Peter Kalkavage

About Peter Kalkavage

Peter Kalkavage has been a tutor at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, since 1977. He is director of the St. John’s Chorus. Dr. Kalkavage is the author of The Logic of Desire: An Introduction to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, and has produced editions of Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Statesman, and Symposium for Focus Philosophical Library. He is also author of two texts that have been used in the St. John’s music program, On the Measurement of Tones and Elements: A Workbook for Freshman Music.

Ode to an Insightingale

By |2019-01-22T19:42:10-06:00January 21st, 2019|Categories: Classical Education, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Peter Kalkavage, St. John's College|

No collection of great books, nor even the most wisely designed curriculum, which is but a recipe, can equal or even approach the importance of the faculty, whose members bring the program to life year after year. Eva Brann knows all this, and preaches it eloquently… Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a [...]

Winged Words: Reading & Discussing Great Books

By |2019-08-08T14:44:24-05:00December 17th, 2017|Categories: Aristotle, Dante, Essential, Featured, Great Books, Homer, Humanities, Imagination, Liberal Arts, Liberal Learning, Peter Kalkavage, Plato, St. John's College, Timeless Essays|

Great books introduce us to ideas and to ways of looking at the world that are new to us. They provide a refreshing distance from the trends, fashions, tastes, opinions, and political correctness of our current culture. Great books invite us to put aside for a while our way of looking at the world [...]

On Music and Metaphysics

By |2019-02-26T17:50:16-06:00July 11th, 2017|Categories: Beauty, Classical Education, Featured, Hope, Liberal Learning, Music, Peter Kalkavage, St. John's College|

Please join Peter Kalkavage as he discusses the metaphysics of music: music's role in the liberal arts, the paradox in the union of rational and irrational, order and feeling in its composition, and music's connection and reflection of the deeper order of the natural world, of being... Introduction: In this podcast, we hear from Peter [...]

The Power of Song in Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion”

By |2020-03-23T10:50:03-05:00June 1st, 2017|Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Culture, Featured, J.S. Bach, Music, Peter Kalkavage, St. John's College|

In the St. Matthew Passion, Bach indulges his gypsy soul. It is as though Bach, in his broad and deep humanity, his capacity for feeling all kinds and degrees of sorrow and joy, was reaching out to all his fellow human beings, believers and non-believers alike, and impressing upon them what was for him [...]

Plato’s “Symposium”: Beguiling Eros

By |2018-11-21T08:38:43-06:00March 30th, 2017|Categories: E.B., Eva Brann, Featured, Great Books, Love, Peter Kalkavage, Plato, St. John's College|

The vivid love-speeches of the Symposium come to us, reach us, through several layers of incomplete remembrance, and as though from a mythic past... Symposium (or Drinking Party) by Plato, translated and edited by Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage, and Eric Salem (Hackett, 2017) Why hast thou nothing in thy face? Thou idol of the human [...]

Music and the Idea of a World

By |2019-11-21T15:26:10-06:00February 9th, 2017|Categories: Aristotle, Civil Society, Featured, Music, Peter Kalkavage, Plato, St. John's College|

Music assures us that we are not alone: that there is something out there in the world that knows our hearts and may even teach us to know them better. Thanks to music, we experience what it means to be connected to the whole of all things… “Music, too, is nature.” —Victor Zuckerkandl, Sound [...]

The Virtue of Recollection in Plato’s “Meno”

By |2019-10-10T21:57:42-05:00December 17th, 2016|Categories: Meno, Peter Kalkavage, Philosophy, Plato, St. John's College, Virtue|

To question is not merely to know that one lacks knowledge but to love knowledge passionately, to pursue it and never give up... “…by indirections find directions out…” ~Hamlet, 2.1 The Meno holds a distinguished place in the St. John’s curriculum. As the first Platonic dialogue that our freshmen read, it is the gateway to [...]

The Unbounded Eros of “Tristan and Isolde”

By |2019-06-20T08:56:18-05:00November 25th, 2016|Categories: Culture, Featured, Love, Music, Peter Kalkavage, Philosophy, St. John's College, Virtue|

Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde should prompt us to search for an antidote to the lovers’ death wish—to pursue a love that preserves rather than destroys, celebrates rather than abolishes individuality, and seeks life rather than death… “They who were two and divided now became one and united.” —Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan and Isolde I [...]

Schopenhauer’s Will and Wagner’s Eros

By |2017-01-10T14:53:42-06:00November 18th, 2016|Categories: Featured, Music, Peter Kalkavage, Philosophy, St. John's College|

There is nothing in the natural world, or in the inner and outer life of man, that does not find its counterpart in the all-embracing realm of tones. Music as symbol is the whole of all things… “They who were two and divided now became one and united.” —Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan and Isolde [...]

Virtue, Courage, & Moderation in Plato’s “Statesman”

By |2018-07-12T21:37:40-05:00April 15th, 2016|Categories: Classics, Featured, Justice, Peter Kalkavage, Plato, St. John's College, Virtue|

I want to begin by saying how my theme is related to justice. Plato and Aristotle often connect justice with wholeness. And it is wholeness—the whole of virtue and the whole of a political community—that is very much at issue, and at risk, in Plato’s Statesman. Perhaps at risk as well is the wholeness [...]

The Neglected Muse: Why Music Is An Essential Liberal Art

By |2019-06-06T18:33:16-05:00February 21st, 2016|Categories: Essential, Featured, Music, Peter Kalkavage, St. John's College, Timeless Essays|

Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Peter Kalkavage as he considers why music is an essential liberal art. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul. –Plato Music transcends the classroom, the concert stage, and professional recordings. It [...]

Dante’s Global Vision: Seeing & Being Seen in the “Divine Comedy”

By |2016-03-26T13:05:39-05:00July 29th, 2015|Categories: Dante, Featured, Literature, Peter Kalkavage, Poetry, St. John's College|

“The things of friends are common.” —Greek proverb (quoted by Socrates in the Phaedrus) It is a pleasure to be with you today, to visit Belmont University and see Nashville for the very first time. My talk takes its cue from your theme for the year—“Living in a Global Community.” I have chosen to speak [...]

In the Heaven of Knowing: Dante’s Paradiso

By |2018-11-09T11:55:48-06:00August 10th, 2014|Categories: Books, Christianity, Dante, Featured, Heaven, Peter Kalkavage, Poetry, St. John's College|

“For we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2 The focus of my talk this evening is the Paradiso, the culminating and most beautiful part of Dante’s Comedy. The Paradiso has much to tell us about happiness, the perfection of the intellect, the nature of true freedom, the flourishing of community, the [...]

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