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The study of what there is, and the nature of what there is.


A metaphysical question would be whether consciousness exists or not. It is a question of what there is, whether there is such a thing as consciousness.

A question of the nature of something would be whether something is alive. It is a question of "what is the nature of a subject" with the answer being either alive or not alive.

How we tell what can be defined as consciousness, or alive, is an epistemic question. Metaphysics simply deals with the being of either phenomena. 

An example of whether something exists would be: Time is an illusion.

- This is because we are making a statement on whether time exists. We could reword the above to say "Time does not exist," which is clearly a metaphysical statement.

An example of a statement about the nature of something: The clock in my room is broken.

- This is statement is talking about the nature of the clock in my room, which is that it is broken.*

  • note that this is quite a specific statement about one property that a given alarm clock possesses. Metaphysics is often more focused on general statements, such as 'the nature of a human agent is to be rational', or 'all physical objects are made up of particles'.