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Aristotle developed a set of doctrines called categories which exerted unparalleled influence in many other philosophers even to date.. His philosophical investigations and conclusions were borrowed from works of other philosophers such as Plato, Descartes, Locke and Leibniz. He is the first philosopher to have developed the first ever philosophical treatise known as metaphysics.

An inquiry into Aristotelian categories reveals two things; he focuses his inquiry in the definition of substance as a category of being and that natural science is the second philosophy. There is something more profound that even natural science to study, but this is also dependent on metaphysics.

Metaphysics as a First Philosophy According to Aristotle

Metaphysics is the heart of any philosophical examinations. It is the starting point of any studies involving philosophy and existence of things. Metaphysics generally studies the essence of being in existence. It provides a way with which one would understand the organization of the world as it is. Physics on the other hand integrates cosmology into natural science. Cosmology explains the general arrangement of different elements of the universe. It is an innate force that controls the direction of the elements of the universe. This paper will try and explain the two major categories described by Aristotle. It will also attempt to justify why natural science is known or taken as second philosophy according to Aristotle.

Plato believed that things in nature are unchangeable, but the world around us is dynamic as in it keeps changing. Aristotle borrowed these two contradictory ideas to explain the aspect of existence. He tried to explain why things keep changing and yet seem to remain the same. His explanation was that, things change, but there is a specific aspect that is persistent with every change. He also said that change brings up something new, something that was absent before. He gave an example of a child being born; something new is brought into the world. The parents may seem to remain the same, but a radical change has occurred in their lives. this child is the modification but the parents are simply  a man and a woman.

Aristotle referred to metaphysics as ‘first philosophy’ as it deals with appreciation of a substance as being in existence. According to Aristotle, several aspects differentiate a ‘being’ from a ‘non-being’. These aspects include; substance, quality, place and the ability to be acted upon. The word ‘place’ here’ refers to time and location. It is possible for two items to be at the same place at the same time. A thing or a substance can be said to be in existence if only it holds another substance in it. He gave the example of the universe and said that if there were no people in the universe, then the universe would not exist. Even a void has to have some substance with the above qualities in it.

Place can only be defined if a substance is not in motion. Human beings move within the earth, and this marks the boundary of their movement, this is why we can call the earth a place. For instance; if we put wine in a bottle and keep moving with the bottle, then it is difficult to define the place occupied by the wine. Therefore, in this case, we can conclude that there is no place. Place can mean somewhere; it is when something occupies a specific area that has boundaries and is stationary. Motion and boundary generally describe place. These beliefs went against the definition of place by Isaac Newton.

Aristotle said that metaphysics is the first philosophy as it deals with the fundamental issue of existence. If there was no existence, then there would be no point in studying any philosophical related subjects (Irwin and Fine,1995 pg442). His definition of physics is that it is the study of natural science. It encompasses sciences like biology, humanities like geography, mathematics and religious studies like theology. All these study the substances that are already in being and thus natural science is the second philosophy.

The Connection Between Metaphysics and Physics

It is noteworthy, however, to state that physics or natural science deals with movable objects and sometimes studies life as in the case of biology. Nevertheless, mathematics deals with abstract objects. However, it is not possible to restrict the two into the study of specific substances. Both fields are dynamic and sometimes overlap. Nevertheless, the motion studied by one subject is different from the other.

Four fundamental elements are combined to make up the universe. These are air, water, earth and fire. Each of these elements is unique in its characteristics; water is wet and cold, fire is hot and dry, air is hot and wet and the earth is cold and dry. These characteristics are what enable these elements to move in different directions towards their natural abode. As such, fire has the capability of rising higher and higher while the solids that make up the earth fall from above. Other heavenly bodies are guided by their souls on which direction to travel.

Metaphysics and physics are highly related as one is a sequential study of the other. Before we inquire into natural science, we must first study substances and their existence (Irwin and Fine,1995 pg 21). It is paramount to study existence, when and how it occurs before we indulge ourselves in studying beings. What about unusual sciences that study the aspect of a being as being?  Do they surpass the superiority of metaphysics? Well, Aristotle was able to look into this pertinent question, and the findings were enough to place metaphysics as the first philosophy.

During his time, unusual sciences were still a virgin field with remarkably few scholars venturing into it ( Irwin and Fine, 1995 pg 5). A typical example in this case is mathematics that studies substances that do not exist. He said that even in this case, a little bit of metaphysics was borrowed. In mathematics, we can use sticks to count, the sticks are substances that exist, and thus metaphysics is already in existence.

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It is not possible to step outside metaphysics at any one point. The study of being qua being and the exact nature of the same question are not separate according to Aristotle. In fact, metaphysics is way too unavoidable that even the questions on the subject are metaphysical. Metaphysics is the supremely first and fundamental part of any philosophical studies. All studies are based on this subject.

Even the principle of non-contradiction is just a logical explanation of the existence of things in our world as we see it. Before we even gained any logic, we had to ask ourselves what logic is. Logic thus occurs as a second nature to metaphysics. Further evidences are given in a bid to explain this issue further; Aristotle says that if things were non-existent so would our thoughts be. We would not be able to use nothing to think about nothing.

Metaphysics is the fundamental nature of being but does not complete the explanations (Irwin and Fine, 1995 pg 235). Special sciences such as mathematics exist in order to make full explanations of such aspects. The upshot of all the above is that metaphysics is the first philosophy. Natural science exists in order to make further explanations on issues evoked by metaphysics.

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