St. Peter's Seminary
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Philosophy 1300E/570

WEDNESDAY (1:30 – 4:30 PM)
St. Peter’s Seminary, Room 108

519-432-1824, ext. 205

Office Hours: St. Peter’s Seminary, Room 327 on Wednesday 11:00 A.M.—12:00 P.M. 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 Kant; 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.


Fall Semester

(1) In-Class Exam, Wednesday, Oct. 24
(2) Minor Essay (1500 words), Wednesday, Nov. 21
(3) Mid-Term Exam (Held on a date in December to be set by the University.)

Winter Semester

(1) In-Class Exam, Wednesday, Mar. 6
(2) Major essay (2500 words), Apr. 10
(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 Aristotle (selections from the Categories) and St. Anselm (selections from the Proslogion).

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.

Handout from Kant (selections from The Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics)

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. (Available at the Vatican webste).

Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life. (Available at the Vatican webste).

The paperback books may be purchased at the U.W.O. Bookstore. As well, you may be able to purchase the texts at the Used Book Store.


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

Readings from 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 and Kant.

Readings from Descartes (Discourse on Method [Parts I, II & V], Meditations [Synopsis, 1 & 2]), Spinoza (Ethics [Part I, Part II Preface-P.12, P.31-49 & Part V]),
Leibniz (Discourse on Metaphysics, Monadology & Primary Truths), 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]) and Kant (handout).

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 must be submitted in print and electronically. The submission is not complete until the instructor has received the assignment in both formats.

Assignments are due on the dates specified in the course outline. One mark will be deducted from 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.


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.

Policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness

Please see:

N.B. Students who are in emotional/mental health distress should refer to Mental Health@Western: for a complete list of options about how to obtain help

Course Prerequisites and Antirequisites

“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 offence.” 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 the 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 (link to website:”