Syllabus: Metaphysics

Dallas Willard Part 1 of 16

Texts and Schedule of Readings and Requirements


R. M. Chisholm, The Problem of the Criterion
Francis Suarez, On the Various Kinds bf Distinctions
St. Thomas Aquinas, Selected Writings etc. (Bobbs-Merrill)
Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity
F. H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality
M. J. Loux, Universals and Particulars
David Hume, Treatise of Human Nature
William James, Essays in Radical Empiricism & A Pluralistic Universe
Henri Bergson, Introduction to Metaphysics


  1. Three examinations scheduled
  2. Graduate students must also submit a term essay. A sketch
    of their intended essay must be discussed with the instructor by April 15. The essay must concern one of the major topics dealt with in the course, and the topic must be cleared with the instructor. Undergraduates who have made A- or above on the first two exams may choose to substitute a term essay for the final exam, if they notify the instructor by April 20.
  3. Class recitation when called upon, dealing with the readings assigned for the particular meeting or earlier.


1st week: Jan 9- 13—What Metaphysics (Ontology) is. Identity.
a. Willard, “Three Approaches to the Study of Metaphysics,” & “Introduction to the Elements of Ontology.”
b. Chisholm, The Problem of the Criterion
c. A. Stroll, “Identity” article in Edwards’ Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
d. W. E. Johnson, “The Relation of Identity.” (Mimeograph)

Suggested further readings on the nature of metaphysics:
Brand Blanshard, “In Defense of Metaphysics,” in Kennick and Lazerowitz, edd., Metaphysics: Readings and Reappraisals. {on reserve)
A. Quinton, The Nature of Things, pp. 235-251
P. Rhinelander, Is Man Incomprehensible to Man? pp. 87-99 Theodore Roszak, urn Search of the Miraculous,” Harpers, Jan. 1981, pp. 54ff
A. E. Taylor, Elements of Metaphysics, pp. 1-49 (reserve)
R. Harre, The Philosophies of Science, pp. lOOff (reserve)
J. Needleman, The Sense of the Cosmos, chs. 1 and 2

2nd week: Jan. 16-20—More on Identity. Theory of Distinctions.
a. Frege, “On Sense and Nominatum,” (Mimeog)
b. “Descartes on the Various Kinds of Distinctions” (Mimeog)
c. F. Suarez, On The Various Kinds of Distinctions

Suggested additional reading on Distinctions;
P. Coffey, 0ntology or the Theory of Being pp. 104-7 (reserve)

3rd Week: Jan 23-27: Naming and Necessity
a. Kripke, Naming and Necessity, pp. 1-70

4th Week: Jan 30-Feb. 3: Naming and Necessity. Being.
a. Kripke, Naming and Necessity, pp. 71-164
b. Bergson, Introduction to Metaphysics.

5th Week: Feb. 6-10: The Concept of Being (Existence, Reality)
a. Selections from Aristotle’s Metaphysics (mimeog)
b. F. H. Bradley, “Some Marks of the Real” (mimeog) .
c. A. N. Prior, “Existence” article in Edward’s Encyclopedia of Phil
c. A. MacIntyre, “Essence and Existence” article in — ditto —
d. Aquinas, “On Being and Essence,” pp. 31-67 of Selected Writings.

Suggested further readings:
Willard, “Lecture Notes on Essence and Existence,” (reserve)
Gilson, Being and Some Philosophers (reserve)
Brooks, “The Meaning of ‘Real’ in Advaita Vedanta,” in Philosophy East and West, Vol. 19, pp. 385-393.
C. D. Broad, “Reality” article in Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol 10, pp. 580-593

6th Week: Feb. 13-17: More on Being
a. A. E. Taylor, Elements of Metaphysics, Bk II, chaps. 1-3 (reserve)
b. Quine, “On What There Is’t (mimeog)
c. Willard, “Why Semantic Ascent Fails,” Metaphilosophy, Sep-Oct ’84
d. G. E. Moore, “The Conception of Reality,” from –Phil. Studies (mime)

Suggested further reading:
Quine, “Existence,” in Physics, Logic and History, edited by Yourgrau and Breck, (on reserve)

7th Week: Feb. 20-24): Completion and Review of Being and Identity
a. A. Maurer, “Ens Diminutum,” Medieval Studies, Vol. 12 (1952), 216f
b. John Veitch edition of Descartes’ Meditations and Selections from the Principles of Philosophy, pp. 227-240, esp. 239-40

Suggested further reading:
Wilfrid Sellars, Science and Metaphysics, pp. 31-35 B. Miller, “In Defense of the Predicate ‘Exists’,” Mind, 1975,pp 338ff.


8th Week: Feb 27-March 2: Concept of Category. Particulars.
a. Article on “Category” in Edwards’ Encyclopedia as well as the one in Baldwin’s Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology
b. R. Adamson, A Short History of Logic, pp. 171-189 reserve)
c. Selection from Aristotle’s Categories (mimeog)
d. B. Russell, selection from “Mathematical Logic as Based on the Theory of Types” (mimeog)
e. Allaire, “Bare Particulars,” in Loux, Universals and Particulars

Suggested further reading:
J. S. Mackenzie, Elements of Constructive Philosophy, Book II, ch. 1 and ch. 5 reserve)
R. Harre, “Metaphysical Theories, 11 ch. 4 of Philosophies of Science.
“Categories” number of The Monist, July 1983, Vol, 66 1 #3, but especially the paper by Manley Thompson, titled “Philosophical Approaches to Categories.”

(Mar. 5-9)
9th Week: Particulars and Substances
a. “Particulars Re-clothed,” Chappell
b. “Another Look at Bare Particulars,” Allaire } All in Loux
c. “Do Relations Individuate,” Meiland
d. Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. IV, Bk. VII (Chs. 1-4, 11-13, 17), Bk. VIII (ch. 6), Bk. IX (Chs 1-8)

(Mar 12-16)
10th Week: More on Substance
a. Hume, Treatise, Bk. I, Part I, Part III (Sects. VII-X), and Part IV,(Sects. II, IV, VI, and VII)
b. A. E. Taylor, Elements of Metaphysics, Bk II, ch 5.(esp 128-39)

(Mar 19-23)
11th Week: Universals
a. Selections from Plato’s Parmanides (mimeog)
b. Selections by Loux and Russell in Loux, Universals and Particulars
c. Re-read Quine, “On What There Is”

Suggested further reading:
Alice Ambrose, “Wittgenstein on Universals,” in Kennick & Lazerowitz, Metaphysics:Readings and Reappraisals pp. 80-91 (reserve)
Edmund Husserl, Second Logical Investigation, in Vol I of the Findlay Translation of Husserl’s Logical Investigations.
Hermann Lotze, Logic, Bk III, ch. ii (reserve)
R. I. Aaron, “Two Senses of the Word ‘Universal’,” Mind 1939


(Apr. 2-6)
12th Week: Relations in General.
a. A. E. Taylor, Elements of Metaphysics, pp. 140-157, but pay especial attention to the argument at bottom 145.
b . F . H . Bradley, Appearance and Reality, ch. 3
c. Hume, Treatise, pp.13-15 and 633-636
d. B. Russell, “A Proof that Relations Exist” (mimeog)
e. Wm. James, Essays in Radical Empiricism, pp. 39-122)

Suggested Additional reading:
J. Weinberg, “The Concept of Relation: Some Observations on Its History,” in his Abstraction, Relation and Induction.
Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. I, Quest. 13, article 7, and Quest. 28, articles 1-4.
M. Fisk, “Relatedness Without Relations,” Nous, 1972, pp. 139


13th Week: April 9-13: Appearance and Reality
a. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, pp. 1-29 1 46-52, 61-104

Suggested Additional reading:
Article on Bradley in Edwards’ Encyclopedia
J. Passmore, A Hundred Years of Philosophy, ch. III

14th Week: April 16-20: More On Appearance and Reality
a. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, 105-15,119-42,318-54, 403-52
b. Wm. James, A Pluralistic Universe

15th Week: April 23-27: The Refutation of Idealism
s. James, A Pluralistic Universe
b. G.E. Moore, “Refutation of Idealism,” –(mimeog)

USC Department of Philosophy Philosophy 460: Metaphysics
Spring Semester 1984--6:00-7:15 TTH
Dallas Willard, Instructor
Listen to all parts in this Metaphysics (1984) series