Hi guys. I’ve recently been interested in venturing into the study of philosophy. It looks like a fun albeit dangerous and difficult discipline, though the insights I would draw from its study would likely be profound and useful. I think it’s clear to my why I want to do so: to develop myself personally, to instill intellectual discipline, to enhance my skills in rational argumentation, and defend the Faith, especially because I believe that Catholicism is the One True Faith and that the deposit of faith handed to us by the apostles should be safeguarded through scripture, tradition, and the reasonable interpretation of both. Reading the tracts here in Catholic.com and the intelligent discussion in the forums has made me realize that the doctrines of Catholicism are very well-supported by reason and well-thought-out (maybe I shouldn’t say “thought-out” because it is revelation after all, but you get what I mean).The wisdom of the Catholic Church assures me that she is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
That said, again, I want to venture into the study of philosophy (and maybe theology later on, but I think it is the duty of every Catholic to be a theologian to a degree). I have already started with Plato’s Dialogues and will read The Republic afterwards. I want to focus on ancient and medieval philosophy so I would read the works of Aristotle, Cicero, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Nicholas of Cusa later on. But I also want to have a firm grounding in social and political philosophy, and as a student of political science, I’ll be reading Niccolo Machiavelli, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, Karl Marx, Hegel, Arendt, Foucault, Derrida, and even Zizek. If I have the time, I might read Immanuel Kant, Heidegger, and works on Eastern Philosophy if I have the time. I’ll be sure to take college courses on philosophy.
How should I go about with my study of philosophy without endangering my faith? I’m impressed by how priests who go through years of studying philosophy do not fall out of, but rather are strengthened in the faith. I plan to safeguard my faith by continuous prayer and reception of the sacraments (as well as frequently visiting these forums :D) but how do I make sure that my studying philosophy won’t say, drive me insane or make me go heretic or apostate (God forbid). I realize that philosophy can be potentially dangerous for the faith, but it can be immensely useful as well (oh the uncertainty is killing me). I know that I need to have an open mind if I am going to study it but I fear that my faith, weak as it is without the grace of God, would fail me. Thoughts?