Metaphysics and Its Task

The Search for the Categorial Foundation of Knowledge

By Jorge J. E. Gracia

Subjects: Epistemology
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791442142, 247 pages, July 1999
Hardcover : 9780791442135, 247 pages, July 1999

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Table of contents



Generic and Specific Conditions







Realism, Conceptualism, Nominalism



Author Index

Subject Index

Systematically analyzes the nature of metaphysics.


By offering the first systematic analysis of the nature of the discipline, Metaphysics and Its Task answers why metaphysics always recovers from the attacks it has been subjected to throughout its history. This is done by examining its object, method, aim, and the kind of propositions of which it is composed. In addition to presenting a new conception of metaphysics and an explanation of the resilience of the discipline, the book offers a novel understanding of the nature and ontological status of categories, an analysis of the nature of reductionism and its role in philosophy, and a discussion and criticism of the main views concerning the nature of metaphysics developed in the history of philosophy. In this nonsectarian book Gracia uses sources ranging from Plato and Aquinas, to Collingwood and Strawson. Written in nontechnical language, it is accompanied by detailed bibliographical references.

Jorge J. E. Gracia is Samuel P. Capen Chair and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, State University of New York at Buffalo. He has published extensively, and is the author of, among others, Texts: Ontological Status, Identity, Author, Audience; A Theory of Textuality: The Logic and Epistemology; Philosophy and Its History: Issues in Philosophical Historiography; and Individuality: An Essay on the Foundations of Metaphysics, all published by SUNY Press. He has edited many books for SUNY Press, including Individuation in Scholasticism: The Later Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation, 1150-1650; Individuation and Identity in Early Modern Philosophy: Descartes to Kant (with Kenneth F. Barber); and Philosophy and Literature in Latin America: A Critical Assessment of the Current Situation (with Mireye Camurati).


"This is an outstanding book. As a contemporary introduction to the problems of metaphysics there is nothing like it. Its combination of classical perspective and awareness of the contemporary situation is unique. I myself would welcome having it as a teaching tool." — Nicholas Rescher, author of Process Metaphysics

"As an elenchic defense of metaphysics, Metaphysics and Its Task is superb." — Review of Metaphysics

"Gracia not only defends metaphysics, which has come under much criticism in the twentieth century, but shows it to be the fundamental philosophical enterprise at the base of all human understanding. I learned a good bit from the book and want to study it more closely." — Eugene Long, University of South Carolina