Full Lecture: Courage and the City in Aristotle by Prof. Kyle Washut

July 17, 2018

“Let us train boys from earliest childhood to be patient when they suffer wrongs themselves,” wrote St. John Chrysostom in the late fourth century AD, “but, if they see another being wronged, to sally forth courageously and aid the sufferer in fitting measure.” 

How to raise children to be good and courageous adults is a perennial question. Our civilization requires good and courageous adults and the Church requires good and courageous adults as well.

Some 800 years before St. John Chrysostom, Plato and then Aristotle asked how we form boys in to courageous young men.

At June’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Professor Kyle Whashut discussed what Plato and Aristotle had to say on the issue. Here is his lecture in its entirety.

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Courage and Courageous Children: Lessons from Plato and Aristotle with Prof. Kyle Washut

July 17, 2018

Kyle Washut was part of the work crew at that first Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. He spent his days listening in as he set tables, washed dishes, and scrubbed. At the end, he did the final clean up while Fr. Schall and the other faculty chatted over a steak dinner.

At this year’s Wyoming School, Professor Kyle Washut did not set table. As a presenter, one of his topics was courage in Plato’s Laches and in Aristotle’s Nichomacean Ethics. And it turns out that the question Plato and Aristotle addressed in the fourth century BC is critical even—or perhaps critical especially today: How do we form men out of boys? What kind of cultivation is required?

Professor Washut is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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St. Thomas Aquinas and the Emotion of Courage with Dr. Stanley Grove

July 10, 2018

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, courage is an emotion before it’s a virtue. It’s something that arises in us naturally when we are faced by something we perceive as evil.

At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, we discussed St. Thomas’s understanding of the emotion or passion of courage with the help of Dr. Stanley Grove.

Dr. Grove pointed out that the passions are buried deep down in Thomas’s understanding of human nature. Through our rational nature, we take the world in with our intellect and reach out to the world with our will.

We sense the world through the animal aspect of our nature, that is the part we share with other animals who, while they are not in the image of God, also have bodies and live in the physical world. This includes our senses and our emotions or passions.

Dr. Grove is our guest for this After Dinner Scholar.

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Courage and Antigone’s Choice by Dr. Virginia Arbery

July 3, 2018

“Antigone,” written by the Athenian poet Sophocles in the fifth century BC poses a dilemma: What do we do when the government says one thing, but God—or in this case the gods—say otherwise?

In the play Antigone’s two brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, chose opposite sides in the civil war in Thebes. In battle the two brothers kill each other just as the side Eteocles chose wins the war. The victorious new ruler, Creon, decrees that Eteocles will be honored as a great hero and buried with all dignity and holy rites.

As for Polyneices’ body, Creon says, “it has been proclaimed to the city that no one honor with a tomb or lament with cries, but let him lie unburied, his body devoured by birds and by dogs and mangled for the seeing.” Disobedience will be punished by death.

But the gods decree the dead should be buried. “That one I shall give rites,” says Antigone, “It is noble for me to die doing this.”

Dr. Virginia Arbery taught a class on Antigone and her courage at The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. Here are her comments.

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Achilles: His Fate, His Courage, and His Shield with Dr. Glenn Arbery

June 26, 2018

 “Ah me, son of valiant Peleus;” said the messager to Achilles in book 18 of The Iliad, “you must hear from me the ghastly message of a thing I wish never had happened. Patroklos has fallen, and now they are fighting over his body which is naked. Hektor of the shining helm has taken his armor.”

As we began discussing courage at this year’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, we turned our attention to Achilleus, the paragon of courage. In book 18 of The Iliad, Achilles, who has refused to help the nearly-defeated Greeks, mourns the loss of his friend Paroklos and resolves to rejoin the battle. And he does that knowing that his death in battle is absolutely certainty once he avenges Patroklos death by killing Hecktor.

Dr. Glenn Arbery, president of Wyoming Catholic College, explains how Achilles’ decision and the shield and armor that are then designed for him, give us a picture of courage that becomes the baseline for all other depictions of this virtue.

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The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought and the Paradox of Courage with Dr. Glenn Arbery

June 19, 2018

This past week, Wyoming Catholic College hosted our annual Wyoming School of Catholic Thought here in Lander, Wyoming. Adult learners came from as far away as California, South Carolina, and Florida to consider the topic “The Paradox of Courage: Desire to Live, Readiness to Die.”

We read and discussed authors as diverse as Homer, Plato, St. Athanasius, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sophocles, the Bible, and T. S. Eliot, watched Sophie Scholl, a film about a brave young woman in Nazi Germany and the 1928 silent film “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” and left enough time for horseback riding, hiking, and many fruitful conversations about courage in the works we considered and in the world today.

The After Dinner Scholar in the next weeks will feature interviews and lectures from the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. To introduce the topic, this week’s interview with Wyoming Catholic College president Dr. Glenn Arbery was recorded back in January and offers a broad overview of courage in philosophy and literature.

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“Back in the Saddle Again”: Horsemanship and the Liberal Arts with Lorine Sheehan

June 12, 2018

Winston Churchill once remarked, "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle."

Occasionally we find people who think of Wyoming Catholic College “that school with the backpacks and horses.” And we are very careful to remind such people that we are also the school where students speak Latin, read Plato, Aristotle, and St. Thomas Aquinas, and work through the mathematics of Euclid, Isaac Newton, and Einstein. Our academic program is challenging and our standards are high.

That being said, we do, in fact, have horses and every student learns to care for and ride a horse.

At the center of our equestrian program is Lorine Sheehan, a member of the Wyoming Catholic College class of 2014 and an accomplished horsewoman. Mrs. Sheehan is our guest on The After Dinner Scholar.

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Thinking Carefully About Abortion with Dr. Michael Bolin

June 5, 2018

In the fall of 1971—a couple of months before the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade—the journal Philosophy and Public Affairs published an article by philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson entitled “A Defense of Abortion.”

Rather than being shrill and angry, Thompson’s defense of abortion is carefully reasoned and nuanced, which makes it a wonderful teaching tool and a wonderful way to convince students of the need to study philosophy.

Wyoming Catholic College philosopher, Dr. Michael Bolin is entirely pro-life. Yet he has been teaching “A Defense of Abortion” for years at PEAK, the college’s summer program for high school juniors and seniors. Dr. Bolin is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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To Infinity and Beyond with Dr. Scott Olsson

May 29, 2018

The number of integers (1, 2, 3, 4, and so on) is infinite. And oddly enough so is the number of even integers (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and beyond). Meaning that the number of even integers is equivelent to the number of all integers, both odd and even? Yes. Welcome to infinity.

Each summer Wyoming Catholic College runs what we call our PEAK program for high school juniors and seniors. In it we give them a taste of life at the college including backpacking, horseback riding, Catholic worship and devotion, and classes complete with homework and tests. Not only do high school students enjoy the two weeks of PEAK, but they walk away with a pretty good idea of what it would be like to come to college here at Wyoming Catholic. Many decide that it would be wonderful and join us as freshmen.

This year mathematician Dr. Scott Olsson will be teaching a course at PEAK on infinity. And I asked Dr. Olsson to join us on The After Dinner Scholar with a finite preview of infinity.

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Reflections on Graduation 2018 with Dr. Glenn Arbery

May 22, 2018

Wyoming Catholic College graduation was Saturday, May 12. It came with all the pomp and circumstance, academic regalia, and excitement that you might expect. Our speaker was author and scholar Joseph Pearce who was our guest on last week’s After Dinner Scholar.

The evening before the big event, however, was a smaller, more intimate gathering of graduates and their families along with college faculty and staff. That night, at the President’s Dinner, college president Dr. Glenn Arbery reflected on the seniors, their four years of liberal arts education, and their participation in the great tradition of the Christian West.

Dr. Arbery is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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