Kant’s Imperative

By |2019-12-29T14:20:10-06:00December 29th, 2019|Categories: Culture, E.B., Ethics, Eva Brann, Immanuel Kant, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Reason, Senior Contributors, St. John's College, Virtue|

What makes freedom possible is beyond all knowing, but what makes the moral law possible is freedom itself. The fact that we have a faculty of freedom is the critical ground of the possibility of morality. I have called this lecture “Kant’s Imperative” so that I might begin by pointing up an ever-intriguing circumstance. [...]

Some Advice to Fellow Lovers of Liberal Learning

By |2019-12-26T16:02:58-06:00December 26th, 2019|Categories: E.B., Education, Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Arts, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

A preliminary function of a liberal education must be to serve as a purgative, a cleansing, of those who wish to be free. By its means we can cleanse ourselves of our undigested and unconscious prejudices. When it first came home to me that I would not be a tutor at the Graduate Institute [...]

The Enduring Legend of “Antigone”

By |2019-12-16T11:53:37-06:00December 16th, 2019|Categories: Books, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Sophocles, St. John's College|

Greek myths have had an unbroken authority over the imagination of the West, and among them the Antigone legend is paramount in both shaping and expressing the moral constitution of Western humanity. Antigones, by George Steiner (Clarendon Press, 1984; Oxford Paperback, 1986; 328 pages) Anyone who has reread the Antigone about as often as is [...]

Love, Peace, and War in Italy: A Memoir

By |2019-12-09T21:20:32-06:00December 9th, 2019|Categories: Books, E.B., Europe, Eva Brann, History, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, St. John's College|

Douglas Allanbrook’s memoir, “See Naples,”  is not only a memorial to the many dead, but also an exorcism, half-a-century later, of some particular ghosts. See Naples: A Memoir of Love, Peace, and War in Italy, by Douglas Allanbrook (A Peter Davison Book, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York and Boston, 1995) Douglas Allanbrook came to [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

Where, Then, Is Time?

By |2020-05-23T12:02:26-05:00November 11th, 2019|Categories: E.B., Eva Brann, Imagination, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Moral Imagination, Philosophy, St. Augustine, St. John's College, Time|

If it is the case that time never makes its appearance out in the world but only motion is in evidence, then either time is not or it is in the only other venue of which I can think, inside our soul. Let me first explain my odd-sounding title. It is a variation on [...]

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 [...]

A Suitable Boy

By |2019-10-29T01:03:31-05:00October 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 [...]

Was Thomas Jefferson a Philosopher?

By |2020-05-13T15:41:57-05:00October 22nd, 2019|Categories: American Founding, Declaration of Independence, E.B., Essential, Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, St. John's College, Thomas Jefferson|

Thomas Jefferson is a kind of incarnate compendium of the Enlightenment. His remarkable openness to its spirit is the philosophical counterpart to his political sensitivity in making himself “a passive auditor of the opinions of others,” so as to catch the “harmonizing sentiments of the day” and to incorporate them into a document that [...]

Soul, World, and Idea: Interpreting Plato

By |2020-05-09T21:54:12-05:00October 14th, 2019|Categories: Books, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Phaedo, Philosophy, Plato, Senior Contributors, St. John's College|

“To save the phenomena” of heavenly motions by undergirding them with rational, that is, mathematical, hypotheses—that is said to be the problem Plato set for astronomers in a passage from the “Republic” frequently referenced by Daniel Sherman. His own project is, as I understand it, the inverse one: to save the Platonic ideas by [...]

Visions of a Botanist: Explorations & Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest

By |2019-09-30T15:15:09-05:00September 30th, 2019|Categories: Books, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Science, St. John's College, Western Civilization|

In Wade Davis’ “One River,” every issue that a sound-minded person most cares about is joined under a novel aspect: sanity and the way to illumination, visibility and the manifestations of the divine realm, physicality and the gateway to transcendence. One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest, by Wade Davis (New [...]

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