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John Heil: The Universe as We Find It

The Universe As We Find It

John Heil

Didn’t science kill philosophy? Can metaphysics uncover the way the world is? Philosopher John Heil revives metaphysics and confronts the big questions of substance, causation and consciousness.

  • John Heil Speaker Photo
    John Heil
    Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St Louis, whose research interests include metaphysics and philosophy of mind

About the Course

Stephen Hawking famously declared that science had replaced philosophy as the torch-bearer of knowledge. And many philosophers now equally see metaphysics as a mere exercise in language.

In this three-part course, Philosopher John Heil revives metaphysics and outlines his original approach to the big questions of substance, causation and consciousness.

You will learn about:

  • Science’s need for metaphysical explanation and support.
  • The limits to what science can tell us about substance and consciousness.
  • How causality affects our freedom.
  • Why there is something rather than nothing.


Through video lectures, questions and suggested reading discover why metaphysics remains ‘the most noble of sciences’.  Share your ideas and support your learning through our discussion boards and test your knowledge with questions throughout the course.


This course is designed for anyone interested in metaphysics and the philosophy of science and requires no prior knowledge. Whether you’re working in the field or you just want to learn more, we welcome you to join The Universe As We Find It.

About the Instructor

  • John Heil

    John Heil is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St Louis. Listed among the 50 most influential living philosophers, John Heil has defended the role that philosophy has to play in understanding nature of mind and reality. His books include The Universe As We Find It and From An Ontological Point of View.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: Why Metaphysics?
    Are metaphysical ideas necessary for explaining what science really reveals?
  • Part Two: Truth and The Universe
    Do universal laws govern our world? Or do we need a new way of thinking about cause and effect?
  • Part Three: The Big Questions
    Have we been asking the wrong questions? Heil dissolves the grandest puzzles of philosophy?
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