‘Albert the Great’ (1206-1280)

Course Description

Like our course, Philosophy of Being: Metaphysics, this course on the Philosophy of Nature is a philosophical course in its truest sense. It is designed to challenge students to think deeply about the material world in which they live.

The course will begin by looking at the science of Natural Philosophy and its relation to the other philosophical as well as experimental sciences. After this foundation has been laid we will look at the essential philosophical nature of bodies. This will be achieved with an investigation into the philosophical doctrines of Atomism, Dynamism and Hylemorphism. After studying these doctrines we can embark upon an investigation into the philosophical nature of substance and the accident known as corporeal quantity. After looking at quantity we will investigate the predicaments of ‘where’ and ‘when.’ It is here that we will explore the very interesting question concerning the possibility of two bodies existing in the same place at the same time. This question has important theological ramifications, especially regarding the theology of the Eucharist, i.e., the possibility of Christ’s physical human body present under the appearances of bread and wine, as well as the theology of the risen and glorified body, and its properties.

After looking at these important and interesting questions we will conclude our course with a philosophical investigation into the nature of movement and the measure of movement, which is ‘time.’ In this discussion we will look at the various types of duration, namely, continuous time (which is the measure of the movement of bodies), discrete time (the duration of created pure spirits: angels and separated human souls) and eternity (the duration of the uncreated pure spirit: God).

This is a philosophical course in its truest sense. Definitely one that will challenge you to think deeply about the material world in which you live…so dive in!

Course Objectives

  1. To obtain a firm grasp of the nature of Natural Philosophy and Cosmology.
  2. To grasp the philosophical nature of bodies.
  3. To know the nature of substantial form and primary matter, as derived from the doctrine of hylemorphism.
  4. To understand the predicaments of ‘quantity,’ ‘where’ and ‘when.’
  5. To see the essential nature of movement and its measure: which is ‘time.’

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Popular Level Reading:

Gardeil, H.D. Introduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (vol. 2: Cosmology). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2009.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought. Translated by Patrick Cummins. London: B. Herder Book Co., 1950.

Geisler, Norman L. and Paul D. Feinberg. Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1980.

Glenn, Paul. Introduction to Philosophy. London: B. Herder Book Co., 1966.

Maritain, Jacques. Introduction to Philosophy. Translated by E.I. Watkin. Merryland: Sheed and Ward, 2005.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Aristotle. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. Edited by Jonathan Barnes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Bobik, Joseph. Aquinas on Matter and Form and the Elements. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998.

Connell, Richard J. Natures Causes. New York: Peter Lang, 1995.

Dales, Richard. Medieval Discussion of the Eternity of the World. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 1990.

Elders, Leo. The Philosophy of Nature of Saint Thomas Aquinas. New York: Peter Lang, 1997.

Fox, Rory. Time and Eternity in Mid-Thirteenth-Century Thought. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Hetzler, Florence M. Introduction to the Philosophy of Nature. New York:: Peter Lang, 1990.

Koren, Henry J. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Nature. Pittsburgh: Duquesne Univ., 1960.

Maritain, Jacques. Philosophy of Nature. [To which is added “Maritain’s philosophy of the sciences,” by Yves R. Simon.] New York: Philosophical Library, 1951.

Smith, Vincent E. The General Science of Nature. Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co., 1958.

Thomas Aquinas. Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics. (2 vols.). Translated by Richard J. Blackwell et al. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963.

Woodbury, Austin. Natural Philosophy: General Natural Philosophy and Cosmology. Sydney: Aquinas Academy (unpublished text), 1950-51.