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Metaphyics:

 

Pre-requisites:

Ancient Philosophy, Logic, Philosophy of Man

 

Co-requisite:

Medieval Synthesis

 

Content:

This course introduces the student to the principles and theories of metaphysics. The focus of the course is the investigation of being as being, the principles of being, and the implications of their investigation for our understanding of nature, our relation to nature, and the ultimate principles of reality. Put in other words, the course can be characterized as the search for an answer to the question, "What is real?"

The investigation of being and its principles inevitably and spontaneously leads to confrontation with the question of God's existence and relation to the rest of reality. For example: the beings that we encounter in the world either are their own sufficient reason for existing or they are not; if they are, then the demands of intelligibility are fully satisfied and metaphysical investigation has no rationale for extending its inquiry beyond those beings; if they are not their own sufficient reason, then the requirements of intelligibility push investigation beyond the things of our sensible experience in search of a being that can stand as the sufficient reason for the existence of all things. But since the analysis of finite beings reveals nothing in their nature that necessitates their existence, the challenge of Leibniz' question is ineluctable: "Why is there something instead of nothing?"

 

Possible sequence of topics:

  • The investigation of being as being
  • The existence and nature of the first cause of being
  • The relation between the first cause and finite beings, e.g., the relation of God to evil in the world and to the free will of creatures
  • The Friars and Aquinas
  • The comparison of metaphysical knowledge with scientific and theological knowledge, to more sharply define the object and nature of such knowledge
  • The discipline of metaphysics as unfolded within an historical context, addressing:
    (a) the theories of the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas;
    (b) the rationalist tradition (principally Descartes);
    (c) the empiricist tradition (principally Locke and Hume);
    (d) Kant's attempt to reconcile the two traditions and his critique of metaphysics;
    (e) the logical positivists (principally Moritz, Schlick, and Hans Reichenbach)
Texts: An example of general texts: Raymond Dennehy, An Introduction to Metaphysics (typescript)

Selections from: Aristotle, Metaphysics;
Plato, Phaedo, Republic
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae
Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics