St. Peter's Seminary
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Wednesday 1:30 - 4:30 PM
St. Peter's Seminary, Room 108

INSTRUCTOR:  John B. Killoran, Ph.D.
519-432-1824, ext. 205

Office Hours:  St. Peter's Seminary, Room 327 on Wednesday 11:00 am - 12:00 pm or by appointment.


An introduction to philosophy, particularly for first-year students. Emphasis will be placed on questions that highlight philosophy as the study of wisdom such as: What is the purpose of life? What is knowledge? What is the origin of things? The course will examine philosophical wisdom in four phases: (i) its beginnings in ancient Greece, especially in the thought of Plato; (ii) its appropriation by such Christian thinkers as St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and St. Thomas Aquinas; (iii) its decline in the early modern period commencing with Descartes and culminating in Hume; and (iv) the consequences of this decline for the pursuit of wisdom today.


This course will assist students to grow in the following knowledge, skills and attitudes.

What Should Students Know:

- To understand the positions and arguments of each of the philosophers studied in the course.

What Should Students Do:

- To demonstrate a grasp of philosophical method in and outside of the classroom.
- To argue effectively for philosophical positions.
- To write essays which are stylistically and grammatically correct.
- To express ideas clearly and concisely.

What Students Should Value:

- To participate in philosophical discussions in a civil and non-coercive manner, respecting others even though disagreeing with their ideas.



(1) In-Class Exam, Wednesday, Oct. 26
(2) Minor Essay (1500 words), Wednesday, Nov. 23
(3) Mid-Term Exam (Held on a date in December to be set by the University.)


(1) In-Class Exam, Wednesday, Mar. 7
(2) Major essay (2500 words), Apr. 4
(3) Final exam (Held on a date in April to be set by the University.)


Two In-Class Exams 20%
Minor Essay 15%
Major Essay 20%
Mid-term Exam 15%
Final Exam 30%


Plato, Great Dialogues of Plato.  Translated by W.H.D. Rouse. New York: Signet Classics, 2008.

St. Augustine, Confessions.  Translated by R.S. Pine Coffin. London: Penguin Classics, 1961.

Aquinas.  Selected Writings.  Translated by Ralph McInerny.  New York: Penguin Books, 1998

Handouts for the Pre-Socratics, Aristotle (selections from the Categories) and St. Anselm (selections from the Proslogion).

Anselm, Aquinas, Paley, Hume, Boethius, Pascal & Russell-Copleston Debate handouts.

Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio.  Pauline Books and Media, 1998.

Ariew, Roger and Watkins, Eric (eds.).  Readings in Modern Philosophy Vol. 1: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz.  Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 2000.

Ariew, Roger and Watkins, Eric (eds.).  Readings in Modern Philosophy Vol. 2: Locke, Berkeley, Hume.  Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 2001.

Percy, Walker.  Lost in the Cosmos.  New York: Picador, 2000.

Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man. New York: HarperOne, 2001.

Pope John Paul II, Faith and Reason. Pauline Books and Media, 1998.

Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life. Pauline Books and Media, 1998

These paperback books may be purchased at the U.W.O. Bookstore. You may be able to purchase the texts at the Used Book Store.

2010 - 2011

1. The Birth of Philosophic Wisdom: the Pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle.

Readings from the Pre-Socratics (handout), Plato (Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Republic), and Aristotle (handout).

2. Philosophic Wisdom and Christian Revelation: St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Readings from St. Anselm (handout), St. Augustine (The Confessions), and St. Thomas Aquinas (#s 4,6,9,11,14,15, 28)

3. The Decline of Philosophic Wisdom: Descartes to Hume.

Readings from Descartes (Discourse on Method [Part I] & Meditations 1 & 2), Spinoza (Ethics [Part I, Part II Preface-P.XIII, Part III Preface-P.IX, Part IV Preface-P.VIII, P.LXXIII, Part V P.XL-P.XLII]), Leibniz (Discourse on Metaphysics & Monadology), Locke (Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book II, Chaps. 1-9, 11-12, 23,27]) Berkeley (Principles of Human Knowledge[Preface & Introduction, #s 1-33, 68-96, 135-156]), Hume Enquiry on Human Understanding ([Secs. 2-5, 7, 10] & Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [Parts I-III]).
N.B. All readings from the Ariew & Watkins’ anthologies.

4. Rediscovering Philosophic Wisdom Today

Readings from Walker Percy (Lost in the Cosmos), C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man), Pope John Paul II (Faith and Reason & The Gospel of Life).


Instructions on how to prepare and write assignments will be provided early in September.

Assignments are due on the dates specified in the course outline.  Late assignments will be penalized 10% of the assigned numerical grade for each calendar day late.  The late penalty may be waived at the instructor's discretion.  It is the student's responsibility to approach the instructor and explain the extenuating circumstances that warrant a waiver of the late penalty.

Students must keep for their records a printed copy of each of their assignments.  In the event an assignment is misplaced, he or she will be required to submit this copy to the instructor.

Electronic/email submissions of assignments are not acceptable in lieu of printed copies.


A student who fails to write an exam must approach the instructor and explain why he or she was not present at the exam.  Depending upon the instructor's discretion, a make-up exam may be granted.  If that is not possible, the term grade may be re-weighed.  If documentation is required for either medical or non-medical academic accommodation, then such documentation must be submitted by the student directly to the appropriate Faculty Dean's Office.  It will be the Dean's Office that will determine if accommodation is warranted.

No electronic devices will be allowed during examinations unless approved in advance by Student Services at the University or King's.


Please see:


"Unless you have either the requisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you will be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record.  This decision may not be appealed.  You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites."
Senate Policy


"Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words.  Whenever students take an idea, or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt both by using quotation marks where appropriate and by proper referencing such as footnotes or citations.  Plagiarism is a major academic offense."  Please refer to Scholastic Discipline under the Senate Policy on Academic Rights and Responsibilities at

"All required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial plagiarism detection software under license to the University for detection of plagiarism.  All papers submitted will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system.  Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and (