What has “Metaphysics” meant?
Since it was coined by Andronicus of Rhodes in the first century B.C. until the present, there has been a great deal of discussion on the meaning of the term, in view of the problematic surrounding its proper object. This object, which was not clear even for Aristotle, has been debated in different currents over time. For scholasticism, metaphysics may be characterized as the science which studies the properties, principles, and causes of being as such. In the modern period, for Bacon metaphysics is the "science of formal and final causes"; for Descartes, "the study of the existence of the self and of God"; for Fichte, "to start from the self is the self"; for Ortega y Gasset, "a knowledge of radical reality"; and for Zubiri, "the study of reality qua reality." In general, for late neopositivism, after abandoning its dogmatic positions, and the hermeneutic tendencies, metaphysics is reduced to a "transcendental referent in an attempt at ultimate grounding."
For other philosophers hermeneutics is a kind of first philosophy or metaphysics. Gadamer and Ricoeur, for example, go so far as to assert that metaphysics is the valid path for philosophizing itself. Other authors propose the following objects: hermeneutic-semiotic transcendentality in Apel and Habermas; linguistic formalization in Tugendhat; the vision of reality as a fruit of felt imagination in Deaño; transcendental or critical realism in Kulpe; the function of cultural criticism in A. Schaff; and metaphorical reference in Ricoeur.