Aristotle talks about 'the first philosophy' throughout the Metaphysics – and it is metaphysics that Aristotle considers to be the first philosophy – but he never makes it entirely clear what first philosophy consists of. What he does make clear is that the first philosophy is not to be understood as a collection of topics that should be studied in advance of any other topics. In fact, Aristotle seems to have thought that the topics of Metaphysics are to be studied after those in Physics. In what sense could metaphysics be the first philosophy in the context of contemporary metaphysics? This is the question examined in this essay. Contemporary topics such as fundamentality, grounding, and ontological dependence are considered as possible ways to understand the idea of first philosophy, but I will argue that the best way to understand it is in terms of essence.
- first philosophy