chapter  2
e rst principles and the metaphysical hierarchy
Pages 42

It has been claimed that there are two general approaches to metaphysics. One is to make an inventory of reality, that is, to nd out what kinds of beings and classes of beings exist. Perhaps there exist, for instance, perceivable entities, recurring qualities, material physical particles or other elemental units and so on. e other approach is to inspect that which is basic and primary in reality, and that other existing things depend on (Moravcsik 1992: 56). Are perceptible entities basic or do they consist of more fundamental things, such as form and matter, or qualities, perhaps of some basic elements? What is the most basic thing in reality, and how do other things depend on it? Neoplatonism and this introduction to it include both approaches, while for the Neoplatonists the latter is the crucially more important. In their view, an inventory of existing things would be worthless without an account of the hierarchies and dependence relations the entities form and a view of what, ultimately, is fundamental in reality.