Departmental Overview

PURPOSE: The Catholic intellectual tradition has always prized the study of philosophy; there is a Christian humanism in our tradition that has always taken seriously the liberal arts, and in a particular way, philosophy. This is why Franciscan University, after renewing and extending its commitment to philosophy, inaugurated in January 1993 a program of study leading to the MA degree in Philosophy.

This program has a distinctive character. It is firmly rooted in the Western philosophical tradition, especially Augustinian, Franciscan, and Thomistic philosophy. At the same time, the philosophers of the program take very seriously all that has happened in modern and contemporary philosophy, some of them giving particular attention to Phenomenological Realism (the library contains a special collection of writings in this area). There is one modern development that concerns them in a special way: In the last few centuries, the idea of human beings as persons has come into its own. The program emphasizes the philosophy of the human person and the issues of a personalist ethics.

Our MA Philosophy Program is committed to the distinction between faith and reason. Philosophy is a work of reason and does not base itself upon faith and revelation. At the same time, the philosophers of the program recognize that reason and faith stand in many positive relations to each other. Faith provides a fertile soil for the development of philosophical wisdom and insight, suggesting fruitful hypotheses, important questions, and paths of inquiry. The MA Philosophy Program serves not only believers but all men and women who are serious about questions of truth.

This program is of interest to persons intending to go on to the PhD in philosophy, but also to persons intending to do graduate study in some other area, such as literature, political science, history, jurisprudence, or theology. When they recognize the importance of philosophical literacy and philosophical habits of mind for serious work in these disciplines, they often look for philosophy studies leading precisely to the MA degree to reflect more closely than they have before on the most fundamental questions of human existence.