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Metaphysics is one of the traditional four main branches of philosophy, alongside ethics, logic and epistemology. It is also an area that continues to attract and hold a fascination for many people yet it is associated with being complex and abstract. For some it is associated with the mystical or religious. For others it is known through the metaphysical poets who talk of love and spirituality.
This "Very Short Introduction" goes right to the heart of the matter, getting to the basic and most important questions of metaphysical thought in order to understand the theory: What are objects? Do colours and shapes have some form of existence? What is it for one thing to cause another rather than just being associated with it? What is possible? Does time pass?
By using these questions to initiate thought about the basic issues around substance, properties, changes, causes, possibilities, time, personal identity, nothingness and emergentism, Stephen Mumford provides a clear and simple path through this analytical tradition at the core of philosophical thought.
Introduction: What is an introduction?
1: What is a table?
2: What is a circle?
3: Are wholes just sums of parts?
4: What is a change?
5: What is a cause?
6: How does time pass?
7: What is a person?
8: What is possible?
9: Is nothing something?
10: What is metaphysics?
Further reading: what should you read next?
Stephen Mumford is Professor of Metaphysics at the Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham. He is also Head of the School of Humanities and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He has written many papers and books in metaphysics, including a number of more popular works intended for a non-specialist audience including articles in "Times Higher Education magazine", encyclopaedias, and magazines. His most famous book is "Dispositions" (Oxford, 1998) but he also authored "Laws in Nature" (Routledge, 2004), "Getting Causes from Powers" (with Rani Lill Anjum, Oxford, 2011) and "Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotions" (Routledge, 2011). He is a frequent public speaker at both academic conferences and more popular events and has delivered talks in around 30 countries.