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


  • second level: 36 points of philosophy at first level
  • third level: 36 points of philosophy at second level


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


second level
  • one 2,000-word essay 50%
  • one 2-hour take-home examination (2,000 words) 50%
or [Lecturer variation]
  • one 2,000-word essay 50%
  • four short essays (2,000 words) 50%
third level 
  • one 3,000-word essay 60%
  • one 2-hour take-home examination (2,000 words) 40%
or [Lecturer variation]
  • one 3,000-word essay 60%
  • four short essays (2,000 words) 40% 


  • 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.