ICS Calendar Title: Religion, Life, & Society: Reformational Philosophy

ICS Course Code: ICS 1107AC/2107AC F17; TST Code: ICT 3702HF/6702HF

Instructor: Dr. Robert Sweetman

Term and Year: Mondays, 6-9 pm, Fall 2017

Last Updated: September 1, 2016

1. Course Description

2. Course Requirements

3. Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

4. Required Readings

5. Office Hours, Weekly Reflections, Presentation, Final Exam

6. Table of Contents, Reformational Philosophy Reader, 2016 (alphabetical by author)

1. Course Description

An exploration of central issues in philosophy, as addressed by Herman Dooyeweerd, Dirk Vollenhoven, and the “Amsterdam School” of neoCalvinian thought. The course tests the relevance of this tradition for recent developments in Western philosophy. Special attention is given to critiques of foundationalism, metaphysics, and modernity within reformational philosophy and in other schools of thought. The course locates the concerns that motivate reformational philosophers, and it examines the arguments and texts in which these concerns surface. Seminar participants are invited to discover what is fruitful or not fruitful in the philosophical tradition that sustains the Institute for Christian Studies.

2. Course Requirements

Seminar participants are expected to:

3. Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

The approximate weight assigned each component for the course mark is as follows:

(1)            Readings and Discussions        10-20%

(2)            Weekly Reflections                    10-20%

(3)            Presentations                              20-30%

(4)            Final Exam                                        40-50%

4. Required Readings

Participants should purchase the three books listed below at the University of Toronto Bookstore. The two readers are available on the reserve shelf in the ICS Library.

After Philosophy: End or Transformation? Edited by Kenneth Baynes, James Bohman, and Thomas McCarthy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987. ISBN 978-0262521130  [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B 804 .A34]

Dirk H. T. Vollenhoven Reader. Introductions and translations by John H. Kok. Manuscript, 1998. (see ICS Library Reserve Shelf)

Dooyeweerd, Herman. Roots of Western Culture: Pagan, Secular, and Christian Options (1945-48). Translated by John Kraay. Edited by Mark Vander Vennen and Bernard Zylstra. Newly edited by D. F. M. Strauss. Grand Rapids, MI: Paideia Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0888152213 [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BR 115 .C5 D6613 2003]

Reformational Philosophy Reader, 2014. (A detailed list of contents is given below.)

Vollenhoven, D. H. T. Introduction to Philosophy. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0932914651. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BD 28 .V65a 2005]


A Note on Readings


Graduate courses at ICS normally require around 1250 pages of reading. This course is no exception. Unlike some other courses, however, all of the reading occurs in preparation for weekly sessions. No additional reading is required for research papers, because there is no research paper in this course. You will read as much as you do for other courses, but all of it will occur during the semester. Once you hand in your essay exam, your course work is finished.

5. Office Hours, Weekly Reflections, Presentation, Final Exam

Office Hours


Please feel free to talk to the instructor about creating favorable conditions for your work in the seminar. I welcome spontaneous visits during my office hours, listed above. Please make an appointment if you want to meet with me at some other time.


Weekly Reflections


Every week I will hand out questions based on the assigned readings for the next week. The questions will guide your study and help you prepare to discuss the readings in class. Each time you will hand in a one-page single-spaced reflection that addresses one or more of the questions handed out. Your reflection will be due when the class session on that set of readings begins.



Each week a seminar participant will present a twenty-minute introduction to one required reading. Your presentation should (1) summarize the reading, (2) identify important issues in it, (3) state your position on these issues, and (4) indicate why these issues are worth discussing. Please type, photocopy, and distribute your summary, including the most important issues you wish to raise. Limit this document to two single-spaced typed pages. Be sure to keep your presentation succinct and lively, using the blackboard, computer projector, or other equipment where appropriate. Criteria for the evaluation of your presentation will include organization, clarity, interest, and perceptiveness.


Final Exam


Description: There will be one comprehensive exam, a take-home essay that helps you synthesize what you have learned and apply this to issues and fields in which you have strong interests. It will be typed, and it should not exceed 10 double-spaced pages. The exam will be due on Wednesday, December 17, and it should be submitted as a Word document and e-mail attachment. We shall discuss and design the exam as the course progresses.

Evaluation: The instructor will assess your essay according to three equally weighted criteria: writing, reasoning, and scope. A well-written essay will be free from errors of spelling, punctuation, and grammar; be clear, concise, imaginative, and persuasive; and use gender-inclusive language. A well-reasoned essay will use valid and sound arguments; it will also be open and fair to alternative positions. An essay with sufficient scope will be thorough, probing beneath the surface of its subject matter.

6. Table of Contents, Reformational Philosophy Reader, 2016 (alphabetical by author)

Chaplin, Jonathan. “Dooyeweerd’s Notion of Societal Structural Principles.” Philosophia Reformata 60 (1995): 16-36. [ICS Library: PER]

Dooyeweerd, Herman. “Christian Philosophy: An Exploration” (1956). In Christian Philosophy and the Meaning of History, 1-37. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1996. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B 4051 .D64 A5 v. B1]

Fraser, Nancy. “From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a ‘Postsocialist’ Age.” In Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the “Postsocialist” Condition, 11-39. New York; London: Routledge, 1997. [ICS: JC 578 .F73 1997 ; ROBA: JC 578 .F73 1997X]

Griffioen, Sander. “Is a Pluralist Ethos Possible?” Philosophia Reformata 59 (1994): 11-25. [ICS Library: PER]

Hart, Hendrik. “Conceptual Understanding and Knowing Other-wise: Reflections on Rationality and Spirituality in Philosophy.” In Knowing Other-wise: Philosophy at the Threshold of Spirituality, ed. James H. Olthuis, 19-53. New York: Fordham University Press, 1997. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B 831.2 .K66]

Hart, Hendrik. “Creation Order in Our Philosophical Tradition: Critique and Refinement.” In An Ethos of Compassion and the Integrity of Creation,ed. Brian J. Walsh, Hendrik Hart, and Robert E. Vander Vennen, 67-96.  Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BT 78 .E74]

Hart, Hendrik. Understanding Our World: An Integral Ontology, 318-49, 361-70. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BD 311 .H28]

Klapwijk, Jacob. “Antithesis, Synthesis, and the Idea of Transformational Philosophy.” Philosophia Reformata 51 (1986): 138-52. [ICS Library: PER]

Klapwijk, Jacob. “Reformational Philosophy on the Boundary between the Past and the Future.” Philosophia Reformata 52 (1987): 101-134. [ICS Library: PER]

Kristeva, Julia. “Stabat Mater” (1977). In The Kristeva Reader, ed. Toril Moi, 160-86. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: P 99 .K75]

Olthuis, James H. “Be(com)ing: Humankind as Gift and Call.” Philosophia Reformata 58 (1993): 153-72. [ICS Library: PER]

Seerveld, Calvin. “Dooyeweerd’s Legacy for Aesthetics: Modal Law Theory.” In The Legacy of Herman Dooyeweerd: Reflections on Critical Philosophy in the Christian Tradition, ed. C. T. McIntire, 41-79. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1985. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B 4051 .D64 L43]

Sweetman, Robert. “Epilogue: Antiquity and the Future of Reformational Tears.” In the Phrygian Mode: Neo-Calvinism, Antiquity and the Lamentations of Reformational Philosophy, ed. Robert Sweetman, 267-89. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2007. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B 4041 .I57 2007]

Sweetman, Robert. “Of Tall Tales and Small Stories: Postmodern ‘Fragmatics’ and the Christian Historian.” Fides et Historia 28.2 (1996): 50-68. [ICS Library: PER]

Wesselius, Janet Catherina. “Points of Convergence between Dooyeweerdian and Feminist Views of the Philosophic Self.” In Knowing Other-wise, 54-68. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B831.2 .K66]

Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Earth’s Lament: Suffering, Hope, and Wisdom.” Inaugural Lecture, Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, November 21, 2003. 15 pp. [ICS Library: Institutional Repository]

Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Existence, Nomic Conditions, and God: Issues in Hendrik Hart’s Ontology.” Philosophia Reformata 50 (1985) 1: 47-65. [ICS Library: PER]

Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Good Cities, or Cities of the Good? Radical Augustinians, Societal Structures, and Normative Critique.” In Creation, Covenant, and Participation: Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition, ed. James K. A. Smith and James H. Olthuis, 135-49. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Press, 2005. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BT 40 .R35 2005]

Zuidervaart, Lambert. “The Great Turning Point: Religion and Rationality in Dooyeweerd’s Transcendental Critique.” Faith and Philosophy 21 (January 2004): 65-89. [ICS Library: PER]

Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or Student Services as soon as possible.

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