Metaphysics and the Soul in Thomas Aquinas

June 27-July 3, 2019

Stephen Brock

University of Chicago

This seminar will be a five-day, intensive discussion of St. Thomas Aquinas's account of the nature of the soul, with particular attention paid to the metaphysical principles on which it rests. The sessions will center on Summa Theologiae, I, qq. 75-77, concerning the soul in itself, its essential relation to the body, and its role as the primary principle of vital activity. Participants will also discuss relevant passages from other works of St. Thomas, as well as his historical influences (such as Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine) and some contemporary literature on the topic. Finally, the seminar will take up related issues, such as Aquinas's understanding of the relation between metaphysics and theology, his handling of the Augustinian tradition, his reaction to the Averroists, and how his account of the soul relates to later philosophical developments such as Cartesianism and personalism.

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.

Location: The seminar will take place at the University of Chicago. Students will be provided with lodging and meals for the duration of the seminar, and a travel stipend of up to $350.

Application Information: This seminar will be open to doctoral students in the humanities and relevant fields.

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 academic writing sample (30 pages maximum).

All application materials can be submitted via the online application. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Fifteen students will be admitted to this seminar. Application materials are due March 15.

Any further questions can be directed to


The Lumen Christi Institute Associates Program offers graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Chicago opportunities for greater scholarly exchange and enrichment during their time as students.  Participants in the program will receive invitations to conferences, as well as private colloquia, master classes, study retreats, dinners, and occasionally downtown events organized by the Institute.  The Institute also supports the intellectual work of Associates by helping to organize and fund reading groups and study circles that enable graduate students to better integrate faith and scholarship.  Associates are invited to participate in the planning of certain programs and to play a role in making suggestions in areas of scholarly interest that may be suitable for our University Program.  In short, the Associates Program at the Lumen Christi Institute offers students at the University of Chicago greater participation in the life of the Institute with the ultimate goal of strengthening both faith and intellectual life in equal measure.


How To Apply

Please fill out the application form  to apply. Direct any questions to our program coordinator, Mark Franzen at 


Frequently Asked Questions

Will the list of associates be made public?

No, the Institute will not make a list of its associates public, nor will associates be mentioned by name in private literature to donors or foundations.  Any individual wishing to make their status be publicly known can do so.


Is there any cost associated with being an associate?

No.  It may be that if an associate chooses to participate in one of our international or regional events, some part of travel costs will need to be met personally.  But generally speaking, there is no charge to be an associate, or to participate in our events designed for associates.


Can I become an Associate if I am not a student at the University of Chicago?

Yes.  If you are a graduate student who resides in Chicago and often participates in our events, and yet are not a graduate student at the University of Chicago, you are still encouraged to apply.


What sort of commitment am I making as an Associate?

An Associate is someone who explicitly commits to participating more fully in the life of The Lumen Christi Institute, to the extent that his or her schedule allows.

Lumen Christi Institute