History - Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Letters, University of Santo Tomas

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On 28 April  1611, a Spanish Dominican and sinologist, Fr. Miguel de Benavides,  established the Colegio de Nuestra Senora del Santissimo Rosario, which  was later to be renamed the University of Santo Tomas.

Two  programs were offered in its year of foundation, Theology and  Philosophy, patterned after the European system of tertiary education,  and aimed at fulfilling the Church's mission of evangelization. Over  time the University earned for itself the prestigious titles and came to be called - A La Real y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomas de Aquino, Universidad Catolica de Filipinas. The title Royal was given by King Carlos III of Spain on 1785; Pontifical by Pope Leo XIII on 1902 in his constitution, Quae Mari Sinico,  and The Catholic University of the Philippines by Pope Pius XII on  1947. Through the centuries after its founding, the university has  established itself as a beacon of Catholic faith and vanguard of  Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy in the country.

Philosophy  has been taught at the University since its very foundation in 1611. To  address to growing enrolments in civil education, the Faculty of  Philosophy and Letters was established in 1896, then the College of  Liberal Arts in 1926. In 1927, the complete separation of Ecclesiastical  degrees in Philosophy took effect, the Ecclesiastical Faculty of  Philosophy was established. In 1964, the Faculty of Philosophy and  Letters and the College of Liberal Arts were merged to form the Faculty  of Arts and Letters. The civil A.B. Major in Philosophy program has been  administered by the Faculty of Arts and Letters since then. The General  Education courses (Logic, Philosophy of Man, and Ethics), however, were  administered by the individual colleges.

The  University has, from its inception, been awarding M.A. and Ph.D.  degrees in Philosophy. The UST Graduate School was established in 1938  which integrated all civil graduate degrees offered in the University,  including Philosophy.

The  establishment of the Faculty of Arts and Letters in the 60's brought a  new-wave of young scholars to the University which allowed the  Philosophy program to open its doors to philosophical trends beyond  Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy. Thomism in the university has kept up  with the times, which is the reason for its enduring presence. Despite  this strength in Thomism, however, no philosophy of the West, either  continental or analytic, and no philosophy of the East, from the  ancients to the postmoderns, have not been heard within the university  portals in its dialogical effort across civilizations. Fresh ideas are  welcome in this Pontifical University, even as we continue to  contemplate on the Catholic tradition. In effect, the community of  Philosophy faculty and students in UST has grown to welcome varying,  sometimes opposing, philosophical trends; the inclusive and dialogical  characters of philosophical culture in UST were conditioned by the  University's rich history.

Following  the split within the defunct Department of Humanities, which created  the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Literature, on May  2010, the Rector of the University, Rev. Fr. Rolando dela Rosa, O.P.,  appointed the founding-Chair of the UST Department of Philosophy, Prof.  Dr. Alfredo P. Co, who was instrumental in the establishment and proper  guidance of the Department of Philosophy. With the establishment of a  university-wide Department of Philosophy, for the very fist time, the  different Philosophy faculty members of the civil academic units of the  University were convened and adopted under one administrative body, the  standardization of the various General Education Philosophy courses  commenced, and the A.B. Major in Philosophy degree was revised.

The  first ever international event hosted by the Department of Philosophy  was the very successful Thomism and Asian Cultures: Celebrating 400  Years of Dialogue Across Civilizations, an International Conference in  commemoration of the 400 Year of Philosophy in UST and in the  Philippines, held in May 2011, in conjunction with the University's  Quadricentennial Celebrations.

Today,  the UST Department of Philosophy is one of only two Departments awarded  by the Philippine Commission on Higher Education the status Center of  Excellence in Philosophy in the Philippines.
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