Saint John the Evangelist Seminary

A Commitment of the Evangelical Catholic Church for Academic Formation
















Website designed by:

Saint John the Evangelist Seminary


ISC 500: Introduction to Religious Philosophy

Course Syllabus 



Bishop Dermot Rodgers






In this course we shall examine and assess many different philosophical theories, comparing and contrasting them as we apply their views to different philosophical questions.  After a brief introduction to what philosophy is, what an argument is, and the importance of philosophy, we will examine the views of many famous philosophers, including (but by no means limited to) the following: Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, George Berkeley, Rene Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, and others.




General consideration of human nature and the nature of the universe.  Knowledge, perception, freedom and determinism, and the existence of God. 




  • To provide you with a general introduction to and understanding of philosophical views, issues, and arguments.  It should also help you to appreciate what philosophy is and the way in which it is relevant to practical issues. 
  • To help you develop your critical thinking and writing skills.  In order to develop your views on these issues, it is important to understand the difference between good and bad arguments, and to have the ability to critically and carefully analyze the arguments of others.  This course should help you to write more sharply organized, focused and effective argumentative essays.
  • This course does not aim to provide simple answers to questions such as, "Does God exist?"  This course will not preach a set of "correct" views; it will, however, assume rationality (consistency and having plausible reasons for one's view) and free will.  What is important is that you attempt to carefully consider and examine the arguments with intellectual honesty and reconcile them with your convictions.  This course should open your mind to many, as of yet unforeseen, possibilities and options that may be true of everything that exists or may exist.


By the end of the semester, I wish for you to know the following general things about philosophy:


Philosophy is useful and valuable.


Philosophy is diverse.


There is such a thing as a good and a bad argument, whether or not you agree with its conclusion.


Your argument is only as good or sound as your consideration and/or answers to good objections against it.


There are many answers that have been given to the major philosophical questions, and every such answer is not equally as plausible as every other.  Your “obligation” is to seek the most plausible answer. 




1.      Complete readings, summaries and papers.

2.      Interact with me via Skype or Google Chat as we progress with this course.

3.      Participate Actively

4.      Ask questions whenever something is confusing or unclear.

5.      Have fun.




  1. A healthy and functioning PC or Laptop with Internet Connection and Skype or Google Chat up and running.
  2. Completion of two (2) papers.  The first at the “mid-point” of our journey and a final paper.  Topics for papers TBA.


REQUIRED TEXT:   Western Philosophy: An Anthology   John Cottingham, ed Second Edition (2008)  see Amazon for rental.



Saint John the Evangelist Seminary
An Online Academic Program