The Dispassionate Study of the Passions

By |2019-06-14T17:02:37-05:00June 10th, 2019|Categories: Apology, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Plato, Socrates, St. John's College|

Ancient pathos, passion, was an affect emanating from an object; the object elicited the responsive affect, from the outside in. Modern emotion comes from inside out; it emphasizes expression; subject prevails over object. It is the Romantic worm eating its way out of the Enlightened apple... Plato’s dialogue Gorgias ends with a long speech culminating [...]

Professors Must Teach the Truth

By |2019-05-19T15:08:59-05:00May 17th, 2019|Categories: Education, Great Books, Josef Pieper, Liberal Learning, Plato, Socrates, Truth|

Only fools would send their children to school to listen to some teacher’s opinions, unless, of course, those opinions also happen to be true. Discussing St. Thomas Aquinas’s love of teaching, Josef Pieper writes: Teaching does not consist in a man’s making public talks on the results of his meditations, even if he does [...]

Fit for the World

By |2019-06-06T02:33:40-05:00May 5th, 2019|Categories: Antigone, Apology, Christopher B. Nelson, Essential, Great Books, Humanities, Liberal Learning, Plato, Socrates, St. John's College|

  The mysteries of the human heart, and of the soul within you, are every bit as wondrous as the mysteries of the political and the natural worlds. And so you have asked questions of the world, in part because it is your nature to wish to know, in part because you wish to [...]

Socrates & the Un-Willed Life

By |2019-03-05T12:07:03-05:00March 4th, 2019|Categories: Books, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Plato, Socrates, St. John's College, Wisdom|

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 [...]

The Beauty Contest

By |2019-02-25T09:23:38-05:00February 22nd, 2019|Categories: Beauty, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Socrates, St. John's College, Virtue, Wisdom|

The beauty contest illustrates the difficulty with the term for and maybe the very idea of gentlemanliness—are good and beautiful two criteria or one? If they are two, how are they related? Could the beautiful be whatever compellingly attracts? Furthermore, what is truly and justly compelling? Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series dedicated [...]

A Backwards Civilization: Unthinking Leaders, Frenzied Citizens

By |2019-05-30T12:10:43-05:00November 27th, 2018|Categories: Civil Society, Civilization, Democracy, Featured, Meno, Modernity, Plato, Political Philosophy, Politics, Socrates|

In America today, we are living in a toxic political climate that is the product of a very dangerous combination: Our rulers lack the learning necessary to ask the kinds of deep and fundamental questions that leaders and lawgivers ought to make a habit of pondering, while our people rebelliously scrutinize all orthodoxies and [...]

Questions Are Better Than Answers: On the Socratic Method

By |2019-05-23T13:00:34-05:00September 11th, 2018|Categories: Christianity, Education, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Liberal Learning, Socrates|

The end of liberal education is not the learning of settled truths, and the inculcation of useful habits for obtaining useful goods, but the perfection of the human as human, not, primarily, as worker, citizen, or even believer... While people with backgrounds more religious and those with more secular mindsets may disagree about what gives [...]

Why We Learn Mathematics

By |2019-05-16T12:58:00-05:00August 1st, 2018|Categories: Education, Mathematics, Plato, Socrates|

When we learn math, we are using our mind alone, not our senses. Socrates calls it a study that “by nature leads to intellection”… It is a common occurrence: A math teacher stands at the front of the classroom, struggling to keep the student’s attention. One student is on the phone. Another stares straight [...]

Tradition: The Concept and Its Claim Upon Us

By |2019-04-02T16:01:13-05:00June 19th, 2018|Categories: Culture, Philosophy, Plato, Socrates, Tradition, Western Tradition|Tags: , |

True unity among men must have its roots in that common participation in the holy tradition reaching back to an utterance of God Himself… One wonders whether tradition is not actually anti-historical. It stands in stark contrast to the most impressive and most visible strand of the historical process, namely, the ever-advancing scientific investigation [...]

Was Aristotle the Father of Radical Individualism?

By |2019-04-04T13:06:37-05:00June 18th, 2018|Categories: Aristotle, Great Books, Justice, Philosophy, Plato, Socrates, Virtue|

A recent essay proposes Aristotle to have “opened a path” to today’s radical individualism and relativism. In order to evaluate this thesis, we must turn to the Great Tradition of the “perennial philosophy” and ask what the great philosophers taught about virtue, justice, friendship, and the nature of man… There is a story about [...]

How Aristotle Got Virtue Wrong

By |2019-04-04T12:03:50-05:00June 2nd, 2018|Categories: Aristotle, Character, Christianity, Community, Philosophy, Plato, Socrates, Virtue|

Aristotle’s reasoning about virtue, with its emphasis on man’s relationship to his own soul and man’s ability to perfect his own virtue, opened a path to relativism and radical individualism… All philosophical inquiry is united by two foundational elements. First the philosopher acknowledges that man’s existence is defined by his relationships. While philosophers may [...]

Educating Young Socrates

By |2019-03-28T13:28:13-05:00April 13th, 2018|Categories: Education, Great Books, Plato, Socrates|

Young Socrates needed to learn how to clarify and defend an argument. He had to learn to push tirelessly against convention, if convention had no defense… As parents none of us are Mary or Joseph, so educating a young Jesus is beyond our skill set, but what about a young Socrates? If you were [...]

Cosmopolitanism: Citizens Without States?

By |2019-03-19T17:40:07-05:00January 8th, 2018|Categories: American Founding, Books, Civil Society, Culture, Great Books, History, Immanuel Kant, Immigration, Politics, Socrates, Timeless Essays|

What we need is a love for both our country and our humanity, whether it be through religion, reason, or both. Such a position steers clear of the perfectionist aspirations of cosmopolitans and draws back from parochial nationalist sentiments by combining the best elements of American conservatism and liberalism… Today’s offering in our Timeless [...]