Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Philosophy Courses

All courses listed here are offered for 3.0 semester-units unless otherwise noted. Each course is listed under just one category, although other categories may apply. DSPT courses follow the GTU course number system.  Any descriptions of courses found on official syllabi and/or the GTU course schedule take precedence over those listed here. 

BS Biblical Studies & Biblical Languages NT New Testament Studies
CE Ethics and Social Theory
(includes Christian Ethics and Religion and Society: RS)
OT Old Testament Studies 
ED Theology & Education PH Philosophy & Philosophy of Religion 
FE Field Education  PS Religion and Psychology 
FT Functional Theology  PT Philosophical Theology 
HM Homiletics  RA Art and Religion 
HR Cultural & Historical Studies of Religions  RS Religion and Society 
HS History  SC Spiritual Care 
IDS Interdisciplinary Studies  SP Christian Spirituality 
IR Interreligious Studies  ST Systematic Theology 
LS Liturgical Studies     


Level Description Abbreviations
1000-1999 basic introduction, no prerequisites MA – Master of Arts
2000-3999 primarily for Master’s level students MDiv – Master of Divinity
4000-4999 advanced Master’s and Doctoral level MTS – Master's of Theological Studies
5000-5999 Doctoral level, open to advanced Master’s level with
Faculty permission
STD – Doctor of Sacred Theology 
6000-6999 only PhD/ThD level STL – Licentiate in Sacred Theology
    TBD-to be determined

Systematic Philosophy – Core Courses 

PH-1008        General Ethics — This course is an introduction to the philosophical study of ethics. Students will be introduced to the primary philosophical approaches to ethical questions and moral discourse, including Virtue Ethics, Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Natural Law Ethics. The focus of the course will be a close, critical study of great texts from the western philosophical tradition, including works from Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Sartre, and Aquinas. Although the student will concentrate on understanding these philosophers in their historical context and on their own terms, various contemporary philosophers and scholars will also be read and discussed as a means for deepening the philosophical conversation and discerning the relevance of various philosophical approaches for contemporary ethical issues.

PH-1056        Philosophy of Nature — Through readings, class discussions and brief written assignments, the course will provide a philosophical account of the nature of change, including classical insights (Aristotle, Aquinas) and contemporary issues in cosmology, the methods of science and philosophy, the nature of causality, time and infinity.

PH-1065        Theory of Knowledge — This course is a survey of epistemology that brings together Classical philosophy approaches with Contemporary debates. We will study the nature of cognition, perception, and rational knowledge as well as the main epistemological problems that concern these sources. We will see how from these sources we can develop, justify, and structure our knowledge and deal with questions about inference, truth, skepticism, and certainty.

PH-1115        Aristotelian Logic — This course focuses on the fundamental principles and techniques of classical logic first articulated in Aristotle’s Organon and further developed by ancient, medieval, and modern thinkers. The course is loosely organized around the traditional distinction of the three operations of the mind: simple apprehension, judgment, and reasoning. The course will conclude with an examination of logical fallacies and a brief excursus into modern symbolic logic.

PH-2040        Philosophical Anthropology — Through readings, class discussions, and written assignments, students will learn the Aristotelian/Thomistic account of the nature of the human person, including the notions of life, the soul, the senses, intellect, will, knowledge and free choice. They will also learn how these notions apply to the contemporary philosophical issues of the unity of the human person, mind-brain questions, body-soul dualism, human conception, and biological evolution.

PH-2050        Metaphysics — This course presents a comprehensive introduction to Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics. This is a hybrid course that combines online teaching and in-class meetings. It is recommended for students to have some familiarity with Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy and to have taken some basic introductory courses like Philosophy of Nature before taking this course.

Systematic Philosophy – Elective Courses 

PH-4012        Natural Law — This small class will examine the concept of natural law in Aquinas through its development in several contemporary authors (especially Jean Porter). In particular, it will address the following major issues: the natural law as capacity for moral discernment, the fundamental principles through which such a capacity operates, and the moral norms that are their result; the relation of natural law to Christian revelation and to the acquired and infused virtues; the relation of reason to natural structure and inclination (“natural law” to “laws of nature”); the sources of moral obligation; and the relationship between natural law and human (or civil) law. Are the roots of natural law in reason or revelation or both? Is morality “underdetermined” by human nature? What role could and should natural law play in Christian ethics? Is there an unbridgeable gulf between the “is” and the “ought”? What are the principles that govern the determination of natural law in human law?

PH-4211        Thomas Aquinas on Truth — Truth, like religion, culture, or morality, is a general term in constant use and seems to be part of the eternal furniture of the mind. Upon closer examination, what truth consists of is not so clear and the use of the word has changed over time. Contemporary spin and reshaping of meaning so as to fit an audience are as important as the truth of what is being said. We will examine the basis for truth in Thomas Aquinas, a thinker whose thought still shapes much of what is said today. We will undertake a careful and critical reading of Aquinas’ text in order to understand his meaning but also as a springboard for our own thought. Important locations for Thomas’s view of truth are in the Summa Theologica and the QD, De Vertate. Attention will be paid to authors with other views up to William of Occam.

PH-4235        Human Nature and Political Philosophy — This course covers selections from Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and others to explore the links between their philosophy of human nature and their political philosophy. Intended Audience: Phil MA students. Prerequisite: of PH-2040 Philosophical Anthropology completed or concurrent, or equivalent.

PH-4443        The Phenomenology of Embodiment — Since the time of Descartes, modern philosophy has struggled to explain the relationship between the human mind and body, and more generally, between the material and the spiritual. Analytic Philosophy of Mind has proposed a number of possible solutions to the mind-body problem: substance dualism, property dualism, and various forms of materialism. But problems and paradoxes with these accounts have persisted, leading a number of philosophers and scientists to suggest that a new, more adequate understanding of both mind and body is needed. Meanwhile, promising insights into the human mind and body have arisen from disciplines and methods outside the Anglo-Analytic tradition: Embodied cognitive science and phenomenological analyses of embodied experience have provided a deepening appreciation of how the body shapes perception, cognition, self-identity, practical intentionality, and our relationships with others; Aristotelian-Thomistic Hylomorphism has also been re discovered as a philosophical alternative to the standard post-Cartesian understanding of the body, allowing for a richer, more intimate integration of mental and bodily capacities. This course will examine these alternative approaches to embodiment in detail, using phenomenological methodology as a central touchstone. We will begin by briefly examining the Cartesian context of the terms of the mind-body problem, and the standard dualistic and monistic solutions which emerge from it. We will then turn to key texts from the phenomenological and Thomistic traditions, paired with investigations from embodied cognitive science, to explore alternative ways of thinking about both the mind and body, and to carefully analyze pervasive aspects of embodied experience: perception, affectivity and emotion, intersubjectivity, and self-identity. This course, an advanced seminar for MA and PhD students, will include a review of foundational phenomenological concepts, as well as key principles of the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. Thus, while a certain familiarity with the history of philosophy on the part of the student is presumed, no prior coursework in phenomenology or Thomistic philosophy is required.

PH-4445        The Phenomenology of the Other — In its attentiveness to subjectivity and the methodological importance of the first-person perspective, phenomenology would seem to have neglected the essential role of intersubjectivity, the importance of the “we,” and the inescapable and irreducible role of other persons for self-identity and the disclosure of the world. Such an interpretation of phenomenology, however, fails to appreciate the actual work done by phenomenologists in relating self and other: Phenomenological analyses from Husserl to Marion have emphasized that only through the contribution of the other can a fully objective world, and even the constitution and identity of the self, be explained. In this course, we will examine key texts in the phenomenological tradition exploring intersubjectivity, empathy, and the encounter with the other. A careful reading of the writings of Max Scheler, Edith Stein, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Paul Ricoeur, and Jean-Luc Marion will give students a sense of the rich variety and manifold approaches to the topic of the other within the phenomenological tradition. This course, an advanced seminar for MA and PhD students, will begin with a review of phenomenology and foundational phenomenological concepts before proceeding to the proper theme of the course. Thus, while a certain familiarity with the history of philosophy on the part of the student is presumed, no prior coursework in phenomenology is required.

PH-4711        Mind and Brain — How can the mind, supposedly an immaterial entity, have any causal influence in the body which is material? As physicalism tries to present an exhaustive explanation of the world, and neuroscience progresses slowly mapping the brain, it seems that the way to find out who we are, what are we capable of, and how we should behave in the world, is contained in the three pounds of gray matter inside our skull. We will philosophically examine these assumptions and learn from the research carried by neuroscientists and from philosophical argumentation. Consequently, this course combines classic arguments from the Philosophy of Mind on the possibility of reducing the mind to the brain, with the information provided by the sciences that study the brain. We will study the main theories that try to account for the mind-body problem (dualism, behaviorism, identity theory, functionalism, eliminativism, anomalous monism, supervenience, biological naturalism). We will review the difficulties as well as the advantages that each one of these theories presents. We will turn to the History of Philosophy, more specifically to Aristotle, to present a non-dualist, non-reductionist model for the mind-body problem. We will also study intentionality and its relation to consciousness, and to the unconscious. Lastly, we will briefly review two standard problems in the relation between mind and brain: Personal Identity and Free Will.

PH-4712        Person and Neuroscience — We understand ourselves as persons who have memories, emotions, capacity for decision, and moral, social, religious, and artistic attitudes. However, some interpretations of the neuroscientific evidence seem to suggest that our brains are responsible for most of these behaviors in a way that places us as spectators instead of actors of our personal life. At the same time, studies in neuroscience seem to provide evidence to support and scientifically illustrate many of our intuitions as persons who have agency and can destine themselves towards goals that are not given ahead of time. This course presents how philosophy can provide an interpretative framework for neuroscience, and how philosophers can gain knowledge about the human condition through neuroscientific research. The course addresses the following questions: What are the conceptual presuppositions in neuroscience that demand a philosophical analysis? How can neuroscience enrich our understanding of what a person is? How can philosophy help correct some of the conceptual mistakes that like underneath some experimental presuppositions in neuroscience? Prerequisites: No previous background in neuroscience is required. Certain familiarity with the Aristotelian Thomistic tradition of philosophical anthropology would help, but it will also be provided. Theory of Knowledge or Anthropology are recommended courses.

PH-4911        Personal Identity — This seminar addresses questions of personal identity within the tradition of Analytic Philosophy, as well as Personalism. While Analytic Philosophy tends to discuss personal identity as a matter of the individual by itself, Personalism emphasizes the relationality of the human person as inherent in his or her own identity. Identity criteria in both traditions will vary with regard to the importance of consciousness. Each tradition is in its own way skeptical about the notion of the “soul” as constitutive of a substantial unity and identity of the person. We will read and discuss texts from the Anglo-Saxon tradition and historical predecessors (Locke, Hume, Kant, B. Williams, D. Parfit and others), as well as from the continental personalist tradition (such as M. Scheler, Dietrich von Hildebrandt, Karol Wojtyła, John Crosby, Oliver O’Donovan). This seminar will engage invited outside speakers who are working in the field. Intended audience: Philosophy MA students and interested PhD students.

PHED-4000     Seminar on the Online Teaching of Philosophy — In this course, students will learn how to prepare and deliver philosophy lectures on topics that pertain to the main areas of philosophy, and with different target audiences. The student will explore bibliographic sources, pedagogic styles and online platforms for teaching. This course is recommended for those planning to teach philosophy, but also for educators and future parish leadership that wish to integrate philosophy in their theological and catechetical ministry.

PHRA-4310     Poetry & Creative Intuition — Students in this seminar course will examine the relationship between creative intuition (sometimes called connatural knowledge) and the fine arts, particularly poetry. Focusing on the work of Jacques Maritain, students will develop a scholastic understanding of how this kind of knowledge is engaged during the creative act. Using contemporary authors, students will then examine how poetry functions to bring humans towards a deeper (connatural) knowledge of transcendent aspects of key human experiences such as suffering, death, resurrection, and the environment. Intended audience: Advanced MA and doctoral students.

PHST-4020     Miracles — Miracles are a key topic of the philosophy of religion. Are they possible? And if yes, can we know that they have occurred? Answering these questions involves a range of philosophical and theological topics, such as: what is a law of nature? what is the nature of causality? It requires answering questions about probability, epistemology, metaphysics and historiography. The freedom of God and petitionary prayer, the possibility of revelation and its relation to reason – all these will have to play a role. Numerous philosophers and theologians have contributed to the debate, especially since D. Hume. We will engage selected texts of this ongoing conversation.

PHST-4112     Levinas — Emmanuel Levinas is without doubt one of the most influential philosophical figures in continental philosophy in the last century. A student and translator of Edmund Husserl, Levinas’s early work had a decisive impact on the reception of phenomenology in France. In 1961, Levinas published his first magnum opus, Totalité et infiniti: essai sur l’extériorité [Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority], providing a singular new description and interpretation of the event of encountering another person, while simultaneously revolutionizing phenomenology. In 1974, Levinas publishes his second magnum opus, Autrement qu’être ou audelà de l’essence [Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence], which reconceives his conception of the relation with other as radical responsibility (substitution) rather than exteriority. From the 1950’s onward, Levinas also published a number of essays on Jewish thought and readings of the Talmud. This course, an advanced seminar for MA and PhD students, will constitute a survey of the thought of Emmanuel Levinas and include detailed readings of his most important works. The course will begin with a review of phenomenology and foundational phenomenological concepts before proceeding to examine Levinas’s essays on Judaism and his two great masterworks, Totality and Infinity and Otherwise than Being. Thus, while a certain familiarity with the history of philosophy on the part of the student is presumed, no prior coursework in phenomenology is required.

PHST-4211     Aquinas on the Categories — Thomas Aquinas adopts Aristotle’s division of being into ten categories. This seminar will investigate Thomas’s appropriation of Aristotle’s categories, including his proposed derivations of them, and some of his applications of the categories to particular philosophical and theological questions, such as the Eucharist and the powers of the soul. Intended Audience: Philosophy MA students. Reading knowledge of Latin is recommended but not required.

PHST-4212     Aquinas and Person — This seminar will examine Thomas’s understanding of person. We will study passages throughout Thomas’s corpus to explore the metaphysical and theological issues that he addresses in the development of his account of person as he applies his account to human and Divine persons. Attention will be given to the influence of Aquinas’s sources, such as Boethius and Arisotle, on his notion of the human being and personhood. This is a seminar required for those students involved in the common Philosophy Project “Person and Consciousness.” Intended audience: MA students. Knowledge of Latin is recommended, as some of Thomas’s writings are not available in English translation.

PHST-4220     Aquinas and Platonism — Thomas owes much to Platonic and Neo-Platonic sources. This seminar-style reading course will look at some of Thomas’s commentaries on Neo-Platonic works, including his commentary on ‘De Hebdomadibus’, and will make use of secondary literature to locate and examine Platonic themes in Thomas’s major works, including themes such as participation, and Divine Ideas. Reading knowledge of Latin recommended; some texts not available in translation. Intended audience: Phil. and Theol. MA students.

PHST-4377     Disputation I: Ancient / Islamic Sources — Disputation I and II is a two-semester course which covers selections from Plato, Aristotle, and selected Islamic and Christian authors. Faculty from both institutions will guide students through a careful exploration of disputation as it originated in the Greek school and flowed into both Islamic and Christian philosophy. Through analysis of both primary sources and critical commentaries, students will learn epistemological and metaphysical tools to study texts. In Disputation II, students will also explore the use of these tools for examining contemporary ethical topics. Intended Audience: Phil MA students; advanced Undergraduate students. Prerequisites: one course each in Ancient Philosophy and Logic. 

PHST-4380     The Masters of Suspicion — Hermeneutic Strategies in Freud, Marx and Nietzsche Freud, Marx and Nietzsche are three of the greatest critics of religion in general, and Christianity specifically. While all three of them hold religion to be false, their critique of it is not that of classic skepticism. They do not seek to show the weakness or uncertainly of classical theistic positions by presenting arguments for God’s non-existence. Rather, they are engaged in what Paul Ricoeur has characterized as the “hermeneutics of suspicion:” Each of these thinkers attempts to uncover religious belief as serving a certain social, political, moral or psychological function, while simultaneously masking this function. The work of Freud, Marx and Nietzsche requires, then, more than a mere endorsement or refutation of their views, but an appreciation of their critique of religion as a set of hermeneutical strategies designed to uncover the ideological uses to which faith and religious practice are frequently put. In this course, we will examine the insights of these great “masters of suspicion” through a close reading of representative works. A careful analysis of their writings in their historical context will enable students to assess their evaluation of religion (particularly Christianity), and discern the key features and limitations of their hermeneutic approach. Although this course, an advanced seminar for MA and PhD students, presumes a certain familiarity with the history of philosophy on the part of the student, no prior coursework on Freud, Marx, or Nietzsche is presumed.

PHST-4400     Philosophical Hermeneutics — This course offers an intensive systematic survey of theories of interpretation and hermeneutic traditions in philosophy through some of their best-known representatives: Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer, Derrida and Ricoeur. Key themes within hermeneutics will be explored, including the nature of meaning, the concept of the text, authoriality, the role of context, and the essential features of language. Theories of interpretation will be studied and evaluated both within their own historical context and in their relevance to contemporary issues of interpretation. Intended audience: MA (Phil. or Theol.) and PhD students.

PHST-4445     Heidegger’s Being and Time — It is no exaggeration to say that Heidegger’s Being and Time is one of the most important books of the twentieth century. Heidegger’s magnum opus shows the influence of many of the greatest minds of the western world, synthesizing the thought of Aristotle, Augustine, Scotus, Eckhart, Luther, Kant and Neo-Kantianism, Kierkegaard, Dilthey, Husserl, and Scheler, among others. Despite being unfinished, its impact has been equally prolific, decisively shaping phenomenology, hermeneutics, existentialism, and poststructuralism, as well as contributing to metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of religion and theology, and the philosophy of language. This course constitutes a carefully guided reading of Heidegger’s Being and Time. As an advanced seminar for MA and PhD students, it will begin with a review of phenomenology and foundational phenomenological concepts essential for understanding Heidegger and the key themes of Being and Time. Thus, while a certain familiarity with the history of philosophy on the part of the student is presumed, no prior coursework in phenomenology is required. The course will then continue with a reading of Heidegger’s important seminar course, Basic Problems of Phenomenology, considered by many to be a continuation of the project of Being and Time. The course will conclude with a brief look at one or two key texts from Heidegger’s later period, enabling students to see how Heidegger’s earlier phenomenological project of a fundamental ontology is developed and transformed over a number of decades.

PHST-4500     Thomas on Substance — Thomas Aquinas holds that substance is the most important of the Aristotelian categories. Matter/form, essence, material beings, angels and God can, in some way, be called substance. This course will examine Thomas’s account of substance and relevant metaphysical themes (e.g., essence/esse, analogy, subsistence, hypostasis, science, and definition) to argue for a consistent and coherent synthesis of Thomas’s account of substance across the sciences of logic, natural philosophy, and metaphysics. Reading knowledge of Latin strongly encouraged. Format: Seminar discussion/lecture. Prerequisite: some course in Thomistic Philosophy of Nature or Thomistic Metaphysics. Intended audience: MA, PhD/ThD.

PHST-4501     Thomas on Analogy — Thomas Aquinas makes use of analogical language in the predicamental order of being, and also when speaking about God. This seminar-style course will examine Thomas’s account of analogy, and its varied interpretations in the Thomistic tradition. Reading knowledge of Latin recommended; some texts not available in translation. Intended audience: Phil. and Theol. MA students.

PHST-4600     Plato: Soul and Afterlife — This seminar course will investigate Plato’s account of soul and its activity when separated from the body. We will also look at Plotinus and select Christian authors to assess the impact of Plato’s thought on his successors. Platonic dialogues will include Phaedo, Phaedrus, and selections from Republic. Students will be expected to read and assess books/articles on relevant topics by at least 12 recent scholars. Intended audience: Phil. and Theol. MA students.

PHCE-4720     Bioethics & Person — Technological innovation, and the development of new biomedical technology in particular, has in recent years been the source of some of the most complex and challenging ethical issues and questions. This seminar addresses these ethical questions and examines their relation to consciousness and personal identity. Using the resources of the western philosophical tradition, especially the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, students will examine such issues as brain death and the end of life, the moral status of the unborn and persons in persistent vegetative states (PVS), the humane treatment of animals, the limits of genetic intervention and cloning, artificial enhancement and technological manipulation of the human body (transhumanism). This course, conducted in seminar format, is required for those students participating in the Philosophy Project on person, soul, and consciousness and is intended for MA and PhD students.

PHST-4810     Do We Have Free Will? — It seems hardly possible to lead a meaningful life without assuming the freedom to choose and pursue goals and purposes. Nevertheless, throughout history, this assumption has been challenged, be it by Marxists, psychologists or, more recently, by neurophysiology. Almost all of these challenges to free will are rooted in forms of materialism. Other challenges, however, are religious in nature (predestination). Through the study of key texts, especially Thomas Aquinas, we will try to answer the question, how free will is best understood, and what grounds we have for assuming its existence. We will focus on Aquinas and the history of the problem, and, conclude with the examination of contemporary insights in the light of this history. (MDiv, MA/MTS, PhD/ThD) 

PHST-4811     Does God Exist? — More recently a kind of “evangelical new atheism” has gained momentum and wishes to present a challenge to all those who believe in God or have religion. In response, the case has been made that this atheism is its own kind of religion. In this seminar, however, we do not want to take on the current polemics (although we will not avoid them either), but rather take it as an occasion to revisit the rational resources that are available to people of faith. We will study arguments for and against the existence of God in their historical development and explore their argumentative force. (MDiv, MA/MTS, PhD/ThD) 

PHCE-4820     Contemporary Virtue Ethics — After being eclipsed by deontological and utilitarian approaches to ethics, virtue theory has once again become one of the major normative ethical theories, thanks to a mid-twentieth century revival which included the work of such figures as Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Iris Murdoch, and continued by Martha Nussbaum, Alastair MacIntyre, Rosalind Hursthouse, and Linda Zagzebski. This course will examine the virtues as articulated in the writings of these and other key contemporary figures, as well as compare and contrast these accounts with classic expressions of virtue theory in the works of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Mengzi. Intended audience: MA (Phil. or Theol.) and PhD students.

PHST-4TBD    Revelation — How do we understand the phenomenon and reality of Divine Revelation? How do we differentiate sacred texts that claim to reveal a divine, supernatural, or transcendent reality from ordinary literary works? This course uses the resources of philosophy—including phenomenology, the hermeneutical tradition, and contemporary analytic methodologies—to illuminate the very idea of revelation, its essential attributes, and its relation to various human capacities and experiences. Seminar format. Intended audience: MA, PhD, and advanced MDiv students.

History of Philosophy: Core Courses 

PHHS-1050     History of Philosophy: Ancient — This course will present the history of Greek philosophy from the pre-Socratics to Pseudo-Dionysius. The emphasis will be on Plato and Aristotle. Intended audience: MDiv, MA/MTS. 

PHHS-1051     History of Philosophy: Medieval — This course will focus principally on the development of Christian philosophical theology, emphasizing: Patristic Roots (to 1100), Scholastic Synthesis (1200 to 1325), and Nominalist Critique (1325-1450). Attention will also be given to the reception of Greek, Arab and Jewish learning by the medieval west. Anselm of Canterbury, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Occam will receive special attention. Students will be expected to interpret and discuss such texts orally (proved by participation in class discussions) and analyze and interpret them in writing (proved by written examinations). 

PHHS-2000     History of Philosophy: Modern — The class will give an overview of the development of Western philosophy from Descartes and Bacon to Schopenhauer. This will include Continental Rationalism, British Empiricism, Kant and German Idealism. (MDiv, MA/MTS, PhD/ThD) 

PHHS-2001     Contemporary Philosophy — Lecture on late 19th and 20th-century philosophy: beginning with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, we will treat pragmatism, phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, analytic philosophy, structuralism, postmodernism, deconstruction and leading criticism of the same. The lecture is designed to give an overview and is open to questions and discussion. 

History of Philosophy: Elective Courses 

PHHS-4011     Thomas on Nicomachean Ethics — What is happiness, is happiness the same for everyone and in every human community, can perfect happiness ever be acquired? These questions are asked in every generation. We will undertake a careful reading of Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle’s Ethics not merely to see his appreciation of Aristotle, but to examine Thomas’s understanding of moral good and evil of all human acts. Aristotle’s text and the Commentary are quite long so only selected texts will be analyzed. We will focus on happiness, the formation of virtue in Aristotle and Thomas and the need of friendship for human flourishing. 

PHHS-4020     Plato — Reading and discussion of selected dialogues in English translation. Emphasis is on developing a strategy for reading the dialogues based on the contemporary assessment of their literary forms and their function within the Academy.

PHHS-4903     Patristics — In this lecture/discussion course students will explore the development of Christian theology over the first centuries of the history of the Church. After considering the contribution of the earlier apologists and Apostolic Fathers, we will introduce the major pre-Nicene Fathers: Origen, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement. In the second part of the semester, we will explore the Trinitarian and Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th century, charting the emergence of Nicene and Chalcedonian orthodoxy through the writings of Athanasios, the Cappadocians, and Cyril of Alexandria. Particular attention will also be devoted to the development of liturgical and sacramental practice.

PHCE-4500     Aristotle’s Commentators — This seminar course will explore the developments in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Philosophy by investigating how key thinkers from these traditions offered commentary on Aristotle’s ethical writings as they formulated their own philosophical ideas. We will examine in particular the ethical works of these major figures and to place these theories into dialog with contemporary virtue ethics. The course serves as an advanced study in ethical theory and the three religious traditions. Students will be required to lead class discussions, design a class presentation, and complete a research paper. 

PHHR-4100    Philosophy of Religion: India & West — The religions of East and West claim different experiences of an Ultimate Reality and with that, different conceptions of the Divine in their theologies. Between them, both claim varying answers to fundamental human questions, such as the problem of evil, sin and suffering, the nature of the human personhood and its destiny or purpose within the larger cosmological picture. Both East and West also employ philosophical concepts to argue for and against the existence and nature of God or the Transcendent, and of the soul, and understand with overlaps and differences the puzzles of divine action in the universe and history (e.g. via miracles, direct intervention, incarnation, and salvific telos), as well as questions of truth, theodicy and atonement. This Seminar will be an in-depth comparative study of these philosophical theologies, with a focus on Judeo-Christian and India’s Dharma traditions. 

PHRA-4321     Philosophical Aesthetics I — Aesthetics has become a major field of philosophical investigation only since the 18th century, particularly since Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment. Nevertheless, this class will not neglect the earlier classical tradition with its metaphysical framework, and we will discuss what has gotten lost without it. Aesthetics explores the important question of value judgments in aesthetics. It also leads philosophy to investigate very concrete phenomena and problems such as the structure of the human mind and the concrete materials of art and music, as well as history and society in so far as they are reflected in art. This class will try to bridge the typical gap between abstract reflection and concrete phenomena in aesthetics. The first semester will focus on the philosophy of art and beauty in general; the following semester will explore the concrete fields of architecture, painting, music and literature. Intended audience: MDiv, MA/MTS, PhD/ThD.

PHRA-4322     Philosophical Aesthetics II — Aesthetics has become a major field of philosophical investigation since the 18th century, particularly since Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment. This class will, however, try to integrate these insights with older metaphysical traditions of talking about art and beauty. Aesthetics does not only explore the important question of value judgments in aesthetics. It also leads philosophy into the investigation of very concrete phenomena and problems: the structure of the human mind and the concrete materials of art and music, but also the society and its problems that are reflected therein. Nevertheless, philosophy and the arts find it difficult to talk to each other. This class will try to bridge the gap. The first part will focus on the philosophy of beauty in general. This second semester will explore the concrete fields of architecture, painting, music and literature. Intended audience: MDiv, MA/MTS, PhD/ThD. Prerequisite: Philosophical Aesthetics I

PHST-4TBD    God After the Death of God — In The Gay Science, Nietzsche famously declared (through his literary invention, “the madman”)the death (murder!) of God. This declaration has often been closely link to the presumptive end of metaphysics. How ought people of faith, believers, respond to such pronouncements? What forms of faith and religious life are possible in a secularized world? This class will explore possible answers to these question by looking at the writings of great religious thinkers of the last two centuries, including such literary and spiritual giants as St. John Henry Newman, Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, St. Therese of Lisieux, G.K. Chesterton, Gabriel Marcel, and Flannery O'Connor. Seminar format. Intended audience: MA, PhD, and advanced MDiv students.

PHST-4TBD    Between Phenomenology and Theology — In his provocative essay, “Phenomenology and the Theological Turn,” Dominique Janicaud famously declared that contemporary French phenomenology had abandoned phenomenology for theology. While his conclusions may be disputed, what is certain is that within the last half century, phenomenologists in France have produced a variety of rich and fruitful writings reflecting on the nature and shape of religious experience. This course will explore the work of these French phenomenologists, including Derrida, Marion, Henry, Chretien, Lacoste, Falque, and Romano. This course presumes some familiarity with the phenomenological tradition. Recommended prerequisite: Contemporary Philosophy (PH 2001) or an equivalent introduction to contemporary philosophy. Seminar format. Intended audience: MA (Phil. or Theol.) and PhD students.

PHST-4TBD    Atheism, New and Old — In 2006, Richard Dawkins published The God Delusion. What was remarkable about this book was not its arguments, its use of science, or its militant (indeed, rather shrill) insistence on the superiority of atheism to any theistic position, but rather its enthusiastic reception and powerful impact on popular culture and thinking. This course takes a close look at the “New Atheism,” the work of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and their allies, along with a broad sampling of the “Old Atheists,” such as Freud, Marx, Nietzsche and Sartre. Though avowed opponents of religion in general and Christianity in particular, these thinkers can be seen as unwitting allies to a thoughtful articulation and living out of the Christian faith (and other forms of belief). Seminar format. Intended audience: MA, PhD, and MDiv students.

PHST-4TBD    From Dionysius to Derrida — Contemporary postmodern philosophers such as Derrida, Foucault, Levinas, and Deleuze have rekindled an interest in negative theology by comparing their own philosophies of difference and deconstruction to the linguistic strategies of apophatic theologians. Negative theology, that approach to God which focuses on saying what God is not, itself has a rich and varied history. This course will explore key figures in this theological tradition, including Plotinus, Proclus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, Pseudo-Dionysius, Maimonides, Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, and the author of the Cloud of Unknowing, as well as key themes such as God’s transcendence, divine mystery, analogical language, and the limitations of human knowledge. We will then turn to how this tradition has been appropriated and transformed by contemporary thinkers. Seminar format. Intended audience: MA, PhD, and advanced MDiv students.

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