Ok, so I know one of aims of Metaphysics is to encode these fundamental truths, by way of example, primarily via Aristotle. So, you have things like The Law Of Identity, in that anything is equal to itself, and The Law Of Non-Contradiction, something either exist or does not (nor partially, as stated by The Law of Excluded Middle).

However, with such truths being paradigmatically Metaphysical, what of other truths, like Newtons laws? So would the law that states that 'every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction', be considered Metaphysical? What of Descartes Cognito Ergo Sum? i.e 'I think, therefore I am'. Is that Metaphysical?

In comparing what definitely is a metaphysical truth (Aristotle's Laws), I suppose it would also help to declare truths that are obviously are not, for instance, 'My name is Illuni Cocomoso', or, 'Ducks exist'. The primary difference here is that it doesn't seem necessarily true, e.g all ducks may not exist in all possible worlds (a depressing thought indeed). A second distinction is that of universality, so Aristotle's laws are universally applicable to everything in existence, but not everyone is called Illuni Cocomoso.

So is it that necessity and universality is thee criteria for a Metaphysical truth? Or is there some other criteria which is also necessary, where when combined with the criteria of necessity and universality, is sufficient enough to be deemed a Metaphysical truth?

  • You can make Newtons third law- the one you refer to above - plausible merely by combining Aristotles definition of force and atomism. Sep 1, 2016 at 2:11
  • Another line to take is to go along with Popper who suggested that what demarcated this line was falsification; I don't find this ultimately satisfying, but it has something to it. Sep 1, 2016 at 3:59
  • 1
    The laws of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle are traditionally considered to be logical laws, not metaphysical, neither are physical laws metaphysical, and cogito ergo sum is not even a law (Leibniz called it a "fact of reason"). Metaphysical truths are usually truths that predicate the "true being", if one believes in such a thing. So to Plato existence of the ideal realm is a metaphysical truth, and to Aristotle of the unmoved mover, to Christians God and angels, etc. Necessity and universality are neither necessary nor sufficient.
    – Conifold
    Sep 1, 2016 at 4:19
  • @Conifold Wait wait wait, surely Aristotles laws are metaphysics. I mean they even came from one of his books titled 'Metaphysics', this is why I called such laws paradigmatic...Even so though, such laws seem to describe the nature of existence, isn't that what Metaphysics is about, in part? Sep 2, 2016 at 6:51
  • Yes, Aristotle discusses logical laws in Metaphysics IV among other places, where one can discern three different interpretations of it, one of which can be called "metaphysical" (ontological). It proved quite problematic however, and the subsequent tradition largely separated logic from metaphysics. The modern view is that logic should be topic neutral, i.e. have nothing to say about what is, so logical laws can not serve as "paradigmatic examples" of metaphysical truths plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-ontology/…
    – Conifold
    Sep 4, 2016 at 7:11

1 Answer 1


Metaphysics is the study of being in general. Hence, any laws that apply to being in general--which are, by virtue of this generality, universal--are metaphysical truths.

Hegel declared that, since logic attempts to isolate the laws of thought by which one is able to think an object (being) in general, such laws, by virtue of their being the medium through which objects (beings) are able to be thought at all, are therefore general laws of being insofar as they are knowable. Since logic, by this view, attempts to isolate and categorize the laws to which all thought, and by consequence all objects (being), must accord, he concluded that logic, itself, is a metaphysical system. This is to be contrasted with, say, anatomy, which merely documents the contingent manifestations of being (different organisms/biological structures).

By my view, anything which is proclaimed as being necessary of a being in general is a metaphysical truth, which is to say that insofar as something is, it must be this way. Should one be a materialist, believing only matter to exist, then the laws of gravity are metaphysical truths (in that they apply to all objects extended in space and time, which matter is). If one is an idealist, as Hegel was, then logic, as noted, is a metaphysics, for reality (by the subjective idealist's view) is itself the product of the subject's self-positing, and hence the laws of being are themselves dependent upon the laws of thought (logic).

  • A materialist does not have to believe that that the way world is must be the only way, indeed modifications to laws of gravity were suggested almost since Newton, and are considered today. In the end they are decided empirically, while metaphysical truth would be something beyond empirical verification. Even Hegel and other idealists admitted contingent empirical truths.
    – Conifold
    Sep 1, 2016 at 17:56
  • @Conifold I think you misunderstood me. A metaphysical truth is that which is true of all being, and is therefore necessary. My comments regarding materialism were merely to indicate that what one classifies as a metaphysical truth itself depends on one's paradigm. If one believes only matter to exist, then gravity is a metaphysical law as it is true of all matter and therefore all existence.
    – John L.
    Sep 1, 2016 at 21:37
  • I do not see how you get from universality to necessity. Gravity law may well be true of all existing matter, and contingent nonetheless, Socrates may necessarily be a man, but there is nothing universal about it. Unless of course you collapse potential into actual and get a single possible world, but then everything in existence is "necessary".
    – Conifold
    Sep 2, 2016 at 0:02
  • You are completely right. It's a very subtle distinction, which in my haste I missed. Thank you for the clarification!
    – John L.
    Sep 2, 2016 at 0:50

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