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Spelunking With Plato

Spelunking With Plato

By Spelunking With Plato
“Spelunking with Plato,” the Arts and Sciences podcast of the University of St. Thomas, offers conversations with faculty and friends of the university who can help us see more clearly the truth of things and devote our lives to the pursuit of Wisdom. By drinking deeply through dialogue from the Catholic intellectual and spiritual traditions we hope to order our lives more completely to the truths of reality, so that we can become fully free and come to a vision of the Good.
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Benedict, Beauty, and the Ethos of Liberal Learning (Margarita Mooney Suarez)
In this conversation with Margarita Mooney, we consider what can we learn from the Benedictine tradition—as communicated by Newman—as we seek to cultivate a university that is animated by liberal learning. What kind of ethos should emerge within a university from a liberal education that (1) integrates the full range of disciplines--including metaphysics and theology--(2) that seeks to form the full person (understood to have both a created nature and transcendent telos), and that (3) understands that for liberal learning to reach its highest aims it must be integrated within a liturgical and spiritual tradition? Within this discussion we also consider the difference that beauty, as a constitutive element of our education and our lives, can make as seek a fully human existence.  And on a note that is more important than it might seem at first, why should wee have good food and drink at faculty and academic gatherings? Links of Potential Interest:  Margarita Mooney Suarez’s writings, via her personal website Scala Foundation Mooney et al., The Love of Learning: Seven Dialogues on the Liberal Arts David Brooks, “The Organization Kid” Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God Newman, The Benedictine Essays
30:03
April 26, 2022
What is Liberal Education? A Conversation with Margarita Mooney Suarez
What is liberal education? And what is it not? In this conversation Margarita Mooney Suarez introduces her vision of liberal learning by considering the nature of the person whom we educate, the means of liberal learning, and the challenges that liberal learning faces today. Along the way, we consider what role imitation, play, humor, and imagination fulfill in liberal education and what we might continue to learn from Maritain, Newman, Huizinga, and St. Benedict. And how do all of these elements and sources enable us to (1) educate the integrated human person who possesses both a transcendent dimension and telos, (2) attain an integrated vision of all things, and (3) enter into the dance that transports us between focused forms of knowing—through the disciplines—and the contemplative vision of the whole? Links of Potential Interest: Margarita Mooney Suarez's personal website Scala Foundation Abigail Adams Institute Newman, The Idea of a University, Rise and Progress of Universities, and The Benedictine Essays Huizinga, Homo Ludens Maritain, Education at the Crossroads
29:08
April 20, 2022
What is the Meaning of Life? (Mirela Oliva)
In this conversation Prof. Mirela Oliva takes up the big question of how we can come to know the meaning of life. She suggests that there are three questions bound up in one: (1) the cosmic question, “What is the meaning ‘of it all’?”; the ethical question, “What can I do to make my life meaningful?”; and the aesthetic question, “What is the story of my life?” (And who “writes” this story?) She also takes up related questions such as “Is the meaning of life outside of me?” “Is the purpose of my life given to me, or do I create my own?” And finally, we discuss the question, “Is there a Catholic philosophy?” and what Plato might teach us about a philosophy that requires the exclusion of the Divine. Resources to consider: Plato, Republic Augustine, On the Trinity Aquinas, Summa Theologiae Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning Robert Nozick, The Examined Life: Philosophical Explanations Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue John Martin Fischer, Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will Films: Truman Show, The Story of Adele. H. Mirela Oliva, "Gadamer and Theology" Mirela Oliva, "Causation and the Narrative Meaning of Life"
23:01
February 21, 2022
Wi-Fi in Plato's Cave (Mirela Oliva)
If Plato's Cave had Wi-Fi and Netflix, would we leave it? In this conversation with Prof. Mirela Oliva, we consider what it is that a philosopher "does" and the famous Allegory of Plato's Cave. Are we all trapped in this Cave? Under what conditions might we be willing to stay? We also consider: How can the search for knowledge and wisdom lead to a better life? And what role does humility play in our search? How is knowledge of reality—philosophy broadly understood—the basis of every other enquiry and form of professional knowledge? That is, how is it that we cannot know the part (i.e., our particular discipline or profession) without knowing the whole (i.e., a broad philosophical vision)? And finally, what does it mean to approach a discipline philosophically?  (The last question is of critical importance for all who aspire to be liberally educated.) Resources to consider: Plato, Republic Augustine, On the Trinity Aquinas, Summa Theologiae Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning Robert Nozick, The Examined Life: Philosophical Explanations Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue John Martin Fischer, Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will Films: Truman Show, The Story of Adele. H.
26:35
February 21, 2022
Friendship, Grace, and the Study of History in the Life of Liberal Learning (Francesca Guerri)
How can the study of history, understood as a branch of liberal learning, become a liberating education? Prof. Francesca Guerri offers an initial answer by giving us an account of her own intellectual and spiritual pilgrimage and the role of the study of history in that pilgrimage. Then, opening the discussion to more universal connections, Dr. Guerri takes up the themes of friendship, the nature of the human person, and the role that community and companionship play in teaching and the intellectual life of the university.  She also considers how history relates to the sister disciplines of liberal learning and how historical study can be a point of entry for students into a larger vision of reality that is coherent, intelligent, and ultimately teleological.  History, approached as a discipline within the Catholic intellectual tradition offers meaning and vision that can liberate us and for which we are ultimately responsible as caretakers. Links of Potential Interest: Dr. Guerri’s website Polybius, The Rise of the Roman Empire Chris Blum, “The Historian’s Tools,” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 13, no. 4 (2010): 15-34. Christopher Dawson Crossroads Cultural Center
34:57
January 21, 2022
Matilda the “Warrior Countess” and History as a Liberal Art (Francesca Guerri)
What is one of the chief motivations for the study of history? Prof. Francesca Guerri suggests that it is “a passion for humanity.” But this is not a passion for abstractions. It is rather a passion for particular people, at particular times, in particular places, ordered to a particular end. In this conversation, Dr. Guerri introduces us to Matilda of Tuscany and her role in the investiture controversy as well as her own studies of Renaissance mercantile life and the larger (Benedictine) vison of work as potentially sacred. Dr. Guerri also takes up the question of the nature of liberal learning by considering a statement that Dante gives to Ulysses in the Inferno: “Consider your origins: you were not made to live as brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.” Is this an accurate description of liberal learning and its aims? What does it mean that Ulysses uses this statement to exhort his men to transgress divine bounds, leading ultimately to their death and his own damnation? (Are there dangers lurking with liberal education that is unmoored from a divine and regulative vision?) Along the way, Dr. Guerri also considers the virtues—including patience and studiositas—that should animate the life of the historian and the discipline’s relationship to the other liberal arts, especially rhetoric as it is understood in of the works of Cicero, St. Augustine, and Dante. Links of Potential Interest: Dr. Guerri’s website: https://www.francescaguerri.com/ Crossroads Cultural Center:  http://www.crossroadsculturalcenter.org/ Christopher Dawson:  http://www.christopherdawson.org.uk/ St. Augustine, The City of God:  https://www.newcitypress.com/the-city-of-god-11-22-library-edition.html Dante’s Inferno: https://www.amazon.com/Inferno-Divine-Comedy-Dante/dp/034548357X.  A popular introduction to Matilda of Tuscany:  https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/matilda-of-tuscany-the-warrior-countess
32:55
December 08, 2021
Learning from Elvis and the Pagans: St. Basil, Pythagoras and the Perils of a Great Books Education (Stuart Squires)
How much can and should Christians engage with non-Christian literature as part of a larger journey of intellectual formation? How can we fruitfully study pagan poets, historians, philosophers, and rhetoricians? And what role can music play in liberal learning? In this conversation, Prof. Squires leads us through a discussion of these questions and considers the strengths and weaknesses of great books programs (both Catholic and non-Catholic) and anti-intellectual strains within the Christian tradition. On two occasions, he even turns the table and interviews the interviewer. Links of Potential Interest: Stuart Squires, The Pelagian Controversy: An Introduction to the Enemies of Grace and the Conspiracy of Lost Souls Dr. Squires’ podcast “Catholicism and Culture” St. Basil, “Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature” Josef Pieper, What Does “Academic” Mean?: Two Essays on the Chances of the University Today Pope Saint John Paul II, Fides et Ratio https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091998_fides-et-ratio.html Tertullian, “The Prescription Against Heretics” Jared Ortiz, “All Things Hold Together: A Great Books Education and the Catholic Tradition” R. R. Reno, “Critical Thinking and the Culture of Skepticism”
32:48
November 17, 2021
Pelagius and Tertullian at the University: Culture, Grace, the Sources of Liberal Education (Stuart Squires)
What is the role of divine grace in liberal learning? And how should education relate to sources that of learning that may seem counter to the spirit of faith? In this conversation, Prof. Stuart Squires invites us into a consideration of two areas closely related to liberal learning.  First, if liberal learning seeks to bring students out of Plato's cave, what is the role of grace and worship or cultus in that journey?  Second, we take up Tertullian and consider the sources, limits, and purposes of liberal education (in dialogue with John Paul II's Fides et ratio, John Henry Newman, and St. Augustine. Links of Potential Interest: Prof. Stuart Squires, The Pelagian Controversy: An Introduction to the Enemies of Grace and the Conspiracy of Lost Souls Dr. Squires' podcast, "Catholicism and Culture" Josef Pieper, What Does “Academic” Mean?: Two Essays on the Chances of the University Today Pope Saint John Paul II, Fides et Ratio Tertullian, “The Prescription Against Heretics” St. Basil, “Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature” Jared Ortiz, “All Things Hold Together: A Great Books Education and the Catholic Tradition” R. R. Reno, “Critical Thinking and the Culture of Skepticism”
31:20
November 03, 2021
Snark in the Faculty Lounge: Galileo and the Contemporary University (Jim Clarage)
How would Galileo and his work be received today? Most people think they know what happened to Galileo but often get the details mixed up. Yet even when the details are clear, how does Galileo’s life, work, and controversy still shape the culture of the university and the form of liberal learning? (Hint: Is there a secret cold war between the “trivium-ists” and the “quadrivium-ists.” And how would discoveries comparable to Galileo's be received today? In this conversation we take up the Galileo affair, seek to clarify its details, and discuss its reverberations through the contemporary academy. Links of Potential Interest: Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" from the Republic (Book VII) Boethius, De Institutione Arithmetica (on the Quadrivium) Sister Miriam Joseph, C.S.C.  The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric. Reprinted by Paul Dry Books. Maurice A. Finocchiaro. The Essential Galileo. (Masterful use of mostly primary documents from the early 1600’s) Marshall McLuhan, The Classical Trivium: The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time. (McLuhan's 1942 doctoral dissertation.) Gingko Press. ISBN 1-58423-067-3.
35:32
October 06, 2021
Liquid Fire: On American Politics, the Liberalism Wars, Natural Law, and Whether America is Still “Cool” (Christopher James Wolfe)
What did James Madison mean by “cool” (in reference to politics) and why is our political discourse so “hot” today?  Prof. Wolfe takes up the substance of Federalist 10, the so-called "liberalism wars," and the nature of America’s founding. Along the way, he offers commentary on Leo Strauss, Alasdair MacIntyre, Natural Law, integralism, and classical liberalism. And at the end he offers his own diagnosis on America’s future. Links of Potential Interest: Christopher James Wolfe, “Reilly and the Republic in 2020: Why Isn’t It “Cool” Anymore?,” Catholic Social Science Review: Volume 26. Federalist 10 John Courtney Murray, We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition Patrick Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed Robert Reilly, America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding Andrew Sullivan, "Democracies End When They are Too Democratic," New York Magazine, 2016 (Here Sullivan applies Plato's political analysis to the American political landscape.) Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History Alasdair MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals. What is Integralism?  (In Three Sentences) Adrian Vermeule, "Beyond Originalism," The Atlantic Catholic Southwest: A Journal of History and Culture
29:22
September 14, 2021
Tattoo Lights, Harmonics, and Quantum Mechanics: Is Physics the Queen of the Sciences? (Jim Clarage)
Is the discipline of physics the “Queen of the Sciences”? In this conversation with polymath and professor Jim Clarage, we discuss the ways in which the discipline of physics takes up all seven of the classical liberal arts. Along the way we consider other disciplines—music, mathematics, and theology—that also may fulfill this role and why Newman’s “circle of the sciences” remains relevant today. With cameos by Darwin, Einstein, and Galileo, we sketch the place of advanced scientific thought within liberal learning and the humility that may be required for its study. Links of Potential Interest from Prof. Clarage: The Book of Nature (author: God! Go out and stare at moon phases for month, shoot a garden hose in the sun, watch a morning spider engineering a web) Stratford Caldecott. Beauty for Truth’s Sake. (Quadrivium in education as way to enchantment) Maurice A. Finocchiaro. The Essential Galileo. (masterful use of mostly primary documents from the early 1600’s) Werner Heisenberg. Physics and Philosophy. Any Physics textbook. John Stillwell. Any of the historical (but rigorous) texts by mathematician John Stillwell “translating” the great development of mathematics since Euclid (e.g, I’m reading his The Real Numbers now.) Advanced: Charles DeKoninck, Le Cosmos. (The Cosmos, in McInerny’s Works of Charles DeKoninck )
33:08
September 09, 2021
Politics, Plato, The Plastic People of the Universe, and Liberal Education (Christopher James Wolfe)
What is political theory and how does its study fit into liberal education? Does a change in music prefigure a change in political regimes? These and other questions are taken up in this conversation with Prof. Chris Wolfe. In hindsight, who would have thought that both Plato and “The Plastic People of the Universe would come up in the same podcast? Links of Potential Interest: Plato’s Republic Aristotle’s Politics Catholic Southwest: A Journal of History and Culture Christopher James Wolfe, “Reilly and the Republic in 2020: Why Isn’t It 'Cool' Anymore?,” Catholic Social Science Review: Volume 26. Charles De Koninck, "On the Primacy of the Common Good: Against the Personalists and The Principle of the New Order,"  The Aquinas Review: Vol. 4 (1997). Osborne, "MacIntyre, Thomism and the Contemporary Common Good." Analyse & Kritik 30/2008 (c Lucius & Lucius, Stuttgart) p. 75–90. The Plastic People of the Universe
31:02
August 25, 2021
Renewing a University’s Core: Tradition, Community, and the Sources of Liberal Learning
In this conversation, Prof. Andrew Hayes accomplishes two tasks. First, he introduces us to the sources that have animated his leadership of the renewal of a university's core curriculum—including St. Ephrem the Syrian, St. Basil the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal Newman, Josef Pieper, and Alasdair Macintyre. Second, he gives a detailed account of the principal elements and purposes that give form to the unfolding of this renewal. Here he touches upon the importance of establishing a community of Core Fellows, the cultivation of wonder in our students, the perennial questions that will animate and give unity to the students' experience of the core, the core’s common texts, and the fundamental unity of knowledge. Finally, he offers insightful observations about liberal education understood as an unfolding conversation, the role of faculty members as custodians of tradition, how we should define “liberal education,”  and how should distinguish introductory courses that typically constitute general education at most institutions from “cognate” courses that should constitute a core properly ordered to liberal learning. Details about UST's renewal of its Core, including goals, courses, and course sequences Lecture by Dr. Andrew Hayes: "A Theology of Wonder: An Introduction to the Poetry of Ephrem the Syrian" Josef Pieper, Leisure the Basis of Culture (with an introduction by T.S. Eliot) Alasdair Macintyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Saint John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University and Rise and Progress of Universities
34:46
June 07, 2021
Awakening to Wonder and Wisdom: The Architecture and Telos of Liberal Learning
In this episode, Dr. Andrew Hayes, a theologian who also serves as the Dean of the Division of Liberal Studies, introduces us to the principles and process guiding the university’s renewal of its core curriculum. He takes up the nature of the human person, the role of wonder in liberal learning, and the purpose of a core oriented to human flourishing in this life and the next. Affirming that there is “truth to be known” and a “life of the mind” to be lived—all unfolding from conception to the beatific vision—Prof. Hayes compares the renewal of the core to the history of monastic renewals that have been undertaken during the life of the Church. By returning to the original charism “we are recommitting to the principles and sources of liberal learning” and opening ourselves to the joyful unpredictability of a community devoted to Wisdom. Prof. Hayes clarifies how the university, guided by three fundamental goals, will renew the core in order to create a common experience for students that will be coherent, ordered to a common purpose, and pass on a common patrimony across generations. Details about UST's renewal of its Core, including goals, courses, and course sequences Lecture by Dr. Andrew Hayes: "A Theology of Wonder: An Introduction to the Poetry of Ephrem the Syrian" Josef Pieper, What Does 'Academic' Mean? Karl Barth, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
32:47
May 25, 2021
A Twelfth-Century Map for a Contemporary Catholic University: The Wisdom of Hugh of St. Victor
In this conversation, Chris Evans, the VPAA of the University of Saint Thomas, introduces us to the world and thought of Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096--1141). Focusing on the “map” of study proposed in his "Didascalicon," we discover the integration of the theoretical and practical disciplines with mechanical skills, and the weaving together of the seven liberal arts both with ethical and political formation, and the acquisition of the necessary skills for life (which at the time including hunting and armor making).  Complementing this in Hugh’s vision is a devotion to prayer, the liturgy, and the sacraments. And all of these—studies in the classroom and formation outside of the classroom—are oriented to Wisdom, the second person of the Trinity. Hugh of St. Victor’s soteriological orientation of education would also become the normative vision for Catholic education to this day: Catholic education ultimately aims at human salvation, “the restoration of the likeness of God in humanity.” In the second half of the conversation, we take up the question, “Why the Core?,” the role of theology in liberal learning, and how we can form faculty and administrators for the unique mission of Catholic liberal education. Links of Potential Interest: The Didascalicon of Hugh of Saint Victor: A Medieval Guide to the Arts Josef Pieper, What Does "Academic" Mean? "UST Renews Core Curriculum" St. Thomas Aquinas, The Division and Methods of the Sciences Pope Saint John Paul II, Fides et Ratio Pope Benedict, "Address to Catholic Educators"
35:19
April 22, 2021
The “Indelible Mark” of Liberal Learning: Renewing a Catholic Liberal Arts Core
“I don’t know what nursing or business will look like in five hundred years, but I know that we will still be reading Plato and Aristotle.” In this conversation, Chris Evans introduces listeners to the history of the esteemed Core of the University of St. Thomas and the Basilian charism of forming the whole person. He considers how the rise of professional majors and other cultural dynamics have challenged the breadth, depth, coherence, and sense of purpose of the Core. He considers the difference between having the Core as an “integral part” of the university's course of studies and making it an “integrating” part of a university education, a luminous center of gravity that brings clarity to all of the university’s activities (within and beyond the classroom) and gives them order and a telos. And throughout the conversation he gives many details (with their rationale) of the renewal of the Core. These and other questions and topics animate this wide-ranging conversation about how the renewed Core and its culture promise to become a models for liberal learning within a comprehensive university in the twenty-first century. Links of Potential Interest: Josef Pieper, What Does "Academic" Mean? "UST Renews Core Curriculum" The Didascalicon of Hugh of Saint Victor: A Medieval Guide to the Arts St. Thomas Aquinas, The Division and Methods of the Sciences Pope Saint John Paul II, Fides et Ratio Pope Benedict,  "Address to Catholic Educators"
33:57
April 20, 2021
Dante and the Odyssey of Liberal Education
“What was life like before you read Dante?” For many of us, this is almost the same as asking, “What was life like before you began the journey of liberal education?” In this conversation with Prof. Dominic Aquila, we consider the Poet and his work, taking up the merits of various translations, various ways to read the poem, the scholarly tradition of commentary, and the potential fruitfulness of exile.  Prof. Aquila reflects on the Purgatorio and its liturgical-musical dimension—a work on which he has recently published—as well as Dante’s “three Advents.” Links of Potential Interest: Dante, The Divine Comedy Esolen translation Hollander translation T.S. Eliot “The Wasteland” Hollander, “Dante, A Party of One” Dominic Aquila, “Dante and the Other: A Phenomenology of Love” Rev. Augustine Thompson, O.P., Francis of Assisi: A New Biography University of St. Thomas’ Honors Program
32:23
January 08, 2021
Dawson, Lukacs, and MacIntyre: History, Historicism, and Liberal Learning
Where does history fit into the liberal learning? How can a historical sensibility be integrated into liberal education without relativizing and historicizing the truth claims made by other disciplines.  How do we prevent “Becoming” from overwhelming our access to “Being.” In this conversation with Prof. Dominic Aquila, we take up these questions and many more. (This discussion is preceded by Prof. Aquila’s thoughts on the place of liberal learning within the family.) Links of Potential Interest: Christopher Dawson, Christianity and European Culture: Selections from the Work of Christopher Dawson Christopher Dawson, The Crisis of Western Education John Lukacs, Historical Consciousness Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History Christopher O. Blum, “The Historian and His Tools in the Workshop of Wisdom” Rev. John Courtney Murray, “Is it Basket Weaving” from We hold these truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition The Josias Podcast, Episode XXVI: Historicism
35:47
January 07, 2021
On Lying for a Living and the Ontology of Arithmetic
In this conversation with Prof. Tom Harmon, a scholar of St. Augustine, we consider whether rhetoric should be considered the chief of the liberal arts (at least among the trivium), its status during Augustine’s time, and its relation to the other liberal arts.  In light of Augustine’s criticism of rhetoric—“telling lies to people who know you are lying, and who praise you for it”—we consider how Augustine might defend liberal learning in our own day. and how such learning remains essential to fields and disciplines we might not expect.  We also consider considering the links between the verbal arts of the trivium and the mathematical ones of the quadrivium, particularly the relation between poetry, arithmetic, and  metaphysics. Links of Potential Interest: Our first conversation on Augustine Works by Augustine: Confessions City of God Works by other authors John Cavadini, Visioning Augustine Pierre Manent, The Metamorphosis of the City Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography Rev. Ernest L. Fortin, A.A. "Political Idealism and Christianity in the Thought of St. Augustine" (See also the three volumes of essays edited by J. Brian Benestad.) Joseph Ratzinger, Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche (Munich: Karl Zink Verlag, 1954).  
32:24
January 07, 2021
St. Augustine: Embodiment and Critic of Liberal Learning
Are the liberal arts necessary for the Christian? How did St. Augustine simultaneously embody and critique liberal learning? In this conversation, Prof. Tom Harmon, a scholar of St. Augustine, takes up the Bishop of Hippo’s vision of liberal education from a variety of perspectives. If Augustine were rewriting the “Allegory of the Cave,” how would his account be different? Along the way he also considers the difference between Cicero’s and Augustine’s vision of oratory, the role of the Platonists in Augustine’s conversion, and the temptation to pride that is an occupational hazard for Christian academics. Links of Potential Interest: Peter Brown,  Augustine of Hippo: A Biography Marshall McLuhan, The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion Works by Augustine:   Confessions On Christian Teaching (De Doctrina Christiana) The Augustine Catechism: Enchiridion On the Happy Life Tractates on the Gospel of John
35:50
December 16, 2020
Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II: Competing Views of Education?
A thought experiment: Imagine that both John Paul II and Thomas Aquinas are alive today. They have been commissioned to establish independent universities in different cities according to their respective visions of education. How would the universities differ? How would they be similar? Is it possible that they establish identical universities? In this conversation, Dr. John Hittinger takes up these questions while also offering insights that illuminate the role of culture, philosophical anthropology, freedom, and conscience in the well-ordered human life of learning. Hittinger also reflects on how he—as a life-long Thomist—has developed his own thinking as a result of his work on the thought of John Paul II. Links of potential interest: John Paul II Institute George Weigel’s John Paul II Trilogy: Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II--The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II Pope Saint John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (“Faith and Reason”) Pope Saint John Paul II, Ex corde ecclesiae (On Catholic Universities/From the Heart of the Church) Pope Saint John Paul II, “Letter to Artists” Karol Wojtyła (Pope Saint John Paul II) The Jeweler's Shop: A Meditation on the Sacrament of Matrimony Passing on Occasion Into a Drama Henryk Górecki, “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” Pope Saint John Paul II, Memory and Identity: Conversations at the Dawn of a Millennium George Weigel, “Two Ideas of Freedom”
32:31
December 04, 2020
The Paradoxes of Liberal Learning or "How to Think Like Shakespeare"
In this engaging conversation, Dr. Clint Brand introduces us to Scott Newstok’s book, How to Think like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education, which serves as a door to a larger discussion of the nature of liberal learning and its inherent paradoxes. Dr. Brand considers with Newstok “a few touchstones derived from the Tudor play of mind and some habits of Renaissance education that apply very much to the challenges” we face in our current moment. He also explores the paradoxes that Newstok proposes to his readers: that play emerges through work, creativity through imitation, autonomy through tradition, innovation through constraints, and freedom through discipline. And Prof. Brand fittingly concludes the conversation with Wordsworth’s “Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room.” Links of potential interest: Clint Brand, ed., St. Gregory’s Prayer Book Scott Newstok’s book, How to Think like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism Josef Pieper, Leisure the Basis of Culture (with an introduction by T.S. Eliot) Aelred of Rievaulx, On Spiritual Friendship William Wordsworth, “Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room”
31:42
December 04, 2020
The Classroom as Sacrament(al)?
In what ways is the classroom devoted to liberal learning also a sacramental place? In this conversation, Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, O.P. (herself a scholar of St. Albert’s sacramental theology), discusses parallels between the classical understanding of the sacraments and the experience of a classroom animated by liberal education. Along the way she also introduces us to texts by Josef Pieper, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Pope Saint John Paul II that can illuminate our path as we seek to leave the Cave. Links of Potential Interest: Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, O.P., On the Body of the Lord Her academic website Josef Pieper, Leisure the Basis of Culture (with an introduction by T.S. Eliot) Alasdair MacIntyre, God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition The University of St. Thomas’ Academic Programs:
30:42
December 04, 2020
St. Albert the Great, A Tweeting Public Intellectual?
What was Albert the Great’s vision of higher learning? In this conversation, Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski outlines Albert’s vision with wit and insight, suggesting that he was not as dispassionate as his more famous pupil and had he been alive today, might have become a public intellectual who engaged contemporary controversies on social media. Not content to be an armchair scientist, he insisted on testing popular opinions of the day: Do ostriches don’t eat iron? Let’s find out. In addition to comparing St. Albert and St. Thomas, Sr. Albert Marie takes up the place of science in liberal education more generally, potential parallels between sacramental communion (for the laity) and education, the fearless nature of liberal enquiry, and analogues between religious and academic communities. Links of Potential Interest: Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, O.P., On the Body of the Lord Her academic website Stephen Barr, A Student's Guide to Natural Science The University of St. Thomas’ Academic Programs:
29:51
December 02, 2020
John Paul II’s Vision of Education: A Conversation with John Hittinger
In this conversation, Dr. John Hittinger explores the sources of John Paul II’s vision of education, taking up his historically rooted and deeply cultural, Thomistic Personalism as the foundation of that vision. Ranging over a wide variety of works—including music and poetry—Prof. Hittinger considers the relation between faith and reason, a relation in which the former acts as a “force multiplier” of the latter. He also considers the confidence that should mark Catholic higher education and the role of literature and the imagination in liberal learning. Links of potential interest: John Paul II Institute George Weigel’s John Paul II Trilogy Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II--The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II Pope Saint John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (“Faith and Reason”) Pope Saint John Paul II, Ex corde ecclesiae (On Catholic Universities/From the Heart of the Church) Pope Saint John Paul II, “Letter to Artists” Karol Wojtyła (Pope Saint John Paul II) The Jeweler's Shop: A Meditation on the Sacrament of Matrimony Passing on Occasion Into a Drama Henryk Górecki, “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” Pope Saint John Paul II, Memory and Identity: Conversations at the Dawn of a Millennium
31:58
November 19, 2020
The Role of Literature and the Imagination in Liberal Education
“For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity In this lively conversation, Dr. Clint Brand takes up Newman’s understanding of the role of the imagination within liberal education. Dr. Brand draws upon the full scope of Newman’s writings, his own experiences as a scholar and teacher, and the insights of Dante and C.S. Lewis. Central to this conversation are several questions articulated by Dr. Brand: “If faith and reason are the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth, what can we say of the imagination? Where does the study of literature fit into the physiology of flight? What does a literary education bring to the school of aviation in a Catholic university?” And Prof. Brand concludes the conversation with a reading of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “ To R.B.” Links of potential interest: Clint Brand, ed., St. Gregory’s Prayer Book Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, “Poetry, with Reference to Aristotle’s Poetics” Paul Shrimpton, The ‘Making of Men’. The Idea and Reality of Newman's University in Oxford and Dublin Newman, The Idea of a University Newman, Apologia pro Vita Sua Newman, Loss and Gain Newman, Grammar of Assent Newman, The Dream of Gerontius Gerard Manley Hopkins, “To R.B.”
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October 29, 2020