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Introduction to Perennial Philosophy

Reading the 1957 book

What you’ll learn

  • Discover the historical origins of Western philosophy
  • Practice philosophical reasoning and critical reflection
  • Learn the main doctrines and methods of perennial/neoscholastic philosophy
  • Form and defend your own conclusions about key philosophical questions

Course content

3 total hours


  • No prior study of philosophy required
  • Interest in learning about the perennial (Aristotelian-Thomist) tradition in philosophy
  • Must get book or e-book: Introduction to Philosophy, by Daniel J. Sullivan


What is philosophy? How does human knowing work and what are its limits? How do we achieve the good life, as individuals and as societies?

This introduction to philosophy explores all those questions and more. (See list of topics below.)

The course is organized around chapters of the book Introduction to Philosophy, by Daniel J. Sullivan. You must have access to the book to take the course. (See “How to Get the Book” for ISBN and links.)

For each chapter’s reading, I have prepared reading questions, a quiz, one or more video lectures, and a writing prompt to help you deepeen and cement your understanding.

“Perennial philosophy” is part of the Catholic intellectual tradition, so Catholic and Christian students may take special interest in this course and in Sullivan’s book. It includes a guide for homeschool parents who want to add this course to their curriculum.

This course is perfect for absolute beginners who have never read any philosophy before, and for people who have struggled with philosophy before but never got far with it, and even for skilled students of philosophy who want to know more about the tradition of thought that Sullivan presents.

No prior knowlege of philosophy is required: both the book and my material assume you are an ordinary person interested in learning more. If that is you, this may be the introduction to philosophy you are looking for.

Topics Covered:

  • Origin of Philosophy in Ancient Greece

  • Teachings of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle

  • Uniqueness of Human Nature, especially our power of knowing

  • How Knowing Unites our Intellect to the World

  • Argument Against Skepticism

  • Nature and Immortality of the Human Soul

  • Virtue Ethics, Argument Against Relativism

  • Natural Moral Law and Conscience

  • Four Cardinal Virtues

  • Nature of Society and Political Obligation

  • and more

Who this course is for:

  • Anyone who wants to know more about classical philosophy
  • Curious people who think philosophy is important but can’t quite say why
  • Beginners who want something self-paced and less demanding than a graded college course
  • Christian homeschoolers, for a first introduction to philosophy (up to 1/2 credit)
  • Students of philosophy who want to know more about the perennial/neoscholastic tradition

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