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A metatheory or meta-theory is a theory whose subject matter is some other theory. In other words it is a theory about a theory. Statements made in the metatheory about the theory are called metatheorems.

According to the systemic TOGA meta-theory , a meta-theory may refer to the specific point of view on a theory and to its subjective meta-properties, but not to its application domain. In the above sense, a theory T of the domain D is a meta-theory if D is a theory or a set of theories. A general theory is not a meta-theory because its domain D are not theories.

The following is an example of a meta-theoretical statement:Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time

Meta-theory belongs to the philosophical specialty of epistemology and metamathematics, as well as being an object of concern to the area in which the individual theory is conceived. An emerging domain of meta-theories is systemics.


Examining groups of related theories, a first finding may be to identify classes of theories, thus specifying a taxonomy of theories. A proof engendered by a metatheory is called a metatheorem.


The concept burst upon the scene of twentieth-century philosophy as a result of the work of the German mathematician David Hilbert, who in 1905 published a proposal for proof of the consistency of mathematics, creating the field of metamathematics. His hopes for the success of this proof were dashed by...
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