Arrupe College, Harare
Jesuit School of Philosophy & Humanities

Why Jesuits study Philosophy, Literature, History, Culture etc

General Congregation 32 tells us:

"Our studies should frostier and stimulate those qualities which today are often suffocated by our contemporary style of living and thinking. These studies should promote a spirit of reflection and an awareness of the deeper, transcendent values.

"The Society of Jesus expects for its scholastics the kind of long term philosophical training which is in touch with the radical problems of human existence, and which is a mature reflection on the different intellectual traditions of mankind.  This training should be such that it can be integrated with subsequent theological reflection.

"The number of points of contact between philosophy and other fields of learning, with contemporary problems and with the present and future lives of students, ought to be pointed out.  Because of today's diversity of cultures, sciences, ideologies, and social movements, Jesuits ought to be people who possess balance and depth in their thinking, and who can communicate their own convictions regarding meaning and values.

"Those studies should be fostered that readily help our young men to attain a harmonious, balanced human and religious maturity.  Such studies lead not only to a living knowledge of man and his modern worked, but also suited to expressing ourselves to the people of our times.

"Our formation must be such that the Jesuit can be one with the people to whom he is sent, and capable of communicating with them. He must be able to share their convictions and values, their history, their experience and aspirations. At the same time, he must be open to the convictions and values of other peoples, traditions and cultures.  Hence training in the sciences, in languages, in literature, in the classic liberal arts, in modern media of communication and in the cultural traditions of the nation must be undertaken with great care."

(GC32: 154-159)

"A solid education should be fostered in literature, the arts, sciences, history, and the various aspects of the culture of the region where the apostolate will be carried on.  The study of modern means of soial communication shouid also be encouraged.   In order to make our apostolic service more effective, an academic degree should be required as the usual means to evaluate our eduction in these fields.

Besides their own language, our young men should learn one or other of the more common modern languages, which will facilitate communication with other cultures and with the universal Society.

(GC32: 177-178)

General Congregation 34 tells us:

"Where pietism and fundamentalism join forces to disparage human abilities, human reason will be ignored or held of little account.  Contrarywise, especially in countries where secularism holds sway, or which have recently emerged from Marxist atheist, some seem to regard faith as little more than a superstition which will gradually disappear in the face of ever more rapid human progress.

"But freedom and the ability to reason are attributes which characterize human beings as created in the likeness of God, and are closely tied to genuine faith.  Therefore an intellectual tradition continues to be of critical importance for the Church's vitality, as well as for the understanding of cultures which deeply affect each person's way of thinking and living.

"For this reason, GC34 encourages a vigorous spiritual and intellectual formation of young Jesuits, and ongoing spiritual and intellectual formation for every Jesuit.

"There can be no substitute for individual, painstaking and, quite frequently, solitary work.  Such capacity is indispensable if we wish to integrate the promotion of justice with the proclamation of faith, and if we hope to be effective in our work for peace, in our concern to protect life and the environment, in our defence of the rights of individuals and of entire peoples.

"Serious and active intellectual enquiry must also characterise our commitment to integral evangelisation.  This assumes a basic knowledge of the economic, social and political structures in which our contemporaries are immersed. 

"Such intellectual enquiry cannot be ignorant of the development of traditional and modern cultures, or of the effects of the emerging culture of communication.  For evangelisation to be effective, accuracy in knowledge, critical analysis, and respect for the other are all imperative."

(GC34: 395-396)

Areas of study covered at Arrupe College include:

  • Practical Skills in Methodology & Research, Written Communication, Oral Communication, French Language.
  • African Philosophy, Religions, History & Literature.
  • World Literature & Religions.
  • Fundamental issues and questions arising in Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Science, Education, Religion, and Political & Legal Systems.
  • Philosophy:  Ancient, Medieval, Modern & Contemporary Philosophy, Logic, Ethics, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Hermeneutics.
  • Introduction to Old and New Testaments, Catholic Theology & 2nd Vatican Council.

Currently there are 90 young Jesuits studying at Arrupe College from Burundi, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

“The service of faith requires the contribution of philosophical  discussion.  This is an indispensable instrument for taking up the challenge of a world where one confronts the loss of a sense of transcendence, the pretensions of totalitarian ideologies, or the reduction of religious values to meaninglessness.” 

Studies in philosophy are important for the mission of Jesuits.  After completing the two year Novitiate, the Jesuit embarks on philosophical studies, where he acquires the ability to integrate the diverse approaches proposed for different problems. In this context, philosophy offers itself as a means for understanding the nature and worth of aspirations for a new social and international order.

The problems of justice, human rights, dialogue between religions and cultures, and new ethical questions which loom up in a changing world, are so many challenges to human thought.  The young Jesuit must investigate these questions until a union is achieved between the ultimate meaning of life and the foundations of existence in society and history.

At the end of his philosophical studies, the Jesuit will manifest balance and breadth of view in his thinking, a person who can communicate his own convictions regarding meaning and values.

This stage of formation normally takes place at Arrupe College in Harare, on the form of a BA Honours in Philosophy and Humanities, a four-year degree programme.