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 |2019-04-07T17:34:14-05:00November 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 |2018-09-11T22:08:17-05:00September 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 |2018-08-01T12:55:22-05:00August 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 [...]

The Ciceronian Republic

By |2018-12-26T14:48:23-05:00November 9th, 2017|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Cicero, Culture, Socrates, Western Civilization|

Habits, mores, manners, and customs should prove more important in a republic than the law… “With Cicero fell the republic.”—Russell Kirk As one of my grand Hillsdale colleagues, Dr. Stephen Smith, once said to me, there has never been a serious reform or renaissance in Western Civilization since the fall of the Roman Republic [...]

Cosmopolitanism and the Hellenistic World

By |2018-11-21T14:40:39-05:00November 2nd, 2017|Categories: Aristotle, Bradley J. Birzer, Christianity, Great Books, History, Philosophy, Plato, Socrates|

The desire to belong to something greater than one’s self is simply human, transcending time, place, and space. It’s as natural as our need to breathe. In this sense, Aristotle put it correctly when he noted that man is meant to live in community… When the polis of classical Greece collapsed brutally in the [...]

Socrates and Free Government

By |2017-10-26T00:09:36-05:00October 25th, 2017|Categories: Apology, Gleaves Whitney, History, Plato, Socrates, Stephen Tonsor series|

A free government is only sustainable if citizens can govern themselves. Socrates patiently revealed, through conversations that held a mirror up to fellow citizens, that they did not sufficiently understand such basic concepts as justice, piety, virtue, truth, and goodness when applied to themselves. Yet they presumed to govern others?... Author's Note: Following is my revised [...]