in the singular; plural form predominated after 17c., but singular made a comeback late 19c. in certain usages under Ger. influence.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

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