Philosophy, Theology, and Psychology

What is the difference between science, knowledge, and opinion? What is characteristically human? What are the elements and the order of the soul? What is eternal or divine, and how can one know? What bearing does the eternal have on humanity? Whether by reading Genesis, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Augustine’s Confessions, or Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, students strive to know themselves both inside and outside the classroom as they explore the most challenging works of the Western world.


Philosophy, theology, and psychology are a few of the many subjects studied in the college’s interdisciplinary great books curriculum. There are no majors at St. John’s. Instead, students explore all these subjects over the course of all four years. Learn more about St. John’s classes.

Books and More

Aeschylus Prometheus Bound

Dante Alighieri Divine Comedy

Anselm Proslogium

Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae

Aristotle Categories, De Anima, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, On Interpretation, Poetics, Prior Analytics

Augustine Confessions

Jane Austen Emma, Pride and Prejudice

Francis Bacon Novum Organum

Johann Sebastian Bach St. Matthew Passion

Charles Baudelaire Les Fleurs du Mal

Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote

Geoffrey Chaucer Canterbury Tales

Rene Descartes Discourse on Method, Meditations, Rules for the Direction of the Mind

John Donne Poems

Fyodor Dostoevsky Brothers Karamazov

Frederick Douglass Selected speeches

Hans Driesch Essays

W. E. B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk

Albert Einstein Selected papers

George Eliot Middlemarch

T. S. Eliot Poems

Epictetus Discourses

Euripides Bacchae, Hippolytus

Sigmund Freud Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust

Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison The Federalist Papers

Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlett Letter

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel “Logic,” Phenomenology of Mind/Spirit

Martin Heidegger Basic Writings

Werner Heisenberg Essays

Thomas Hobbes Leviathan

David Hume Treatise of Human Nature

Edmund Husserl Crisis of the European Sciences

William James Briefer Course, Psychology

Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

Søren Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling, Philosophical Fragments

Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail

Jean de La Fontaine Fables

François de La Rochefoucauld Maximes

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Discourse on Metaphysics, Essay on Dynamics, Monadology, Philosophical Essays, Principles of Nature and Grace

Niccolò Machiavelli The Prince, Discourses

Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed

Karl Marx Capital, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, The German Ideology

Herman Melville Benito Cereno

Michel de Montaigne Essays

John Milton Paradise Lost

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Don Giovanni, Operas

Friedrich Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil

Blaise Pascal Pensées

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Missa Papae Marcelli

Plato Apology, Crito, Gorgias, Meno, Parmenides, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Republic, Sophist, Symposium, Theaetetus, Timaeus

Plotinus The Enneads

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Social Contract, The Origin of Inequality

Adam Smith Wealth of Nations

Sophocles Ajax, Oedipus at Colonus

Hans Spemann Essays

Baruch Spinoza Theologico-Political Treatise

Igor Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms

Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America

Richard Wagner Tristan and Isolde

Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse

Constitution of the United States of America

Declaration of Independence

Documents from American History

Hebrew Bible

New Testament

Thomas Aquinas Free Will, Treatise on the Divine Nature

Hannah Arendt Essays from Between Past and Future and Men in Dark Times, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Aristotle Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, On the Heavens, Physics, Rhetoric, Poetics

Augustine City of God, Confessions

Johann Sebastian Bach St. Matthew Passion

Mikhail Bakhtin “Epic and Novel”

Karl Barth The Epistle to the Romans

Henrio Bergson Time and Free Will

Geoffrey Chaucer Canterbury Tales

Cicero On Friendship and On Ends

Charles Darwin The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animal, Origin

Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex

Rene Descartes Discourse on the Method and Meditations, Rules for the Direction of the Mind and Optics, Scientific Revolution

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Brothers Karamazov

Pavel Florensky The Pillar and Ground of the Truth: An Essay in Orthodox Theodicy

Sigmund Freud The Interpretation of Dreams

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust, Parts I and II

Hegel Lectures on Fine Art, Lectures on the Philosophy of History and Philosophy of Right, Phenomenology of Spirit, Philosophy of Nature, Philosophy of Right, The Science of Logic

Martin Heidegger Bremen and Freiburg Lectures; Poetry, Language, Thought, Later Writings, Being and Time, Off the Beaten Path, Essays: “What is Metaphysics,” “The Age of the World Picture,” and “The Question Concerning Technology”

David Hume Essays: Moral, Political and Literary, A Treatise of Human Nature

Edmund Husserl The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy

Ibn al-‘Arabi The Ringstones of Wisdom (aka The Bezels of Wisdom)

Immanuel Kant Critique of Judgment, Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, Metaphysics of Morals

Søren Kierkegaard Either/Or, Works of Love

Emmanuel Levinas Totality and Infinity

Lucretius De rerum natura

Maimonides The Guide of the Perplexed

Herman Melville Moby Dick

Maurice Merleau-Ponty Phenomenology of Perception

John Milton Paradise Lost

Michel de Montaigne Essays

Friedrich Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil, Critique of Darwin, Gay Science, Human All Too Human, On the Genealogy of Morals and The Anti-Christ, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Unmodern Observations (aka Untimely Meditations)

Robert Nozick Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Ovid Metamorphoses

C. S. Peirce Selected papers

Paul Letters

Plato Alcibiades I and Laches, Dialogues Protagoras and Euthydemus, Laws, Parmenides and Meno, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Philebus, Republic, Sophist and Statesman, Theaetetus, Meno, Ion, and Euthyphro

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Confessions, Emile

Bertrand Russell An Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Friedrich Schiller Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

Friedrich Schleiermacher The Christian Faith

Arthur Schopenhauer The World as Will and Representation

William Shakespeare Measure for Measure and The Taming of the Shrew

Adam Smith Theory of Moral Sentiments

Benedict de Spinoza Ethics

Alan Turing “On Computable Numbers with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem”

Virgil The Aeneid

Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse and Jacob’s Room, A Room of One’s Own, Orlando

Xenophon Socratic Writings

The Absalom Story: Bible – Samuel 1 and 2, Kings 1 and 2; Faulkner – Absalom, Absalom

Ancent Greek Drama: Tragedy, Comedy, Satyr play … Philosophy?

Hannah Arendt on the Human Condition

Augustine and Aquinas on Creation

Readings in J. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion


Determinism, Chaos and Order

Early Buddhist Discourses


Erasmus, Luther, and Rabelais

Freud’s Case Studies

Genesis and Exodus

Herbert, Donne, Hopkins: God and Poetry

Husserl and Derrida

Islamic Philosophy

Jeremiah and Job

Laozi and Zhuangzi

The Mahabharata

Musonius Rufus and Epictetus

Natural Religion

On the Names of God, The Celestial and The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy

Poetic Beginnings: Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, Philosophy in the Tragic Age

Pre-Socratic Philosophers

The Psychology of Religion: James, Freud, Jung

Readings from Muslim Philosophers who Introduced Ancient Greek Thoughts into Western Europe

Readings in Social Thought

Rousseau, Second Discourse, and Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

Schopenhauer, Wagner and Nietzsche

Selections from Karl Marx

Socrates and Ancient Skeptics

Space in Aristotle and Kant

St. Dionysius the Areopagite (Pseudo-Dionysius)

Stoicism: Epictetus, Discourses. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Structuralism: Saussure, Course in General Linguistics; Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology

The Dialogues of George Berkeley

The Question of Being

The Science of Human Judgment

W. E. B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, and Albert Murray, Stompin’ the Blues

Aristotle Physics, Rhetoric and Poetics

Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex

George Eliot Middlemarch

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit

James Joyce Ulysses

Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason

Jiddu Krishnamurti The Awakening of Intelligence

Herman Melville Moby-Dick

Plato Laches

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Emile

Hannah Arendt’s On Revolution, The Human Condition, and other works

Ayn Rand

Jorge Luis Borges


Chinese Classics

Computer Programming

Eastern Classics

Eastern Literature & Philosophy

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gender and Sexuality

Gender Studies

Greek New Testament


Meister Eckhart


A More Beautiful World

Philosophy of Language

C. S. Pierce



Queer Theory


Erwin Schrodinger’s What Is Life? and Richard Feynman’s QED

William Shakespeare

Richard Strauss

Western Esotericism

Ludwig Wittgenstein

The information presented is for illustration purposes only and may not reflect the current reading list and preceptorial and study group offerings. Works listed are studied at one or both campuses, although not always in their entirety.

Senior Essay

The Internally Determined Self: Spinoza's Ethics as a Remedy for Postmodernity's Identity Crisis

Senior Essay

Rousseau on Civil Society: Two Provocative and Troubling Accounts

Senior Essay

Machiavelli’s Man – On the Difference Between Men in The Prince

Senior Essay

The Role of Art in Nietzsche’s Moral Philosophy

Senior Essay

An Essay on Einstein’s Special Relativity and the Reconciliation of Science and Religion

Senior Essay

Suffering and Gotama the Buddha: A Case Study of Enlightenment and the Elements of Its Attainment from the Bodhirajakumara Sutta

Senior Essay

Light Upon Light: Seeking Paths of Clarity in Ibn al-Arabi’s Ringstones of Wisdom

Alternative Dispute Resolutions Bureau


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

What Does It Mean to be Properly Human? An Examination of Humanity in Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Senior Essay

Don't think, look! Wittgenstein's Investigations: Turning Philosophy Around on the Axis of Meaning

Christian Fellowship

Student Group

Senior Essay

The Development of Moral Character in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

Jewish Student’s Union

Student Group

Senior Essay

On Emerson’s Self-Reliance: Our Necessity for Authentic Living

University of Colorado Social Neuroscience Lab


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

Kingship Under God in Ancient Israel: The Tragedy of Saul

Senior Essay

In Search of God: Philosophy’s Role in Augustine’s Confession

Senior Essay

The Gadfly and the Cicadas: Countryside Madness in Plato’s Phaedrus

Senior Essay

Communism as Naturalism and Naturalism as Humanism: Karl Marx on Human Nature

Meditation Study and Sit

Student Group

American Institute for Behavioral Research & Technology


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Mindfulness Meditation

Student Group

Senior Essay

The Myth of Self—An Essay on the Réflexions ou sentences et maxims morales of François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld

Orthodox Christian Fellowship

Student Group

Senior Essay

Why Economics Cannot be Reduced to Mathematics: The Connection between Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments

Senior Essay

The Old Man and The Sea: an Argument against the Hierarchy of Humanity and Animals explained in On the Soul

University of Chicago Department of Psychology


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.


Student Group

Senior Essay

Are we at War? A Comparison Between the Lives of Civilians and Soldiers in The Warriors, by Glenn Gray

Senior Essay

The Internal Act of Believing: Aquinas on Intellect and Will

Social Dynamics/Self Actualization Mastermind

Student Group

Senior Essay

Searchers, Tempters, Experimenters: A Study of Transformation in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Senior Essay

Blessed are the Meek—An Exploration of Self in War and Peace and Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Senior Essay

How to Fall from Grace: The Eve Story—An Examination of Eve’s Innocence and Sin in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Talmar Gardens Horticultural Therapy Center and Arundel Lodge


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

The Truth of Lies: on Discourse and Authenticity in Heidegger’s Being and Time

Senior Essay

The Land of Truth: The Epistemology of Objects in Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason

Senior Essay

The Language of the Sons of Men: An Essay on Moses Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed

Human Capital Research Collaborative


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

University of Chicago, Experience in Cognition Lab


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

Hide Your Demons—An Exploration of the Quality of Silence in Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling

Georgetown University Department of Psychology, Culture & Emotions Lab


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Butler Hospital “Partial Hospital” Program


The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.