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McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies

Program in philosophical studies


The Ralph McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies will offer a three-year program in philosophical studies that will provide a wide-ranging introduction to classical philosophy.  This program will consist of six courses over three years (during the fall and spring semesters), each course consisting of 6 or 7 two-hour sessions, including lectures and time for discussion.


This program is intended for generally educated citizens who wish to develop a deeper grounding in philosophy.  No previous formal study in philosophy is required.  Our goal is to provide people with sound philosophical “tools” that will help them to evaluate and form judgments about problems and issues facing them and their fellow citizens, drawing especially on the ethics and metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas.


Our first course will be an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. We will begin September 27, 2006 (Wednesday) from 7 to 9 p.m., at the McInerny Center office at 616 E Street, NW, Suite 1214. Short recommended readings will be provided online, along with suggestions for further reading.


Classes will be taught by Fulvio Di Blasi (University of Palermo), Joshua Hochschild (Mt. St. Mary’s College), Ralph McInerny (University of Notre Dame), Christopher Wolfe (Marquette University) and other Visiting Professors.


Cost of enrolling: $ 100.00 per course ($ 50.00 for students).  Some tuition grants are available.  To register contact the Center at 202-393-7777 or at mcinerny_center@verizon.net.



First course - fall 2006

I.  Philosophy, the Beginning

1. 9/27:  Birth of Philosophy.  Naturalists and Eleatics.  Purpose and Goal of Philosophical Studies.

2. 10/11: Sophists and Socrates.  The Beginning of Moral Philosophy.

3. 10/25: Plato: Theory of Ideas, Second Navigation, and Knowledge as Remembering.. Myth, Faith and Reason.

4. 11/8 : Plato: Philosophy as “Training for Dying.”  The Human Soul.  The Meaning of Life.

5. 11/15: Aristotle: Logic, Physics, and Theory of Knowledge.

6. 11/29: Aristotle: Metaphysics, Ethics, and Politics.

7. 12/13: Hellenistic Philosophy (Epicureans, Stoics, Skeptics), and Neoplatonism.



Second course - spring 2007

II.  Philosophy through the Ages

1. 1/31: Medieval Philosophy.

2. 2/14: Augustine.

3. 2/28: Scholasticism.

4. 3/21: Aquinas.

5. 4/11: Early Modern Philosophy.

6. 4/25: Modern Philosophy.

7. 5/9: Contemporary Philosophy.



Third course - fall 2007

III.  Basic Principles in Natural Philosophy and Logic

1. 9/19: The structure of logic (three parts, its relation to the rest of philosophy).

2. 9/26: On the Categories - substance, accident, "the problem of universals".

3. 10/10: Scientific and Dialectical Reasoning (Posterior Analytics, Topics).

4. 10/24: Physics - motion, the four causes.

5. 11/7: Physics - the four causes (cont.), the first cause.

6. 11/28: On the soul - its definition.

7. 12/5: On the soul - its powers.



FOURTH course - spring 2008

IV.  Basic Principles in Metaphisics

1. 2/27: What is Metaphysics? -preliminaries from logic and physics; controversy over interpreting Aristotle.

2. 3/12: A science of first principles -the characteristics of a wise man; method of seeking first principles; abstraction.

3. 3/26: The questions of metaphysics -the aporiae, especially concerning the problem of universals and the question of immaterial being.

4. 4/9: A science of being qua being -Analogy of being; real vs. rational being; the real distinction between essence and existence.

5. 4/23: A science of substance -Actuality; Aristotle vs. Plato on form.

6. 5/7: Theology (a science of separate substance).

7. 5/21: Revealed Theology and Metaphysics.



FIFTH course - fall 2008

V.  Basic Principles in Ethics and Political Philosophy

1. 9/17: Moral Philosophy: The Human Good; Man's Ultimate End; The Structure of the Human Act.

2. 9/24: Moral Philosophy: Freedom and Conscience; Habits; Virtues; Pleasure.

3. 10/8: Moral Philosophy: Natural Law; the New Natural Law debate; Utilitarianism and Kantianism.

4. 10/22: Political Philosophy: The Common Good; Authority, Law, Rights; Various Forms of Govt.

5. 10/29: Political Philosophy: Solidarity and Subsidiarity; Human Dignity and Life, Religious Liberty, Education.

6. 11/12: Political Philosophy: Family; Economics, Property, and Work; Foreign Affairs and War.

7. 12/3: Ethics and Politics: Law and Mores: How Regimes Shape People.


SIXTH course - spring 2009

V.  Philosophy in the Public Square: Debating Current Issues

1. 1/28: Law and Morality: What is the Legitimate Scope of Political Power Regarding Issues of “Personal Morality”?

2. 2/11: The Moral and Political Status of Human Life in its Earliest (Embryonic and Pre-Embryonic) Stages.

3. 2/25: Environmental Stewardship and Agriculture: Ethical Principles for Relating to Non-Human Life.

4. 3/11: The Death Penalty: Human Dignity and Capital Punishment.

5. 3/25: The Family in Public Policy: Families Ideal and Actual, and What Should Government Do?

6. 4/15: Immigratration.

7. 4/29: Homosexuality and Public Policy.




First course

Second course

Third course

Fourth course

Fifth course

Sixth course