The existence of living beings and other phenomenon which explain their nature are studied under metaphysics. Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy which helps us get into the depths of natural phenomena. Ontology, cosmology and philosophical theology are the branches of metaphysics. Most of today's beliefs and theories about metaphysics are derived from the study of ancient Greek philosophy. There are however, many different thought-processes, point-of-views, opinions and even systematic methods other than these that contribute to the study of metaphysics. An attempt to present a concise and useful collection of data about metaphysics is made in this write-up.
What are the Branches of Metaphysics?
After understanding the basics of metaphysics, let us now get into the details of different branches.
It is the study of reality or existence or just the nature of being. The study of ontology along with delving into the fundamentals of being, is also concerned with the classification of the entities of universe. The researchers or philosophers from the Platonic school make the concept quite easy to understand or at least make it appear easy. According to the followers of Plato, the entities of the world are those referred to by means of 'nouns'. Those who don't follow the Platonic definition of being state that it is not possible to understand the concept clearly by just studying about 'nouns'. The state of being also relates to events and thoughts. For example, the mind, according to these thinkers is not just an entity, but a collection of mental events.
Theology is the study of religion in a rational manner. Philosophical theology is the analysis of concepts of theology by means of philosophy. It provides us with different channels or ways to understand more about the phenomena of religion and God. There are two ways in which philosophical theology is studied. The first way is that of considering those evidences not obtained through some divine revelation. The second way of studying philosophical theology is through philosophical techniques and convictions sourced from divine revelations.
The study of totality of all phenomena of the universe comes under cosmology. This concept should not be confused with that of physical cosmology; the science of physical cosmology studies the origin of the universe, which is a different subject altogether. As per the Zoroastrian theories, cosmological dualism governs the forces of universe. According to Zoroastrians, there are two God forces responsible for controlling the phenomena of universe.
Another school of thought in the study of metaphysics is that of Jain scholars. According to Jain scholars, the seven tattvas (principles) lay the foundation of study of metaphysics. These seven principles are jiva (living beings), ajiva (non-living matter), bandh (karmic attachment), asrava (inflow of karmic matter), samvara (stoppage of new karma), nirjara (burning up the existing karma) and moksha (emancipation or liberation). The entire theory of Jain metaphysics revolves around these 7 tattvas. It presents before us, a complete picture of the existentiality of living beings, i.e., jivas and their association with the other 6 six tattvas mentioned above. It is believed that the principles of 'bandh' and 'asrava' are responsible for the wanderings of soul in this universe through cycles of birth and death. Samvara and nirjara are the principles which help the soul (intrinsic to every living being) to break the karmic bondage and thereby attain liberation. The phenomenon of God also finds place in this theory. Each and every liberated soul, according to Jain metaphysics, is termed as God. Thus, God is not a third person influencing or interfering with the lives of earthly beings, however, an entity having attained complete knowledge (referred to as Kevaljnana). You can also refer to some books on metaphysics by renowned thinkers to understand the subject in a detailed manner.
Understanding the true nature of ourselves and universe is the prime objective of human life. The myriad theories, beliefs and philosophies allow us to obtain a deeper understanding of our existence and the associated fundamentals. The knowledge of fundamentals of metaphysics allows man to proceed in his quest for complete knowledge. In primitive stages of development or evolution, man is concerned about basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. In the further stages of development, one can see that thirst for knowledge increases and man searches for higher goals. This thirst for knowledge can be quenched by study of metaphysics in a systematic manner. It is only then that one can reach the ultimate stage of gaining absolute or complete knowledge.