The famous philosopher W.V. Quine once suggested that the fundamental question of ontology could be summed up with three Anglo-Saxon words, “What is there?” Perhaps we could do him better and suggest that the subject of first philosophy, or wisdom, or metaphysics is really only two words, viz. “What is?” In this course, we will continue the foundational work of the first semester. Beginning with Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and specifically Books Theta, we will review crucial themes in Aristotle’s metaphysics, especially his account of substance, and proceed to his account of actuality (and potentiality). We will then pass to the crucial feature of Lambda, namely the possibility (and necessity) of immaterial substance, and Aristotle’s metaphysical argument for the necessity of God. Building on this foundation, we will consider two Medieval arguments for the necessity of God’s existence — that of Anselm of Canterbury in his Proslogion, and that of Thomas Aquinas in his Summa theologiæ.
In the second portion of the semester, we will engage important themes in contemporary, analytic (i.e. Anglo-American) metaphysics. In particular, we will consider questions about the (non-)existence of God, modality (and the nature of “possible worlds”), the problem of identity, the meaning of time, and the problem of fatalism.