Philosophical Anthropology

Philosophical Anthropology

The term ‘anthropology’ is derived from two Greek words: ἀνθωπος (anthrōpos) and λογος (logos). The former (anthrōpos) refers to ‘man’ in the generic sense, that is to say, it means ‘human being’; the latter (logos) signifies ‘discourse’ or ‘science. Philosophical anthropology is thus concerned with a philosophical account of the mystery of the human being. Naturally, the history of philosophy has produced a wealth of approaches and an abundance of profound insights concerning the human being. It has also given rise to numerous errors in this regard.
This course will engage the question of how we are to construe the relationship that obtains between body and soul/mind. Rather than adopting a purely historical approach, beginning with Aristotle,
the text begins with an exposition of three different contemporary treatments of this issue before proceeding to expound important aspects of Aristotle’s and St. Thomas Aquinas’s metaphysics of human nature.

Course code: PHEN08

ECTS Credits: 3

Professor: Kevin O'Reilly


Educational achievements

At the end of this course, students will have:

  • Excellent foundation for continuing their studies
  • Acquired experience and confidence in reading, comprehension and text analysis.
  • Students will be able to use it in other courses or projects.


Evaluation methods :

Two forms of validation of the course, a quiz and a written assignment (between 3 and 5 pages) by treating a subject to choose from those proposed.


Bibliography :

  • Aquinas, St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Allen, Texas: Christian Classics, 1981), vol. 1. Online version at

  • Aristotle, De Anima. Trans. On the Soul by J.A. Smith in The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. Barnes Jonathan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984)
  • Copleston, Frederick, A History of Philosophy: Medieval Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2003), 375-87 (chapter XXXVII – St. Thomas Aquinas—VII: Psychology)
Brock, Stephen L., “The Physical Status of the Spiritual Soul in Thomas Aquinas,” Nova et Vetera 3 (2005): 231-58
  • O’Reilly, OP, Kevin E., “Church as the Defender of Conscience in Our Age,” Nova et Vetera 12 (2014), 193-215’Reilly, Kevin E., “Human Reason, the Inclination to Procreation and Education of Offspring, and Society,’ New Blackfriars 92 (2011), 308-317



Table of Contents

1. Soul, Mind and Body

2. Aristotle

3. St Thomas Aquinas

4. What kind of being is the Human Embryo

5. Conclusion