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Monday, June 15, 2009

Online Course: Philosophy

Update: These live courses have concluded and are available now as a recorded courses through our Unlimited Access! Service. This is a great way to learn at your own pace when your schedule allows. To subscribe or learn more, click here now: Catholic Homeschooling

I am so very excited to announce that Dr. Jean Rioux, professor and chair of the philosophy department at Benedictine College, will be teaching a course for Homeschool Connections. This is wonderful news for homeschooled students and parents!

The course is What Do Philosophers Do and How Do They Do It? The regular price is $160 and there is a discount for early registration. Register by by August 10 and the price is only $135.

Course Description:
Aristotle famously said, "all men by nature desire to know". For over 2600 years philosophers have grappled with life's profound questions. Seeking answers, they left their conclusions behind, along with the arguments supporting them. In this course we will be studying some of the better-known philosophical arguments in light of the issues they have addressed. From the allegory of the cave to the 5 ways of St. Thomas Aquinas to Pascal's wager, these arguments can serve as a brief introduction to the life and work of philosophers to anyone who would like to discover more about the "examined life".

Dates and Time:
This is a eight-week course. Classes will begin Thursday, September 10, 2009 and meet every Thursday through November 5, 2009. There will be no class on October 15. The time will begin 3:00 PM Eastern Time and end at 4:15 PM.

Enrollment Period:
Enrollment is currently open and will close on September 5, 2009. This will provide students time to learn about the educational software Moodle and the instructor time to provide a syllabus and welcome letter.

Course Outline:
The selections we'll read are:
Class 1: Plato's "allegory of the cave", from the Republic
Class 2: Aristotle on happiness and moral virtue, from the Nicomachean Ethics
Session 3: St. Augustine on choosing evil, from the Confessions
Class 4: St. Anselm of Canterbury's and René Descartes' "ontological" arguments, from the Proslogion and the Meditations, respectively
Class 5: René Descartes on how I may know of my own existence, from the Meditations
Class 6: Blaise Pascal on the "wager" argument, from the Pensées
Class 7: St. Thomas Aquinas on the possibility of proving God's existence, from the Summa Theologiae
Class 8: St. Thomas Aquinas' "five ways", from the Summa Theologiae

Course Materials:
Reading materials will be provided at no additional charge in the form of a pdf file. References to the readings made during the course will be to this version. Students are expected to read the short selections (about 2 pages, on avg.) carefully before each session.

Apart the reading for an upcoming session, students are expected to respond to a few questions from the previous one. The questions will be made available following each session, and responses will be due before the start of the next session (or within the week following the final session). Homework will be graded. However we do not provide record keeping. Iit is up to the parent to record the grade in their child's transcript.

Professor's Biography:
Dr. Rioux is a professor and chair of the philosophy department at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he has taught for 23 years.

A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, he completed his graduate work in philosophy at the Center for Thomistic Studies in Houston, earning the M.A. in 1984 and the Ph.D. in 1990.

Specializing in the thought of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, Dr. Rioux has published textbooks in logic and natural philosophy, as well as articles on the philosophy of mathematics in the Thomist and the Aquinas Review.

He came to Benedictine with a love for the study of primary texts, as well as a keen interest in what computers might bring to that study. His contributions to the philosophical life of Benedictine College range from Great Books Sequences in philosophy and theology to 3D software for students of logic. He and his wife, Maria, raise their nine children in a farmhouse in rural Kansas. They have been designing their own curricula and educating their children at home for over 20 years.

Misc. Details:
Dr. Rioux will be available via email in between classes to answer questions and take comments.

Recordings of the classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.

Equipment Requirements:
Students are required to have high-speed internet. A headset with microphone is required. You can find them reasonably price at Amazon.

To check your connection with the online classes visit:

Go to: What Philosophers Do and How They Do It. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the Register button and then follow the instructions. We take Visa and Master Card. If you prefer to pay by check, or have any questions, please don't hesitate to email Maureen Wittmann.

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