Res Philosophica is one of the oldest philosophy journals in America.

The journal was established as The Modern Schoolman in 1925 by the Jesuit Scholastics of the Philosophy Department of Saint Louis University, and was described as the "Bulletin of the Philosophy Seminar of Saint Louis University." It was a monthly publication of "articles, reviews, items of news and interest" in order to give "some expression in a simple way to the great truths of Scholasticism."

Initially the journal was a student publication. Mimeographed by the Theology Department with hand drawn titles, it published papers and notes from Jesuit students. A Board of Editors was established in December of 1925, and the editors worked hard to take the journal from the simple bulletin to a professional philosophy journal. It received several make-overs, and in November 1928 the journal was professionally typeset and began publishing on a quarterly schedule.

Throughout its history it has maintained a deep connection to the Scholastic tradition. In May of 1925, the journal published a letter sent to Catholic philosophers by Catholic University of America's James H. Ryan, inquiring about the interest in founding an "American Catholic Philosophical Association." The journal subsequently recounted the founding of the American Catholic Philosophical Association and the events at its annual meetings.

The November 1933 issue described the journal as "a means of becoming better acquainted with Scholasticism and the principles it champions." In the November 1954 issue, the journal began describing itself as "a quarterly journal of philosophy, dedicated to furthering the work begun by the great Schoolmen of the Middle Ages."

But the journal has also continually sought to broaden its appeal, without losing its connection to the Jesuit tradition. While still supported by the Jesuits of Missouri Province, both financially and administratively, it transitioned to a faculty edited journal. In November 1962, the journal began describing itself more broadly as "a quarterly that promotes original and scholarly contributions in all fields of philosophy." For some time, this arrangement and self-image continued, with the journal publishing quality philosophical work from a broad spectrum of approaches and methodologies.

In 1989, with the beginning of William Charron's term as editor, the support for the journal transitioned from the Jesuits to Saint Louis University. The journal continued to broaden its reach. In 1995, the journal began publishing the papers from the biennial Robert J. Henle conference. Named in honor of the longtime editor of this journal, the conference is supported by the Robert J. Henle Chair of Philosophy, Professor Eleonore Stump, and brings internationally renowned scholars to Saint Louis University to present papers on topics relevant to the interests of the Department of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. This period was marked by an increased engagement with the mainstream of philosophy.

With the goal of continuing to increase the reach of the journal and engagement of the mainstream of philosophy, without losing its connection to the Jesuit tradition, the Department decided in 2012 to change the name of the journal, beginning with the 2013 volume, to Res Philosophica. It seeks to publish work in all areas of philosophy—historical and topical, Catholic and non-Catholic—that is recognized by all for its excellence.