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.

Unit code: AP3220C (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Communicate a sophisticated and critical understanding of the theories, assumptions and terminology of some important philosophies of first principles


Identify the intention, purpose and context of important texts in the history of metaphysics, and assess their implications for philosophical thinking as such


Situate the topics studied within the wider framework of western metaphysics and demonstrate an understanding of the differences between historical approaches


Illustrate the significance and consequences of the topics and approaches of metaphysics for related areas in philosophical and theological enquiry


Set out a sustained critique of a philosophical position

Unit sequence

30 points of philosophy at second level


Lectures, discussions, In-class exercises

Indicative Bibliography

  • Barnes, Jonathan (ed). The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation Vol. 1. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984.
  • Barnes, Jonathan (ed). The Complete works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation Vol. 2. Ed, Princeton, N.J.: 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. New York: 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. c1929. Reprint, London: Macmillan, 1982.
  • ——— . Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, With Selections from the Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Gary Hatfield. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Levinas, Emmanuel. Basic Philosophical Writings. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.
  • Wippel, John F. The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas: From Finite Being to Uncreated Being. Washington, DC: Catholic University of American Press, 2000.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

3,000-word essay

3000 60.0

2-hour take-home examination


4 short essays comprising 2000 words total

One of the variations set out here is chosen by the lecturer/unit coordinator prior to the start of the unit, in conjunction with the Dean, and is published in the unit outline. The lecturer may choose different variations for different levels in the same unit.

2000 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 20 Jul, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-03 11:34:42 +1000