PHIL 102(F,S) Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology (W)

Metaphysics and epistemology are the two core pursuits of theoretical philosophy (as opposed to practical philosophy, the focus of Philosophy 101). Metaphysics is concerned with the ultimate character of reality. The metaphysician seeks to develop knowledge (as opposed to mere opinion or belief) of all things natural, human, and divine. She asks, for example: Are we free, or are our acts determined? Is there a God? If so, what must God be like? Epistemology is concerned with how we determine the difference between knowledge and mere opinion. The epistemologist thus asks: What does it mean truly to know something? How can we acquire such genuine knowledge? Answers to these epistemological questions are essential if we are to have any confidence in the methods and results of our metaphysical investigations. This course will emphasize the established historical classics that provide the basis for understanding contemporary work on metaphysics and epistemological issues; we will consider, among others, the work of Descartes, Hume, and Kant. Format: lecture/discussion. Requirements: class discussion, frequent short papers (totaling 20-30 pages). No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 19 per section (expected: 19 per section). Preference given to first-year students and sophomores.