|Aristotle and Neoplatonism|
The thousand-year history of Greek Philosophy ends with Neoplatonism, which in turn makes possible a transition to Christianity as the intellectual carrier of Western thought and culture. One of the most fascinating aspects of Neoplatonism is its enormous debt to Aristotle and his followers. At the same time, Neoplatonists consciously rejected Aristotelian claims of supplanting Plato and Platonism. Yet we may say in retrospect that Neoplatonism is in some ways “neo-Aristotelianism”. This seminar will take as its objective to understand Aristotle’s great but little understood influence on Neoplatonism and through it on Christian intellectualism.
|Questions of Biblical Theology I-II-III: How to conceive biblical inspiration today?|
Some tenets of the biblical world have been seriously challenged recently. This course wants to explore three topics that seemed clearer in the past but that need rethinking or further thinking today because of recent scholarship or new conditions.
Inspiration. All believers and most scholars would still admit that they believe in the inspiration of scriptures. But how is it to be conceived in a way that is acceptable for contemporary believers and scholars? All the ancient models fall short and are unsatisfying, so that new ones must emerge.
|Contemporary Philosophy of Mind|
This course aims at familiarizing students with seminal topics present in the contemporary philosophy of mind debate. The course will be divided into two parts. Part One will focus on the notion of consciousness as presented by such philosophers as Thomas Nagel, Daniel Dennett, David Chalmers, Paul Churchland, Sydney Shoemaker, Derek Parfit, Maria Schetchman, and Daniel Stoljar. In this part of the course, students will be exposed to the theory of qualia, the explanatory gap, the nature of intentionality, and reductionism with regards to personal identity. Part Two will deal with the theories surrounding the mind-body/mind-brain debate, namely dualism, behaviorism, the identity theory, mental causation, and functionalism.
|Current Issues in Ethics|
This course serves as a general introduction to contemporary debates in applied ethics. Readings will address a variety of current ethical issues facing society. After introducing some widely used moral frameworks (utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics), students will apply the ethical concepts and principles they have learned to real-world situations and concerns, such as end of life care, environmental ethics, hate speech, and privacy. The aim is to enrich understanding of ethics through its practical application, and to fairly weigh and balance ethical perspectives.
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?” This famous line uttered by Nietzsche’s madman captures an idea that resonates throughout existentialist thought – even if God exists, His existence cannot be presupposed as a premise, and cannot be proven by rational means. Consequently, the re-valuation of all values – how we are to find meaning and purpose in our existence, and how we are to determine how we ought to live – becomes one of the most pressing issues for modern humankind. The goal of existentialism was to avoid slipping into nihilism when confronted with the death of God. In this course, we will consider what it means to be free and the weight of our responsibility for our choices and actions (1) in the absence of an objective, transcendent, pre-determined morality and (2) in the presence of others. Philosophers covered will include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre and Beauvoir.
Hegel’s systematic approach to philosophy earned him the title of being the “German Aristotle.” Few philosophers in the past two hundred years have had as much influence on philosophy and intellectual culture in general as Hegel. Through a careful reading of parts of the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences and some other major Hegelian texts students will learn how he transformed modern philosophy in terms of its approach to logic, critical theory, history, and the social sciences in general. In this course students will learn to identify and explain key concepts in Hegel’s dialectico-speculative philosophy. By the end of the course students will be acquainted with Hegel’s basic concepts of logical and mental development, In addition, students will learn how to explain the principal features of Hegel’s political philosophy as well as identify his unique views on aesthetics or his philosophy of fine art, his understanding of religion as fundamentally figurative representation, and how and why he thought philosophy stands at the pinnacle of absolute mind.
|Holiness, Sanctity and Saint-Making : A Catholic Exploration|
What are the Scriptural, theological and canonical definitions of holiness? What were the different models of sanctity through the ages? Who decides who is worthy of being proclaimed a saint? From martyr to mystic and ascetic to activist, variations of holiness will be examined in relation to the regions, periods, and interests that shaped them. The course provides both a chronological and an interdisciplinary overview of sanctity from the New Testament to the present. Through preparatory readings and class lectures, the students will develop knowledge on these different aspects, which they will deepen by researching and reporting to the class on a specific saint, and by writing a research paper on a specific topic of their choice.
|Medieval, modern and contemporary theological debates on the idea of ”God”|
For a long time, thinking and naming “God” has been the subject of debate, discussion, and philosophical and theological choices. After centuries of working to do this, various types of atheism have come to proclaim the non-existence of this “God”. The course intends to introduce these questions and place them in their historical contexts, both ecclesial, social and intellectual. This course will do so starting from three important modern ideas: “personal God”, God as “the Absolute” and God as “All Other”.
|Justice in Thomas Aquinas II|
This is part II of our reflection on Thomas Aquinas’ treatment of the question of Justice. We will explore this theme in light of contemporary philosophical schools. The course aims to broaden our philosophical canvas on the concept of Justice.
This course will study: the transformations of the ancient heritage (Saint Augustine, the pseudo-Dionysius, Boethius); the leading thinkers and schools of the XIth and XIIth centuries; the translations of Aristotelian, Arab and Jewish works; the high points of Scholasticism in the XIIIth century (Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus); and Ockham’s nominalism, in the XIVth century.
|Philosophy of Emancipation: Upheavals, Insurrections and Revolutions III (contemporary propositions)|
Beginning from the conclusions of the seminars from the past two years, this semester we will explore propositions from contemporary authors concerning “upheavals”, “insurrections” and “revolution”. How can we think about the difference between these three types of events? How can philosophical propositions help to understand them as they are happening in “democratic” regimes?
|Plato’s Parmenides, Sophist, and Philebus|
This seminar is a close examination of the dialectical exercises contained in Plato’s Parmenides that could emanate from a one-sided treatment of either the one or the many. Generally considered by the ancient Greek philosophers as Plato’s most insightful and yet enigmatic dialogue, it has continued to defeat well settled interpretations into modern times. The first part of the seminar will primarily focus on the philosophical and historical context of the dialogue. The second part is a detailed consideration of the individual negative and positive hypotheses in the second section of the Parmenides. The primary teaching approach for this course is lecture based. Students will be expected to do class presentations and submit a final paper at the end of the semester. At the end of the course, students should be able to identify a cluster of problems with respect to the status of the one and the many, vis-à-vis positive and negative outcomes and the implications of these outcomes for Plato’s theory of forms. Students are expected to demonstrate their ability to engage with Plato’s philosophy by means of seminar presentations, dialogue, and the submission of written work.
|Readings in Modern Philosophy (16th – 19th Centuries)|
The objective of this course is to encourage students to learn to read Modern philosophical texts in a systematic way. Such a process is painstaking at first, but it has many advantages. A student who learns to follow closely the thoughts of a great thinker will be less dependent on secondary sources of opinion.
|The Spirituality of John Henry Newman|
John Henry Newman (1801–1890), who was canonized in 2019, understood the English culture of his time and proposed a new approach to the Christian faith. He combined, in his life, an acute sense of God’s presence and fine theological thinking. So, the goal of this course is to examine and be nourished by his spirituality.
Book to purchase: John Henry Newman: Selected Sermons, edited, with an Introduction by Ian Ker (New York: Paulist Press, 1994).
Additionally, a few short excerpts from Newman’s writings will be electronically sent to students.