“Paradise Lost”: Hidden Meanings?

By |2019-04-15T17:24:41-05:00April 15th, 2019|

I keep having the sense that something is going on that runs right counter to the overt text of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. There seems to be a separate, opposed meaning. Should it be called a hidden agenda, a subtext? Milton’s Paradise Lost is a poem of such panoramic grandeur and such human acuteness [...]

Intellect and Intuition: Longing for Insight?

By |2019-04-08T17:39:56-05:00April 8th, 2019|

We say of people that they have intuition. We ap­parently mean that they apprehend things directly without belaboring them by analysis or even without accosting them with too close an inspection. Intuition is what we long for, thinking is what we can do. What follows? You asked me to speak about “Intellect and Intuition,” [...]

“Little Places” and the Recovery of Civilization

By |2019-04-02T09:31:25-05:00April 1st, 2019|

It is mainly little places which permit the modesty of pace needed for long thoughts, and the conditions of closeness under which human beings begin to stand out and become distinct in their first and second nature. These places are the veritable harbors of refuge and recovery for civilization… Today, the same day on [...]

A Manifesto for Liberal Education

By |2019-03-25T14:34:55-05:00March 25th, 2019|

Since liberal education is non-academic, in my sense, it has real gravity, moral gravity. And so it is, finally, also concerned with questions of “good and evil.” The college years are the time for students to frame those moral allegiances that will help them decide more sure-footedly how to act when leisure is over [...]

Momentary Morality & Extended Ethics

By |2019-03-18T22:32:13-05:00March 18th, 2019|

Morality requires command-issuing universal law; ethics, on the other hand, demands natural and acquired personal qualities. One human being may indeed live with two moralities, one public, one private, and this duplicity is not always hypocritical; it may simply make life livable and prevent it from becoming worse. You have been reading and talking about [...]

Immediacy: The Ways of Humanity

By |2019-03-11T23:39:09-05:00March 11th, 2019|

Opposition to greatness comes from the kind of irrational irritation that made the Athenians ostracize Aristides because they were tired of hearing him called "the Just," or from egalitarian resentment, or from fear of the demands things of quality make on us... I want to steal four minutes of my talking time to speak of [...]

Socrates & the Un-Willed Life

By |2019-03-05T12:07:03-05:00March 4th, 2019|

For Socrates choices are of a life-pattern. Decisions, which are the deliberated choices that a particular occasion calls for, are not his mode, even at a crucial moment. Such choice, decision occasioned by the moment, will become the pivot of action. It is notoriously difficult to prove a negative, to catch, as it were, non-being [...]

Roots of the World: The Program of St. John’s College

By |2019-02-27T14:12:28-05:00February 25th, 2019|

Every plan of education is fraught with implicit philosophical principle. Since the program of St. John's College is devoted to that peculiar kind of learning which of necessity includes a reflection on its own conditions, most members of the college accept the obligation of engaging in ever-recurrent discussion and review of the philosophical bases that [...]

What is a Book?

By |2019-02-25T10:49:22-05:00February 18th, 2019|

What is a Book? It is a special kind of body made to be inhabited by a curious kind of frozen but fusible soul, a body fit to mediate its own peculiar life… It is our tradition that the first lecture of the year should be dedicated to our freshmen.* They have newly joined a [...]

Liberal Learning, Great Books & Paideia

By |2019-02-25T14:27:52-05:00February 11th, 2019|

This is what the study of Great Books does for us: First it makes us into what we were meant to be, then it maintains us in the life so achieved... First, I want to say how honored I feel at receiving this prize named after Russell Kirk, an admirable writer, and Paideia, a noble [...]

Odysseus: Patron Hero of the Liberal Arts

By |2019-02-25T14:28:17-05:00February 4th, 2019|

Odysseus has the art we need. I think he came by it through a rare combination of acutely honed cleverness and deep-souled imagination; we can acquire it by education. This art, the art of discovering significance, is the art of interpretation... I am to write about my hero Odysseus and to connect him to Liberal [...]

Liberal Learning, the Human Person, and Plato’s “Meno”

By |2019-02-25T14:28:30-05:00January 28th, 2019|

“First attend to the adjustment of your own soul, particularly the regulative liberal learning of your intellect, then project your internal economy on the world as social and political justice. The other way around is headless.”  – Eva Brann, The Music of the Republic: Essays on Socrates’ Conversations and Plato’s Writings Eva Brann is a [...]

Self Addressed Speech: The Soul Speaking to Itself

By |2019-01-20T21:06:07-05:00January 21st, 2019|

Ask anyone what speech “is for” and the answer will be, “Speech is for communication.” To be sure. But not primarily! Speech is first for self-address... My first title for this little musing was “Silent Speech.” That, however, turned out to be inaccurate. As I thought out what had set me wondering about this strange [...]

A Writer’s Life

By |2019-01-15T06:17:46-05:00January 14th, 2019|

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 part of the interview is below; a link [...]