Mathematics, Natural Science, and Philosophy Course Descriptions

Natural Science I: Natural History

(3 credits during first year of studies)
This course develops the students’ ability to appreciate the splendor and intelligibility of the Creation through extensive field and laboratory study.  Students will learn to identify the principal trees and common birds of our campus and study the ecology of the White Pine-Red Oak-Maple transitional forests that characterize the lower Merrimack Valley. Texts are drawn from the writings of ancient and modern students of nature, as well as from the writings of prominent New England naturalists.

Euclid’s Elements of Geometry

(3 credits during first year of studies)
This course trains the student in the art of geometry according to the method of Euclid.  Students master the first six books of Euclid’s Elements. The discussion of the principles and definitions proper to the art will be followed by the examination of the theorems, which are presented publicly and from memory by the students.

Logic

(3 credits during second year of studies)
A course of training in the art of reasoning according to the doctrine of Aristotle.  Students will refine their ability to use language in the pursuit of truth by studying substantial portions of Plato’s Meno and Aristotle’s Categories, On Interpretation, and Prior Analytics, as well as shorter selections from the Posterior Analytics, Topics, Sophistical Refutations, and Rhetoric.

Art & Architecture in Rome

(3 credits during second year of studies)
An introduction to the patrimony of ancient and Christian art and architecture, with extensive site visits in Rome, Lazio, Umbria, and Tuscany.  The ‘texts’ will principally be the buildings, sculptures, and paintings themselves, but students will also be asked to reflect upon the nature and purpose of the arts through reading selections from Vitruvius, St. John of Damascus, Abbot Suger, Alberti, Josef Pieper, and John Paul II.

Natural Science II: Nature & Motion

(3 credits during third year of studies)
An inquiry into the principles of natural beings, of their coming into being and passing away. Readings include selections from the Pre-Socratics, Books I-III of Aristotle’s Physics, and selections from Galileo, Descartes, and Newton.  The course culminates in the comparison of modern and Aristotelian views of nature and motion.

On the Soul

(3 credits during third year of studies)
A study of living things, their distinctive activities of nutrition, growth, generation, perception, and self-motion, the powers that make possible those activities, and the principle of those powers, the soul.  The course will culminate in a consideration of the human soul and its distinctive activities of knowing and willing. The principal text will be Aristotle’s On the Soul, against the background of pre-Socratic, Hippocratic, and Platonic texts, and together with passages from Aristotle’s biological works.  Attention is also given to challenges posed to the traditional understanding of the soul by Descartes, William James, and others.

On the Good Life I: Ethics

(3 credits during third year of studies)
A study of human action, the virtues as principles of good human action, friendship as its sustaining context, and happiness as its ultimate end. The principal text will be Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, together with brief selections from Augustine, Aquinas, and John Paul II.  Also considered is the role of the imagination in clarifying conduct and arriving at a humane understanding of the challenges before ordinary men and women.

On the Good Life II: Politics & Economics

(3 credits during third year of studies)
A study of human life in common.  To be considered are the kinds of community—family, household, city, and nation—the kinds of rule appropriate to each, the common goods to which each is ordered, the kinds of regime and what preserves them, and the best regime and way of life for the political community.  Texts include Aristotle’s Politics and selections from Augustine, Aquinas, and the tradition of Catholic social thought. An introduction to the principles of economics and the political effects of various economic theories is also given.

Metaphysics

(3 credits during fourth year of studies)
The culmination of philosophical inquiry, what Aristotle calls “first philosophy”—the study of being qua being and its causes. The principal texts will be Aristotle’s Metaphysics together with readings by his modern critics and interlocutors (e.g., Hume, Kant, Heidegger).

Senior Seminar: Nostra Aetate—Our Traditions and Challenge of the Age

(3 credits during fourth year of studies)
An examination of the continuous contact of Western Catholic culture with others; particular attention is given to understanding the Church’s universal mission of evangelization in the context of contemporary dialogues with Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism, Islam, and other non-Christian religions.  Readings will be anchored by magisterial documents (e.g., Satis Cognitum, Ut Unum Sint, etc.) and primary sources of the other societies such as the Koran.   Attention will be given to literary, philosophical, and theological works from these non Western-Catholic societies (Confucius, Averroes, Dostoyevski, etc.) in order to encourage students to see how the imagination both shapes and is shaped by culture in the mind’s apprehension of reality, and to enquire into what extent we can speak about generic patterns of order and ideas.