PHILOSOPHY 200: METAPHYSICS
B1 Second Term MWF 12:00-12:50 A.M. Schmitter
Immanuel Kant once called metaphysics "the queen of the sciences." But nowadays few people know what "metaphysics" means - or else they take it for something quite different from what is studied in philosophy. What is this onetime "queen of the sciences" and how should we understand it today? To answer these questions, we will read a number of the most important works in the history of western metaphysical inquiry. We will start with Aristotle's characterization of metaphysics, or "first philosophy," as the study of first principles and of "being qua being" and then examine how the questions and concepts he formulated about substance, causation, universals & particulars, possibility & necessity, and so forth were taken up by later thinkers, including some "deflationary" views. After that we will turn to various contemporary views: possible topics include realism and relativism (as theories of truth), or the place of persons within a naturalistic universe.
Texts: Readings will include sections from works of Aristotle, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, and such 20th century philosophers as Russell and W. Sellars.