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Program in Philosophical Studies


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McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies


FOURTH Course - SPRING 2008


Basic Principles in METAPHISICS


7:00 pm - 9:00 pm, at the Family Research Council Building, 801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C.



“Metaphysical” is often a pejorative term implying worthless abstraction, and a question like “What does it mean ‘to be’?” sounds like it would only be asked by an obnoxious sophist. But when Aristotle asked about the meaning of being, it was in the context of a general inquiry into the nature of truth, seeking to satisfy the natural human desire for ultimate wisdom. This is what John Paul II had in mind when he called for philosophy to rediscover its “genuinely metaphysical range”: human reason can discover ultimate truths transcending physical experience.

Considering the background and development of Aristotelian metaphysical inquiry, this course will seek to make sense of basic metaphysical questions, concepts, distinctions, arguments, and discoveries.  Its basic structure follows Aristotle’s own different characterizations of “first philosophy,” as a science of ultimate causes, a science of being, a science of substance, and a science of God.




1.    February 27

What is Metaphysics? -preliminaries from logic and physics; controversy over interpreting Aristotle

2.    March 12

A science of first principles -the characteristics of a wise man; method of seeking first principles; abstraction

3.    March 26

The questions of metaphysics -the aporiae, especially concerning the problem of universals and the question of immaterial being

4.    April 9

A science of being qua being -Analogy of being; real vs. rational being; the real distinction between essence and existence

5.    April 23

A science of substance -Actuality; Aristotle vs. Plato on form

6.    May 7

Theology (a science of separate substance)

7.    May 21 

Revealed Theology and Metaphysics



First course

Second course

Third course

Fourth course

Fifth course

Sixth course