Phil 439: Faith and Reason
Home page: http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos
texts, notes, and papers----Presentation
Purpose of Course:
The purpose of this course is to examine some key theoretical issues
concerning faith and reason. Among these issues are: the nature of faith,
the nature of intellectual inquiry, the role of affection in intellectual
inquiry, the main competing accounts of intellectual inquiry and of the
philosophical life. Among the authors to be read are St. Thomas Aquinas
(opening sections of the Summa Theologiae and Summa Contra Gentiles,
parts of the treatise on faith from Summa Theologiae 2-2), Plato (Phaedo
and a small section of the Republic), Descartes (first three parts of Discourse
on Method), Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,
Part IV, chaps 16-21), Kant ("What is Enlightenment?"), Hume (parts 1, 11, and 12 of Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion), Mill (chapters
2 and 3 of On Liberty), Nietzsche (excerpts from Beyond Good
and Evil), Newman (Oxford University Sermons 7, 10, 11, and 13), Chesterton
(chapters 2-4 of Orthodoxy), and Pope John Paul II, encyclical Fides
Texts: I have ordered the following texts
for the course, even though some of them are available on the web:
Plato, Phaedo (Hackett Publishing Co.)
Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method (Hackett Publishing Co.)
David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Hackett Publishing
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (Hackett Publishing Co.)
Pope John Paul II, On the Relationship between Faith and Reason
(Fides et Ratio) (Daughters of St. Paul)
In addition, the other works are available from the course website--just
click right here.
- Participation: This consists of two things:
(a) You must submit to me by email, before 9:00AM on each class day, a
question/comment based on the readings assigned for that day.
I expect the questions/comments to be well thought
out and well articulated. They will serve as a partial
guide for our class discussion on the day in question. (I pay
attention to the quality of these questions in determining the
participation component of the grade.)
(b) Active and intelligent participation in seminar discussions.
In general, student initiative and signs of self-motivation will
be rewarded in this course.
- Short paper.
You are required to write a short paper, 6-7 page paper, on an
assigned topic, to be handed in on the last class day before fall break.
Term Paper. You are required to write a 10-12 page paper, worth
50% of the course grade. A 2-3 page proposal, plus outline, is to be submitted
for approval on or before ; the paper itself is to be handed in
on or before the last class day, . See below
for more details.
Week 1 (1/17): Introduction to faith and reason
Reading: Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, Introduction and Chaps.
Weeks 2-4 (1/22-2/7): St. Thomas on the nature of faith
Reading for 1/22 and 1/24: Summa Theologiae 2-2, ques. 1-4 (from
Reading for 1/29 and 1/31: Summa Theologiae 2-2, ques. 5-9 and 16
(from Treatise on Faith)
Reading for 2/5 and 2/7: Summa Theologiae 2-2, ques. 10 and 15 (from
Week 5 (2/12-2/14): Plato on philosophy as a way of life and the nature
of philosophical inquiry
Reading: Plato, Phaedo, esp. 57A-70B, 82C-85E, and 88C-91C; Republic,
471C-505B; Fides et Ratio, Chap. 3
Week 6 (2/19-2/21): St. Thomas on the nature of Christian philosophical
Reading: Summa Theologiae 1, ques. 1; Fides et Ratio,
Chap. 5, ##49-51 and ##57-63, and Chap. 6, 64-74
Week 7 (2/26-2/28): St. Thomas on faith and natural reason
Reading: Summa Contra Gentiles 1, chaps. 1-9; Fides et Ratio,
Chap. 4, ##36-44 and Chap. 6, ##75-79
Week 8 (3/5-3/7): Kant and Descartes: Modernism and the nature of enlightenment
Reading: Kant, "What is Enlightenment?"; Descartes, Discourse
on Method, parts 1-3; Fides et Ratio, Chap. 4, ##45-48 and Chap.
Week 9 (3/19-3/21): Locke: Reason, assent, and faith
Reading: Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book IV,
Week 10 (3/26-28): Mill: Individuality and freedom of thought
Reading: Mill, On Liberty, chaps. 1-3
Week 11 (4/2-4/4): Hume: Pragmatism as the progeny of pessimism about
Reading: Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Parts I, XI,
and XII; Gary Gutting, Pragmatic Liberalism and the Critique of Modernity,
Week 12 (4/9-4/11-4/18): Nietzsche: Postmodern nihilism as the progeny
of cynicism about reason
Reading: Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Preface and Parts 2, 3,
and 6 (maybe 9 as well)
Week 13 (4/23-4/25): Newman: Reprise on faith and reason
Reading: Newman, Oxford Sermons 7, 10, 11, and 13; Fides et Ratio,
Chap. 7, ##80-91 and Conclusion
Week 14 (4/30-5/2): Chesterton: The mania of modernism and the suicide
Reading: Chesterton, Orthodoxy, chaps. 2 and 3
The so-called "short paper" is a 5-7 page paper due on the last class
day before spring break, viz., October 15. You will be given a
choice of articles to write about. Your assignment is (a)
concisely and yet thoroughly the main claims and arguments made by
the author, making clear how St. Thomas enters into the picture, and
(b) to raise well thought-out and articulated questions for future
The main project for this course is a 10-12
paper which is to
be submitted on or before the last class day (December 11); a 2-3 page
is due on or before November 12. In what follows I will try to give you
clear indication of what I am looking for in both the paper and the
- Comments about the paper:
- The topic of the paper should be
connected in some
recognizable way with our readings and discussions. You may
discussion of some point discussed in class, aided by other sources in
St. Thomas or someone else. You might pick
work of St. Thomas's (e.g., a chapter or two from Summa
Contra Gentiles or a question or article from one of the
disputed questions such as De Anima
or De Malo
or De Potentia Dei)
and zero in on
some topic that is prominent in
work, as long as we have at least touched upon it in class. There
other possibilities as well. But I want you to be wrestling with
the Summa texts and others,
either of St. Thomas or other authors, that turn out to be relevant.
- The paper is a fairly long one, and so you will
plan it carefully.
I expect the paper to move forward at well-marked junctures instead of
merely talking around one or another point in order to fill space. I
do not want a paper consisting primarily of loosely connected
about some topic. Further, every paper must begin with an
that tells the reader exactly what you mean to do in the paper and how
each section of the paper is related in general to your topic.
- I expect the paper to be stylistically
grammatically beyond reproach.
I will take off for sloppy sentence-structure, misspellings, dangling
etc. Proofreading is absolutely essential.
- Comments about the proposal:
- The proposal should contain two parts, viz., a narrative
and an outline.
The narrative should be a two-page (or so)
description of the
or interpretation you wish to defend and of the steps by which you will
defend it. In order to write this sort of narrative you already have to
have a fairly detailed idea of what you want to do and the series of
by which you propose to do it. In general, your strategy must be to
a logical sequence of steps which will correspond to the main divisions
of the paper.
- The outline that accompanies
the narrative should
clear the main divisions and subdivisions in the text. This outline
include more than just the three or four main headings; I want to see
subheadings within each of those main divisions, so that I will have a
reasonably clear idea of how the paper is supposed to progress.
I encourage you to try your ideas out on one another and I
encourage you to consult with me before the proposal deadline if you
it will be helpful--either after class or by making an appointment to
me at some other time.