Etymology
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metaphysics (n.)

"the science of the inward and essential nature of things," 1560s, plural of Middle English metaphisik, methaphesik (late 14c.), "branch of speculation which deals with the first causes of things," from Medieval Latin metaphysica, neuter plural of Medieval Greek (ta) metaphysika, from Greek ta meta ta physika "the (works) after the Physics," title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. See meta- + physics.  

The name was given c.70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to the customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical." The word originally was used in English in the singular; the plural form predominated after 17c., but singular made a comeback late 19c. in certain usages under German influence. From 17c. also sometimes "philosophy in general," especially "the philosophical study of the mind, psychology."

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metaphysic (n.)

late 14c., metaphisik, metafisik, "metaphysics," also "natural theology," from Old French metafisique and directly from Medieval Latin metaphysica (see metaphysics). This was the usual form of metaphysics until 16c.; it was somewhat revived 19c. under German influence.

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metaphysical (adj.)

early 15c., metaphisicalle, "pertaining to metaphysics," from methaphesik (late 14c.) + -al, and in part from Medieval Latin metaphysicalis, from Medieval Latin metaphysica (see metaphysics). It came to be used more loosely in the sense of "abstract, speculative, apart from ordinary or practical modes of thought" (among others by Samuel Johnson, who applied it to certain 17c. poets, notably Donne and Cowley, who used "witty conceits" and abstruse imagery), and often had more or less a depreciative sense. Related: Metaphysically.

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meta- 
Origin and meaning of meta-

word-forming element of Greek origin meaning 1. "after, behind; among, between," 2. "changed, altered," 3. "higher, beyond;" from Greek meta (prep.) "in the midst of; in common with; by means of; between; in pursuit or quest of; after, next after, behind," in compounds most often meaning "change" of place, condition, etc. This is from PIE *me- "in the middle" (source also of German mit, Gothic miþ, Old English mið "with, together with, among").

The notion of "changing places with" probably led to the senses of "change of place, order, or nature," which was a principal meaning of the Greek word when used as a prefix (but it also denoted "community, participation; in common with; pursuing").

The third, modern, sense, "higher than, transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of," is due to misinterpretation of metaphysics (q.v.) as "science of that which transcends the physical." This has led to a prodigious erroneous extension in modern usage, with meta- affixed to the names of other sciences and disciplines, especially in the academic jargon of literary criticism: Metalanguage (1936) "a language which supplies terms for the analysis of an 'object' language;" metalinguistics (by 1949); metahistory (1957), metacommunication, etc.

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metamathematics (n.)

"the metaphysics of mathematics," including the philosophy of non-Euclidian geometry, 1878, from meta- in the sense of "transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of" + mathematics. Related: Metamathematical.

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egoist (n.)
1763, in metaphysics, "one who maintains there is no evidence of the existence of anything but the self" (taking ego in a sense of "thinking subject"), from French égoiste (1755); see ego + -ist. Meaning "selfish person" is from 1879. Related: Egoistic; egoistical.
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metapolitics (n.)

1784, "abstract political science; purely speculative treatment of politics, unrelated to practical matters;" see meta- "transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of" + politics. Based on metaphysics. Related: Metapolitical, which is attested from 1670s in the sense of "outside the realm of politics."

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mathematics (n.)

"the science of quantity; the abstract science which investigates the concepts of numerical and spatial relations," 1580s; see mathematic (the older form of the word in English, attested from late 14c.) + -ics. Originally one of three branches of Aristotelian theoretical science, along with first philosophy (or metaphysics) and physics (or natural philosophy).

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metaphysician (n.)

"one versed in the science of metaphysics," mid-15c., perhaps from Old French methafisicien (14c., Modern French métaphysicien), or from metaphysic on the model of physician. In later colloquial use "one who practices the mind-cure," 1881.

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absolutist (n.)
Origin and meaning of absolutist
1830 in political science, "advocate of despotism" (Thompson), from absolute + -ist on model of French absolutiste (by 1820). From 1835 as an adjective. Compare absolutism. Used in a different sense in metaphysics by the followers of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel.
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