August 6, 2019
How important are friends? Aristotle observed that no one would choose to live without friends even if he or she had all the other good things of life.
Aristotle also observed that there are different kinds of friendship and that no all friendships are what he called “complete friendships.” Some are friendships of utility—business partners, vendors, baristas. Others are friendships of pleasure—fishing buddies, tennis partners, or even lovers. Not that all such friendships are necessarily bad, but that all are incomplete.
This is the last of our summer podcast series from the 2019 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought where we considered “No Greater Gift: Friendship from The Iliad to Facebook.” In it Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos led us through Aristotle’s discussion of friendship in The Nicomachean Ethics books 8 and 9.
July 9, 2019
When we think of politics, for most of us the word “friendship” is not the first thing that comes into our minds. Our politics are rancorous, ugly, polarized, and just about everything else politics is not supposed to be.
In spite of the rancorous, ugly, polarized politics of Ancient Athens, Aristotle suggested that what holds cities that is, the root of politics is friendship.
At June’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Virginia Arbery looked at friendship and politics using The Politics by Aristotle. Here is some of what she had to say.
June 11, 2019
Memorial Day has come and gone and with school terms ending, it’s time for vacation. Ah, to get away and… and what? Run from cathedral to museum to monument to scenic vista? Deal with airports, TSA, rental cars, and driving? Work on your golf game? Rise up early to fish? Sit in the beach? Hike in the mountains? Read? Do nothing? Try hard to avoid the all too common lament that I’ve returned from vacation only to find I need a vacation?
What’s the point of vacations anyway? Is taking a vacation the same as leisure? If not, what is leisure?
Philosophers take vacations the same as the rest of us and Wyoming Catholic College Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Michael Bolin just returned from a family vacation. Dr. Bolin is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.
April 30, 2019
“Make an image of our nature in its education and want of education, likening it to a condition of the following kind” said Socrates in Plato’s dialogue The Republic. “See human beings as though they were in an underground cave-like dwelling with its entrance, a long one, open to the light across the whole width of the cave. They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around. Their light is from a fire burning far above and behind them. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a road above, along which see a wall, built like the partitions puppet-handlers set in front of the human beings and over which they show the puppets.”
The quote is the opening of Plato’s famous analogy of the cave. It’s an image of alienation and of exile from ourselves, from truth, from reality, and ultimately from God.
The analogy of the cave also serves as an introduction to all of Plato’s thought. And so our freshmen read it as the final work and capstone of their first year of humanities. Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos, an expert on The Republic has been their teacher and is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.
March 19, 2019
There are dozens of would-be explanations for the polarization we as a culture and body politic experience today. One plausible explanation we rarely hear about is nominalism as over against realism.
Do the words we use—“cat,” “canyon,” “mountain,” and most important “man”—describe universals or merely particulars? Can we meaningfully talk about human nature and what it means to be one of us? Is human nature something real that is outside of our thoughts or is it merely an internal, subjective construct we apply to many particulars that seem somewhat alike?
While these seem like rather abstract and academic question, Wyoming Catholic College senior Jack Thrippleton argued in his senior thesis and oration, “Realism and Nominalism cannot truly argue against each other, for they do not share enough premises.”
Jack is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
February 12, 2019
That nineteenth century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s point of view is incompatible with the vision, values, and mission of Wyoming Catholic College should come as no surprise to anyone. And the same can be said of thinkers such as Jean Jacque Rousseau, Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, and Michel Foucault.
Yet Wyoming Catholic College students read all of them and more. And that makes sense since no one can understand our modern culture without confronting those thinkers.
Which brings up the question of how to read them—how to read any thinker with whom we disagree.
Dr. Tiffany Schubert has spent a long time thinking about how to read charitably, receiving even harsh and abrasive authors with kindness and sympathy.
January 15, 2019
“Life,” wrote the great Roman author Cicero, “is nothing without friendship.” And thus it has been since the beginning.
Looking at Adam alone in the splendor of Eden, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). We humans are “hardwired to connect.” We need friends and without them, as St. Thomas Aquinas observed, “even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.”
Yet in our day, loneliness has been called an epidemic and friendship a lost art. The results are not only poor psychological and social health, but, it has been clearly demonstrated, poor physical health as well.
Led by Wyoming Catholic College faculty, the 2019 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought will explore the meaning, the experience, and the practice of friendship “from The Iliad to Facebook”.
Prof. Kyle Washut was one of the Wyoming School faculty last year and will join us again this year. Prof. Washut is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
For more information about The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, June 9-14, 2019, visit our website.
December 11, 2018
In AD 380, not long before the sack of Rome in 410, the Emperor Theodocius had declared Christianity the official religion of the Empire. Perhaps, many argued, that was the problem. Many worshiped Jesus abandoning the old gods of Rome—Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Apollo, Aphrodite, and the rest. No doubt those gods sent the barbarians to destroy the city as punishment for the lack of piety.
In Roman North Africa, there was a town called Hippo. And the bishop of Hippo, Augustine, got wind of those arguments, picked up his pen, and began writing what has become one of the world’s greatest apologetic and greatest political treatises: The City of God.
Wyoming Catholic College students study The City of God as sophomores and then again as seniors. At least once and sometimes twice, their professor is political philosopher, Dr. Virginia Arbery. Dr. Arbery is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
October 23, 2018
“What is the highest of all practical goods?” asked Aristotle at the beginning of The Nichomachean Ethics. “Well,” he went on, “so far as the name goes, there is pretty general agreement. ‘It is happiness’.” Aristotle then continued, “But when it comes to saying in what happiness consists, opinions differ.” As the Ray Conniff singers sang back in 1966, “Happiness is different things to different people.” And within our culture even the most irreligious people would answer, Amen.
But is happiness simply different things to different people? Or are their common threads? Can we explore happiness and human nature to learn what happiness is apart from everyone’s subjective opinion?
For Aristotle—and with him the Western tradition until just recently—the answer is, Yes. We can discover what happiness is, a quest he took up in The Nichomachean Ethics.
Dr. Michael Bolin has been teaching Aristotle’s Ethics to Wyoming Catholic College juniors this semester. Dr. Bolin is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.