|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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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