Telling Lies

By |2019-06-17T17:30:47-05:00June 17th, 2019|Categories: Aristotle, E.B., Eva Brann, Friedrich Nietzsche, Homer, Iliad, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Odyssey, Plato, St. John's College|

We should learn to cultivate the unwillingness to tolerate the unwitting, untold lie in the soul, and the wit and wisdom to transmute the unavoidable lying of any utterance into the telling lies that reveal truth… The first lecture of the school year is, by an old tradition, dedicated to the freshmen among us. Whether [...]

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 [...]

Plato’s “Timaeus”: A Unique Universe of Discourse

By |2019-05-06T12:41:15-05:00May 6th, 2019|Categories: Books, Classics, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Philosophy, Plato, St. John's College|

Plato’s Timaeus is less a dialogue than a short tale of antiquity by Critias followed by an account of the cosmos by Timaeus, in which, the question is asked: Why is the greatest philosophical work on the cosmos framed by politics? Before reviewing Peter Kalkavage’s Focus Press translation of the Timaeus, I must, in [...]

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 [...]

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

By |2019-02-25T14:28:30-05:00January 28th, 2019|Categories: Audio/Video, Classics, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Meno, Plato, St. John's College|

“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 [...]

Talking, Reading, Writing, Listening

By |2019-02-25T14:30:41-05:00December 10th, 2018|Categories: Classics, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Plato, St. John's College|

I imagine that on Parents’ Weekend there might be some parents attending this once weekly occasion when the college assembles to hear a lecture. By its very name, a lecture is read—but read out loud, delivered in the writer’s voice. Thus, the sequence goes: I thought, I wrote, I read, I speak. Although this is the principal way of [...]

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 [...]

Honor and Fame

By |2018-09-17T21:57:03-05:00September 17th, 2018|Categories: Aristotle, Conservatism, Culture, Glenn Arbery, Homer, Plato, William Shakespeare, Wyoming Catholic College|

Should honor and fame no longer be ends of ambition in such a world? The ancient philosophers doubted the ultimate merit of fame, but they also looked for the most spirited students, those most inclined to “undertake extensive and arduous enterprises"... In response to my essay about baptizing ambition, a friend from Boston College recommended [...]

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 [...]

The Student’s Problem

By |2018-11-21T08:38:37-05:00August 20th, 2018|Categories: E.B., Education, Eva Brann, Great Books, Immanuel Kant, Liberal Arts, Liberal Learning, Philosophy, Plato, St. John's College|

There is a sickness, traditionally called melancholy, which is particularly at home in communities of learning such as ours. Its visible form can be seen in the engraving by Duerer called Melencolia Prima. Amidst the signs and symbols of the liberal arts, especially geometry, sits heavily a winged woman. Her eyes are fixed intently on visions [...]