The Big Questions: Metaphysics


Dr Cullan Joyce (coordinator)
Semester 1, 2020
Thursday 6.00pm — 9.00pm

This unit explores the fundamental philosophical questions which inform the whole of reality: What is existence? What is real, and what is merely appearance? What is the relation between being and becoming? What are universals? What is change? How can something change and yet remain itself? What is the relationship between freedom and determinism? It will consider the ideas of key thinkers, ancient, medieval and modern, and examine the relevance of metaphysics today.

Census Date

Tuesday 17 March


one foundational unit of philosophy


face-to-face 3-hour weekly classes in semester


  • one 2,000-word essay 40%
  • one 1,000-word skeleton argument 10%
  • one 4,000-word essay 50%
  • one 6,000-word essay 90%
  • one 1,000-word skeleton argument 10%
  • one 2-hour written examination (2,000 words) 40%
  • one 1,000-word skeleton argument 10%
  • one 4,000-word essay 50%


  • Barnes, Jonathan, ed. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. 2 vols. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.
  • Blackson, Thomas A. Ancient Greek Philosophy: from the Pre-Socratics to the Hellenistic Philosophers. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
  • Frank, Manfred. The Philosophical Foundations of Early German Romanticism. Translated by Elizabeth Millan-Zaibert. SUNY Intersections. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004.
  • Grondin, Jean. Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas. Translated by Lukas Soderstrom. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.
  • Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time: A Translation of Sein und Zeit. Translated by Joan Stambaugh. New York: State University of New York Press, 2010.
  • Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Norman Kemp Smith. London: Macmillan, 1982.
  • ‒‒‒. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science: With Selections from the Critique of Pure Reason. Edited and translated by Gary Hatfield. Rev. ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Levinas, Emmanuel. Basic Philosophical Writings. Edited by Adriaan T. Peperzak, Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.
  • Wippel, John F. The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas: From Finite Being to Uncreated Being. Monographs of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy 1. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2000.