Saint John the Evangelist Seminary

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ISC 501: Introduction to Religious Philosophy

Course Syllabus 

Course Description

This course is an introduction to Ancient Greek Philosophy, from its traditional beginning in 585 BCE to the death of Aristotle in 322 BCE. We will cover several Presocratics, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Our focus will be on issues in natural philosophy and metaphysics, but issues in ethics, philosophy of mind, and theology will also find there way in.

Required Texts:

Baird and Kaufmann, Ancient Philosophy 5th Edition
Plato, Protagoras (Taylor Translation: Oxford 1996)
Shields, Classical Philosophy (Routledge 2003)

Order of Reading Assignments:

The First Philosophers           Milesian, Xenphanes: B&K 1-13, 17-18; Shields 1-9
Change and Multiplicity          Heraclitus, Parmenides: B&K 18-26; Shield 9-18
Being and Unity Parmenides    Zeno: B&K 22-30; Shields 13-20


Sophists                      Protagoras 309-340; BK 43-44; Shields 24-30
Socratic Questions        Euthyphro BK 70-82l Shields 33-45
Socrates on Trial           Apology BK 82-99
Virtue and Knowledge     Protagoras 348-end; Shields 45-51
Justice and Law            Crito BK 99-107; Shields 51-56



Plato’s Project                   Memo 70-100 (BK 151-175); Shields 59-66

Souls and Reforms              Phaedo 57-90 (BK 108-132); Shields 70-80

Platonic Explanation           Phaedo 91-118 (BK 132-150)

Justice and Function           Republic 1-2 (BK 210-233)

Virtue and Desire                Republic 3-4 (BK 266-249); Shields 86-95

Platonic Justice                  Republic 5 (BK 249-271)

Knowledge and Belief          Republic 6-7 (BK 271-283); Shields 80-86

Platonic Problems               Parmenides (BK 283-290); Shields 98-103





Aristotle’s Project               Metaphysics 1 (BK 338-353; Shields 109-111

Substance and Attribute      Categories, Interpretation (BK 313-322); Shields 111-116

Matter and Form                 Physics 2:1-3 (BK 327-331); Shields 116-122

Teleology                          Physics 2:4-9 (BK 331-338); Shields 122-132

Soul and Life                     On Soul (BK 364-369); Shields 132-136

Human Nature                    Ethics 1 (BK 369-383); Shields 136-141

Virtue and Happiness           Ethics 2 (BK 393-392)

Responsibility                     Ethics 3 (BK 392-400)

Rational Action                   Ethics 7 (BK 415-425)





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. Be familiar with PowerPoint.
  3. Completion of three (3) papers.  Topics for papers TBA.



Saint John the Evangelist Seminary
An Online Academic Program