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Metaphysics

by University of New Orleans

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Course Description

Doing philosophy requires using reason to resolve a fundamental question. Fundamental questions about the existence of things, the nature of things, the essence of things, or of reality itself, are metaphysical questions. Metaphysics is the subfield of philosophy devoted to answering these sorts of questions. Metaphysical questions can be found not only throughout all of Western philosophy, they are found in every philosophical theory, approach, and subfield. Consequently, we shall make no attempt to survey the history of metaphysics, or, what Aristotle called ‘first philosophy’. Rather, we shall focus on exploring some key metaphysical questions, including the following:

·       What is the nature of necessity?

·       Can God’s existence be “proven” through reason alone? (the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, and the ontological argument)

·       How can evil exist if God is both all-good and all-powerful? (the problem of evil)

·       Is the world as it appears to us? Is there a difference between how things are and our ideas of them? (realism vs. idealism)

·       What is the relation between the mind and the body? (the mind-body problem)

·       What is the nature of identity?

·       What makes you you? (the problem(s) of personal identity)

·       What makes a person a person?

·       What is the nature of identity? What is the nature of personal identity?

·       Do persons have free will or are their actions determined?

·       What exists? What is the nature of being? What does ‘to be’ mean?

·       Do universals exist or only particulars?

·       What is the nature of causation? (the problem of induction)

This course will be run like a virtual seminar. Accordingly, grades will be based on online discussions, a presentation, essay exams, and a philosophical research paper.
Metaphysics
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