Philosophy

Department Chair: Dr. Thomas Osborne, osborntm@stthom.edu

 

Philosophy is the science which by the natural light of reason studies the first causes or highest principles of all things. It is in other words, the science of things in their first causes in so far as these belong to the natural order. Philosophy on the level of natural reason, like theology on the level of supernatural faith, pursues answers to the deepest questions concerning reality and the meaning of life. As St. Thomas Aquinas argued, faith and reason cannot ultimately be in conflict; and any apparent conflict is the result of faulty understanding on one side or the other. While all major philosophers are studied at the University of St. Thomas, the philosophy of St. Thomas provides the unifying viewpoint. Pope John Paul II explained that “Thomas Aquinas possessed supremely the courage of the truth, a freedom of spirit in confronting new problems, the intellectual honesty of those who allow Christianity to be contaminated neither by secular philosophy nor by a prejudiced rejection of it. He passed therefore into the history of Christian thought as a pioneer of the new path of philosophy and universal culture.” Fides et Ratio #43

The courses in philosophy are designed to promote these aims of a liberal education:

  1. At least 18 hours of undergraduate philosophy.
  2. An undergraduate grade point average in philosophy of at least 3.5 and 3.3 overall GPA.
  3. Successful completion of CLASS 1331– 1332 (Latin) or the equivalent.
  4. Two letters of recommendation from members of the UST philosophy faculty.
  5. GREs are not required.

Assessment in large part will be done in connection with the Senior Seminar, which is required of all majors.

Degrees and Certificates

Classes

PHIL 1315: Ancient Philosophy

A study of being, nature, knowledge, man and the state, as developed by the pre–Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans, the Stoics and Plotinus.

PHIL 2314: Ethics

A study of the components of the moral life and moral decision–making: freedom, obligation, conscience, objective goods and values. Application of moral principles to particular circumstances. Prerequisite: PHIL 1311 or three courses in the historical sequence.

PHIL 2316: Medieval Philosophy

A continuation of the study of classical philosophical problems from the Christian perspectives of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure and others, while also noting Islamic and Jewish influences. Prerequisite: PHIL 1315/3315 or three courses in the systematic sequence.

PHIL 3313: Metaphysics

A study of the fundamental aspects of physical things insofar as they are things, and existent, to see whether they lead to a realm that is “beyond the physical” (“metaphysical”). Prerequisites: PHIL 1311 and 2314 or three courses in the historical sequence.

PHIL 3314: Business Ethics

A second course in ethics with emphasis on the moral issues that arise in modern business life. Among issues to be considered are the role of profits, property rights, workers’ rights, fairness in hiring, truth–telling and whistle–blowing. Prerequisite: Completion of either PHIL 2314 or PHIL 2316/3316.

PHIL 3317: Modern Philosophy

A study of the rise of secular views of knowledge, ethics and politics as discussed by such philosophers as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Rousseau and Hume. Prerequisites: PHIL 1315/3315 and PHIL 2316 or three courses in the systematic sequence.

PHIL 3318: Bioethics

A second course in ethics with emphasis on the moral issues that arise in modern health care. Issues to be discussed include patient autonomy, life issues, the right to refuse treatment and the right to health care.

PHIL 3320: Philosophy of Nature

This course will examine the fundamental question: What is nature? The course treats fundamental principles like substance, form, matter, causality, motion, and the soul. Consideration will be given to the comparison of ancient and modern perspectives of nature and science.

PHIL 3338: God in Philosophy

A study of the teachings of some of the major philosophers, including St. Thomas Aquinas, concerning the existence and attributes of God and the consequences of theism and atheism in philosophy. Prerequisite: Completion of either the systematic or the historical sequence.

PHIL 3350: Contemporary Logic

This course aims to introduce students to the significant philosophical advances made in the past 150 years in the field of logic. Some of this material can be grouped under the rubric of symbolic logic, but this course will go beyond the field of mathematical logic by discussing theories of modal and tense logic, and, more generally, by discussing why 20th– century philosophers see such formal logic as the most suitable tool for the discovery and development of logical truth. Prerequisites: PHIL 2314 or PHIL 2316/3316.

PHIL 3353: Aquinas Seminar

A study of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas based on selected texts from his works. This course functions as a Junior Seminar for philosophy majors and is required of philosophy majors and minors. Prerequisites: Either 1)PHIL 1311, 2314, and 3313 or 2) PHIL 1315/3315, 2316/3316 and 3317.

PHIL 4192: Dir Read/Indep Stdy in Phi

Student research on a selected problem in the field pursued under the guidance of an assigned member of the faculty. Prerequisite: Completion of either the systematic or the historical sequence.

PHIL 4292: Dir Read/Indep Stdy in Phi

Student research on a selected problem in the field pursued under the guidance of an assigned member of the faculty. Prerequisite: Completion of either the systematic or the historical sequence.

PHIL 4312: Philosophy of Knowledge

A study of how we know, covering the kinds of knowledge, the role of the senses and the intellect, abstraction, intentionality and the challenge of various forms of skepticism. Prerequisite: PHIL 2314 or 2316/3316

PHIL 4324: Faith and Reason

A study of the relationship between faith and reason. Examines possible conflicts between what reason (or science) discovers and what faith believes. Considers classical, modern, and contemporary authors. Prerequisite: PHIL 2314 or 2316/3316

PHIL 4327: Philosophy of Wojtyla

This course will study the thought of Karol Wojtyla, (Blessed John Paul II). The course will consider his poetic, dramatic, philosophical and theological works as they pertain to these themes: the dignity of the person, love and marriage, work and society, politics and human rights, the existence of God and humanism. Prerequisites: two/three course philosophy sequence.

PHIL 4329: Pascal

This course will study the thought of the 17th century genius Blaise Pascal. In the course the Pensees will be examined closely; the student shall understand how Pascal addresses the question of the relationship of the human being to God in light of fundamental features of human existence. Prerequisite: two/three course philosophy sequence.

PHIL 4331: Philosophy of Art and Beauty

The metaphysics of beauty and its role in the metaphysics of art; artistic creation and the work of art (form, medium, style); the experience of art and aesthetic appreciation. Selected writings and works of art. Prerequisite: PHIL 2314 or PHIL 2316/3316.

PHIL 4350: Philosophy of Law

A critical study of the various versions of natural justice theory in historical perspective from the classical philosophers and jurists through the Christian conceptions of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Scotus and the Spanish scholastics up to the modern secular schools of natural right. Prerequisite: PHIL 2314 or PHIL 2316/3316.

PHIL 4352: Philosophy of Science

A study of the methods of science and the extent of scientific knowledge from classical cosmology through the Newtonian and Darwinian revolutions, with an assessment of more recent scientific achievements. Prerequisite: PHIL 2314 or PHIL 2316/3316.

PHIL 4357: The Thought of Karol Wojtyla

The course will present a holistic understanding of the thought of Karol Wojtyla (Saint John Paul II). Although the emphasis is placed upon the philosophical aspect of his work, the course will allow the student to explore the literary, mystical, and theological contributions to his philosophical thinking and writing, as well to consider the social and political applications of his thought as well. The special philosophical achievement of Karol Wojtyla pertains to his blending of the philosophy Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas with the phenomenological approach of Max Scheler and the personalism of Kant. His philosophical synthesis brings great insight and argument for the dignity of the person, the special character of love and marriage, work and society, politics and human rights, the existence of God and humanism. Readings will include selections from his drama and poetry, his writings on John of the Cross, essays on Scheler, Kant, and Thomism, and portions of his great works the Acting Person, and Love and Responsibility.

PHIL 4360: Philosophy of War and Peace

An examination of issues arising within the Just War Theory with special emphasis on the history and development of philosophies of war and peace; attention will be given to wars of intervention, humanitarian intervention, nuclear war, and the war on terrorism. This course is designed to: -Explore some of the enduring questions that have shaped questions about war and warriors: Is it justifiable to use deadly force? What is courage? Are there moral limits to use of force? -Introduce students to the concepts and principles of the just war theory and to consider applications to historical case studies. -Frame contemporary issues concerning war such as torture, humanitarian intervention, and technology with clarity and rigor.

PHIL 4362: Philosophy of Woman

This course is an examination of the relationship between philosophical and theological theories about the nature of woman and how these theories envision her 'citizenship' in political and religious communities. Readings of primary sources within a historical framework extending from Plato to Benedict XVI will attempt to answer the question of woman's place within the 'City of God' and the 'City of Man.' Prerequisite: PHIL 2314 or 2316/3316

PHIL 4364: Philosophical Themes in Lit

Philosophical reflection on themes of good and evil, sin and grace; suffering and fortitutde; personal identity and authenticity; the human and the divine; time and eternity; love and death; fidelity and betrayal; the tragic and the comic. Exploration of these themes is carried out with the aid of enduring works of the imagination: novels, short stories and poetry. Close reading and discussion of texts such as The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky); Til We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis); Four Quartets (T.S. Eliot); The End of the Affair (Graham Greene); Wise Blood and selected short stories (Flannery O'Connor); Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh); The Moviegoer (Walker Percy); Go Down, Moses (William Faulkner) One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Solzhenitsyn). Prerequisite: PHIL 2314 or 2316/3316

PHIL 4366: Philosophy of Education

A consideration of the following questions: What is the proper end of education? What modes of education are there (e.g., liberal, professional, Instrumental /Progressive , etc.)? Can these be rank ordered? What are the proper roles, respectively, of teacher and student? What are the specific challenges endemic to democratic education? Is theology a discipline proper to education? How should the various disciplines be related to one another? What sorts of educational technologies are valuable and appropriate? What are the principle modes of learning and how should these be evaluated? Students pursue these questions through close reading and discussion of classical and contemporary texts. Prerequisite: PHIL 2314 or 2316/3316

PHIL 4390: Senior Seminar

Research, with oral and written presentations, as a culmination of the philosophy major. Required of philosophy majors and open to them exclusively. Prerequisite: Completion of either the systematic or the historical sequence.

PHIL 4392: Dir Read/Indep Stdy in Phi

Student research on a selected problem in the field pursued under the guidance of an assigned member of the faculty. Prerequisite: Completion of either the systematic or the historical sequence.

PHIL 4492: Dir Read/Indep Stdy in Phi

Student research on a selected problem in the field pursued under the guidance of an assigned member of the faculty. Prerequisite: Completion of either the systematic or the historical sequence.

PHIL 5304: Thomistic Metaphysics

As the culmination of this trio of fundamental courses in Thomistic philosophy, this course in metaphysics, the highest of the philosophical sciences according to Aquinas, has as its first task the nature of metaphysical inquiry itself. This inquiry will involve a crucial set of distinctions, including the distinctions between natural philosophy and metaphysics, substance and accident, essence and existence, act and potency. The Thomistic texts for this course are chosen at the discretion of the instructor.

PHIL 5311: Selected Prob. in Epistemology

This course covers a selection of topics in Thomistic cognitive theory and epistemology. Focusing on both primary literature and recent secondary literature, the course will treat St. Thomas’s theories of intellectual cognition, the inner senses (focusing on the cogitative power and memory), intellectual self-knowledge, and human knowledge concerning the divine.

PHIL 5314: Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature

This investigation of Aquinas’s philosophy of the human person will have as its primary focus Aquinas’s solution to the question of how the human soul can be identified both as the form in the human form-matter composite and as a subsistent entity capable of surviving the corruption of the body. Among other key issues to be discussed are the nature of the passions and the relationship between the intellect and will. Readings from the Prima pars of the Summa theologiae will play a central role in the discussion, with other readings from the Thomistic corpus chosen at the instructor’s discretion.

PHIL 5333: Logic

(Traditional Logic) A practical study of the rules of correct reasoning, both inductive and deductive, together with analysis of the concept, the proposition and fallacies.

PHIL 5338: Intro to Thomistic Ethics

Building on the achievements of the course in Thomistic anthropology, this course highlights the human person as agent, as moving toward ends or goods, and finally toward the ultimate end which Aquinas calls beatitudo: happiness. The nature of the ultimate end will thus be the centerpiece of the course discussion, with other key concepts and distinctions which contribute to Aquinas’s understanding of the ultimate end coming strongly into play, e.g., the nature of the human act, the distinction between right and wrong action, the nature of and the distinctions between the virtues, and the role of law in human happiness. Discussion will be focused on but need not be limited to questions in the Secunda pars of the Summa theologiae.

PHIL 5340: MA Comprehensive Course Exam

The MA Comprehensive Exam Course, and the MA Comprehensive Examination toward which it aims, is taken in the semester after all other courses have been finished, which will normally be the fourth semester of study. It is a directed readings course supervised by a Center faculty member, designed to help students prepare the readings for the MA Comprehensive Examination.

PHIL 5354: Phaedo & On The Soul

This course will focus upon Plato’s Phaedo and Aristotle’s De Anima. It will involve a close reading of the De Anima, with comparison to the Phaedo, guided by Aquinas’s commentary as well as by other sources, including contemporary.

PHIL 5359: Philosophical Latin

The objective of this course is to produce facility in reading medieval, philosophical Latin, and in particular the Latin of Thomas Aquinas. Every student in the Center must take this course unless granted a waiver by the Director of the Center for Thomistic Studies. The course must be taken in one semester during the first year of graduate study. The format and content of the course will be set by the faculty member who is responsible for teaching the course that year. It will be taught as part of the regular course load by a member of the Center faculty or another person competent to teach the course. The grade in the course will be determined by the outcome of the Latin test, with grades determined in the following way: Pass at the MA level = “A-”. Pass at the PhD level = “A”. No grade will be given for the course until the Latin test is passed at one of these two levels. For an entering student who passes the Latin exam at the PhD level this course is waived.

PHIL 5363: Law & Grace in Aquinas

Aquinas’s Commentary on the Metaphysics stands out as perhaps the clearest commentary ever written on the metaphysical treatise(s) of Aristotle. This course will offer a guided reading of the Commentary, exploring several questions, including: To what extent do Aquinas’s own distinctive metaphysical views appear in his Commentary? How does Aquinas understand the structure of metaphysical science? What are some of the influences on Aquinas’s interpretation of the Metaphysics? Some previous familiarity with Aristotle’s Metaphysics is encouraged but not required.

PHIL 5392: Twentieth Century Thomist Rev.

This course discusses the genuinely twentieth-century philosophical phenomenon of Thomistic Revival. In almost quixotic manner, literally thousands of Catholic authors worldwide, in monographs, periodicals, and in the entire standard teaching venues, offered Thomistic cures for modern ills. Who were these authors? What motivated them? Why did the Neo-Thomist revival die at Vatican II? Do any hopes exist for a Neo-Thomist revival today? We will address these questions from the perspective of the history of philosophy and from the perspective of philosophy itself.

PHIL 5393: Contemporary Thomism

This course will consider the work of John Finnis, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Servais Pinckaers, who are arguably the three most significant Thomists of the past twenty-five years. Each represents a different background and scholarly community. John Finnis has a background in analytical jurisprudence and has been influential in the revival of natural law in political philosophy and philosophy of law. Alasdair Macintyre’s background is in Anglo-American philosophy, sociology and the New Left. His book After Virtue was enormously influential in philosophical circles and he has since developed a more Thomist position. He has had great influence in moral philosophy, both Protestant and Catholic theology, and political philosophy. Servais Pinckaers is a francophone Dominican and his theological formation was at LaSartre and Rome. He was a professor at the University of Fribourg. His attempt to revive Thomist moral theology is the best known. Although the content of his work is closer to that of MacIntyre than that of Finnis, his Dominican background and theological concerns set him off sharply from MacIntyre. The course will focus on these figures’ various approaches to such themes as moral goodness, practical reasoning, the common good and justice.

PHIL 5603: MA Comprehensive Exam Prep

MA students would register for this 6 hour, non-tuition bearing course in the 4th semester of their MA program along with PHIL 5340: MA Comprehensive Exam Course ( a regular tuition bearing course, part of 30 hour MA) in order to maintain a full-time enrollment status.

PHIL 5605: Doctoral Exam Preparation I

A six-credit course to be taken by Ph.D. candidates who have completed course work and are either studying for Ph.D. Comprehensive Exams or preparing for their Dissertation Proposal Defense.

PHIL 5606: Doctoral Exam Preparation II

A six-credit course to be taken by Ph.D. candidates who have completed course work and are either studying for Ph.D. Comprehensive Exams or preparing for their Dissertation Proposal Defense.

PHIL 6308: Essence and Existence

Thomists distinctively hold the position that in creatures essence and existence are related to each other as potency to act. Since act is really distinct from potency, essence and existence are really distinct. This course will look at Thomas’ views on essence and existence in the context of later developments of the Thomistic position and criticisms.

PHIL 6390: MA Thesis Direction

Candidates for a BA/MA degree in the Center for Thomistic Studies must take either PHIL 6390, MA Thesis Direction or 5340 MA Comprehensive Exam Course. Students choosing PHIL 6390,in consultation with a faculty adviser, will select an MA paper submitted for a previous CTS course to be devel;oped into a thesis according to a plan agreed upon by both. The courseI is aimed at helping the student develop skills in research and writing. The acceptability of the paper is not essentially tied to length, and the faculty will accept quality papers in the 30 to 40 page range. The M.A. thesis must be approved by two readers, one of whom is the faculty adviser who approved and supervised the project.

PHIL 6392: Independent Study

Student research on a selected problem in the field pursued under the guidance of an assigned member of the faculty.