Master of Arts in Philosophy


Master of Arts in Philosophy

Interim Program Director: Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP

At this time, the Master of Arts in Philosophy can be completed through Online Learning only.

Program Description: The Master of Arts in Philosophy program is a course of study designed to give a broad acquaintance with the major philosophical disciplines. It is a flexible program, with a six year time limit from entry into the program to completion of the degree requirements. The program is designed to prepare men and women for ministry, teaching philosophy, religion or theology, for a subsequent Post Master’s Certificate in Theology, or for licentiate or doctoral work. Classes also serve as enrichment for persons in other professions wanting to deepen understanding of their faith or seeking to integrate their faith into their daily lives.

Students may pursue one of five concentrations within the philosophy program, and these include Christian Wisdom, Ethics, General Studies, History of Philosophy and Systematic Philosophy.

At the conclusion of the program, students will be required to complete a Summative Evaluation that may be in the form of either an MA Thesis or Comprehensive Exams.

Degree Program Goals:

  1. To educate students in the history, major topics, and intellectual habits of Western philosophy, especially (a) in the rich diversity of the Catholic tradition, (b) in the distinctively Catholic ways of understanding the relationship between faith and reason, and (c) with consistent attention to the work of St. Thomas Aquinas
  2. to develop in students a coherent and detailed knowledge of their philosophical concentration, its developing methodologies, its current literature, its history, its major theoretical constructs, and its classical and current problems and insights
  3. to train students in the skills of academic research in philosophy, including the use of traditional and new media resources, as well as in the academic practices and styles common in the discipline
  4. to foster in students a deep comprehension of contemporary cultures and their philosophical roots, for the purposes of constructive dialogue, sound critical discernment, and participation in the work of Catholic evangelization

Degree Program Learning Outcomes:

Students earning the MA in philosophy will be able to

    1. demonstrate advanced familiarity with the history and major topics of Western philosophy, including logic, epistemology, cosmology, anthropology, ethics, metaphysics, and natural theology, particularly but not exclusively as these are (a) treated in the broadly Catholic and Thomistic philosophical tradition, and (b) fields of inquiry where faith and reason may be mutually enriching
    2. demonstrate a coherent and detailed knowledge of their philosophical concentration, its developing methodologies, its current literature, its history, its major theoretical constructs, and its classical and current problems and insights
    3. demonstrate the ability to conduct research in the academic field of philosophy
    4. present, in a practical and popular way, philosophical doctrines that are particularly useful or even essential to giving an account of the doctrines of Catholic faith, whether by ordinary speech and writing or via new media of social communication, including such topics as the nature of truth, the nature of the human person, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of God
    5. describe and explain the role of the Western philosophical tradition in the development and explication of Christian doctrine in Christian antiquity, the Middle Ages and in modern and postmodern contexts

Core Curriculum

As noted in the lists above, two co-requisite classes are required of all students when they first matriculate into the Master of Arts in Philosophy program, and these are PHH 605 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy and PHH 620 Modern and Contemporary Philosophy. If students enter the MA in Philosophy program with a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy from an orthodox Catholic institution, they may petition to have the co-requisites waived by the Academic Dean and be free to substitute them for any two electives. The 36-credit hour core curriculum required for the M.A. in Philosophy Program is as follows:

Program Core
PHE 501: Ethics
PHS 551: Philosophical Anthropology
PHS 611: Logic and Epistemology
PHS 621: Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics
Concentrations
Ethics
Systematic Philosophy
History of Philosophy
Christian Wisdom
4 courses within each concentration
ElectivesAny two courses within the program, preferably also within the concentration

Concentration in Christian Wisdom  

Concentration Chair: Dr. Peter Redpath

Courses provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of metaphysics. Topics include the One and the Many and the transcendentals of Beauty, Truth and Goodness. Students who complete the concentration core will earn concurrently joint certification in Christian Wisdom from the Center for Great Ideas and the Adler-Aquinas Institute.

Concentration Goals

  1. To teach students about St. Thomas Aquinas’s metaphysical teaching as a philosophy, science, especially regarding what students of St. Thomas often call the “transcendentals” of being, unity, truth, good, and beauty.
  2. To enable students to understand how these subjects of study relate to habits of an acting person to comprise distinct, but essentially connected, principles of philosophy, science.
  3. To allow students to study texts that lay out the main metaphysical teachings of St. Thomas related to the transcendentals and their opposites and how these essentially relate to his teachings about the nature of philosophy, science. Metaphysical truths related to these transcendental principles that underlie Catholic Church teaching will be explained.

Concentration Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to identify St. Thomas’s teaching about each of the transcendentals and their respective opposites (for example, non-being, multiplicity, evil, ugliness).
  2. Students will be able to explain St. Thomas Aquinas’s teachings about faculties and habits of the person and the transcendentals and their opposites, opposition; possession, privation, principles; causes; quantity; quality; virtual quantity; relation; measures; abstraction; and how all the preceding relate to his teaching about science, philosophy, and its unity, divisions, methods, and foundation in sense wonder; how to identify the subject of a science, or division of philosophy; will understand his teaching about predication; analogy; the nature of genera and species; and understand how and why the genus that the philosopher, scientist, studies differs from that of a logician.
  3. Students will show that they understand the pros and cons of major issues in St. Thomas related to all the preceding topics, how philosophical, metaphysical truths, including truths about the human person, underlie all philosophy, science, and Catholic teachings, and the damaging effects that can result to a culture from failure to realize this metaphysical foundation.
  4. Students will demonstrate an understanding of similarities and differences between the teaching of St. Thomas and a phenomenological approach to reality, especially regarding crucial dimensions of human experience such as religion, language, art, education, and technology.
Co-requisites for Philosophy:Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Philosophy Core:

  1. Logic and Epistemology
  2. Philosophical Anthropology
  3. Ethics
  4. Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics

 

Concentration Core:

  1. The One and the Many
  2. Saint Thomas on Being and Nothingness
  3. The True, the False, the Lie and the Fake
  4. The Good, the Bad, the Beautiful and the Ugly
Concentration Electives

  1. Dante’s Divine Comedy: Thomistic Philosophy in Narrative
  2. Authentic Virtue/Christian Personalism

 

Concentration in Ethics    

Concentration Chair: Fr. Pawel Tarasiewicz

Courses provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of Aristotelian and Thomistic ethics. Topics include the fonts of morality, natural law, the nature of virtue, medical ethics, and sexual ethics.

Concentration Goals

  1. To teach students about the main ethical theories concerning acts and virtues in Western philosophy with a special emphasis on Thomistic ethics.
  2. To examine and refute ethical skepticism and relativism.
  3. To allow for the study of texts that lay out the main pros and cons about ethical issues such as social justice, abortion, war and peace, and sexual ethics.
  4. To explain philosophical truths underlying Catholic Church teachings.

Concentration Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to identify the theories behind popular opinions about ethical norms.
  2. Students will be able to explain the problems with theories of skepticism and relativism.
  3. Students will show that they understand the pros and cons of major issues of our times and how philosophical ethical truths underlie Catholic teachings.
Co-requisites for Philosophy:Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Philosophy Core:

  1. Logic and Epistemology
  2. Philosophical Anthropology
  3. Ethics
  4. Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics
Concentration Core:

  1. Natural Law
  2. Sexual Ethics
  3. Political Philosophy
  4. Catholic Social Teachings
Concentration Electives

  1. Narrative and the Moral Life
  2. Nicomachean Ethics

 

Concentration in General Studies

Courses are designed to provide a broader awareness of philosophy in general through an interdisciplinary concentration core. Students must select at least one course from each of the other four concentrations following completion of their co-requisite courses and program core.

Concentration Chair: Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP

Concentration Goals

  1. To enable students to cultivate a general philosophical awareness
  2. To provide students with an understanding of their own identity as individual substances of a rational nature
  3. To enable students to understand their relationship to one another, to the world in which they live, and to God

Concentration Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between their reason and their appetites.
  2. Students will demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between themselves and God/Nature/Neighbor
Co-requisites for Philosophy:Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Philosophy Core:

  1. Logic and Epistemology
  2. Philosophical Anthropology
  3. Ethics
  4. Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics

 

Concentration Core:

  1. Any course from Christian Wisdom
  2. Any course from Ethics
  3. Any course from History of Philosophy
  4. Any course from Systematic Philosophy

 

Concentration Electives:

  1. Any Elective
  2. Any Elective

 

Concentration in History of Philosophy

Courses provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of the history of philosophical thought from the pre-Socratic period to the present day.  Emphasis is placed on Ancient, Arabic, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary philosophy.

Concentration Chair: Dr. Curtis Hancock

Concentration Goals

  1. To enable students to understand philosophical themes and arguments in their proper historical context.
  2. To enable students to understand the develop of ideas from one epoch to another.
  3. To enable students to interpret historical philosophical texts with accuracy and charity.

Concentration Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to think critically within the discipline.
  2. Students will connect historical trends to contemporary issues.
Co-requisites for Philosophy:Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Philosophy Core:

  1. Logic and Epistemology
  2. Philosophical Anthropology
  3. Ethics
  4. Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics

 

Concentration Core:

  1. Aristotle
  2. Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas
  3. Philosophy of Edith Stein
  4. Recent Catholic Philosophy

 

Concentration Electives:

  1. Arabic Philosophy
  2. Plato’s Republic

 

Concentration in Systematic Philosophy    

Chair: Dr. Robert Delfino

Courses provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of nature, human nature, and human thought from a Roman Catholic perspective.   Topics include epistemology, metaphysics, categorical logic, philosophy of nature, and the study of the soul.

Concentration Goals

  1. To educate students in the major thematic branches of Western Philosophy.
  2. To cultivate within students intellectual habits and methodologies  appropriate to the various areas of systematic philosophy.

Concentration Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate advanced familiarity with the major thematic branches of Western philosophy: metaphysics, natural theology, logic, epistemology, philosophy of nature, anthropology, and various related topics.
  2. Students will demonstrate a facility with the methods of philosophical inquiry.
Co-requisites for Philosophy:Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Philosophy Core:

  1. Logic and Epistemology
  2. Philosophical Anthropology
  3. Ethics
  4. Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics

 

Concentration Core:

  1. Natural Theology
  2. Reason in the Theology of St. Thomas
  3. Philosophy of Science
  4. Thomistic Personalism: Knowledge and Love
Concentration Electives:

  1. Phenomenology
  2. Aesthetics

 

 

Important Notice Concerning the MA in Philosophy Program:

The Master of Arts in Philosophy program as described above went into effect in spring 2015. All students who matriculated into the program in fall 2014 have the option of continuing under the program description contained in the 2013-2014 catalog. The main differences are namely the following:

  1. PHS 607 Philosophy for Theologians (formerly PHTH 600) was the only pre-requisite course required under the old catalog, and it counted for degree program credit within the MA in Philosophy program. In spring 2015, PHS 607 will no longer be required. Students may still take it for credit within their Systematic Philosophy concentration or as an elective. Two co-requisite courses will instead be required as preparatory to philosophical studies on the graduate level and will count for degree program credit. These are PHH 605 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy and PHH 620 Modern and Contemporary Philosophy.
  2. Under the 2013-2014 catalog, the core courses were counted as part of the number of historical philosophy and systematic philosophy courses required for the degree, and the program had no concentrations within which a student could study. Under the 2014-2015 catalog, concentration areas have been added, and the core courses are distinct from any concentration courses (e.g., students concentrating in Systematic Philosophy will now take PHS 551: Philosophical Anthropology, PHS 611: Logic and Epistemology, and PHS 621: Philosophy of Nature and Metaphysics as core plus four additional PHS courses).
  3. The course numbering system has undergone revision for the sake of alignment with standard practices. The old course numbers will be replaced in the spring of 2015 with the new course numbers described in this catalog. In the fall of 2014, most of the course numbers will remain as they were in the 2013-2014 catalog as we continue with our catalog migration within the Populi registration system. PHS 607 Philosophy for Theologians, for instance, was listed in the 2013-2014 catalog as PHTH 600 Philosophy for Theologians and will be taught under that number in the fall 2014 term. (See course listings at the end of this catalog – all new course numbers have the old course numbers next to them for comparison purposes.)
  4. Actual concentrations have been added in the areas of Christian Wisdom, Ethics, History of Philosophy and Systematic Philosophy. The STP course prefixes have been replaced with the appropriate concentration course prefixes.

A new General Studies concentration will be available by Summer 2015 for students who want a broad-based theological education without a specific concentration. It will include the co-requisites and core courses plus at least one course from each of the concentrations not represented in the core, namely, Christian Wisdom and History of Philosophy, plus any four electives.

Summative Evaluation

The Summative Evaluation is the capstone of the student’s academic work in the M.A. program at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. All candidates for the M.A. degree are required to complete a Summative Evaluation exercise, which may take the form of a thesis or a comprehensive exam. Full descriptions of the Summative Evaluation exercise are available on the Summative Evaluation page.

Contact Information

MA Philosophy Program Director 
Concentration Chairs

Christian Wisdom – Dr. Peter Redpath
Ethics – Fr. Pawel Tarasiewicz
General Studies – Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP
History of Philosophy – Dr. Curtis Hancock
Systematic Philosophy – Dr. Robert Delfino


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