Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spring Semester Classes

After a lengthy layoff, the spring semester begins on Monday. Here are the classes I'll be taking:

History of Philosophy: Medieval -- The riveting sequel to "History of Philosophy: Ancient," which I took last semester. This one's taught by Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP, who taught me in Aristotelian Logic. This course will cover the movement in the Western philosophical tradition from the classical and late antique world to Christendom and the "scholastic" system of philosophy which dominated in the 12th through 14th centuries. We'll also talk about parallel movements in Jewish and Muslim philosophy, especially those which impacted scholasticism. (After all, Western Europe recovered the texts of Plato and Aristotle largely thanks to the Muslim scholars who had preserved, studied, and commented on them. Just as St. Thomas shows his respect by referring to Aristotle simply as "The Philosopher" and St. Paul as "The Apostle," the Muslim philosopher Averroes is referred to by Aquinas as "The Commentator.") I've always appreciated medieval philosophy for its sound methodology, particularly its insistence on considering all sides of a question when answering it. I look forward to sharing more about this class with y'all.

Philosophical Anthropology -- The exciting follow-up to "Philosophy of Nature," also taught by Fr. Michael Dodds, OP. Where Philosophy of Nature gave us the Aristotelian-Thomistic account of change in the natural world, this course will give us the Aristotelian-Thomistic account of the human person. What's a person made of? What makes a human being a human being? We'll be using a lot of the same categories of form and matter, substance and accident, act and potency, that we did in the last class, I'm sure.

Metaphysics -- The very name of this class often sends chills down the spine. It can seem so intimidating: "the philosophy of being." What is the nature of being? What is the relationship between essence and existence? Not a few people would respond to these questions with a blank stare and a "Huh?" not even sure what the questions asks, let alone what the answer is. I'm hopeful that Dr. Marga Vega will help sort some of these things out.

Patristic Spirituality -- This class is being taught over at the Jesuit School of Theology, another school within the GTU. As much as we might like to poke fun at "The J" (as I'm sure they do us), I've heard nothing but good things about this professor, Dr. Thomas Cattoi. (You may perhaps remember his name: he was one of the presenters for the panel the school held last December on Pope Benedict's new book.) This class will focus on the spiritual theology of some of the Eastern church fathers (that is, important and influential clerics and theologians who lived in the first several centuries of the Church). In particular, we'll investigate the concept of "apotheosis," Greek for (very, VERY roughly) "becoming God-like." The goal, or end, or telos, or final cause of the Christian life is for the Christian to grow in relationship with God so that the Christian participates more and more fully in God's own life. The old patristic saying goes: "God became man so that man might become God"--not in a pantheistic, "raindrop absorbed in the ocean" kind of way, but in a participatory way. I sure hope I'll be able to explain it better as the semester goes on.

I am, as the kids say, totally stoked for these classes! Can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. Lookin' forward to it, me lad. And I think you did a very nice job of expaining the titles, or expected content of these upcoming classes. (I wasn't even temped to nod off). grin.
    Grandpa Jake