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Entire ignorance is not so terrible or extreme an evil, and is far from being the greatest of all;
too much cleverness and too much learning, accompanied with ill bringing-up, are far more fatal.

-Plato, Laws

is the "Just City"

It is Socrates' name for the ideal regime- the perfect form of government to which all human regimes ought to strive, and in which all citizens are taught to seek the virtuous life and to strive for self-perfection. Though ultimately unreachable (at least in this world), it is, in a sense, the appropriate name for the quest for life lived perfectly, as envisioned by countless world philosophies and religions.

Socrates' vision of the Kallipolis is found in Plato's Republic, arguably the single most important work in Western Philosophy and a significant influence on Augustine's City of God. Plato and Augustine both shared a common vision of the nature of reality and humanity's place in it- a vision that Augustine believed was glimpsed imperfectly by the Greeks and revealed most fully in the development of Christian doctrine.

The Unexamined Life...
The early Christian Tertullian once famously asked, 'What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?' The purpose of the 'Foundations of the Catholic Worldview' course at Cardinal Gibbons High School is to explore the answer to that question, and to examine the interaction of philosophy (Athens) and religion (Jerusalem) in the West. This website is primarily intended to accompany that course. We will seek to engage in what the Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft has called the "Great Conversation," and to consider the answers to the ultimate questions given by the great minds that have gone before us. And, possibly, to make a contribution of our own. While the thoughts of Modern and 'Post' Modern philosophers are considered, the main focus of the course is to recover the 'Perennial Philosophy,' the worldview that shaped the doctrine of the Early Church and provided the philosophical vocabulary with which that doctrine was developed, communicated, and defended. Since there is a Senior World Religions class, we will not examine philosophic and religious traditions that are non-Western, except in the context of questions about concepts of truth and tolerance as currently understood in the West.

This course was borne out of the realization that many students graduate from CGHS without an adequate awareness of the rich philosophical/intellectual tradition within Catholicism. Well versed in scripture, morality, social justice, sacramental theology, and catechism, students nevertheless often graduate without seeing how such knowledge fits into a comprehensive worldview, a worldview that seeks to answer the needs of the human spirit in every aspect of existence. This class is intended to introduce students to the vibrant intellectual tradition within Catholicism, to make coherent the essential elements of Catholic thought, and to help students understand why Catholicism is still a viable and compelling articulation of the nature and meaning of existence.

The title of the course, Foundations of the Catholic Worldview, is inspired by the notion that civilizations, like cities, are built on foundations, and if the foundation is weakened or destroyed the civilization will fall if it is not repaired or replaced. If one were to think of the various aspects of a given worldview, such as its beliefs about morality, law, education, virtue, and entertainment, as being represented by buildings, then a weakened or destroyed foundation places all of these things in jeopardy. The Foundation of Western civilization has gone through several significant shifts. The questions at the heart of this class are these: Why did these shifts occur? What are the consequences? Are they acceptible? Are they justifiable? What is gained and what is lost? Should anything be recovered?

The anwers to these questions are to found in an examination of the foundations upon which the Western worldview were built, and those foundations are essentially Judeo-Christian. What are the metaphysical, epistemological, and ontological claims that constitute that foundation, and what beliefs reasonably follow from them? Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas will tell us.

Course Outline

Classical Realism: Plato & Aristotle

  • The Areas of Philosophic Inquiry
    • Epistemology
    • Ontology
    • Metaphysics
    • Anthropology
    • Morality/Ethics
    • Aesthetics
    • Philosophy of History
    • Education
  • The Three Western "Metanarratives"
    • Premodernism & Classical Realism
    • Modernism & Materialism
    • PostModerism(s)
  • The PreSocratics
  • The Sophists
  • Socrates
    • Key Concepts
      • The Dialectic
      • Recollection
      • The Soul
  • Plato
    • Life & The Dialogues
    • The Republic
      • Justice
      • The Doctrine of the Forms
      • The Allegories
        • The Divided Line
        • The Sun & The Good
        • The Cave
      • Degradation of Regimes
  • Aristotle
    • Life & Writings
    • Relationship to Plato
    • Criticisms of Plato
    • Key Concepts
      • The Philosopher of "Common Sense"
      • The Prime/First/Unmoved Mover
      • Actuality and Potentiality
      • Form and Matter
      • Logic
      • The Four Causes
      • Substance & The Categories
      • Mind
      • Eudaimonia
      • Ethics

Classical Realism: Augustine & Aquinas

  • Precursors
    • Our Platonic Inheritance
      • Paul & Love as Virtue
      • John & Jesus as Wisdom Incarnate
  • Augustine
    • Life & Writings
    • NeoPlatonism
    • Christian Platonism
    • Refutation of Skepticism
    • The Will & Love
    • Empiricism
    • Faith & Reason
    • Creation Ex Nihilo
    • The Fall
    • Grace
    • Predestination & Free Will
  • Anselm
    • The Ontological Argument
  • Thomas Aquinas
    • Life & Writings
    • Thomism (Christian Aristotelianism)

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