Introduction To Philosophy – Metaphysics

Introduction To Philosophy 2

It is a perfect time for you to discover not to trust everything you read, hear, feel, or see.

For example, a quick internet search for the term “metaphysics” will surely put you into a head spin reading from eager scholars and their lofty ideas, telling anyone who will listen, that metaphysics means the study of that which is beyond the reach physical reality. Wrong… well, mostly.

Metaphysics (the term) was born on accident as the term describing what Aristotle himself called “first philosophy.” Which is the opposite of meta-.

Meta- is from the Greek word μετά (after); and –physics is just as it appears, φυσικά (physiká …so… physics). It is, literally, “After Physics;” pronounced by us now as “Metaphysics.” It was first used by Andronicus of Rhodes while cataloging Aristotle’s library. The “first philosophy” writing was on the shelves after the chapters on physics so Andronicus called them, basically, “The stuff after the physics stuff” – metaphysics. Latin scholars, and probably some you’ve met, have misinterpreted that since the first century B.C.E.

Whatever its intended name, metaphysics has been a topic of intense interest and debate for 2000 years. In this unit, we are going to read and discuss some metaphysicians you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. Your Part 3 will give you an opportunity to reflect on the week and identify your favorite thinker(s) and why.


For this PART 1:

  • Your FIRST of TWO topic posts this week should be a reaction to The Atlantic article and Charles Simic. In this reaction give an example of this kind of search for meaning in your own life and culture.
  • Your SECOND topic, keeping in mind that is a round-table discussion, please post do you think Bruno (the penguin in the Time Travel Paradox video) could or could not kill his Grandfather.

Kornhaber, SP. (2017, Jan 5). Pop Culture is Having a Metaphysical Moment. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Read the magazine article in The Atlantic giving modern examples of metaphysics in American pop culture. The idea is not as unapproachable and foreign as you may think. After reading this article, consider metaphysical questions from your own life and culture

  • Read: Harp, J. (2004). Simic’s Surrealist Metaphysics: A Review of Charles Simic, “The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems”.” The Iowa Review 34(2), 170-175. Available at:

The approach to philosophy, and particularly metaphysics, from artists and poets like Simic, are examples of the place where ancient life meets modern life.

  • Watch the video about The Grandfather Paradox at
    • There are many such paradoxical ideas within the study of metaphysics. The conflict of time travel, the question of thinking of the mind as an entity (rather than a simple organ in your head), do we have Free Will, and what’s infinity are just a few of them.
    • Use The Khan Academy resource) to broaden your understanding of Metaphysical Challenges to reality. In the Discussion Group this week, you will be challenged to use what you’ve discovered in a way that brings meaning to those ideas.


  • Do not write more than 1-2 paragraphs per topic (try to be succinct; it is the sign of a sharp mind to be able to collate and present an argument succinctly)

For this PART 2:

Please look briefly at each and pick the one that will give you the most rewarding experience to learn more about.

  • Auguste Comte (1798-1857) French
  • Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) German
  • John Scotus Erigena (810-877) Irish
  • Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 – present) Vietnamese
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) U.S. President
  • Charles Simic (1938 – present) Yugoslavia

In the paper, identify your Philosopher of choice and give a short biographical paragraph describing him, another paragraph (or two) for the era and culture within which they were influenced, and a third introductory topic paragraph (or two) about the reason you selected him

From there:

  1. Describe their Metaphysical challenge
  2. Give several examples of their view
  3. Close with your opinion about this view
    1. Why is it still something the modern student of philosophy would be compelled to study?
    2. Give a personal reaction, your personal opinion based on your own background and culture, about the metaphysical discourse offered by your selected scholar
  4. Use the grading rubric provided as your guide for doing your best, and as a checklist for making sure your peers will agree!

Assignment Guidelines

Write a fully APA-compliant 3- page paper for this Unit

  • You should include a reference page, with APA citations, at the end of your paper. This page is not part of the 3-pages of written work
  • Standard margins, 12-point font, New Times Roman or similar
  • Do not write less, do not write more
  • Be sure to read the assessment criteria before you begin writing

For more information on APA formatting:

Assessment Criteria

  • Does the paper clearly identify the chosen Philosopher and why he fits into the topic of Metaphysics?
  • Does the paper consider the historical, theological, and cultural context of the chosen Philosopher’s metaphysical arguments?
  • Does the writer give meaningful examples (plural) of the Philosopher’s view on metaphysics?
  • APA and overall look and feel of the paper is college-level work

For this PART 3:

Hopefully, you know now what men and women have been discussing for eons; we are all philosophers; we all have valid opinions and judgments about the world around us.

For this part, please share what the most interesting part (lesson/discussion from part 1 or 2) this week was. How did that experience change your worldview? Please explain how you thought before, and how the new viewpoint changed that old thinking into something new.

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