In the Prologue of "Fides et Ratio", John Paul II articulates five “principal questions by which man’s life is demarcated: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Why do evils exist here? What awaits us after this life?” In this course, we will begin to answer these questions about ourselves (especially the first three) from a philosophic point of view, taking our cues principally from major thinkers in the history of philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and Wojtyla/John Paul II. Our overall goal will be to develop an “adequate anthropology,” as Pope John Paul II calls for—that is, a truthful mode of thinking that does justice to all the complexities and dimensions of human existence—an especially important task nowadays in light of the various false and/or partial accounts of the human person that hold sway in our contemporary intellectual landscape.


Text to be purchased:

Plato, Symposium, trans. S. Benardete (University of Chicago, 2001) [ISBN: 0226042758]

I will provide .pdfs of all other assigned texts.

Lists of Texts per Week:

Week 1: Basic options; reductionism

John Paul II, Fides et ratio, Prologue (pp. 1–9)

Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, chh. 1–2 (pp. 1–20)

Week 2: Modern dualism

Descartes, Meditations (at least I–III [pp. 13–35], but perhaps a bit more)

Week 3: Aristotelian hylomorphism

Aristotle, On the Soul, selections

Week 4: Seeing the human through the lens of eros: a Platonic approach (I)

Plato, Symposium (through Agathon’s speech and Socrates’ reply)

Week 5: Seeing the human through the lens of eros: a Platonic approach (II)

Plato, Symposium (from Socrates’s speech to the end)

Week 6: The human as created: Aquinas’s anthropology (I)

Aquinas, Summa theologiae, I, q. 76, aa. 1,4,5; q. 90 (about 12 pages?)

Week 7: The human as created: Aquinas’s anthropology (II)

Aquinas, Summa theologiae, I, qq. 91–92 (about 12 pages?)

Week 8: Wojtyla’s personalism

Wojtyla, “Thomistic Personalism” and “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in the Human Being” (about 18 pages)

About Instructor

Matthew Walz

Matthew Walz was born in New York, but grew up mostly in Ohio. He completed undergraduate studies at Christendom College in Virginia, double-majoring in philosophy and theology and graduating as the valedictorian of the class of 1995. He did graduate studies in the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC). There he earned a doctorate in philosophy by completing a dissertation on Thomas Aquinas’ understanding of free will. Matthew has been teaching at the college level since 1998. As a graduate student, he taught for two years at The Catholic University of America. Then he began teaching at Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, CA), where he remained for eight years. Since 2008 he has served as a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Dallas (Irving, TX). In addition, since the summer of 2012, he has served has Director of Intellectual Formation at Holy Trinity Seminary (Irving, TX). His research and writing focus primarily on medieval philosophy, ancient philosophy, and philosophical anthropology. Besides Aquinas, his favorite philosophical authors include Aristotle, Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, and Bonaventure.

2 Courses

Not Enrolled

Course Includes

  • 8 Lessons
  • Course Certificate