This seminar will be a five-day, intensive discussion of St Thomas Aquinas’ philosophical account of liberum arbitrium and the psychological and metaphysical principles underlying it. The sessions will focus on passages from the Summa theologiae (including ST, I, 19, 59-60, 82-83; ST, I-II, 6, 9, 10, 13) and will refer to other works of Aquinas (such as the De Malo and the Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics) and to pertinent texts from other philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Anscombe. Controversies in the interpretation of St Thomas’s thought will be considered, especially regarding his understanding of the relation between intellect and will, and particular attention will be given to how he deals with the questions of causal determinism and of the choice between good and evil.

 The seminar will address the following questions: How does Aquinas differ from Aristotle on the will?  Did Aquinas change his mind about the will?  To what extent does the freedom of the will depend upon the distinction between the will and the intellect?  Does St Thomas’ apparent intellectualism run the risk of a kind of determinism with regards to choice?  Does Aquinas offer an adequate account of the choice of evil?  In approaching these questions, the seminar’s objectives will be, first, to understand the thought of St Thomas, and, second, to relate his teaching to contemporary philosophical debates.

Format: There will be two 2 ½ hour sessions each day. Each session will include an opening lecture and seminar-style discussion of the text and the issues at hand. Students will be expected to prepare the readings carefully and participate in the discussions of the material.

Seminar Leader: Fr. Stephen L. Brock is Professor of Medieval Philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome.  He is a member of the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas and is the author of Action & Conduct: Thomas Aquinas and the Theory of Action.  He has written numerous articles on various aspects of the thought of Thomas Aquinas, and he has edited several collections including Thomas Aquinas and the Subject of Metaphysics.

Location:  The seminar will take place at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome. Students will be provided with a travel stipend, accommodations, and meals.

Application Information:ʉ۬This seminar will be open to Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences (such as philosophy, theology, & medieval studies).

Applicants will be required to submit:

  • A completed online application form.
  • An updated CV.
  • At least one and as many as two letter(s) of recommendation from a member of the program in which the student is currently enrolled.
  • A statement of research interest no longer than 750 words, which includes an explanation of how this seminar might bear on the student’s current or future research plans.
  • One example of written, academic work (25-30 pages maximum).

All application materials can be submitted via the online application except for letters of recommendation, which can be emailed to or mailed to: Lumen Christi Institute, Graduate Seminars, 1220 East 58th Streeet, Chicago, IL 60637. Incomplete applications will not be considered. 15 students will be admitted to this seminar.

Application materials must be received by FEBRUARY 1, 2014.

The Lumen Christi is an institute for the promotion of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and is committed to the integration of the intellectual and spiritual life.  The Institute welcomes seminar participants of all or no religious affiliation, and wants to assure all applicants that the opportunities to participate in devotional activities are optional.

Any further questions can be directed to Mark Franzen at