Aristotelian Metaphysics

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

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Course Open to: 
Students on-site
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Course Description: 

This course will survey central topics in Aristotle’s metaphysics and contemporary neo-Aristotelian metaphysics. Ancient readings will be drawn from Aristotle’s Categories, Metaphysics, Physics, Posterior Analytics, Politics and The Parts of Animals. These primary readings will be supplemented by secondary readings. Contemporary readings will include works by Baker, Crane, Evnine, Fine, Koslicki, Lowe, Passinsky, Quine, Schaffer, and Witt. Topics to be covered include ontology, ontological dependence, essence and modality, real definition, hylomorphism, artifacts and organisms, and social ontology

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon completing the course, students will gain an understanding of some central aspects of Aristotle’s metaphysics. Students will also gain familiarity with recent work in the neo-Aristotelian metaphysical tradition, and they will be able to situate this contemporary work in relation to Aristotle’s own ideas.


For students taking the course for a Grade: • In-class presentation, approximately 10-15 minutes in length: 10%. During week 12, students will give a presentation on their final paper. The presentation should summarize the main thesis and argument of the paper. • Perusall comments on course readings: 15%. Students must submit at least 2 comments per class meeting. For meetings with visiting speakers, one of the comments should be a question for the speaker. The deadline for submission of Perusall comments is noon on Mondays and noon on Wednesdays. • Final paper, 4000 words in length: 75%. The final paper will be due on the first day of the Winter term. Students will be required to submit a 1-page paper proposal in week 9. • Excellent class participation will boost the final grade in borderline cases. For students taking the course for an Audit: • Regular class attendance and participation.


Some prior background in ancient philosophy and metaphysics will be helpful, but it is not essential. (Knowledge of Greek is not presupposed, there will be some discussion of the relevant Aristotelian terminology.