Studying Philosophy at Belmont Abbey College sharpens your thinking and helps you answer fundamental questions at the root of every study or enterprise.
You’ll enjoy this program if you:

  • care about the truth
  • want to think deeply about reality, about whether faith is reasonable, and about the best way to live
  • enjoy reading and writing
  • enjoy discussion and debate
  • want to make a difference in the world

Philosophy is the continuing source of our intellectual life. Discover the origins of and reasons for your beliefs by studying the great books of the past, by engaging with the Catholic intellectual tradition, and by joining in the conversation of the greatest minds at work today.

  • Understand great works in Philosophy, from Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae to Descartes’s Meditations and John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism.
  • Understand the strongest materialist and atheist arguments, and consider responses by renowned Catholic thinkers such as Alasdair MacIntyre, Edward Feser, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Jacques Maritain.
  • Learn to get your ideas across carefully, logically, and thoroughly.

A major or minor in Philosophy from Belmont Abbey College is flexible enough to be excellent preparation for work in …

  • Medicine
  • Law
  • Journalism
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Government
  • Psychology
  • Business

Many successful people—including supreme court judges, founders of large companies, journalists, and medical researchers—claim that studying philosophy gave them the reasoning skills they needed to succeed. Philosophy majors also consistently score at the top on the GRE and LSAT, and near the top on the GMAT, indicating that philosophy is an excellent preparation for graduate study.

The Abbey Difference:

At the Abbey, students in Philosophy seek to answer fundamental human questions such as How should I live?  How can I be happy?  What is the most fundamental reality?  What can be known? Is there a God?  They will come to understand great works by philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas.  And students in Philosophy get the chance to study alongside the exceptional seminarians of St. Joseph College Seminary. Dr. Matthew Siebert, director of the Philosophy program, has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto, and an M.Phil. in Philosophical Theology from the University of Oxford. Dr. Siebert has published in top philosophical journals, and has presented his work on such figures as Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas at academic conferences across both Europe and North America.

Br. Anselm Cundiff, O.S.B., has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Dallas and has presented professional work on Plato, Maimonides, Hobbes, and other figures in the history of philosophy.

Highlights of your experience:

These courses indicate the kind of skills, ideas, and authors we cover in the Philosophy program at Belmont Abbey College.

Philosophy aims at wisdom by means of reasoning from one’s experience.  This course is an introduction to philosophy and its role in the intellectual life and in human society.  We will join ancient philosophers as they wonder about fundamental reality and the nature of human society.  Then we will examine the role of philosophy in the happy life, according to philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Boethius and Aquinas, and survey the different branches of philosophy. The course devotes considerable time to developing philosophical skills in argumentative discussion and writing.
This is a course in the skills required for careful reasoning. After a study of basic language topics such as predication, assertion, and implicature, we will learn how to craft definitions, distinguish propositions, analyze both deductive and non-deductive arguments, recognize fallacies, and argue for our views in a logical way. The course covers basic Aristotelian and truth-functional logic.
This course addresses philosophical questions at the foundation of the natural sciences such as, “What is nature?”, “What is change?”, and “What is science?” First, our study of change will lead us to consider actuality and potentiality, form and matter, substance and accident, cause and effect, time and motion, nature and chance, natural kinds and species, determinism and free will.  Then we will consider questions about the nature of science itself, such as: “What differentiates science from non-science?”,  “How are scientific theories confirmed?”, “Does the practice of science depend on trust?”, and “How is science influenced by society?” This course provides the conceptual background for further philosophical studies of human nature, ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics.
Our study of the relation between mind and body will lead naturally into a study of will and intellect, emotion, free choice, and human action.  We will also consider whether the mind depends on the body, and whether humans have an immortal soul.  Other topics studied may include nature and convention, language and concepts, personality and community.  This course provides the conceptual background for further philosophical studies of ethics, politics, aesthetics, and epistemology.
How should humans live? We will consider this question by studying the main approaches to ethics such as those represented by Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Mill, and Nietzsche.  We will apply these approaches to at least one contemporary ethical issue.  Topics may include happiness, virtue, love, friendship, natural law, duty, utility, and sexuality.  This course provides the conceptual background for further studies in contemporary ethical issues, business ethics, law, politics, and related topics.

This course examines the nature and origins of faith, current challenges to the rationality of faith (posed by alternatives such as materialism, evidentialism, scientism, fideism, and pluralism), and common arguments for and against religious belief, such as arguments for God’s existence, the problem of evil, arguments for and against believing in miracles, and arguments that religious belief and practice are either good or bad (moral or immoral, healthy or unhealthy, oppressive or liberating).
This is a course in metaphysics, the study of the most fundamental principles of reality.  What is being? What caused the universe? In order to explain existence, natures, change, universal truths, and evil, we will develop a deeper understanding of principles of nature such as actuality and potentiality, form and matter, substance and accident, cause and effect, essence and existence, necessity and contingency, mind and body.
This course surveys ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary philosophy on the central topics of knowledge, reality, and the good life.  We will look at the ways opposed traditions have answered and continue to answer such key philosophical questions as:  Do humans have a purpose?  Is the physical world all there is? Does knowledge start from reason or experience?  Is there a God? What makes possibilities possible? The emphasis of this course is on the contemporary consequences of these traditions, and on the possibility of finding a middle ground in these debates.

 

Program Requirements

Specific Core Curriculum requirements:

  • PH200 Introduction to Philosophy
  • PH202 Introduction to Logical Reasoning

Other Basic Requirements:

  • PH 300 History of Philosophy
  • PH 301 The Good Life (Ethics)
  • PH 315 Philosophy of Knowing and Believing (Epistemology)
  • PH 316 Philosophy of Reality (Metaphysics)
  • At least one of the following:
    • PH 305 Philosophy of Science and Nature
    • PH 310 Philosophy of Mind and Human Nature
    • PH 314 Faith & Reason (Philosophy of Religion)
  • At least 3 more PH courses at the 300- or 400-level.

Capstone Requirements:

  • PH 430 Senior Seminar
  • PH 470 Senior Thesis

Language Requirement:

  • Two courses in one of the following: Greek, Latin, French, or German.

Humanities Requirement

  • One course at the 300- or 400-level in each of the following:
    • English
    • History
    • Theology
At least one of the following:

  • PH 301 The Good Life (Ethics)
  • PH 314 Faith & Reason (Philosophy of Religion)
  • PH 315 Philosophy of Knowing and Believing (Epistemology)
  • PH 316 Philosophy of Reality (Metaphysics)

At least 4 more PH courses at the 200-level or higher.

Faculty: SiebertBestW
Dr. Matthew Siebert 
Assistant Professor of Philosophy 
B.A., University of Winnipeg
M.Phil., University of Oxford
Ph.D., University of Toronto  

banselmWBrother Anselm Cundiff, O.S.B.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy 
B.A., University of North Texas
M.Phil., University of Dallas
Ph.D., University of Dallas

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