What is this thing called Metaphysics?: 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

What is this thing called Metaphysics?

3rd Edition

By Brian Garrett


164 pages

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How did our universe come to be? Does God exist? Does time flow? What are we? Do we have free will? What is truth? Metaphysics is concerned with the nature of ourselves and the world around us. This clear and accessible introduction covers the central topics in metaphysics in a concise but comprehensive way. Brian Garrett discusses the crucial concepts and arguments of metaphysics in a highly readable manner. He addresses the following key areas of metaphysics:

• God

• Existence

• Modality

• Universals and particulars

• Facts

• Causation

• Time

• Puzzles of material constitution

• Free will & determinism

• Fatalism

• Personal identity

• Truth

This third edition has been thoroughly revised. Most chapters include new and updated material, and there are now two chapters devoted to attacks on free will and fatalism.

What is this thing called Metaphysics? contains many helpful student-friendly features, such as a glossary of important terms, study questions, annotated further reading, and a guide to web resources. Text boxes provide bite-sized summaries of key concepts and major philosophers, and clear and interesting examples are used throughout.


"Accessible, clearly written, up-to-date and engaging, this third edition of What is this thing called Metaphysics? is the best introduction to metaphysics for beginners. It covers a wide range of topics, gives valuable guidance for further reading and is often provocative". Ghislain Guigon, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Table of Contents

Preface to the third edition


1. God

2. What are we?

3. Existence

4. Modality

5. Objects and Properties

6. Causation

7. Time: The Fundamental Issue

8. Time: Four Puzzles

9. Fatalism

10. Freewill and Determinism

11. Puzzles of Material Constitution and Identity

12. Facts

13. Truth



About the Author

Brian Garrett is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the Australian National University, Australia.

About the Series

What is this thing called?

The Routledge Philosophy What is this thing called? series of concise textbooks have been designed for use by students coming to a core area of the discipline for the first time. Each volume explores the relevant central questions with clear explanation of complex ideas and engaging contemporary examples. Features to aid study include text boxes, chapter summaries, study questions, further reading and glossaries.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Epistemology
PHILOSOPHY / Metaphysics