The term for the abstract concept the truth, as in 'The truth and nothing but the truth', as well as for the epistemological quality of theories, beliefs, propositions, statements: 'What she says is true' or 'Which statement is true?' Realists distinguish truth from reality: only conceptions, beliefs, statements, etc. about the reality or about the world can be true (or false). This realistic distinction, however, is in conflict with the relativistic* notion that thought and world are interconnected. A particular version of the abstract concept is the philosophical/epistemological problem of truth: 'What is truth, anyway?' There are different theories of truth. A relation between two events, such that the first can be said to bring about or to necessitate the second event, so that it must occur. It is a notorious philosophical problem how this can ever be empirically established, and whether causes are not subjective constructions, rather than elements of reality. Hume held that we can say only that events occur with some regularity one after the other, not that one occurs because of the other. What is the difference between the going together of two events (the 'constant conjunction'), and the claim that one causes the other (e.g. smoking and cancer)? Causal laws describe an invariant relation between two events, where the cause is a necessary condition for the effect, i.e. the latter does not occur without the first. In this context, what counts as a cause is also dependent on explanatory interests, since an event may have a number of causes, only some of which are relevant. Causal laws are contrasted with teleological* laws. See also: Reasons. A branch of philosophy that tries to answer questions about the general or abstract nature of reality, also about a reality that is supposed to lie behind the world and that is not accessible by scientific method. In psychology and the philosophy of mind, metaphysics includes questions about mind, consciousness, intentionality, qualia; in the philosophy of science it involves questions about causality, matter, rationalism, etc. Metaphysics is challenged, in a sense, by positivism, materialism, and naturalism, though these positions themselves are supported by metaphysical presuppositions Originally (since the seventeenth century) the art or the method for the exegesis of classical, theological and juridical texts. At the end of the nineteenth century hermeneutics was made into a general methodology for understanding (Verstehen) and interpretation in them human sciences, in contrast with the objective method of explanation in the physical sciences. Philosophical hermeneutics was developed in the twentieth century; it became a philosophical theory of the fundamental historical and linguistic situation of human experiences. It is one of the main epistemological convictions in modern hermeneutics, that since in the human sciencesm meaning is the central concept, the knowing subject and the known object share a common background. Hence, to understand the sometimes subtle meanings in these sciences, subject and object confront each other, are partners in a discussion, so to say. To understand the meaning of social, historical or psychological concepts and actions, it is essential to understand the context; and to understand the context, it is essential to understand the parts; this is the hermeneutic circle (see also: Holism).