Plato and Aristotle from ‘The School of Athens’ by Rafael Sanzio (1483-1520)

Course Description

In this course you will be taken to the heights of natural science, for as the axiom goes: Metaphysics is the Queen of the Natural Sciences. This course is definitely not for the faint hearted. After looking at the philosophical justification of human knowledge in the defensive part of Metaphysics (i.e., our course on the Philosophy of Certitude), in this course we turn our attention to investigate the notion of being as being. Since every science is about reality, though in a particular sense, for instance, the science of chemistry is about reality forasmuch as it is composed of chemical compounds, and the science of biology is about material living bodies as they are composed of material parts, and mathematics is about reality forasmuch as it is quantifiable, well the science about being forasmuch as it is being is Metaphysics; sometimes called Ontology: the ‘study of being.’

We will begin this course by looking at the notion of metaphysical being. From there we will distinguish being into real being and mental being, followed by distinguishing real being itself into actual and possible being. With our study of being we will see that the notion of real being is analogous, rather than equivocal or univocal. This will lead us into an investigation of the transcendental modes of being: that every being is One, True, Good and Beautiful.

After our investigation of the transcendental modes of being we will look at a number of the ten categories of being outlined by Aristotle. We will look at the nature of Substance before embarking on a number of the Accidents. The course will finish with an in-depth look at the nature of causality; necessary preparation for students embarking on Natural Theology.

This course is truly philosophical. Definitely one that will challenge you to think deeply…so dive in!

Course Objectives

  1. To obtain a firm grasp of the nature of Metaphysics and to see its place in the scheme of philosophy.
  2. To see that real being is analogous.
  3. To know the nature of the transcendental modes of real being.
  4. To understand the difference between essence and existence.
  5. To know the categories of being.
  6. To grasp the analogous notion of causality.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Popular Level Reading:

Gardeil, Henri Dominique. Introduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (vol. 4: Metaphysics). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2012.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought. Translated by Patrick Cummins. London: B. Herder Book Co., 1950.

Geisler, Norman L. and Paul D. Feinberg. Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1980.

Glenn, Paul. Apologetics. Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1980.

_________. Introduction to Philosophy. London: B. Herder Book Co., 1966.

Maritain, Jacques. Introduction to Philosophy. Translated by E.I. Watkin. Merryland: Sheed and Ward, 2005.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Aristotle. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. Edited by Jonathan Barnes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Bobik, Joseph. Aquinas on Being and Essence. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1965.

Clark, W. Norris. Explorations in Metaphysics: BeingGodPerson. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1994.

Clark, W. Norris. The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2001.

Conway, Pierre and Mary Michael Spangler. Metaphysics of Aquinas: A Summary of Aquinas’s Exposition of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Lanham: University Press of America, 1996.

Geach, Peter. God and the Soul. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969.

Gilson, Etienne. Being and Some Philosophers. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1952.

Goheen, John. The Problem of Matter and Form in the De Ente Essentia of Thomas Aquinas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1940.

Kenny, Anthony. Aquinas on Being. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Knasas, John F. X. The Preface to Thomistic Metaphysics. New York: Peter Lang, 1990.

Knasas, John F. X. Being and Some Twentieth-Century Thomists. Bronx: Fordham University Press, 2003.

Maritain, Jacques. Existence and the Existent. New York: Pantheon, 1948.

_________. Preface to Metaphysics. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1939.

McInerny, Ralph. Aquinas and Analogy. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1996.

_________. Being and Predication. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1986.

_________. The Logic of Analogy: An Interpretation of St. Thomas. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971.

Montagnes, Bernard and Andrew Tallon. The Doctrine of the Analogy of Being According to Thomas Aquinas. Translated by Edward M. Macierowski and Pol Vandevelde. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2004.

O’Brien, Thomas C. O.P. Metaphysics and the Existence of God. Washington, D.C.: Thomist Press, 1960.

Owens, Joseph, C.Ss.R. An Elementary Christian Metaphysics. Houston, TX: Center for Thomistic Studies, 1985.

Rosemann, Philipp W. Omne Agens Agit Sibi Simile. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1997.

Sweeney, Leo. A Metaphysics of Authentic Existentialism. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1965.

Te Velde, Rudi A. Participation and Substantiality in Thomas Aquinas. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 1995.

Thomas Aquinas. Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle. (2 vols.). Translated by John P. Rowan. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1961.

_________. On Being and Essence. Translated by Peter King. Hackett, 2007.

_________. On Evil. Translated by Richard Regan. Edited by Brian Davies. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Weisheipl, James, O.P., “Medieval Natural Philosophy and Modern Science.” Nature and Motion in the Middle Ages. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1985.

Wippel, John F. Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1984.

_________. The Metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas: From Finite Being to Uncreated Being. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 200).

Woodbury, Austin. Ostensive Metaphysics: Ontology. Sydney: Aquinas Academy (unpublished text), 1952-62.

Scholarly Journal Articles:

Deely, John N. “Finitude, Negativity, Transcendence: the Problematic of Metaphysical Knowledge.” Philosophy Today 11 (1967).

Johnson, Mark F. “Immateriality and the Domain of Thomistic Natural Philosophy.” Modern Schoolman 67 (1990).

Lee, Patrick. “Aquinas on the Knowledge of Truth and Existence.” New Scholasticism 60 (1986).

Pannier, Russell and Thomas D. Sullivan. “Aquinas on ‘Exists.’” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 67 (1993).

Smith, Vincent E. “Prime Mover: Physical and Metaphysical Considerations.” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 28 (1954).

Tavuzzi, Michael. “Aquinas on the Preliminary Grasp of Being.” Thomist 51 (1987).

Wallace, William. “Metaphysics and the Existence of God.” New Scholasticism 37 (1963).