|Aristotle and Spinoza in a mild-mannered stand-off to the death|
One of the themes I've been interested in is the role of explanation in metaphysics. To what extent and in what way should our explanations of things be a guide to metaphysical reflection? However, this question might be taken in more than one way. Below, I want to try and distinguish two general issues that I think are evoked by this question - the question of realism and the question of fundamentality. What I'm primarily interested in is the question of fundamentality, which - as I'll try to make clear - bears directly on how we should treat metaphysical notions like the nature or essence of something. To my knowledge, there isn't currently any philosophical work that addresses this second question head-on. But since there is a great deal of work on the first, to forestall confusion it's important to simply get clear on the distinction between the two questions.