Unlike most college students, I am actually a fan of finals week. The intense studying time, the feeling of almost being done but not quite, the hints of summer in the air. I am always thankful to be at St. Thomas but this finals week I am especially grateful because of my classes. I took two philosophy classes and two political science classes this semester and it’s been my favorite semester so far. And I’ve had four semesters, so that actually means something!
In my Philosophy 220 class, Logic, we’ve learned how to make valid arguments and how to use quantificational logic. We’ve also learned how to pull arguments out of english texts which is apparently a good thing to know for law school and for reading anything by St. Thomas Aquinas. I have been blessed to take that class with one of my very best friends, Megan, as well as two other really good friends and a bunch of awesome seminarians!
One of my political science classes was Political Science 205: Public Policy. This class was always interesting. Our teacher was very engaging and we looked at the U.S. government very in-depth and explored the effects of policies on our country. It’s super interesting! We learned about problem definition and how it’s often hard to pinpoint what the actual problem is. For example, imagine there is a child with low test scores. There could be many reasons for this: does he have a learning disability? Is the teacher not so great? Does he have a not-ideal home life? Is he distracted in class because he doesn’t have breakfast? These are the kinds of things we discuss and this class has definitely opened my eyes to the complex problems around us and how we try to solve them.
My other political science class was called Political Thought. I really enjoyed this class because it was a mix of philosophy and political science. We read Plato, Machiavelli, Thucydides and some other ‘ancient’ writers, and then we read contemporary political theorists like John Rawls and Robert Nozick. The discussions in this class were always interesting, especially when we tried to figure out how to make just laws in government when governments were just beginning. It’s a bit harder than you might think! We also talked about morality at the end and wondered how governments can make laws that affect the practice of morals without overstepping its bounds. It’s a pretty fine line, it seems. We didn’t have any tests in this class but we got to write a lot of papers, which I prefer, so I really enjoyed it.
And finally my other philosophy class was actually both philosophy and Catholic Studies: Faith and Doubt. This class was taught by Dr. Rota, a professor I had last semester for Philosophy of the Human Person, 115, which is a gen ed that everyone will take. I highly recommend him. In this class, we explored arguments against the existence of God, such as the Argument from Evil, and then we looked at other philosopher’s writings on the subject, particularly those who did believe in God. We read a lot by one author named Eleanor Stump and sometimes we got to read the Bible for homework, which I thought was pretty cool! At the end we had group presentations and my group presented on the argument from Divine Hiddenness, which is basically: if God exists, why doesn’t He show Himself? We agreed with the philosophers who concluded the following: if He made Himself so apparent that it would be unreasonable to not believe in Him, then He would be suppressing our free will, and He wouldn’t want to do that.
I also read an article by Laura Garcia who wrote about Saint John of the Cross and the Necessity of Divine Hiddenness. She went through St. John of the Cross’ Dark Nights of the Senses/Soul and explained how through trials and suffering, the soul becomes purified and has a greater capacity for God, so God needs to hide Himself at least a little bit in order for this to happen. It was so awesome and interesting and I am so thankful that I was able to take this class!
Overall it’s been such a blessed semester and I must admit I’m a bit sad to go back to Iowa for the summer because I want this semester to last forever! But I know there are other things in store for all of us and so we must go on our separate ways. I will be working at a waterpark (concession stand! woohoo!) in my hometown this summer, saving up money for next semester when I will be in ROME! Until next time, I will be studying away! Feel free to email me with any questions about St. Thomas-such an email would be a welcome study break. Take care everyone, and God Bless you!