Academics

Philosophy Course Descriptions

Click for an explanation of terms and abbreviations used in course descriptions.

The 100- and 200-level courses offer a broad experience, a chance to see and to begin to do philosophy for oneself. Four of these (PHI 101, 102, 201 and 203) form the core requirement for the philosophy major or minor. PHI 202 Apologetics, with its significant logical content, may be substituted in place of PHI 102 for the core requirement.

PHI 101 Introduction to Philosophy. 3 cr.
The Great Conversation! The student is introduced to philosophy in terms of four great landmarks. Wide-ranging reading and extensive discussion of excerpts from the western thinkers, Thales through Heidegger, enable one to begin forming his or her personal philosophical map.
PHI 102 Logic. 3 cr.
"What can be said must be said clearly; what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." Informal, formal, and categorical logic. Experience in extended real life argumentation and philosophical writing. Witgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is surveyed.
PHI 201 Ethics. 3 cr.
"He has shown you, O man, what is good..." How can we lead a truly good life? Ethics defined. Classical sources of the ethical grammar in the western tradition from Plato and Aristotle to Kant, from the Utilitarians to Sarte and Camus. The logic of C.S. Lewis's merely Christian ethic and the Christological ethic of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Case studies provide rhetorical occasions for in-depth discussions of medical ethics, natural law, pornography, religion and morality, sexual morality, and more. Prereq: PHI 101 and 102 are recommended, but not required.
PHI 202 Apologetics. 3 cr.
"Always be prepared to give an apologian, a carefully considered answer, to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." A rigorous introduction to the ministerial use of reason. The thoughtful consideration of select articles of Christian doctrine with a mind toward the philosophical and intellectual character of credal Christianity. Practice in the dialogic possibilities of introducing Christian truth to the educated. Works of 20th-century apologists such as C.S. Lewis. Acquaintance with current resources for evaluating (post-)modern society in light of the Christian worldview.
PHI 203 Philosophy of Human Nature. 3 cr.
What then is Man? One aspect of the course is the contemplation of ten theories of human nature - from Confucianism and Upanishadic Hinduism to Scripture, from Plato and Kant to Marx, Freud and Sartre, behavioral psychology and evolutionary psychology. These theories are critically considered both in terms of philosophy of mind (consciousness and self) and moral philosophy (self and others). A consideration of one or two texts such as Taylor's Sources of the Self comprises a second aspect of this class. Prereq: PHI 101 or instructor approval.

The 300-level philosophy courses provide one with the opportunity for profound and sustained thought and discussion regarding particular periods of philosophy (PHI 310-314) or regarding areas of disciplined inquiry with philosophical roots (PHI 315-319). Under normal circumstances PHI 101 and either 102 or 203 are prerequisite for every 300-level PHI course. For the period studies (Ancient to Contemporary 20th Century Philosophy) the correlatives HIS 111 Western Civilization 1, HIS 112 Western Civilization 2 and HIS 211 Modern Europe are recommended, but not required.

Period Studies

PHI 310 Ancient Philosophy. 3 cr.
"Know yourself!" The Pre-Socratics through a preview of St. Augustine. An exploration of the cosmology, the logic and the ethical theory which has made our western civilization what it is: The limits of human philosophy when God's revelation is ignored. The original freight of concepts in the Greek vocabulary, the language in which the apostles and evangelists wrote the New Testament. The writings of Plato and Aristotle form the core of this experience. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval.
PHI 311 Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy. 3 cr.
"I believe so that I may understand." A generous sampling of writings from the early Christian fathers (such as Justin Martyr) up through the philosophies of Montaigne and Bruno. A detailed investigation of the roles of faith and reason. The philosophy of Augustine and Aquinas are central concerns, as is Etienne Gilson's The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval.
PHI 312 Modern (17th and 18th Century) Philosophy. 3 cr.
"I think, therefore I am." Francis Bacon through Mary Wollstonecraft: Is it good philosophy to make the individual the ground of certainty? Should natural science determine our worldview (metaphysics) or the scientific method our theory of knowledge (epistemology)? This period study is especially concerned with the philosophies of Descartes and Kant. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval.
PHI 313 19th Century German Philosophy. 3 cr.
"The Age of Ideology." An opportunity for a thoughtful student-philosopher to search for "something to help with his or her own intellectual and spiritual perplexities." A philosophy of history. From Kant's Idealism to Fichte, Hegel, and Nietzsche. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval.
PHI 314 Contemporary (20th Century) Philosophy. 3 cr.
What is the character of the Great Conversation today? British and Continental thought from Kierkegaard to Sartre. American philosophy from the turn of the century onward: James, Dewey, and Quine. An extended dialogue treating the Christian's philosophical responsibilities at the turn of the millennium in view of autobiographical writings by men and women who are practicing philosophy as committed theists. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval.

Discipline Studies

PHI 315 Philosophy of Art. 3 cr.
Not every product is art; aesthetics is not mere taste. Gadamer's Truth and Method provides the hermeneutical framework from which this study of aesthetics as hermeneutics proceeds. Topics and texts at such as: Aesthetics; Augustine's De Musica, Kant's Critique of Judgment, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger's "On the Origin of the Working of Art," Scruton's "Art and Imagination"; Neo-Wittgensteinianism, Institutional Theory, Historical Definition of Art. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approva. l ART 400 Contemporary Trends may be substituted for credit in place of this course toward the major or minor requirement.
PHI 316 Philosophy of Science. 3 cr.
Science grew out of philosophy; from time to time she needs to return home. Science shares with philosophy profound concerns with epistemology (theory of knowledge) and metaphysics (investigation into the structure of reality), as part and parcel of its detailed investigations into foundational and interpretative issues concerned within particular scientific fields such as quantum theory and biological process. Typical texts: Newton, Einstein, Husserl's The Crisis of European Sciences, Ayala's "The Concept of Biological Process", Poincare, Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism". Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval. PHY 110 Concepts in Physics may be substituted for credit in place of this course toward the major or minor requirement.
PHI 317 Philosophy of Law. 3 cr.
Law has been a central philosophical concern since the time of the Greeks. Is morality, rule and government derived from a law-governed cosmic order, or is law merely a matter of custom? Natural law, positivistic law, the roles of reason and will in the discovery and formation of law. Textual sources may include: Stoicism, Locke, Mill, H.L.A. Hart, John Finnis. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval. POL 321 Natural Law and Freedom may be substituted for credit in place of this course toward the major or minor requirement.
PHI 318 Philosophies of Eastern Peoples. 3 cr.
The naïveté of the traditional presupposition of a dichotomy between Eastern and Western thinking ("Oriental thought is spiritual, introverted, synthetic and subjective; whereas Occidental thought is materialistic, extroverted, analytic and objective.") has become apparent in our global age. Beginning from a consideration of Eastern antecedents to familiar Western philosophies, this course entails a preliminary examination of the distinctives and commonalities between Western philosophies and Eastern, entailing topics and texts representative of Indian, Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese ways of thinking. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval. THE 413 World Religions may be substituted for credit in place of this course toward the major or minor requirement.
PHI 319 Philosophy of Christ and Culture. 3 cr.
"What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?" A philosophical consideration of Christology. The philosophical freight of the ecumenical creeds. Philosophy's apologetic role in the light of modern insouciance toward special revelation and postmodern incredulity toward all metanarratives. Prereq: PHI 101 and either PHI 102 or 203, or instructor approval.

The 400-level courses are, as a rule, intended for upper level students of recognized ability and commitment as demonstrated by the successful completion of the core PHI courses and at least one 300-level course. Each of these classes features high expectations for philosophical literacy and rigorous dialogic participation.

PHI 401 Metaphysics. 3 cr.
"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Time, Identity, Mind, Freedom, Knowing Reality. Hiedegger's Introduction to Metaphysics. A brief introduction to the metaphysics of Rahner, Ortega, and Levinas. Metaphysical realism and metaphysical idealism are contemplated. Prereq: PHI 101, 102 (or 202), 201, 203, and a 300-level course, or discipline approval. 
PHI 402 Philosophy of Religion. 3 cr.
"So then, men are without excuse." The defining, exploring, and examining of the recognized arguments for God's existence. A study of theistic argumentation by way of primary sources, ancient and modern. Traditional definitions of God's attributes, His foreknowledge and His providence. The Problem of Evil receives rigorous attention. Prereq: PHI 101, 102 (or 202), 201, 203, and a 300-level course, or discipline approval. 
PHI 403 Advanced Studies Seminar: Great Philosophers. 3 cr.
This course is a full-semester, intensive examination of the works of one of the great philosophers such as (but not limited to) Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Hume and Kant. The philosopher is announced by the discipline. This course may be repeated for credit. Prereq: PHI 101, 102 (or 202), 201, 203, and a 300-level course, or discipline approval. 
PHI 404 Advanced Studies Seminar: Selected Philosophical Topics. 3 cr.
This course is a full-semester, intensive examination of one significant philosophical topic such as (but not limited to): existentialism, feminist philosophy, philosophy of literature, political philosophy, analytic philosophy (Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein; Quine, Davidson, Rorty) and philosophical hermeneutics. The topic is announced by the discipline. This course may be repeated for credit. Prereq: PHI 101, 102 (or 202), 201, 203, and a 300-level course, or discipline approval. 
PHI 480 Philosophy Colloquium. 3 cr.
This capstone course provides philosophy majors with an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of their philosophical training by addressing the question of how the theories of the Western philosophical tradition can be articulated in a reflective conception so as to live one's life in service to God and one's neighbors, intellectually and practically. The study is suitable for the final semester, or - with disciplinary permission only - for the penultimate semester of the philosophy major's undergraduate work and normally culminates in the production and oral presentation / defense of a philosophy thesis. Prereq: successful completion of all but the final semester of courses required for the major or instructor approval.
PHI 490 Philosophy Internship / Apprenticeship. 3 cr.
By arrangement with the discipline. Prereq: declaration of Philosophy major or minor, or INT major with a significant philosophical component, or instructor approval, normally resulting in a written Philosophy paper.
PHI 199-499 Independent Study. 3 cr.
By arrangement with the discipline. Prereq: core courses and at least one 300-level course, or instructor approval.