Bachelor in Philosophy 1
Term: 1 year (can be spread over 2 calendar years)
Degree: Domuni Universitas
The first year of philosophy begins with a semester of initiation to philosophy: it consists of a general introductory course on the first formulations of human rationality, with the decisive passage from muthos to logos. This semester allows the student to discover the sources of Western thought, through the pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle.
The programme continues with an introduction to metaphysics, one of the most fundamental disciplines in the history of philosophy.
The second semester branches out into several more specific topics such as modern philosophy, ethics and critical thinking.
At the end of the first year, students will have grasped the specificity of philosophical thought, and will have set solid foundations for an excellent academic path in philosophy.
Metaphysics is the study of things in their ultimate causes. As such, the specialty of metaphysics is that it seeks the final explanation or the ultimate causes of things precisely in so far as they are, in so far as they exist, or in so far as they are real. Aristotle called it “First Philosophy” or “Theology” since it leads to the first principle or the ultimate explanation of all things.
All human knowledge begins with sense experience but can terminate sometimes in the senses, or in the imagination or in the intellect alone . Accordingly we can distinguish between three levels of scientific knowledge corresponding to the three degrees of abstraction from matter which can be made by the intellect in its examination of reality.
Ethics, like philosophy, is in search of principles and universals. Ethics reflects on a particular human experience, namely, the experience of the good or of being good, and sets it in the context of the whole. One could also say that ethics reflects on what is the good and how our lives are oriented towards it
This course intends to familiarize the students with the debates and contributions of the main philosophical scholars and theories which have developed through history from the time of Greek Sophists through the XX century. Based on the Aristotelian assumption that man is a by nature a political animal, the course intends to give ultimate answers to questions such as how material goods should be distributed; on what basis people should possess property; what are the justified reasons why some people have more properties than others; why political power has to exist; what kinds of governments are acceptable; what does it determine the correct balance between authority and autonomy; what is the right balance between private and common good; what are the justified limits to my/your freedom.
There are many different definitions of Social Political Philosophy (SPP): the political can be defined as social decision making; philosophy is the most general form of inquiry that is the attempt to say what it is true and why. It is a normative discipline: SPP tries to establish norms, rules and ideal standards, how the social and political life should be. Different from Political science, which is the art of governing people, the discipline and the practice of assuring the “common good” of a certain society. Different from Social Sciences, which are descriptive disciplines which try to know the social facts and to find connections between them.
Part I: Historical contributions on social political thought
The Sophists: philosophy goes public; Plato’s Republic; Aristotle’s Politics; Cicero: Ius Gentium; Patristic era, St. Augustine: “De Civitate Dei”; St. Thomas on Natural law; Marsilio: “Defensor Pacis”; Machiavelli: The Prince; The Protestant reformation, Luther & Calvin political thought; Hobbes, Locke on Social Contract; Rousseau: Human nature and society; Montesquieu: Separation of powers; Tocqueville: Democracy in America; Adam Smith: The Wealth of nations; John Stuart Mill: On Liberty; Marx’s Critique of capitalism; Freud: Civilization and its discontents; Dostoyevsky’s Grand inquisitor; Hitler’s Nazism & Mussolini’s Fascism; Gandhi use of Power
Part II: Contemporary social political issues
Theories of Justice & distribution of property; Rights & Freedom; Natural law and social political philosophy; Justifications of the State, forms of Government ; Environment, Individualism, Multiculturalism, Feminism, Civil movements in a globalized world.
Leo Strauss, History of Political Philosophy, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1990
W.L. Mc Bride, Social and Political Philosophy, Paragon House, New York, 1994
Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996
Santoni, & J. Sommerville, Social and Political Philosophy, Anchor Books, NY, 1963
The course aims to show that from its origins through the early efforts made by the earliest oriental thinkers before the era of ancient great Greek thinkers, philosophy has remained a branch of knowledge concerned with fundamental questions concerning existence, human values, language, knowledge and many other matters.
The modern epistemological problem has two aspects:
1. The opposition between science and philosophy or truth and error. We find this basically in Descartes and Kant.
2. The conflict between science and science or that of contemporary and classic physics and not an opposition between science and philosophy or truth and error.
According to Gibelin in his Foreword to Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Freedom is the central theme of Kant’s philosophy. This course will introduce to Kant, centering on Freedom as a key concept to understand his philosophy, in the three spheres defined by the critical project: Metaphysics, Moral and Aesthetics.
Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy that studies essential questions about various political issues, concepts and problems that are important to any human society. Based on concepts such as state, justice, liberty, rights, government and authority, political philosophy can be regarded as the primal ethics applied to a group of people, geared towards the setting up of a political society, the maintenance of a stable society and the best possible way for citizens to act.