Master of Arts (Catholic Philosophy)

St. Bernard’s offers a Master of Arts in Catholic Philosophy (MACP) - a degree that seeks to engage students in a systematic study of philosophy as realized within the Catholic intellectual tradition at a graduate level. Students will become historically informed, independent thinkers who can critically and creatively engage in the discipline of philosophy as practiced within Catholic intellectual circles and outside of these within contemporary culture for the sake of the goods for which the Diaconate, priesthood, or other ministries within the Roman Catholic Church exist.

Program Outcomes

A student who successfully completes the MACP can expect to demonstrate:

  • the ability to philosophize clearly, knowledgeably, and cogently in speech and writing
  • competence in the vocabulary and concepts particular to the Catholic philosophical tradition
  • the ability to evaluate the values, beliefs, and assumptions of contemporary culture from a philosophical perspective
  • familiarity with major philosophers, texts, and arguments central to the Catholic philosophical tradition
  • a detailed understanding of the importance of philosophy to understanding Catholic theology and its application to the Diaconate, priesthood, or other ministries within the Roman Catholic Church.

Program Overview of the MACP:

12 courses (35 credits)

  • CP 601: Introduction to Catholic Philosophy
  • CP 605: Logic
  • CP 611: History of Philosophy (Ancient)
  • CP 612: History of Philosophy (Medieval)
  • CP 613: History of Philosophy (Modern and Contemporary)
  • CP 614: Epistemology
  • CP 621: Philosophy of Nature
  • CP 631: Metaphysics
  • CP 641: Philosophy of God
  • CP 651: Philosophical Anthropology
  • CP 661: Ethics
  • CP 900: Comprehensive Exam (2 credits)

Courses

  • CP 601: Introduction to Catholic Philosophy
    This course centers the student upon the discipline of philosophy as it has been developed and practiced within the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. The methods particular to philosophical investigation will be examined as the philosopher seeks to articulate the nature of wisdom, how it can be attained, and especially incorporated into the entirety of one’s life. The student will understand the differences between philosophy, the sciences, and theology, as well as their respective complementarities, with a focus upon the supportive and illuminative role that philosophy plays in theological education. (3 credits)
  • CP 605: Logic
    An examination of the three activities that define reason (Understanding, Judgment, and Discursive Reasoning), and the development and practice of the techniques that perfect them (definition, the judgment of truth and falsity, the manipulation of propositions, and the formation of a sound argument). This course considers the defects that commonly affect sound reasoning (fallacies), the distinction between sound and cogent reasoning (deductive vs. inductive reasoning) and the criteria that govern the difference between the two, and lastly what constitutes Normative Persuasion Dialogue and how such is to be distinguished from other speech acts. (3 credits)
  • CP 611: History of Philosophy (Ancient)
    A survey course from the beginning of philosophy with the pre-Socratics, through Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and ending with the Cynics, Skeptics, Epicureans, Stoics, and Neoplatonism. In particular, those problems posed by Heraclitus, Parmenides, Socrates, and Plato that are important to the philosophical tradition will be considered, Aristotle’s philosophy will be surveyed as a whole, and the themes that are central to post-Aristotelian philosophy will be examined. (3 credits)
  • CP 612: History of Philosophy (Medieval)
    A survey course beginning with St. Augustine, through the rise of Scholasticism, and to its end. Emphasis is placed upon the thought of St. Augustine, Boethius, St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. The relations between faith and reason, and metaphysical, anthropological, and ethical teachings will be emphasized as they develop the thought received from the ancient Greek philosophers and prepare the way for the rise of modern philosophy. (3 credits)
  • CP 613: History of Philosophy (Modern and Contemporary)
    With regard to the modern era, this course will survey the main philosophers of the rationalist, empiricist, and Kantian traditions, from Descartes through the nineteenth century. This will introduce the student to the authors of the 19th and 20th century studied in the contemporary era who respond to the major themes/positions of the modern era. It is with regard to the latter that this course explores the two major schools of philosophy in the contemporary era, namely analytic philosophy, on the one hand, and phenomenology and existentialism, on the other. (3 credits)
  • CP 614: Epistemology
    This course will consider the nature of knowledge, whether the human mind can know things as they really are, the twofold nature of human cognition (normative and empirical/rational and sensual), the relationship between the human person’s empirical and normative knowledge, the different kinds of knowing as well as their degrees, the different approaches to truth, belief, and error, and the metaphysical underpinnings of different approaches to the aforementioned concerns. (3 credits)
  • CP 621: Philosophy of Nature
    This course offers an examination of the ancient and medieval accounts of the natural world, specifically their understanding of nature, change, space, time, purpose, chance, and the principles upon which they rest. This is perhaps the most fundamental of all philosophy courses and, together with logic, establishes the vocabulary basic to the whole of the Catholic philosophical tradition. (3 credits)
  • CP 631: Metaphysics
    This course examines the basic concerns and principles that undergird the whole of reality and guide the way by which we think of the ultimate things to which the mind can aspire: existence, essence, the categories of being, the transcendentals, the analogy of being, and the existence and creative activity of God. This course acts as a capstone study to the whole of philosophy and is preferably engaged upon at the end of one’s certificate/degree studies. (3 credits)
  • CP 641: Philosophy of God
    This course concerns the natural ascent of the human mind to a knowledge of the existence and attributes of God – can God’s existence be proven, and can our language at least begin to represent God’s attributes without falling purely into metaphorical language or simple anthropomorphisms. The problem of evil in the face of an all-powerful, all-good God must also be considered, as too the problem of secondary causality. The main objections to these three concerns particular to traditional theism are to be considered and an emphasis is placed upon the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas is this course. (3 credits)
  • CP 651: Philosophical Anthropology
    This course investigates the philosophical discussion surrounding the human person. We appeal to the major writers on this subject with an emphasis upon the Socratic, Platonic, Aristotelian, Augustinian, and Thomistic traditions, engaging primary original texts themselves and also their incorporation into modern models of the human person, particularly the personalism of St. John Paul II. Among the aspects considered in this course are the following: what is meant by “body” and “soul”; how has relation that exists between the two been articulated; how do we distinguish and understand the difference between the human person’s animality and his rationality; how do we describe human cognition, choice/free will, the human person’s affective life, and the social and spiritual aspects of our humanity; what is meant by the human person being made to the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27); and can it be shown that the human person survives his death? (3 credits)
  • CP 661: Ethics
    This course will articulate the general components necessary to a sustained, unified, and useful investigation into the moral life. With a privilege accorded to the Socratic, Platonic, Aristotelian, Augustinian, and Thomistic traditions, this course will consider the question of human purpose, namely to be happy, and the means that must be marshalled in order to achieve this happiness. Among the components to be examined are the following: how virtue, vice, and habit are related to the development of human character; how do we understand free choice and the many and varied roles that both reason and will play in the realization of a free choice; what is meant by conscience and its role in the moral life; is the society we live in and the friendships we enjoy necessary to the realization of a happy life; and can the purely secular approach to human happiness succeed or must this be realized within a religious context? (3 credits)
  • CP 900: Comprehensive Exam
    This course acts as a capstone to the training that has been received throughout the program through a guided discussion on all materials studied in this program. (2 credits)

For those in the Pre-Seminary Program, the following three courses are also required:

  • CT 671: Doctrine, Liturgy and Sacraments (Catechism 1 and 2)
    This course introduces the pre-seminarian to those beliefs that are central to the Catholic Faith as guided by Part One of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Profession of Faith” §§1-1209, and to the liturgical practices and sacraments of the Catholic Faith as guided by Part Two of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Celebration of the Christian Mystery” §§1210-1690. (4 credits)
  • CT 672: Sacred Scripture
    This course introduces the pre-seminarian to the study of the Sacred Scriptures and prepares students to study the Scriptures in greater depth in the seminary. The key themes of this work will be presented, as well as those matters that touch upon Scriptures’ origin, structure, purpose, authorship, inspiration, its historical transmission, and varied translations. (4 credits)
  • CT 673: Morality and Prayer (Catechism 3 and 4)
    This course introduces the pre-seminarian to the Christian understanding and realization of the moral life as guided by Part Three of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Life in Christ” §§1691-2557, and to the practice, life, and purpose of Christian prayer as guided by Part Four of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Christian Prayer” §§2558-2865. (4 credits)

Please contact Dr. Stephen J. Loughlin, Associate Professor of Philosophy, for further details.

Contact Dr. Loughlin