Western philosophy begins with the Ancient Greeks. By approximately 600 BCE, phenomena that was traditionally
explained via myth was facing challenges by explanations that were based on observation and logical reasoning.
Western philosophy begins with the Ancient Greeks. By approximately 600 BCE, phenomena that was traditionally explained via myth was facing challenges by explanations that were based on observation and logical reasoning. This gives rise to philosophy, a new method to examine everything.
The big metaphysical questions are about the nature of reality, time, divinity, the soul, and death. Plato, a young
protégé of Socrates, was one of the first philosophers in the west to articulate a systematic account of all things
important to humans: metaphysical questions, epistemological questions about knowledge, as well as questions
about morality and beauty.
Aristotle, one of Plato’s students and a tutor to Alexander the Great, followed, as the next systematic thinker. Later, the
medieval philosophers of theology come to articulate their connections between various metaphysical questions and
the divine. For this unit essay, you will be demonstrating your understanding of some of these shifts and influences.
Remember, writing is a process. You should begin working on your essay several days before the due date to
ensure that you have time to understand the essay prompt, plan your essay, draft the essay, and proofread and
revise your essay before submitting.
This reflective essay is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding and mastery of the course learning
outcomes as it relates to metaphysics:
1. Articulate philosophical issues and approaches to metaphysics.
2. Describe the views of influential philosophers.
3. Discuss metaphysics as a major branch within the history of philosophy.
Steps to Complete the Task
Step 1: Select an Essay Option
Select one of the following options for the topic of your essay. Review your notes and course materials as you
consider which of the four essay options to select.
• Option 1: Using Plato’s Divided Line, Allegory of the Cave, and simile of the sun compose an essay that
explains his Theory of the Forms.
• Option 2: Compare and contrast Plato and Aristotle’s respective understandings of primary substance, or
that which is most real.
• Option 3: Using Plato and Augustine, discuss the influence Plato had on Augustine’s articulation of the
divine. What are the main similarities and differences between their respective understandings
of metaphysics and the divine?
• Option 4: Discuss how EITHER Aquinas OR Anselm was influenced by Aristotle’s metaphysics. What are the
main similarities and differences between their respective understandings of metaphysics and the divine?
Step 2: Analyze, Plan, & Gather Resources
1. Look closely at the discussion prompt you’ve chosen.
a. What philosopher are you asked to write about?
b. What works are referenced?
c. Is there more than one philosopher or writing to consider?
d. What exactly are you being asked to do? What is the ACTION in the option you’ve chosen?
For example, are you asked to …
i. Explain or discuss something?
ii. Compare and contrast something?
iii. Identify similarities and differences (the same basic idea as compare and contrast)?
iv. Are you asked to DO more than one thing in the option you’ve chosen?
2. Review your notes on each of the philosophers and their writings that are specifically identified in the option
you’ve chosen. Do you have notes about the philosophers’ philosophical issues and approaches to
a. If no, then you need to re-read the assigned readings with this purpose in mind.
i. Be sure to identify the location of important quotes that will support your explanation of the philosophers’ views.
b. If yes, did you identify where in the readings you found this information? You will need this information when writing the essay, so if you don’t have it, take time to look it up now.
Step 3: Organize and Write Your Essay
You will write a 4 to 5-page essay (properly formatted) addressing the prompt you selected. Remember the three
parts of an essay are the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.