Our current online courses include our core Philosophy curriculum and a Philosophical Latin program intended to prepare students to read the most significant scientific manuals.
“So the proper order of learning will be the following. First, boys should be instructed in logical matters, because logic teaches the method of the whole of philosophy. Second, they are to be instructed in mathematics, which does not require experience and does not transcend the imagination. Third, they should be trained in the natural sciences which, though not transcending sense and imagination, nevertheless require experience. Fourth, they are to be instructed in the moral sciences, which require experience and a soul free from passion, as is said in the first book [of the Nicomachean Ethics]. Fifth, they should be taught in matters concerning wisdom and divine science, which go beyond the imagination and require a vigorous mind.” -Thomas Aquinas, In VI Ethic., lect. 7.
The Sapientis Curriculum
Using the latest in live, internet conferencing technology, the Sapientis Institute is working to bring you the first fully systematized curriculum of arts and sciences based on the philosophic doctrine of Scholastic Thomism. The goal of this program is to lead students to the complete grasp of the natural and artificial orders in the universe and of our moral duties resulting from that order. Unlike most modern curricula, the program that we are developing will not impose a new educational theory on the mind of the student—a kind of mental violence—but, with its heavy emphasis on logic, order, and certitude, the Sapientis curriculum obeys the natural growth of the human intellect, guiding minds to their natural perfection, from sense knowledge of the world around us to the highest metaphysical truths.
The program of Sapientis is an overarching educational superstructure in which all particular arts and sciences find a place somewhere because it is a curriculum that deals with course-subjects in a higher fashion, pursuing their connections and dependencies on one another, until it arrives at a complete framework for any and every intellectual pursuit open to humankind: starting from Sapientis the student can go anywhere.
Our approach may seem novel, but its foundations are nearly as old as schooling itself: since the time of Aristotle, more than two thousand years ago, the system presented by Sapientis has been in development; it was present in Ancient Rome, it flourished in the medieval universities under the eminent mind of Thomas Aquinas, it was given new life in the 19th century only to be forgotten in our own. Now, what was previously available only to philosophers and the most intuitive of scientists and artists is being made available where it is most needed: the public square. The Current Course Offerings
Sapientis is currently offering online courses in:
Eventually, we will be adding courses in Psychology, Individual Ethics, Economics, Politics, and, finally, Metaphysics. We will also be adding a course in Euclidian Mathematics. Although students are free to attend classes in whatever order they choose, there is an internal logic to the development of scientific inquiries. Beginning at the wrong place or skipping around in you studies will only be a disservice to you. As Thomas Aquinas said, and as we at the International Society of Scholastics are wont to repeat, a small error in the beginning is a large error in the end. We strongly advise students to obey the natural order of learning.
The Order of Learning
The very first subject we study in Sapientis is Logic. We study it first because one ought to know how to use a tool before he actually starts to use it. Well, reason is the tool by which true and certain knowledge is attained, and logic is the science by which we learn how to use reason. So before we start applying reason to any particular field—be it physics or math or even literature—we first learn how to use it.
After studying Logic--which is divided into two parts, Formal Logic and Material Logic--students will be able to reason and argue with ease, order, and correctness in any topic to which they apply themselves. It is called the ‘art of arts’ since every other science and art depends upon it. But more than just reasoning correctly, by studying logical fallacies during the course students will know how to recognize and refute improper reasoning such as we find in media, politics, academia, and pop culture in general.
Mathematics and Physics (also called Philosophical Physics or Natural Philosophy) are now open to the student because these sciences require nothing more than basic sense experience and knowledge of logical method. History, too, is now open, but, in addition to sense experience and Logic, it requires a storehouse of historical facts which the student accepts on faith.
Besides Mathematics, which studies unchanging quantities and figures as known by the imagination, after Logic we move immediately on to the things which are most familiar to us and about which we are most certain; namely, the things of sense experience. The whole realm of sensible being is studied in Physics. But since we only know the nature of the sensible things around us from their motion and activity, the object of physical science in its widest sense is changeable or mobile being: things that sensibly move and can, from this motion, give us insight into what they are.
Now, in order to start a science logically we begin with the most universal aspects of the subject under consideration and gradually move to the less universal, more specific aspects—this rule guides all of our studies. And since all knowledge of sensed reality is due to sensing and analyzing movements, motion is the most universal aspect of mobile being; everything else depends upon motion. Hence, before we study any particular sensible being—atoms, planets, living beings, falling bodies, etc.—we have to know what motion (i.e., change) is. This first study of motion, the first part of Physics, is called the General Science of Nature and it is presupposed by all modern physical sciences: it’s pre-instrumental, pre-experimental, and it is built on nothing more than our first, most evident, and most certain experience of physical reality. In fact, most mistakes in modern physical theories happen because this General Science of Nature, which needs to be studied first, has been ignored; they invent theories which contradict our first and most certain knowledge of the sensible universe.
In our commonsense analysis of change and changeable beings, we will discover that there are three and only three types of physical change or motion: local motion, qualitative motion, and quantitative motion. And since the general method of the intellect is to go from what is more common and more universal to what is less common and more specific, we will study each of the three types of motion (and those beings susceptible to these types of motion) by going from the most common type to the least common type.
Now, local motion applies to every physical being, and it accompanies all other motions; so we study it first after the General Science of Nature. This special branch of Physics is a field of study we call Mechanics and in it we find much of what modern science calls ‘physics’. We study this first because all other kinds of physical change depend upon local motion.
Qualitative motion is next in the special branches of Physics because some things are changed not just locally but both locally and qualitatively. Qualitative motion studies the generation and corruption of physical beings by means of alteration and, specifically, chemical alteration; hence, modern chemistry and its kindred subjects are included as subdivisions of what we here call Alterational or Generational Physics. We study this second because all qualitative change depends on local change.
Finally, some beings are changed locally, qualitatively, and quantitatively (by growth and decay) and these we call living beings. But unlike modern Biology, we don’t start by cataloging the species of living things; we begin more fundamentally by first proving that there even is such a thing as life, and then examining the attributes that all living beings share: this is a general study of animation we call Psychology or, literally, study of the animating principle. Then we move on to the three broadest kinds of life: life forms which have only vegetative activity (and this field of study we call Botany), life forms which have vegetative and sensitive activity (and this field of study we call Zoology), and life forms which have vegetative, sensitive, and intellectual activity (and this field of study we call Anthropology).
Anthropology, or the study of human nature, examines all of man’s faculties and their relation to one another. In this study, we discover a number of important conclusions including the fact that man is directed by his nature to come to a natural perfection and that man arrives at this perfection through voluntary actions. And we discover that some of these voluntary actions help man to attain his natural end, while some hinder him. These voluntary actions introduce a special kind of goodness and badness called morality. Here begins the study of Moral Science or Ethics.
In Anthropology we learn that man attains his natural perfection by his own actions as an individual but also that he is, by nature, a member of certain human societies. We discover that there are two natural human societies that every person needs to help perfect himself: the family and the state. Hence, Ethics is divided into three parts: the study of individual actions as ordered toward man’s natural end (and this field of study we call Individual Ethics or Monastics), the study of family actions as aiding man’s perfection (and this we call Economics or Domestics), and the study of state actions as aiding man’s perfection (and this we call Politics which includes contemporary ‘economics’).
During our study of the natural universe (i.e., Physics and its various subdivisions) we learn something very important: there exists an immaterial reality. We learn that there is a Prime Mover who is immaterial and we learn that the human soul can survive outside the body. We now must expand our investigation beyond the sensible world to a science which includes even these immaterial realities. This science we call Metaphysics, or First Philosophy.
Below is the fully systematized schema of study that the Sapientis program is
Click to enlarge
Since the courses and materials that Sapientis uses have not in general been available in English and not offered in a systematized manner that takes modern developments in the particular sciences into account, all primary philosophy textbooks are being compiled by our professors using translations of the best Latin masters who have used and enriched the Scholastic curriculum: John Capreolus, John of St. Thomas, Thomas de Vio, the Salmanticenses, and many others.
The cost of the textbooks (in the form of the course notes) is included in the course fee.
Due to the rarity of solid Scholastic works in English, The Sapientis Institute has found it necessary to offer a course in philosophic Latin.
The goal of the Latin program is to give students the required background and ability to read and comprehend the most important philosophic texts of the Scholastic scientific genre. By no means an intensive course in classical Latin and without the intention of turning out fluent Latinists, our classes are designed for absolute beginners in the Latin language. The program focuses on a quick and logical presentation of the Latin language and applies it almost immediately to reading scientific manuals. The vocabulary, exercises, and examples will focus on fundamental works in Logic, Physics, Ethics, and Metaphysics
In the past, we offered two Latin courses:
Beginning Latin 1A: an introductory course for those who have not studied Latin before. At the end of this course students had some basic knowledge of Latin but were not in a position to read an unaltered Latin text by themselves. Course details
Beginning Latin 1B: a course for students who had successfully completed Latin 1A or had studied some Latin in the past and wanted to refresh their knowledge. Students who had not completed Latin 1A but had some knowledge of Latin needed to write a placement test to be accepted into this course. Course details.
These courses will eventually be offered again, though our primary focus will be the immensely practical Philosophical Latin course.
We will also be adding Latin 2 and Latin 3:
Homeschoolers: Where possible we will assist homeschoolers to provide the proof necessary to gain credits for their work.
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