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: AP9220C (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Elucidate the conceptual framework that constitute a philosophy of first principles


Expound the fundamental ideas, positions and arguments of the thinkers who undertake metaphysical enquiries, and interrelate them as appropriate


Compare ideas, positions and arguments on themes that are found in more than one of the thinkers studied in the unit


Evaluate and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the major approaches to thinking about first principles, as considered in the unit


Appraise the conceptual frameworks and arguments of the thinkers studied in the unit – both singularly and in relation to one another where appropriate – in relation to the core themes examined in the unit


Develop a topic of research in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner

Unit sequence

30 points of philosophy at second level


Lectures, discussions, In-class exercises.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Beiser, Frederick, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Hegel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • 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.
  • Hegel, G.W. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Rev. ed. Oxford University Press, 1977.
  • 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 (%)

Variant 1


2,000-word essay 40% Exam Week

2000 40.0
Skeleton Argument (e.g. Philosophy)

1,000-word skeleton argument

1000 10.0

4,000-word essay

4000 50.0

Variant 2

Skeleton Argument (e.g. Philosophy)

1,000-word skeleton argument

1000 10.0

6000-word essay

6000 90.0

Variant 3

Written Examination

2-hour examination

3000 40.0

4000-word essay

4000 50.0
Skeleton Argument (e.g. Philosophy)

1,000-word skeleton argument

1000 100.0

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

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-03 15:27:08 +1000