How do we understand the World? How does the Universe behave? What constitute the origin of the Universe? Today, Physics and Metaphysics are two major disciplines that tend to provide continuous indubitable answers to these baffling questions. In pursuit of this, physics adopts an empirical methodology, while metaphysics adopts a transcendental methodology. From here, it is obvious that even though their goals are the same, the methodologies employed by both disciplines, differs from each other. But the real questions are; Which of these disciplines can be said to have provided a suitable and indubitable explanation of the World? Which of these disciplines has been able to provide explanation for the origin of the Universe? Before we delve into this assessment, it is expedient that a concise historical background be given.
Historically speaking, Natural Philosophy, Moral Philosophy and Metaphysics, were the three main branches of General Philosophy. But as the quest for knowledge of the human environment increased, Natural Philosophy and Moral Philosophy broke away from General Philosophy, to form “Natural Science” and “Moral(social) Science”, leaving Metaphysics out in the cold. After that, Natural Science yielded the Physical Sciences, dedicated to providing suitable explanation of the Universe, through empirical observations. Nevertheless, while physics studies the universe empirically, metaphysics studies the universe transcendentally. Here, we define Metaphysics as the going beyond of ‘what is’, to fully understand what ‘what is’ is. While Metaphysics studies the physical Universe and the reality beyond the physical Universe, physics only studies the physical Universe, hence our definition of Metaphysics.
Truth be told, Physics has only succeeded in giving explanations of the physical universe. However, they can not account for motion and uniformity in the universe. Clearly, their theory of the earth being made by accident (Big Bang Theory), can not explain how the earth continually rotate on an epicycle round the sun without shifting away, if it was made by accident. Neither can they even account for the origin of giant stars, which periodically explodes in a cosmological event called ‘The Supernova’, that gives birth to the little stars we see up in the sky. At this point their empirical methodology has failed. Obviously, there is a metaphysical force behind all these extraordinary events. For instance, there is a metaphysical explanation as to what sets the Earth in motion, round the sun. After all, “nothing is the cause of its own motion” (quid quid movetur ab alio movetur). This metaphysical force, is what metaphysics sets out to study. Clearly, the physical universe can only be understood if realities beyond the physical universe are studied first.
Grappled with this enterprise, what Metaphysicians have been trying to do down the ages, is to postulate several theories explaining the metaphysical reality beyond the universe, so as to fully understand the physical universe. These theories includes; Plato’s theory of Forms, Aristotle’s theory of Pure Being, Leibniz’s theory of Monads, Whitehead’s theory of Actual Entities, and so on. All these theories gives us rational explanations of the reality beyond, so as to fully understand the physical universe. These explanations of a metaphysical reality that governs the physical reality, are what the physical sciences have failed to give us. In the end, there can only be one reality, only one suitable explanation.
We shall then conclude by reiterating a question earlier asked; Which of these disciplines (Physics and Metaphysics) can be said to have provided a suitable and indubitable explanation of the world? The question is left for us to answer.