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Metaphysics 101

  1. Dec 3, 2009 #1


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    Hey, anyone remember what was the first topic that got posed back in metaphysics 101?

    It is many years ago now, but as I recall it, the very first tutorial I ever had was on the question of time.

    Does it exist separate from change? Are we just part of a forever present moment or is there an actual flow from past to future? It was surprising how varied the views were.

    So what philosophical question did they get you started on. And what question do they start people on these days if time is a rather old hat subject?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2009 #2
    Hah, I like the change of pace with this one :smile:. Metaphysics definitely wasn't a 100 level course! In philosophy 101, which was a survey course, we went through Louis Pojman's https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Philosophy-Classical-Contemporary-Readings/dp/0195171500", which starts off with a little epistemology. Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy was one of the first readings. I remember this one now because we ended up going over it in four different courses. We talked about induction and solipsism etc. His arguments for God were also fodder for some critical logical analysis.

    Actually, we didn't even have a course called "Metaphysics." There were courses on rationalism and empiricism... logic, ethics, etc. The closest course was probably philosophy of mind, if that answers your question in a different way.

    The question that first got me interested in philosophy was "why is there something rather than nothing?" I was studying thermodynamics in high school, and all of the physics seemed to be saying that nature tends towards equilibrium and heat death. The whole idea that anything was happening (or existing) just made absolutely no sense. My intro philosophy professor recommended Robert Nozick's https://www.amazon.com/Philosophical-Explanations-Robert-Nozick/dp/0674664795", which I recommend for beginning philosophers (after some other introduction).

    Yale offers Death as an interesting and popular introductory course (http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Dec 4, 2009 #3


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    You could be right that it was not called metaphysics. This was back in about 1973.

    I only did the one intro course as a relief from science (bio and psych). Descartes was the focus, though Berkeley was more fun and Locke more appealing.

    Actually it was a one-off guest lecture on philosophy of science and the implications of thermodynamics that was about the only official highlight of my entire time at university. That and a little bit about catastrophe theory.

    Why nothing rather than something was also the most exhilarating initial question.

    Influential book was probably Melvyn Konner's The Tangled Wing - philosophy for a bio-psych kid.
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