Philosophy

Philosophy is the love of wisdom. It asks the big questions about the universe, human nature and God.


Term 1 – Ancient Philosophy

We begin our studies with the rise of philosophy in Ancient Greece and the problem of change and permanence that occupied the earliest philosophers. The word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Greek, meaning ‘love of wisdom’. This meaning was challenged by the Sophists who saw philosophy as a tool to gain power and influence without reference to what is true. Socrates and his student, Plato, and his student, Aristotle, dedicated their lives to defending philosophy as the love of wisdom.

Term 2 – Medieval Philosophy

In the light of the Incarnation, the medieval philosophers were faced with the challenge of harmonising the insights of faith and reason, of revealed truths and the truths of philosophy. St. Augustine, the namesake of Augustine Academy, achieved a synthesis between the best of pagan wisdom and Christian revelation. Other major figures studied include Boethius, Bonaventure and Aquinas, as well as some Islamic and Jewish philosophers.

Term 3 – Modern Philosophy

Students will recognise ideas in the work of the modern philosophers that shape the western worldview today. We study the shift of philosophical attention to the self and the capabilities and limits of his/her knowledge. We look at the narrowing of the meaning of ‘reason’ in the thought of Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and how this narrowing affects the relationship of faith and reason. We also study the ideas and influence of Nietzsche and Marx.

Term 4 – 19th & 20th Century Philosophy

This term will examine the philosophical landscape of more recent centuries: contintental traditions such as existentialism (Kierkegaard) and phenomenology (Husserl), and topics in analytic philosophy such as the philosophy of science (Popper, Kuhn) and the philosophy of mind (Dennett, Nagel). We then move to C.S. Lewis’s book, ‘The Abolition of Man’, which warns of the danger of treating scientific knowledge as the only valid kind of knowledge. Finally, we try to answer C.S. Lewis’s call for a “new natural philosophy” that does not reduce reality to a scientific abstraction using the work of Bernard Lonergan and Thomas Nagel.