The Ph.D. granting division of the University of Dallas is the Institute of Philosophic Studies. The IPS attempts to correct the tendency in higher education at the Ph.D. level toward increasing specialization at the expense of utility, ever more barbarous and repugnant technical jargon at the expense of intelligibility, and indifference to the need human beings have to make good choices in life. Yet the primary aim of education, so we assert, is to supply useful knowledge, expressed with clarity, and ordered in accordance with a notion of the good. This is the aim of the University's undergraduate program, and it is the aim of the IPS to produce teachers who can promote this aim in classrooms of their own at institutions of higher learning throughout the country.
The IPS attempts to fulfill this aim by offering a coherent and unified graduate program that finds its chief expression in its Core Curriculum, a curriculum that summons the IPS faculty and students to the task of recovery and renewal of the tradition of Western liberal education and the Christian intellectual life. Recovery says that there is wisdom in the past. It insists that those who went before have much yet to teach those who come after. It holds that in the search for wisdom about the most important things, the ingenious, formative minds of the past should be chief companions in the inquiry. Moreover, it implies that any grasp of present realities and any serious projects for the future are intimately bound up with the principles of the tradition. Renewal reminds us that history always puts a new face on the difficulties that beset those who endeavor to seek truth and justice in their own time.
The IPS faculty accepts the challenge to think critically and creatively about the most significant issues. Indeed, it is the compelling force of our questions today that gives direction and purpose to our study of the tradition. It is with this sense of purpose that our doctoral students are asked to examine at their deepest level the principles of Western liberal learning.
Philosophy, Politics, Literature, and Theology are the four disciplines of the Institute. Although they are distinct ways of knowing, each engages fundamental questions that concern the whole context of existence. Philosophy and Politics represent the fundamental speculative and practical modes of inquiry respectively, while Literature presents the lived through possibilities embodying philosophy in a whole life. The three disciplines together are cut across and penetrated by the dialogue between faith and reason rooted in revelation and sustained by Theology. The Core Curriculum and its interdisciplinary character enable students to participate in a common quest for wisdom through the differing and complementary disciplines.
The primary vehicle of instruction is the close study of great texts that are distinguished by their power to illumine reflective minds across generations and cultures. Although each of these works presents a face of the human soul and its deepest moral and metaphysical concerns in concrete, particular historical contexts, they also possess the genius to lead reflective thinkers into a consideration of first things.