Metaphysics is the study of existence at the highest level of generality. It is traditionally characterised as the study of "being qua being" - of being in general rather than specifically of this or that sort. Accordingly, the salient task of the field is to achieve a clearer understanding of the concepts and principles of being, existence, and reality. As such, metaphysics has been an established sector of philosophy since the time of Aristotle's initial systematisation of the subject in the fourth century B.C.E.In line with tradition, distinguished philosopher Nicholas Rescher presents key topics that have always figured on the agenda of metaphysics: the nature and rationale of existence, the differentiation of what is actual from the unreal and mere possibility, and the prospects and limits of our knowledge of the real. Though a work of philosophical sophistication and logical rigour, "Metaphysics" displays a clarity of exposition that makes it suitable for use as a text or supplementary reader in upper-class undergraduate and graduate philosophy courses.
Aristotle was born at Stageira, in the dominion of the kings of Macedonia, in 384 BC. For twenty years he studied at Athens in the Academy of Plato, on whose death in 347 he left, and, some time later, became tutor of the young Alexander the Great. When Alexander succeeded to the throne of Macedonia in 335, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his school and research institute, the Lyceum, to which his great erudition attracted a large number of scholars.
After Alexander's death in 323, anti-Macedonian feeling drove Aristotle out of Athens, and he fled to Chalcis in Euboea, where he died in 322. His writings, which were of extraordinary range, profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy, and they are still eagerly studied and debated by philosophers today. Very many of them have survived and among the most famous are the Ethics and the Politics.