This course teaches students to identify, understand, and reflect systematically on several fundamental philosophical questions by analyzing a number of texts, mainly taken from contemporary philosophy. Throughout the course, special attention will be given to the relationship between philosophical problems and the Christian religion and Christian theology. The course also addresses the interaction between various existential and topical societal questions and the radical and systematic reflection on them that philosophy has to offer.
After having completed this course students will be able
- to analyze philosophical texts as to their presuppositions and implications
- to identify and explain a number of important philosophical problem areas, e.g. about the relationship between faith and reason, the objectivity or relativity of truth, the existence of the mind, free will versus determinism, the meaning of life, the importance of what we care about, and the objectivity of values.
- to expound coherently various leading philosophical positions within each problem area and relate them to theological and societal questions, and evaluate them.
- to set up a logically correct argument and discover fallacies of reasoning.
In this course, extra attention will be given to analyzing philosophical argumentations, as well as to understanding and being able to develop a philosophical argumentation yourself. You can practice these skills during the classes, by delivering written answers to the Study Questions and those for further reflection that accompany all treated texts. During every class you get feedback on the answers that you have prepared.
The course starts with the question: What is systematic philosophy, what are the main problems that are dealt with in this discipline and how do they relate to religion and theology?|
Next, the following questions will be discussed:
Type of instructions
- What is a logically correct argument and what are fallacies (logic)
- Is religious faith an irrational conviction or are there reasonable arguments for it (philosophy of religion)?
- Is 'objective knowledge' possible, or is knowledge always entangled with our own mind frame (epistemology)?
- Why are we currently confronted with so much nonsense in all kinds of conversations (epistemology/philosophy of culture)
- Are we just corporeal beings or are there reasons to believe that we also have a soul?
- Does free will exist and, if so, what does that imply (philosophical anthropology)?
- Does life have a meaning or is it absurd (metaphysics)?
- What is the importance of what we care about?
- Are values objective or are they just an expression of our subjective desires and preferences (metaphysics/ethics)?
Lectures and seminars
Type of exams
Required reading (available as pdf)
L.P. Pojman, L. Vaughn, Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009 (ISBN: 978-0-19-531132-7)
Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit
Harry Frankfurt, The importance of what we care about.
Thomas Nagel, Value. In: Idem, A View From Nowhere