Academics

Available Courses

TitleDescription
Ancient Greek Philosophy

This course is divided into four parts. 1) The Pre-Socratics: a discussion beginning with the Ionians, moving to Parmenides and Heraclitus, and touching upon the Atomists, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Pythagoreans, and the Sophists. 2) Socrates and Plato. 3) Aristotle (and touching upon the Stoics, Cynics, Epicureans). 4) Neo-Platonism. Most attention is paid to Plato and Aristotle.

Aristotle

An introduction to the philosophy of Aristotle through a reading of selected texts representing his wide-ranging interests in psychology, logic, physics, metaphysics ethics, and politics.

Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Aristotle’s Metaphysics, while one of the most celebrated and commented upon of all philosophical works, remains mostly unread and problematic for moderns. Central to Later Greek and Medieval philosophers and theologians (notably Plotinus and Aquinas), the work, if considered at all, tends to be thought incidental to modern thinking. Members of this seminar can reasonably be expected to work at analyzing and synthesizing this text (or at least parts of it) as an ancient might do, while trying to understand how ancient metaphysics might provide some needful ballast to our modern voyage. Presentation of background material, dialectical discussion and considerations of important commentators should occur when feasible.

Note: This course is bilingual, however, the language of instruction will be English.

Church History: First Millenium

This course will explore different topics in order to better understand the birth and development of the Church during its first twelve centuries. While emphasizing the Catholic Church, the course will also consider Eastern Christian traditions, as well as the birth of Islam and its effect on Christianity.

Epistemology

Knowledge —its nature, status, conditions and limits— has always been a fundamental issue in Philosophy. Considering the problem as stated in ancient Philosophy, this course explores some of the main views of knowledge in modern and contemporary traditions. Special attention will be paid to Hume’s sceptical position and to the ensuing responses, notably in Kant and in analytical Philosophy.

Ethics and Economics

Ethics is an important component of contemporary business life, as well as in the long history of commerce and trade. This course explores the role and place of ethics in modern business organizations. There are many ways to consider ethics in business. Laws, regulations, codes of ethics and deontology provide a framework for decision-making and action, but as business persons, we are faced with problems and situations that require our moral deliberation and judgement, relying on our recognition of moral values, rules and obligations. The course will cover both ethics codes, frameworks, programs found in the business world and ethical decision-making in business, based on principles and values.

Ethics I

This course proposes a study of the main alternatives in ethics today, especially concerned with the following questions: what is really important in life? What is ultimately the right way of living? How can we become better equipped to distinguish between right and wrong? What are the main concepts which operate in the different ethical theories? Examples and cases from applied ethics.

History of the Church I : The Early and Medieval Church

From Pentecost to the Crusades: A Church is Born! This course will survey the first twelve centuries of Church history. Through preparatory readings and class lectures, the students will explore different topics to better understand the emergence of the Church and its development. While the focus will be on the Catholic Church, the Eastern Church traditions and the birth of Islam and its effect on Christian history will also be explored. Students will attend a service in an Eastern-tradition Church, write a report and present it in class. They will also acquaint themselves with a particular topic or an important spiritual text through research and the writing of a paper.

Introduction to Philosophy

This course will initiate students into the universe of philosophers and philosophy through the study of fundamental texts of the Western philosophical traditions. The emphasis will be on the study of the nature, scope and necessity of philosophical inquiry as an intellectual endeavour, distinct from other disciplines, namely theology and science. We will also discuss some philosophical problems, such as human knowledge and freedom.

Justice in Thomas Aquinas II: Faith and Knowledge, a Trapped Problem

This seminar, starting from the recent work by J. Habermas (“Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie”: published this autumn in French and I hope soon in English) and which is structured by this problematic (the subtitle says it: “Die okzidentale Konstellation von Glauben und Wissen”), will offer a history and a deconstruction of this theme in the light of texts by Thomas Aquinas leading to another way, often hidden or obliterated in the West, of dealing with these questions.

Logic I

This course is an introduction to symbolic logic. By means of truth tables, consistency trees and derivations, we will study the two fundamental tools for logical calculus: propositional calculus and first order predicate calculus.

Medieval Philosophy

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.

Neoplatonism

The history of Greek philosophy spans a period of roughly a thousand years from the time of the Pre-Socratic to the Neo-Platonists. The last great epoch in Greek philosophy, the Neo-Platonic period, includes such authors as Plotinus, Iamblichus, and Proclus. The Neo-Platonists had an enormous influence on later authors: directly on Augustine, Nicolaus of Cusa, various Renaissance figures, the German idealists, particularly Hegel; and indirectly, through Dionysius the Areopagite, on such figures as Scotus Erigena, and Aquinas. This course will enable students to study Neo-Platonic texts both for themselves and in the context of their influence on later philosophical history.

Philosophical Thought of Thomas Aquinas

In this course, we present (1) the life and works of St. Thomas (the university institutions in XIIIth century Paris, the different types of literary product found among Thomas’s writings and the occasion of their composition), and (2) some major philosophical themes: creation and the possibility of an eternal world; God’s knowledge of things other than himself; the intrinsic coherence of the human being; morality and man the image of God.

Philosophy of action

Philosophers, at least since Socrates and in other traditions as well, have been concerned with human action. One characteristic of the conception of action for many philosophers at least, is that human action is tied to rationality. And the justification of actions in the social sphere depends on the possibility of rationality being assigned to them. So our main problem in philosophy of action will be the meaning and the rationality of action. This will involve considering human beings as rational beings, and to a certain extent, to question this conception of humans (e.g. Freud). We will have to take into account different cultural systems of rationality and values which make difficult the ascription of rationality to certain actions. We will thus be concerned with the philosophical clarification of the concept of action. We will look then at the nature of action, the description of action and the explanation of action, considering intention, motives, deliberation, choice, decision and action.

The course is divided in the following sections:

  1. The concept of action

Free will and determinism: before we can reflect on action as a human phenomenon, we must consider this important philosophical issue. Humans are natural beings, i.e. a part of nature. Therefore, what is the part of natural determinism, the laws of nature, instinct etc, involved in human action? That action has meaning depends on the fact that Man has freedom.

We can then look at human action, and how we talk about it. We will compare different type of explanation of actions and events (reasons, motives, causes) and try to formulate in this way a proper level of explanation of action.

  1. Philosophical sources of the problem of action

We will explore some of the sources of the philosophical conceptions of action by considering the conceptions of human action put forward by Plato and Aristotle, as well as by St-Augustine and St-Thomas. We will also consider modern sources notably in Descartes, Locke and Hume.

  1. The modern concept of action

We will follow the development of the modern concept of action looking at three main perspectives. 1) An hermeneutic conception of action will show the inherent need for the interpretation of action; 2) a (post-) structuralist view of action in society, critical of the hermeneutic view, will emphasize the structures of society as a determining factor in the meaning of action; 3) an analytic conception, which tries to clarify what Ricoeur call “the conceptual network of action”.

Method: The classes will consist principally of presentations by the professor. However, a strong emphasis will be put on discussion and debate.

Material: There is no particular manual for the course. The professor will put the most important texts at the reserve of the college library. Students will be encouraged to pursue research on an aspect of the problem of action which interest them.

Evaluation: 1 term paper, 10-15 pages (60%), on a theme or an author seen in the course. Students are encouraged to meet with the professor in order to choose and define the topic of their essay.

1 take-home written exam (40%).

Philosophy of Art

What is art? An imitation or a transformation or a knowledge of nature? What relationship do the arts have with beauty? How do we form aesthetic judgments? Some of these questions, and others concerning the artist and the work of art, go back to Plato and Aristotle, pass through Kant and Hegel, are taken up by Lukacs or Adorno. They lead to the heart of debates on modernity and the postmodern.

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?

Philosophy of Language and Hermeneutics

It has been pointed out repeatedly that analytic philosophy, especially philosophy of language, and continental philosophy, especially hermeneutics, are incompatible or at least, pass each other like « two ships in the night ». This seminar will examine critically this supposed incompatibility, by confronting discordant voices, e.g. Carnap-Heidegger, Wittgenstein-Ricoeur, McDowell-Gadamer, in order to highlight points of concordance or a space for dialogue.

Plato and Hegel

This seminar is a close examination of Plato’s later dialogues, such as Parmenides, Sophist, and Philebus and G.W.F. Hegel’s interpretation of Plato in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, The Science of Logic, and other texts. The seminar begins with a general consideration of dialectical thinking and the response of speculative philosophy to its specific puzzles and methodological regimes. The seminar will then concentrate on some keys texts in both Plato and Hegel. Students will inquire into the conceptual and logical details of the dialectics of oppositional forms in Plato and Hegel’s particular take on Platonic metaphysics. The latter part of the seminar will investigate these themes from the standpoint of a fourfold theory of metaphysics. 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 and solutions with respect to dialectics, speculative philosophy, and the fourfold as an enduring response to the aporetics of our intellectual tradition. Students are expected to demonstrate their ability to engage with Plato and Hegel, and these related themes in philosophy, by means of seminar presentations, dialogue, and the submission of written work.

Note: This course is bilingual, however, the language of instruction will be English.

Political Philosophy

Politics is both a complex matter of fact, and a moral issue. This course will address both aspects of this fascinating field of human activity. We are concerned with the following questions: beneath the variety of existing political regimes, are there any constant features? Are political groupings the result of a “social contract” or of sheer human nature? Why do we come together as political communities? Is there an ideal form of political community?

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.

The Book of Deuteronomy

Recent exegetical works emphasized the importance of the so-called Deuteronomic school whose literary and theological masterpiece is the book of Deuteronomy. First, this course will introduce at the Deuteronomic movement: its main features and history. Then, it will study the book of Deuteronomy following the usual topics: name, place in the canon, text and versions, plan, author and date, literary devices, and theology.

The Mystery of God

The knowledge that believers can have of God as One and Triune, according to ancient and contemporary thinkers. Idolatry, agnosticism, and atheism. Images of God and the psychological dimension. God as Creator and Providence. Evil, miracles and science.

The Philosophy of Augustine’s Confessions: its Origins and Influence

Saint Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions (published in 397 A.D.) is the author’s intellectual autobiography. So powerfully was it written that it ended the age of Hellenistic Philosophy, and founded the successor age, now called Medieval Philosophy.  Our main goal in this course will be to read and discuss all thirteen chapters of the Confessions. In addition, when possible, we will look at some of the ancient philosophies that influenced Augustine and later philosophies he inspired.

Note: This course is bilingual, however, the language of instruction will be English.

Theological Methods

This course aims to introduce students to theological methods and to support them in the development of their research project. It will consist of three modules. In the first module, students will be introduced to methodology and research work in theology. The other two modules will respectively expose the different methods in the different fields of theology.