This afternoon I finished the Teaching Company course, Exploring Metaphysics. It’s been a long time since I started this course, maybe a year or more ago. But, due to the ability to incorporate listening to lectures while at work (as well as finish up the bulk of the discussion questions), I’ve been able to finally finish this one.
I took this course on as part of my Unschooled Master of Theology Program. You can check out all assignments for this program here.
For now, let’s take a look at what’s so interesting about Metaphysics.
First Teaching Company Course
I’ll have to go back and look, but I’m pretty sure this is the first Teaching Company course I’ve actually finished. It was, overall, pretty good (maybe the first course other than KI courses in my uThM that gets a positive review)!
The program itself comes with the lecture audios, plus a pdf guide book. The booklet has transcripts (or summaries rather than word for word) of each lecture, plus two discussion questions for each lecture.
The Discussion Questions are always the best part of an online course for me. I learn a great deal while working through each question, researching more, replaying the lecture in question, troubleshooting problems in their arguments.
One major issue I have with TTC courses is their tendency to secularize just about every presentation, regardless of the subject matter. This, of course, pertains primarily to religious subjects, though I’m not certain how watered down subjects like Buddhist or Islam might be. I know the Christian topics always contain a biased secular slant, but this is pretty much expected in today’s academic circles.
All things being equal, the course wasn’t really all that exceptional. It was a set of college lectures and a workbook. The 24 lectures w/ their questions amounted to 50 questions total for the course that needed to be answered. I came away with a document about 27,000 words in length.
It was fun.
What is Metaphysics?
I can’t really say I know much more about metaphysics now that I didn’t know before I took the course. The dictionary definition of metaphysics is the “philosophical study of being and knowing.” The lecturer, David Kyle Johnson, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at King’s College.
I don’t know much about this particular college. Not sure if it’s religious in nature, but, interestingly enough, Dr. Johnson appears to be very interested in religious ideas.
In the course, the major subjects he covers are wide. He discusses the mind, the soul, identity, artificial intelligence, memory, consciousness, brain and mind connection, truth, time, science, quantum mechanics, free will, causation, God, space and time, time travel, the multiverse, and simulation theory.
The main thrust of the lectures appears to be a focus on what is, or how we can determine what is real, more specifically, how the different approaches attempt to determine what is real.
Science, religion, mathematics, philosophy, they all attempt to describe reality given a particular slant or world view. Science, though originally strict in limiting itself to describing that which is observable and measurable, has drifted away from its original foundings and ventured into religious territory, ascribing to a naturalist world view for want of a replacement for the God of the bible.
Despite this, Dr. Johnson takes the time to explore important characteristics of the scientific vs. religious ideas that spark so much debate. Though, in the end, it does appear he sides with science over religion on many of the spiritual topics.
How it Pertains to my Own Research
Of course, you’re probably asking, how relevant is the course to the research I’m conducting for my uThM program?
Well, it’s actually quite interesting to consider. Dr. Johnson poses some really crucial questions, some of the exact questions I’ve posed when designing my uThM program.
Questions like how real are abstract objects (thoughts I create from thinking about)? This is incredibly interesting, as I’ve thought quite in depth about how real my charcters are that I write about in my novels.
Are they living, sentient beings? Are they anything like me, comparable to me? To others that I would conclude exist in my world or my reality?
Would God consider the characters I create in my novels, like Dawn McKensie or the monk Augustus, to be real? Or, like the false gods in the bible, would God consider them mute and dumb and unable to do anything – not alive?
Another topic brought up in the lectures is the argument for and against mind and brain events. Do we have a mind? Or does our consciousness reside in the brain only? Since we have no empirical evidence for the mind, there is an argument to be made that we should abandon the concept of the mind altogether. Yet, as a person of faith and one who places ultimate authority in the biblical text, I am unable to abandon the mind, if for no other reason than Jesus refers to the mind as if it is real.
Is the mind part of the soul? Does the soul even exist? What is it exactly? How do we know?
So, if you’re looking for an overview of metaphysics, especially from a secular standpoint, this set of lectures is a pretty good starting point. As I stated above, some really important and relevant questions are posed and discussed at length.
If instead you’re looking for something that focuses more on spiritual aspects (of the same topics), this is probably not your best choice. They all but ignore the biblical account of soul or mind, and focus instead on the naturalistic world view and presume a brain only construction.
The do talk of God for several lectures, and I got quite a bit out of the lectures on the realness of abstract objects. I’m really glad I was finally able to finish the course. I’ve already strarted on another TTC course, hoping it will be even better than this one.
Until my next review….
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Seeking Light Aurora:
Thomas opened the front door of the diner and leaned inside, holding himself up by the door frame.
“What’s the matter?” Terrance said, looking away from Peg and Carol. They were all huddled together at the counter.
“Her truck is still freaking out. I’ll try to keep her busy for as long as I can, but I’m running out of ideas.”
He looked over at Derrick who was quietly sitting at the back booth reading one of his books.
“You’ve got to keep her busy,” Terrance said. “We don’t have any other choice.”
“Look –” Thomas hesitated. “This isn’t all on me you know. I’ve already told you. I don’t know jack shit about trucks or engines. I’m sure as hell not a mechanic.”
“It’ll be fine,” Peg said.
“We all know there’s nothing I can do to fix that truck.” Thomas was shaking his head. “She’s going to figure out that something’s up. What if she starts asking questions?”
“Stall her,” Terrance said. “We just have to keep her busy for a little while. Remember, whatever it takes.”
“But, what about –” Carol had tears welling up.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Terrance said. “We’ve all been through this before.” He looked at Thomas. “Just take a deep breath and relax.”
“Relax my ass,” Thomas said. “Save that bullshit for her, okay?”
“Just keep her occupied in the garage as long as you possibly can. She’s focused right now on getting her truck fixed, so use that.”
“Whatever you say.” Thomas pushed off the door frame and let the door close behind him.
“It’s not going to work,” Carol said. “She’ll figure out something is wrong and that will be it.”
Terrance put his hand on Carol’s arm, gently trying to reassure her.
“It’ll work, Carol,” he said. “Have faith. It’ll work. Whatever it takes.”
Buy my book Seeking Light Aurora to find out what in the world is going on at this strange, out of the way diner in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness!
But, you better strap in, because this is definitely not child’s play. People are getting hurt right and left – it just might be you next!
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