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PHIL 309


  • Course ID:PHIL 309
  • Semesters:2 (Meets every other day)
  • Department:Philosophy
  • Course Rank:Required
  • Teachers:Pete Bancroft

Description and Objectives

Metaphysics is the most fundamental topic in philosophy: the study of being. It looks at different kinds of being–inanimate matter, plants, animals, human beings, and God–and identifies commonalities and essential differences.

The metaphysics course at The Heights draws primarily on the philosophy of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. The course focuses particularly on the human person and God. We will identify the foundational principles of human nature and explore what that implies in regards to morality and the purpose of human life. We will also see what reason, without the aid of revelation, can grasp about God.

Principles of metaphysics have a direct bearing on a number of current topics, such as artificial intelligence, the transgender movement, and the relation between human beings and the environment. One of the goals of this course is to give students the philosophical background to think clearly about these issues.

Another goal of this course is to help students see that the truths we can reach through reason alone are consistent with truths presented to us by the Christian religion.


  • Walshe, Sebastian. Philosophy of Man. TAN Books, 2023.
  • Torre, Michael. What Is: Introductory Reflections on Thomistic Metaphysics. Scepter, 2020.

Course Requirements

Course requirements and grading criteria:

  1. Tests (80%)
  2. Reading Notes (20%)
  3. Extra credit and test re-takes are not allowed except in extraordinary circumstances such as a long illness. If the class’s median grade is low due to a test’s difficulty, I will scale the grades so that the class median stays at a reasonable level.

Office hours:  I am available to see students 1st and 2nd periods, lunchtime, and after school.

Successful Students

Paying attention and taking good notes in class is the most important habit for students to work on in this course. The reading assignments, if done carefully, will help students understand fully what we go over in class.

Class consists of a mixture of lecture and discussion. During class, I highlight the most important material of the lesson, ask questions to make sure students understand the concepts, and answer any questions students have about the class material or reading.

If a student is absent, it is crucial that he get notes from someone, since we do cover material in class that is not in the book.