I recall reading a very good short story about a metaphysician. He could identify intentions and motives almost instantly, and the culminating incident was when he quickly identified a group of people and weapons in a room, and took action before they had a chance to move.

I read it in the 80s, or perhaps the 70s. It was likely in a compilation volume.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Was "metaphysician" a term used in the story? Where was the room, on Earth or somewhere exotic?
    – DavidW
    Jun 30, 2022 at 8:35
  • In Silverberg's novella Three Survived one of the characters is the Metaphysical Synthesist Leswick, who is referred to throughout the story as a metaphysician. But the story is about crashing on an alien plant and how the metaphysician helps the group survive. There is no scene with weapons in a room. Jun 30, 2022 at 9:15
  • That may be it. Apparently it is a story for grade/middle school level, and that would fit the time frame. Thanks!
    – MacBeane
    Jun 30, 2022 at 14:05
  • There's an old A.E van Vogt story, "The Rulers". MC is not metaphysician, he is psychomedician. However, there is a key scene where he enters a room, imediately recognizes about a dozen people in it as the secret cabal that rules the world, and weird gun device on a table in the middle. Jun 30, 2022 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


It's a long shot but it could be the novella Three Survived by Robert Silverberg. It was originally published in 1957 then again in 1969 and most recently in 2010. However I don't think it was ever collected into an anthology.

The main character is Kilbourne, who is stranded on an alien plant when his spaceship crashes. Apart form Kilbourne the only survivors are a deckhand and the metaphysician Leswick, both of whom Kilbourne regards as useless. However his "useless" companions save his life as the deckhand provides the muscle to get them out of scrapes and the metaphysician negotiates with the alien natives.

Kilbourne describes Leswick as:

Leswick had been his pet bugaboo on the voyage up to now. He was a Metaphysical Synthesist, flaunting an impressive but meaningless degree from some Terran university. Kilbourne had only a vague idea of what Metaphysical Synthesis was—a school of philosophy attempting to unify anthropology, history, psychology, sociology, and half a dozen other inexact sciences into one confused totality, he decided—but he had little love for speculative philosophy in any case. It has no rules, his precise engineer’s mind would protest. Anything goes. It’s too damned illogical! He particularly detested Leswick’s kind of “science,” aiming at some foggy-eyed and useless synthesis of art, science, history, and other things to determine the basic forces of society.

and he is referred to throughout the story as the metaphysician.

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