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Natural Philosophy

PHIL 209

Natural Philosophy

  • Course ID:PHIL 209
  • Semesters:1
  • Department:Philosophy
  • Course Rank:Required
  • Teachers:Lawrence Kaiser

Description and Objectives

This semester-length course will offer students a very preliminary and age-appropriate introduction to the subject of “natural philosophy”.

In addition to providing a deeper understanding of cause & effect in the natural world and the other “hard sciences”, we hope to provide students with a conceptual corrective to the predominant modern view of reality as merely corporeal.

Topics covered:

·      The notion of a “science”

·      The notion of “nature”

·      The fact of “change” and its different modes

·      Cause & effect

·      The different kinds of causes

·      “mobile” being vs. physics

·      the notions of “substance” & “accidents”

·      Aristotle’s theory of hylemorphism

·      Fragmented knowledge & modern views of causality


  • Material Logic by Martin Cothran
  • Elements of Philosophy by William Wallace, O.P.
  • Aristotle’s Revenge:  The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science by Edward Feser

Course Requirements


  1. Quizzes (60% of the total/quarter): these will occur each Thursday(the day before, if ‘floater’ hits the course). There is a re-take policy for quizzes and is as follows:
    1. If a student determines he wishes to attempt a “re-take” of the preceding week’s written quiz, this must be done during the lunch hour of the following Monday(“Make-up Monday”). The make-up quiz is oral and consists of several questions. The two quiz scores are averaged for a final score for that particular quiz grade.
    2. If a student happens to miss the regularly scheduled quiz on Thursday for a legitimate health, personal, or familial reason, that particular quiz must be made up before the following Thursday (i.e. within 7 days).There are no make-up quizzes offered for a missed, scheduled quiz.  If the student does not take the initiative via email to establish a time/day so as to make-up with the quiz within that time, the score reverts to a “0”.
  2. Tests (40% of the total/quarter): there will be two (2) tests each quarter.  There are no re-takes offered for tests.

One extra-credit assignment may be offered toward the conclusion of each quarter.


Successful Students

The hallmark of any academically successful student is diligence.  In our circumstances, it is a “forward leaning” disposition towards academic work – its care and completion.

The acquisition of this virtue should be highly sought-after for its applicability not only to academic studies, but a host of non-academic contexts throughout one’s life.

Students can even have little interest in a given subject (perhaps, even, “Natural Philosophy”), but still exhibit a diligence toward assignments or in tackling course difficulties, and yet remain academically successful in the course.