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.
October 16, 2018
The purpose of education, stated on government websites, school websites, university websites, and education policy and reform websites was pretty much the same: "to better prepare students to compete in a global economy." That is, the purpose of education is almost universally believed to be purely utilitarian. One way or another, it’s a matter of vocational training. The old days of Latin, Greek, the classics, poetry, even history and literature are behind us now. Today computer science, technology, economics, accounting and engineering rule. After all, we have a global economy to run.
The purpose of education, however, has been debated since ancient times. Contrary to a utilitarian education Seneca who lived 4 BC to AD 64 wrote, “I respect no study, and deem no study good, which results in money-making.” And don’t forget that at the time, Rome had a global economy to run.
Dr. Tiffany Schubert joined the Wyoming Catholic College faculty this year to teach the heart of the liberal arts: the Trivium. Dr. Schubert has researched and taught on the nature of a liberal education and is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
September 18, 2018
Last week theologian Dr. Jeremy Holmes gave us an introduction to St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, The Splendor of Truth.
St. John Paul II wrote the encyclical in response to trends in moral theology that for the most part denied that morality can be universal, objective, and permanent.
He critiqued any doctrines that would “grant to individuals or social groups the right to determine what is good or evil.”
Yet we make judgments about good and evil every day and the source of those judgments is our consciences.
Dr. Kent Lasnoski teaches moral theology at Wyoming Catholic College and has for many years been a student of St. John Paul II and his ethical writings. In this edition of The After Dinner Scholar, he explains the nature of conscience in Pope St. John Paul's writings.
September 11, 2018
As George Weigel’s biography of St. John Paul II makes clear, even as a young man, Karol Wojtyła had a passionate concern for truth. In his theological and philosophical studies, the question “What is truth?” was utmost in his mind along with the question of how to communicate the truth to others. And truth became a theme of his pontificate.
Twenty-five years ago last month on August 6, 1993, the Feast of the Transfiguration, John Paul promulgated the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, The Splendor of Truth. What he had to say needed to be heard twenty-five years ago and needs to be heard with even greater urgency today.
In this week’s podcast, part one of a two part series, Dr. Jeremy Holmes explains the need for the encyclical, the argument St. John Paul made, and some of the errors he addressed.