All College
Claire Murphy (’20)
Claire Murphy (’20)

Among the 27 lecturers to present talks at last month’s Thomistic Summer Conference on the California campus was a rising young alumna scholar, Claire Murphy (’20).

“I was so grateful for the opportunity to attend the conference,” says Miss Murphy, “both to visit many beloved friends and tutors and to share some of the work I’ve been doing since I left TAC.” A second-year doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Miss Murphy delivered a lecture entitled “The Physics of a Natural Philosopher: Pierre Duhem and Charles De Koninck on Science, Philosophy, and Faith.”

Her studies, she says, were directly inspired by her undergraduate years at Thomas Aquinas College. “I entered TAC as a freshman with a desire to learn, but no clear sense of what I was called to do after college,” she says. “But by the end of junior year, I realized how much I loved classroom discussions and working together with my peers to understand and evaluate great texts. I wanted to keep doing that for the rest of my life!”

In addition to impelling her toward graduate school, those four years at the College decisively shaped the direction her studies would take. “In high school, science was one of my least favorite subjects,” Miss Murphy explains. “But in both the Natural Science and Philosophy classes at the College, and especially Sophomore Philosophy, I developed a deep love for a study of nature that reaches both upward, to philosophical questions about the fundamental principles of motion and life, and downward, as it were, to our own concrete experience of the world around us.”

As she surveyed her graduate school options with that conviction in mind, the History and Philosophy of Science program at the University of Notre Dame seemed to be calling her name. She heeded the call after graduation and has no regrets. “It’s been a great fit — I do all the work of a student in the normal philosophy program, but with a special focus on the philosophy of science as it integrates the resources of the past!”

Miss Murphy’s lecture at the Thomistic Summer Conference reflected that special focus. Comparing two Catholic philosophers of science, she determined that De Koninck’s theories “more closely reflect the teaching of tradition that even the most contingent and particular knowledge of creation belongs to a greater order of knowing whose summit is Wisdom itself.”