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Philosophy of Nature

PHIL 209/210

Philosophy of Nature

  • Course ID:PHIL 209/210
  • Semesters:2
  • Department:Philosophy
  • Course Rank:Required
  • Teachers:Anthony Hadford

Description and Objectives


The first half of this course will offer students a preliminary introduction to the discipline of philosophy and the second half will focus on the “philosophy of nature”. We will begin with some key questions: what is philosophy and why do we study it every other day along with theology at The Heights? What is the full scope of its expertise? After Christmas break, we will follow in the footsteps of Aristotle and begin our investigation of physics, or the material world. The course’s terminology and related concepts serve as a foundation for the next course in The Heights’ philosophy sequence, “metaphysics”.

Topics covered:

– Etymology of philosophy;
– Relationship between philosophy and the other sciences;
– Relationship between philosophy and theology;
– Branches of philosophy;
– The fact of “change” and its different modes;
– The four causes;
– The notions of “substance” & “accidents”;
– Aristotle’s theory of hylemorphism.



Plato, Gorgias

Mark Grannis, The Reasonable Person: Traditional Logic for Modern Life 

Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life (chapter 8 on truth)

Primary Sources from Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas

Fr. Sebastian Walshe, The Foundations of Wisdom Volume II: Nature


Course Requirements

Course requirements and grading criteria:

1. Class Participation (30% of the total/quarter): includes a daily participation grade, in-class assignments, individual oral presentations / debates, group oral presentations / debates;
2. Homework (30% of the total/quarter): take home written assignments; brief quizzes on reading or podcast assignments;
3. Tests and Papers (40% of the total/quarter): there will be a test or paper each quarter;
– Students may not “re-take” tests or quizzes;
– Students may rewrite papers;
– Students may request extra-credit assignments.

Homework Assignments: Students will receive homework assignments in class and online. In case a student is absent from class he should consult the week’s assignments on the course website (see above).

Office hours: In addition to ad hoc appointments, I encourage students to meet with me during office hours to discuss any course material, homework assignments, tests / papers, and any general philosophical inquiries. Additionally, this is also when quiz make-ups (not re-takes) must be completed. The weekly office hours are:
– Each Monday during lunch (Classroom 16) from 12:45 p.m. until 1:30 p.m.
– Each Thursday after school (Classroom 16) from 3:05 p.m. until 4:05 p.m.


Successful Students

The key of any academically successful student is diligence. The acquisition of this virtue should be highly sought-after for its applicability not only to academic studies, but a wide variety of moments throughout one’s life. Students can even have little interest in a given subject, but still exhibit a diligence toward assignments or in tackling course difficulties, and therefore become a virtuous man.

Additional Resources

Homework Assignments:

#1 – Socrates Reading

  • Carrocio – September 8
  • Cheely – September 8
  • Myers – September 11
  • Ybarra – September 11

#2 – Philosophy commentary: choose a thinker in culture and comment on his philosophy. No more than a couple paragraphs.

  • Carrocio – September 14
  • Cheely – September 14
  • Myers – September 15
  • Ybarra – September 15

#3 – Listen to this podcast, which is a 2023 commencement address applying advice from Plato’s Gorgias.

  • Carrocio – September 26
  • Cheely – September 26
  • Myers – September 25
  • Ybarra – September 25

#4 – Read the first three sections of “The Reasonable Person” by Mr. Grannis [Introduction (pgs. 1-5); 1.1 A Way of Knowing the Truth (pgs. 7-10); 1.2 Addressing Skepticism About Truth (pgs. 11-16)].  I recommend committing the bolded concepts to memory and being ready to answer the following questions: (1) What intellectual virtues does the reasonable person need? Did Socrates possess them? (2) What would a skeptic say about truth? How would a student of Aristotle respond? (3) Does disagreement about the truth of a statement suggest that the statement is not true? Why or why not?

  • Carrocio – October 6
  • Cheely – October 6
  • Myers – October 5
  • Ybarra – October 16

#5 – Read the following five sections of “The Reasonable Person” by Mr. Grannis [1.3 The Three Acts of the Mind (pgs. 16-19); 1.4 Logic and Language (pgs. 19-23); 2.1 The Formation of Concepts (pgs. 27-30); 2.2 Universals (pgs. 30-35); and 2.4.1 Signification (pgs. 39-41)].  I recommend committing the bolded concepts to memory and being ready to answer the following questions: TBD

  • Carrocio – October 13
  • Cheely – October 13
  • Myers – October 16
  • Ybarra – October 16