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Distinguished scholar Eva Brann, of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, shares her thoughts, discusses how St. John’s is truly unique among American colleges, why students should read Homer first, how Aristotle speaks to us today, and why Yogi Berra is one of her favorite philosophers. The first...
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When our dean asked me to lecture this September it was because I’ve just completed a book on time, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to talk about it. There seemed to be three possible kinds of...
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Respect is (1) an alternative to tolerance and (2) the better one. It is an alternative because it concerns the same issue: how to live with fellow humans who appear to be identically constituted in their...
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http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/partiallyexaminedlife/PEL_ep_079_6-22-13.mp3 In the above podcast, Eva Brann discusses her book The Logos of Heraclitus (2011). What is the world like, and how can we understand it? Heraclitus thinks that the answer to both questions is...
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Author's Note: I wish to dedicate this essay to a writer of books whose greatness is at once utterly at home in America and quite without spatio-temporal boundaries, Marilynne Robinson, who produces in reality the images I...
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I imagine that on Parents’ Weekend there might be some parents attending this once weekly occasion when the college assembles to hear a lecture. By its very name, a lecture is read—but read out loud, delivered in the writer’s voice. Thus, the...
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Vast topics are notoriously easy to avoid, and those who undertake to wrestle with them in public owe their audience some concrete reason for their choice. Let me begin with mine. First, this summer I had...
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If people and dogs have common ground of a higher order than animal needs, it must be in the territory of the spirit. Spirit is, just as Aristotle says, where friendship is at home. Now among us humans, this capability of the spirit is both an accomplishment and a...
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I love midnight movies, the Golden Oldies; they are the silver-lining of insomnia. Recently I caught part of an old black-and-white movie—Pressure Point—of the days when African-Americans were still called Negroes. Sidney Poitier plays a black prison psychiatrist....
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The imagination invests the world with that richness and resonance which makes it an attractive dwelling for the intellect. But the imagination is indispensable to action as well. For the real world is worth our exertion only when the visionary imagination sets the scene for action...
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We must come to grips with the actual expansiveness of the West and consider candidly its possible superiority—superiority, that is, in the scope it gives to individual human nature by the universality of its conceptions... I shall begin with...

The document entitled “To the Honorable the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, A Memorial and Remonstrance” is a jewel of republican rhetoric. Nor has this choice example of American eloquence gone without notice. And...
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My title is a question: "Do you know what an odyssey is?" I am asking each of you to ask yourself: "Do I know what an odyssey is?" In learning as in traveling and, of course,...
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You needn’t bring on yourself a dark night of the soul over your essay deadline, since you’ve already got what it takes to be an essayist, and certainly an essay-writer. Instead of agonizing, start early and savor the sweet freedom, the lovely leisure, to be fully at work, essaying...