About the Philosophy Department

Philosophy is the road from wonder to wisdom

“What can I know? What should I do? For what may I hope? What is man?”

In these four burning questions, Immanuel Kant expressed something of the human desire for wisdom: a desire that that springs from wonder, and that blossoms as we begin to recognize the power of human reason.

At the University of Dallas, our core courses on ethics, the human person, and being shape a conversation animated by the conviction that as rational, we humans are capable of truth, goodness, and beauty. This conversation takes its bearing from the fact that things are intelligible, that they fulfill us, and that their existence points beyond themselves to God.

Human reason, we believe, never stands alone in its pursuit of wisdom. At every turn it is supported and enriched by imagination, faith, tradition, and love.

Reason and Imagination

Among the Greeks, philosophy began by turning from story-telling (mythos) to reason (logos), supporting the truth of its claims through experience and argument. We repeat this original differentiation of philosophy from literature, but we regard reason’s quest to understand the natures of things as continually enriched by the imagination and its works.

Faith and Reason

Medieval philosophy strove to harmonize the Greek tradition with the startling Christian claim that the origin of rationality, the first cause of all things, became incarnate. Unlike theology, philosophy reconciles the two from the standpoint of reason, and hence its investigations remain open to all, believers and non-believers alike. We endeavor to recover and renew the Christian intellectual tradition and its harmony of faith and reason; its achievements take on new life through our investigations.

Reason and Tradition

Phenomenology memorably expresses philosophy’s aim “to return to the things themselves,” that is, to lay aside prejudice in order to get at the truth of the matter. We pursue topical questions with classic philosophical texts in hand, returning to the things themselves through a thoughtful appropriation of the insights of great philosophers. As Thomas Aquinas writes:

“The study of philosophy is not about getting to know the opinions that people have defended, but rather the truth of the things themselves.”

The treatises of Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, as well as philosophers such as Nietzsche and Heidegger, remain common reference points for our present philosophizing.

Reason and Love

With Augustine, we affirm that “my love is my weight: wherever I go, my love is what brings me there.” This is true of the life of reason as much as of human life as a whole. Love of the good sets reason free, inspires it to dwell on the things that matter most, and gives it the strength to see them with clarity.

Degree Programs


The undergraduate major in philosophy begins in the Core Curriculum, and then traces the quest for wisdom from ancient Greece to the present. It culminates in advanced courses on Ethics and Philosophy of God. Along the way, students cultivate the essential skills of professional life: close reading, reasoned conversation, and clear, precise writing and public speaking.
Building on a key course from the Core Curriculum (Philosophy and the Ethical Life), the Ethics Concentration is centered on the Philosophy Department’s upper-level course on Ethics. From this central point, students continue in a variety of directions, including applied ethics, moral theology, and political philosophy.
Current UD undergraduates can earn their master’s in one additional year by taking up to four graduate courses while completing their undergraduate degree. In some cases, as many as two courses may be counted toward both degrees.

Through the master’s programs in philosophy, students who have completed their undergraduate studies have the opportunity to spend an additional year or two in pursuit of wisdom, while honing the essential skills of professional life. With four different paths to a degree, requirements can be tailored to the needs of each student.

The doctoral program in philosophy serves students who aspire to make philosophy a lifelong pursuit through teaching. Our students’ unique, interdisciplinary training in the Institute of Philosophic Studies makes them exceptionally well qualified to teach in colleges and schools that value a liberal education.