Phil 6640: St Thomas Aquinas




INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Richard C. Taylor

OFFICE: 238, Coughlin Hall

MAILBOX: Coughlin Hall Rm. 132

TELEPHONE: 288-5649; FAX: 288-3010

EMAIL:  or

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays, Thursdays 10:50-12:20 and by appointment.

Also available most Tuesdays, Thursdays 3:30-4:30 pm by appointment.


TURNITIN.COM: class ID: 3040441   password: mistertea

I. Course Description:

The primary focus of study in this course is the psychology, epistemology and  metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas. In each of these areas Aquinas drew from the Greek pagan, Christian and Islamic (and Jewish) traditions but formulated his own innovative and distinctive views on the nature of being, the process of knowing, and the essential nature of the human soul along lines considered insightful and compelling by some of his contemporaries and radically rationalist by some other contemporaries. The innovative philosophical rationalism of this theologian gave rise to other important and long lasting insights and analyses, such as his conceptions of the relation of science of sacred doctrine and philosophy, the distinction of essence and existence, the natural character of human embodied knowing, an ‘Aristotelian’ account of the human body and soul compatible with Christian doctrine on resurrection, and much more. These themes and issues will be considered philosophically and historically.

The first part of the course will be devoted to issues of philosophical psychology and epistemology. The second part will study issues in metaphysics, including created and uncreated being, demonstrating and naming God, and more. In the third part of the course students will present drafts of course papers for comment by the class. In the fourth and final portion of the course we will study the issue of faith and reason or sacra doctrina and philosophy.

You should be prepared to make frequent use of email and Web resources both on campus and off campus to facilitate your studies in this course. The literature on the thought of Thomas Aquinas is vast and wide, so we will use all the available tools to enable our study of Aquinas to be as rich as possible. A webpage devoted to available tools and resources will be posted on the course website.


Course learning objectives and outcomes with assessment tools indicated:

By the end of the course,

1. The student will be able to expound the doctrine of soul and intellect and its key concepts and arguments in the thought of Aquinas. Assessment tools: Exam 1, classroom presentations and discussion, possibly final course paper.

2. The student will be able to explain the theory of knowledge developed by Aquinas including the role of sense perception in the formation of concepts together with the relevant technical terminology. Assessment tools: Exam 1, classroom presentations and discussion, possibly final course paper.

3. The student will be able to give an account of the development of the psychological, epistemological and metaphysical teachings of Aquinas in relation to his major sources in the Latin, Greek and Arabic traditions. Assessment tools: Exams 1 & 2, classroom presentations and discussion, possibly final course paper.

4. The student will be able to expound Aquinas’ understanding of the relation of the metaphysics of God and creatures, including the essence-existence distinction.

Assessment tools: Exam 2, classroom presentations and discussion, possibly final course paper.

5. The student will be able to how Aquinas understands human beings to be able to know God and to name God. Assessment tools: Exam 2, classroom presentations and discussion, possibly final course paper.
6. The student will be able to state and explain the understanding of Aquinas on the relationship of philosophy and religion. Assessment tools: Exam 1, classroom presentations and discussion, possibly final course paper.

7. The student will be able to demonstrate a basic familiarity with selected secondary literature on the thought of Aquinas in oral and written work. Assessment tools: Exams 1 & 2, classroom presentations and discussion, possibly final course paper.



Students are required to use the following texts and to bring the relevant texts to each class meeting.

TEXTS:(1) Aquinas, ON BEING AND ESSENCE, tr. A. Maurer.

Toronto: PIMS, 1968.


tr. James Robb. Milwaukee: MU Press, 1984.

(3) Aquinas, selections from the Summa theologiae:



Hackett Reprint 1997 (ST)


Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump, eds.

New York, Cambridge, Melbourne: Cambridge University

Press, 1993.   (CCA)

(5) Other readings will come from the PAST MASTERS database available at the


and selected materials to be made available via the Marquette ARES reserve

system.  Some readings will come from my own translations of previously

untranslated texts of Aquinas.

Study Expectations and Class Participation Expectations

Students are expected to prepare for class in advance of classroom discussions by reading and studying assigned materials before class. Be prepared for oral discussion of readings and philosophical issues at every class meeting.  Class participation is an essential part of this course.

Policy for Students with Disabilities or Special Needs

Please see me privately if you have any documented disabilities or special needs. I will be glad to work with you has necessary to make this a valuable learning experience.

“STUDENTS WITH A DOCUMENTED DISABILITY are entitled to reasonable accommodations to ensure equality of opportunity to participate in Marquette’s

programs and activities if they are academically qualified to meet the university’s academic and technical standards for admission or participation in its educational programs and activities.”

For University policy see:

For the implementation accommodations, students must normally identify themselves to the instructor within the first week of classes as students with documented disability as certified by the Office of Disabilty Services (ODS).  I will work closely with the staff of the ODS in establishing reasonable accommodations as defined by University policy. Students seeking accommodations must register with ODS and receive appropriate certification. For information on academic accommodations, see



Grades will be based on (1) two exams, (2) Participation in the forms of (a) classroom participation in discussion, (b) two classroom presentations, ( c) presentation and discussion of a draft of the course paper, and (3) the final course paper, in accord with the following weighted values:

(1) two exams at 20% each                                                              40%

(2) Participation, Discussion, Class presentations, Attendance       20%

(3) the final course paper                                                                  40%

(1) two exams at 20% each: 40% of the course grade. Exam #1 on March 9 will be devoted to issues of philosophical psychology and epistemology.  Exam #2 on April 20 will be devoted to issues of metaphysics.  For each exam a set of questions will be provided in advance. Exam questions will be selected from these sets. Motivated students should be able to prepare well for the exams.

(2) Participation, Discussion, Class presentations, Attendance: 20% of the final course grade. The participation grade is based on active involvement in the course by way of discussion, argumentative analysis, questions and other forms of engagement in class.  As with all other grades, the Participation grade starts at 0% and you may earn your grade up to A. Attendance is used here as a measure. Full attendance but little or no discussion or participation will yield a grade no higher than C here. For a higher grade students must be noticeably active engaged in classroom discussion.

Class presentations will consist in the presentation of a written explication of three assigned texts and also the presentation of a draft of the final course paper. Since Attendance is used here as a measure of Participation, five unexcused absences will lower this portion of the grade by one letter, seven by two letters, nine by three letters.

(3) The final course paper: 40% of course grade. The final course paper is due on May 12 no later than 4 pm in my mailbox (Coughlin 132) and on

The topic of this paper must be developed in consultation with the instructor and with the instructor’s permission. Suggested paper topics will be distributed and discussed before the Spring and Easter Break.

General guidelines: (a) Papers should be ca. 20 pages double-spaced with endnotes on additional pages at the end of the paper. Each paper must also have a bibliography of sources at the end. Take special note: a two-page outline of the structure and argument of the paper must be included with the final paper. (b) Papers must be written in a standard format suitable for submission to a professional periodical, such as The Journal of the History of Philosophy, The Review of Metaphysics, or The Thomist. ( c) Papers are expected to be free of spelling and grammatical errors. After 5 such errors, the paper grade will be lowered by 1/2 grade, after 10 by a full grade, and so forth.

If you have any questions on format or other matters concerning the course paper, consult the instructor.

I expect to work closely with students on course papers so that students may conclude the course with an example of their very best work.


(a) Unless special arrangements are made in advance with the instructor, the grades of late papers will be lowered by 1 letter per day.

(b) Course papers must be (i) submitted to the website, (ii) emailed to me, and also (iii) submitted in print at class.


4. FACULTY OFFICE HOURS AND CONTACT INFORMATION: See above on the first page of this document.


Academic Dishonesty Policy

Dishonesty in academic matters undermines student intellectual development and the goal of Marquette University to develop the whole person. Further, dishonesty undermines the foundations of the search for the true and the right in ethical matters. Cheating in such forms as copying, sharing answers or questions, plagiarism and the like certainly cannot be tolerated in any university course, and all the more so in philosophy which is discipline particularly concerned with truth and understanding.  Consequently, in this course I adhere fully with the Marquette University Academic Honest Policy as spelled out in the Graduate Bulletin.

Students who have any questions about just what constitutes academic dishonesty should study the Academic Honesty Policy and bring any questions to the instructor to forestall any problems.



Class Attendance and Absence Policy

For this course students are expected to attend each and every class meeting.  It is the student’s responsibility to be sure to sign the attendance sheet at each class. For this course Attendance is included as a measure of academic performance.


Course description and policies

(syllabus part 1)

Extra Office Hours Available Weekly by appointment TT 3:30-4:30 pm. Email to confirm.