Liberal Learning

Choosing a Patron Philosopher of Debate: A Fable

By |2019-12-03T13:59:51-06:00December 3rd, 2019|Categories: Education, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Socrates|

I’ve been coaching debate for five years now, and as I’ve taught students how to play the game, the benefits of debate become obvious. At the same time, a danger lurks. Could debate inherently be an activity devoted to sophistry? Back from summer break, the varsity debate team gathers to determine an important part [...]

Jacob Klein: European Scholar and American Teacher

By |2019-12-02T23:47:19-06:00December 2nd, 2019|Categories: E.B., Education, Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Jacob Klein, Meno, Plato, St. John's College|

Jacob Klein presents the model of teaching best fitting a stable community of liberal learning. He was a master of the somewhat mysterious art of leading from behind—by solicitous listening, by intimating questions, even by expectant silence. The subtitle of my talk might be “Liberal Education: Program and/or Pedagogy?” The reason is that I think of [...]

Mortimer Adler & the Context of an Educational Philosophy

By |2019-11-29T12:25:56-06:00November 28th, 2019|Categories: Books, Christine Norvell, Education, Liberal Arts, Mortimer Adler, Senior Contributors|

Robert Woods’s “Mortimer Adler: The Paideia Way of Classical Education” embodies the life and educational philosophy of one education reformer. Though intended to be informative, most chapters are akin to an educator’s devotional, leaving the teacher inspired to be a more thoughtful and focused Christian tutor. Mortimer Adler: The Paideia Way of Classical Education, by [...]

The Grace of Owing

By |2019-11-28T00:46:38-06:00November 27th, 2019|Categories: Classical Education, Education, Glenn Arbery, Liberal Arts, Senior Contributors, Thanksgiving, Wyoming Catholic College|

To be truly grateful means that one holds oneself in the grace of owing. It means alert and noble attention to the good intended by the giver. Giving thanks is such a beautifully natural gesture that it seems almost perverse to admire someone for not making it. But Dr. Samuel Johnson earns such admiration [...]

Pre-Socratics or First Philosophers?

By |2019-11-25T23:33:00-06:00November 25th, 2019|Categories: Classics, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, Heraclitus, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Socrates, St. John's College|

The Pre-Socratics may be thought of as deficient, lacking something, primitive in the derogatory sense. But there is also the opposite perspective: These men were not primitive, without sophistication, but primeval, deeper, more receptive to origins. Think how peculiar this appellation is: “Pre-Socratics.” A whole slew of thinkers, poetical, aphoristic, prosaic—condemned to be known as [...]

Memory and Its Discontents

By |2019-11-26T21:54:21-06:00November 24th, 2019|Categories: Classical Education, Education, Glenn Arbery, Senior Contributors, Wyoming Catholic College|

The whole thrust of the modern world is toward a slighting of memory. These days, most of us worry more about how much memory our computers have than about developing this profound faculty in ourselves. At Wyoming Catholic College, our students continue a practice of great antiquity—they memorize poetry. Although people have never stopped [...]

A Reading of the Gettysburg Address

By |2019-11-18T22:03:18-06:00November 18th, 2019|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Civil War, Declaration of Independence, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, St. John's College|

Liberal education ought to be less a matter of becoming well-read than a matter of learning to read well, of acquiring arts of awareness, the interpretative or “trivial” arts. Some works, written by men who are productive masters of these arts, are exemplary for their interpretative application. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is such a text. [...]

Why Pop Music Is So Bad These Days

By |2019-11-08T00:24:55-06:00November 7th, 2019|Categories: Education, Music|

Today’s pop music is designed to sell, not inspire. Today’s pop artist is often more concerned with producing something familiar to mass audience, increasing the likelihood of commercial success. With less timbral variety, and the same combination of keyboard, drum machine, and computer software, and with only two songwriters writing much of what we hear, [...]

Understanding Hegel’s Theory on Time

By |2019-11-05T00:36:59-06:00November 4th, 2019|Categories: E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Nature, Order, Philosophy, St. John's College, Time|

Time, it will turn out, is a kind of intuiting, indeed the matrix of all intuiting, but it is not therefore to be intuited, that is, looked at, rather than thought out. The moving pictures that Hegel himself suggests to illustrate the emerging determinations of thought are only concessions to our ordinarily representational minds. This [...]

Approaching Weathertop: Anatomy of a Scene

By |2019-10-29T21:01:16-06:00October 29th, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors, Tolkien Series, Writing|

Though the approach to the mountain Weathertop is only one scene in “The Lord of the Rings,” it is a telling one. Through romance, imagery of light and color, the voluptuousness of his landscapes, and the holiness of song and poetry, J.R.R. Tolkien brilliantly reveals himself as a master of the English language and, [...]

A Suitable Boy

By |2019-10-29T01:03:31-06:00October 28th, 2019|Categories: Books, Community, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, St. John's College|

One of the qualities that makes ”Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy” so engaging a work is involvement. I mean that each of the cast of characters is involved with all the others, in series or in parallel, in accordance with the recognized register of traditional and contemporary relationships. A Suitable Boy: A Novel, by [...]