Course Descriptions

Fall 2024

PHIL 115-01A
Becoming a Person
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 9:10am with Charles Wright

Who am I? What makes me, me? Who gets to say who I am? How do personal qualities, relations with others, and social categories like race, gender, gender identity, ethnicity and class come together to form my personal and social identity? How does who I am inform what I know and don’t know? Does who I am give me specific responsibilities? If so, what are they? This course introduces you to philosophical ideas that help you discover multiple dimensions of who you are.

PHIL 123-01T
Philosophy of Human Nature
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 11:30am-12:25pm with Erica Stonestreet
(HE, T1)

What are humans like?  What is the purpose of human life?  These basic questions can be answered from different points of view and focused on different aspects of being human.  What does it mean to be a human animal?  Are we fundamentally selfish?  How should we live? 

​What is the role of reason in defining humanity?

What is a soul?  How can human life be meaningful?  This course is a survey designed to introduce philosophical ideas and modes of thought, with a central focus on problems arising from human nature. 

​Using a textbook that contains sources from “classic” European philosophy as well as ​from outside that tradition, we will analyze and criticize topics that fall under three major aspects of the human condition: body, mind, and spirit.  We’ll raise questions and discuss the implications of each topic for the meanings of our own lives, for how we ought to behave as individuals, and for how we should treat one another in order to build the best lives possible for ourselves.

PHIL 331-01T
Ancient Philosophy
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10:20-11:15am with Dennis Beach, OSB
(HE, BN, T3)

Raphael’s famous fresco The School of Athens accurately depicts the world of Ancient Philosophy. The painting features a multitude of ancient thinkers involved in conversation, writing, or meditation in a beautiful public space. The focal point of the painting is the two central figures of Plato and Aristotle, who will also serve as the foundation for this course, which aims to help students become knowledgeable participants in the conversations and practices that pursue truth, virtue and the good that shaped the beginnings of Western philosophy. The course approaches philosophy not simply as an academic discipline, but as a “way of life.”

PHIL 377B-01J
Liberty, Equality, and Race in American Political Thought
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 1:50-2:45pm with Charles Wright
(HE, JF, WR)

This class first introduces students to some of the philosophical foundations of the American Republic – in particular, the political philosophy of John Locke, James Madison & Alexander Hamilton.  We will learn about the conceptions of individual freedom and equality they believed to be essential for a good human life and that a well-ordered political society ought to secure for all citizens.  We will also examine troubling ethical ambiguities associated with their work – in particular, with their relation to American slavery and the dispossession of Indigenous peoples in the Americas.  Following this introduction to political philosophy, the class will then turn to the work of African American authors who offer strikingly different assessments of the ethical challenges and social harms created by the persisting legacies of racial inequity in the United States.

College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Erica Stonestreet
Chair, Philosophy Department
SJU Quad 362F

Laura Schmitz
Department Coordinator
SJU Quad 362D