The Ralph McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies will offer a three-year program in philosophical studies that will provide a wide-ranging introduction to classical philosophy. This program will consist of six courses over three years (during the fall and spring semesters), each course consisting of 6 or 7 two-hour sessions, including lectures and time for discussion.

This program is intended for generally educated citizens who wish to develop a deeper grounding in philosophy. No previous formal study in philosophy is required. Our goal is to provide people with sound philosophical “tools” that will help them to evaluate and form judgments about problems and issues facing them and their fellow citizens, drawing especially on the ethics and metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas.

OUR FIRST COURSE will be an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. We will begin September 27, 2006 (Wednesday) from 7 to 9 p.m., at the McInerny Center office at 616 E Street, NW, Suite 1214. Short recommended readings will be provided online, along with suggestions for further reading. OUR SECOND COURSE will briefly survey the main periods in the history of philosophy, from Medieval to Early Modern until contemporary philosophy. And it will focus particularly on two absolutely uniquely great figures like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. OUR THIRD COURSE will deal with the basic principles in natural philosophy and logic as the needed background for the study more advanced areas, like metaphysics, in the FOURTH COURSE, and ethics and political theory in the FIFTH COURSE. Finally, in the SIXTH COURSE, we will end the program by addressing the public square and the current issue.

Classes will be taught by Fulvio Di Blasi (University of Palermo), Joshua Hochschild (Mt. St. Mary’s College), Ralph McInerny (University of Notre Dame), Dr. Michael Pakaluk (Clark University), Christopher Wolfe (Marquette University) and other Visiting Professors.

Cost of enrolling: $ 100.00 per course ($ 50.00 for students). Some tuition grants are available. To register, contact

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I. Philosophy, the Beginning - Second Class


For the class meeting on October 11, we will cover "the Birth of Philosophy," including both the early philosophy of nature and the sophistic movement (roughly 585 to 400 BC, from the first recognized philosophers through Socrates' lifetime). Our purpose, of course, is not just historical but philosophical; we will trace the emergence of philosophy in ancient Greece in order to begin to participate ourselves in the philosophical tradition it inaugurated – that is, in order to philosophize. So we will not just try to formulate the theories of past thinkers, but to come to terms with these theories by discerning, and so sharing, the questions and problems to which these theories were formulated as answers.



A collection of fragments of early ("Presocratic") Greek philosophy is available here.

There are many passages on this webpage, but you can single out for your attention especially:

Anaximander, fragments (1) and (6)
Anaximines, (1), (3), (4), and (6)
Xenophanes, (11), (12), (14), (15), (18), (23), (24), (25), (26)
Heraclitus, (2), (19), (20), (22), (24), (81)
Parmenides, (2)-(8) ("The Way of Truth")
Empedocles, (8), (9), (17)
Anaxagoras, (12), (13) ("Nous" is Greek for "Mind")
Zeno, (1), (2)
Melissos, (1)-(10)


On sophistry or the sophistic movement, a brief and accessible summary is Ralph McInerny's own chapter on the Sophists from his History of Western Philosophy, vol. 1 (ch. 7), which can be viewed here.

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