Kairos Seminar on Greek Philosophy and Christian Thought (2022)

Lecturer: Dr. Ng Kam Weng

Seminar Description: Students (1) will be introduced to influential theories found in some key texts of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy that have been significant for Christian theology and apologetics, and (2) will critically analyze how seminal Christian thinkers like Augustine and Aquinas integrated the philosophical insights from Greek philosophy to construct a Christian philosophical tradition which can assist Christian witness and practice today.

Module I (a). Plato (2 weeks)
Nature of Knowledge and Reality: Doctrine of Forms, Allegory of the Cave and the Sun (The Republic VI-VII), and Theaetetus
Immortality of the Soul (Republic, Phaedo & Phaedrus)
God and cosmology (Timaeus)

Module 1 (b). Augustine (4 weeks)
Historical Background: Platonism, Neo-Platonism and Early Christianity
Skepticism and the Quest for Knowledge
Illumination of Mind and Knowledge
God and the Soul. Journey to True Selfhood.
Human Freedom and Problem of Evil
Texts: Selected Readings from Hackett Textbooks

Module II (a). Aristotle (2 weeks)
Four Causes and Hylomorphism
Nature of Soul and Perception
The Prime Mover: One and the Eternal. Metaphysics XII
Texts: De Anima Bk 1-4; Metaphysics Zeta 1 & Theta 6-9; Selected Readings from J.L. Ackrill / Terence Irwin.

Module II (b). Thomas Aquinas (4 weeks)
Metaphysical Framework – Being, Essence and Causality.
God’s Existence and Nature
Human Soul and Cognition
Texts: Selections from Summa Contra Theologiae and Summa Contra Gentiles

Background Reading
Any one of the following texts:
Terence Irwin, Classical Thought (Oxford UP, 1989).
Anthony Kenny, History Western Philosophy (Oxford UP, 2012), pp. 7-249. Best single vol. introduction to Western philosophy and best value for money.
Julian Marias, History of Philosophy (Dover, 1967), pp. 9-121.

Useful Texts
Jonathan Barnes, Aristotle. Very Short Introduction (Oxford UP, 2000).
Henry Chadwick, Augustine. Very Short Introduction (Oxford UP, 1986).
Fergus Kerr, Aquinas. Very Short Introduction (Oxford UP, 2009).
David Melling, Understanding Plato (Oxford UP, 1987).
Extra: Christopher Shields, Ancient Philosophy (Routledge 2011). A more advanced analytical text.

Class Schedule
The seminar will be conducted every last Saturday of the month from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon. Class begins from 26 March 2022 if the minimum number of registered students is satisfied.

Assuming the Covid situation improves, we shall meet as a small group (10-15 students) in a seminar room in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail Gospel Centre (Address: 20, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1, 60000 Kuala Lumpur). [Venue  confirmed on 26 Dec. 2021]. The room should large enough for compliance with SOP requirements.

Fees: RM 20 per module.
Registration: To confirm your participation, please send a personal message to kairosmalaysia@gmail.com. Indicate your phone number and church affiliation. Seminary students may take the seminar for credit if permitted by their respective seminaries.
Closing date for registration is Saturday, 12 March 2022 [Added on 26 Dec. 2021]

Books For Reference and Further Studies
Philosophical and Historical Context
Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy vol.1 Greece and Rome (Image, 1946). [Copleston’s nine-volumes set is regarded by many to be the best survey on Western Philosophy].
Terence Irwin, Classical Philosophy (Oxford UP, 2000).
Christopher Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge UP, 1994).

G.M.A. Grube, Plato’s Thought (Hackett, 1980).
Richard Kraut, Cambridge Companion to Plato (Cambridge UP, 1992).
A.E. Taylor, Plato: the Man and his Work (Methuen, 1926).
See also Copleston vol.1 on Plato.

Christopher Kirwan, Augustine. Routledge Arguments of the Philosophers (Routledge, 1989).
Robert Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augustine (Cambridge UP, 1970).
David Meconi, Cambridge Companion to Augustine 2 ed. (Cambridge UP, 2014).
James Wetzel, Augustine: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury, 2010).

Jonathan Barnes, Cambridge Companion to Aristotle (Cambridge UP, 1995).
Jonathan Lear, Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (Cambridge UP, 1988).
David Ross, Aristotle (Methuen, 1930).
See also Copleston vol.1 on Aristotle.

Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (Uni. Notre Dame Press, reprint ed., 1996).
Norman Kretzmann & Eleonore Stump, Cambridge Companion to Aquinas (Cambridge UP, 1993).
Christopher Shields, The Philosophy of Aquinas 2 ed. (Oxford UP, 2016).

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