Referred to as the subject of "first philosophy," the term "metaphysics" is thought to have originated from the works of Aristotle. The editor of his works, Andronicus of Rhodes, placed the books on first philosophy right after another work, Physics, and called these books τ? μετ? τ? φυσικ? βιβλια (ta meta ta physika biblia) or, "the books that come after the [books on] physics." This was misread by Latin scholiasts, who thought it meant "the science of what is beyond the physical." In the English language, the word comes by way of the Medieval Latin metaphysica, the neuter plural of Medieval Greek metaphysika. While its Greek and Latin origins are clear, various dictionaries trace its first appearance in English to the mid 16th-century, in some cases as early as 1387. 
Aristotle's Metaphysics was divided into three parts, in addition to some smaller sections related to a philosophical lexicon and some reprinted extracts from the Physics, which are now regarded as the proper branches of traditional Western metaphysics:
* Ontology -- the study of Being and existence; includes the definition and classification of entities, physical or mental, the nature of their properties, and the nature of change.
* Theology -- the study of God (or the gods); involves many topics, including among others the nature of religion and the world, existence of the divine, questions about Creation, and the numerous religious or spiritual issues that concern humankind in general.
* Universal science -- the study of first principles, which Aristotle believed to be the foundation of all other inquiries. An example of such a principle is the law of noncontradiction and the status it holds in non-paraconsistent logics.
Universal science or first philosophy treats of "being qua being" — that is, what is basic to all science before one adds the particular details of any one science. Essentially "being qua being" may be translated as "being insofar as being goes," or as, "being in terms of being." This includes topics such as causality, substance, species and elements, as well as the notions of relation, interaction, and finitude.
Metaphysics as a discipline was a central part of academic inquiry and scholarly education even before the age of Aristotle. Long considered "the Queen of Sciences,"[cite this quote] its issues were considered no less important than the other main formal subjects of physical science, medicine, mathematics, poetics and music. Since the beginning of modern philosophy during the 17th-century, problems that were not originally considered within the bounds of metaphysical have been added to its purview, while other problems considered metaphysical for centuries are now typically relegated to their own separate regions in philosophy, such as philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, philosophy of perception, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.
In some cases, subjects of metaphysical scholarship have been found to be entirely physical and natural, thus making them part of physics proper (cf. Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity).
Metaphysics ( Greek: μετ? (metá) = "after", φυσικ? (physiká) = "those on nature", derived from the arrangement of Aristotle's works in antiquity) is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the nature of the world. It is the study of being or reality. It addresses questions such as: What is the nature of reality? What is humankind's place in the universe? Are colors objective or subjective? Does the world exist outside the mind? What is the nature of objects, events, places?
A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into what categories of things are in the world and what relations these things bear to one another. The metaphysician also attempts to clarify the notions by which people understand the world, including existence, objecthood, property, space, time, causality, and possibility.
More recently, the term "metaphysics" has also been used to refer to "subjects which are beyond the physical world". A "metaphysical bookstore," for instance, is not one that sells books on ontology, but rather one that sells books on spirits, faith healing, crystal power, occultism, and other such topics.
Before the development of modern science, scientific questions were addressed in metaphysics under the natural philosophy branch. This practice continued until up to the time of Isaac Newton (who was a natural philosopher himself) straight through the 18th century (the term "science" simply meant knowledge prior to the 19th century). However from the 19th century onwards natural philosophy became science, thus changing the definition of metaphysics to mainly include subjects beyond the physical world. Natural philosophy and thus science can still be considered topics of metaphysics, depending on whether or not the definition of the term includes empirical explanations.
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Source/Submitted by: Wikipedia
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