September 14, 2021
Aristotle’s Categories,” writes Davidson College Professor of Philosophy, David Studtmann, “is a singularly important work of philosophy. It not only presents the backbone of Aristotle’s own philosophical theorizing but has exerted an unparalleled influence on the systems of many of the greatest philosophers in the western tradition.”
And freshman philosophy at Wyoming Catholic College begins by being thrown into the deep end as students jump into Aristotle’s Categories. In that work, Aristotle outlines the framework needed to read and understand the works students will encounter later in their intellectual journey: The Physics, The Metaphysics, and The Nicomachean Ethics.
Their guide to The Categories this semester is our guest this week, Dr. Michael Bolin, whose specialties are the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle.
August 17, 2021
“Because philosophy arises from awe,” wrote St. Thomas Aquinas, “a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.”
Last week our guest on The After-Dinner Scholar was Dr. Paul Giesting, newly-arrived professor of mathematics and science. Today our guest is philosopher, Dr. Daniel Shields who is also new to the college faculty.
Dr. Shields did his undergraduate work at Thomas Aquinas College and received his PhD from the Catholic University of America. His main interest is in philosophy of nature and science, ethics, moral psychology, and medieval philosophy.
May 25, 2021
When he delivered his “Regensburg Address” in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI set off a firestorm of anger. Not only had he criticized Islam and modern scientism, he had the temerity to suggest that what the world really needs is Catholicism. Nearly fifteen years later, sound far less profligate and far more prophetic.
Of course, the Regensburg Address was not primarily about Islam or about scientism. Pope Benedict argued for the place of reason in human life. Without it, we either end up with subjective religiosity ungoverned by reason and leading toward fanaticism or we limit reason to mathematics and physics leading to a cold, calculated science that erases religion and morality and with them our humanity.
Dr. Michael Bolin read Pope Benedict’s Regensburg Address with our Wyoming Catholic College seniors in the weeks before graduation.
February 23, 2021
It may be hard to believe, but the Catholic Church has a patron saint of humor: Philip Neri who noted that, “A cheerful and glad spirit attains to perfection much more readily than a melancholy spirit.” And my observation is that we can become cheerful and glad people as we laugh.
Last week The After-Dinner Scholar featured Wyoming Catholic College senior, Miss Amanda Johnson, talking about her theologically rich oration about horsemanship as an aid to restoring our fallen humanity.
This week senior Kevin Milligan discusses his philosophically rich oration was entitled: “Laughing at Perfection: A Classification of Laughter and a Defense of Its Role in the Natural Perfection of Man.”
January 19, 2021
Regarding the civilizations of ancient Rome and Greece, Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges wrote in 1864, “What we have received from them leads us to believe that we resemble them. We have some difficulty in considering them as foreign nations; it is almost always ourselves that we see in them. Hence spring many errors.”
The ancient city, writes Coulanges, was in essence a religious association. The gods of each city, the soil of each city, and the people of each city were unique. Thus the only civic conceivable was the city.
Then something changed. Or rather multiple things changed.
Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos uses Coulanges book The Ancient City as a way of bridging how citizenship was understood in the ancient world of Plato’s Athens or Coriolanus’s Rome and how citizenship came to be understood beginning with Augustine’s City of God. Dr. Papadopoulos is our guest this week.
November 17, 2020
“First of all, then,” St. Paul wrote in 1Timothy 2:1-4, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.”
We might have expected St. Paul to tell Timothy to pray “for kings and all who are in high position, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” But he goes beyond that, urging that thanksgivings “for kings and all who are in high position.” That seems a bit peculiar or at least unexpected given that in AD 64, when St. Paul wrote this epistle, the Roman emperor was Nero who, among other violent and perverse behavior, ruthlessly persecuted Christians. Give thanks for him?
Here at the college there have been discussions with political philosopher, Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos about thanksgiving as a civic virtue—something incumbent on us not only as Christians, but as citizens. With our annual national celebration of Thanksgiving coming up, we continued the conversation as a podcast.
September 29, 2020
In an op-ed column in USAToday last week, Wyoming Catholic College senior Anthony Jones wrote: “I gathered with the entire student body of Wyoming Catholic College on Sept. 17, 2019, for a mandatory celebration of Constitution Day. We began with the Pledge of Allegiance, witnessed a lively panel discussion between professors on the history and modern relevance of America’s founding principles, and concluded by singing patriotic songs.”
Anthony Jones went on, “If you are a student at a typical American university, that description probably sounds foreign to anything you have experienced. Anti-Americanism has spread across college campuses like a wildfire, igniting rage and resentment against anything perceived as oppressive — even the American flag. As a result, most universities would likely shy away from a celebration of our nation’s founding in favor of more ‘inclusive’ events.”
On September 17 of this year, Anthony along with the rest of the student body of Wyoming Catholic College as well as faculty and staff gathered to celebrate Constitution Day 2020.
This year we heard from retired federal judge, Dr. Leon Holmes. Judge Holmes received his PhD in political science from Duke University and his JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He served sixteen years on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Retiring from the court earlier this year, Judge Holmes is a visiting professor this fall at Wyoming Catholic College.
August 25, 2020
Duke University professor and philosopher Alex Rosenberg began an essay on Scientism with a series of questions and his answers:
- Is there a God? No.
- What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.
- What is the purpose of the universe? There is none.
- What is the meaning of life?
- Why am I here? Just dumb luck.
- Does prayer work? Of course not.
- Is there a soul? Is it immortal? Are you kidding?
- Is there free will? Not a chance!
- What happens when we die? Everything pretty much goes on as before, except us.
- What is the difference between right and wrong, good or Bad? There is no moral difference between them.
- Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes.
- Does history have any meaning or purpose? It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing.
At this year’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Tiffany Shubert began by talking about the Medieval cosmos, a cosmos full of meaning, harmony, and truth. And last week’s After Dinner Scholar podcast was her lecture about the Medieval cosmos.
Next, we held a seminar discussing Alex Rosenberg’s essay “Scientism Versus the Theory of Mind” with its opening series of questions and answers. Before the seminar began, to avoid unnecessary intellectual whiplash, Dr. Jim Tonkowich spoke about how we got from a reality filled with the presence of God and with purpose to Rosenberg’s comment that, “Reality is the forsightless play of fermions and bosons producing the illusion of purpose.”
August 18, 2020
In the Epilogue to his book The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, C. S. Lewis wrote, “I have made no serious effort to hide the fact that the old [Medieval] Model [of the universe] delights me as I believe it delighted our ancestors. Few constructions of the imagination seem to me to have combined splendour, sobriety, and coherence in the same degree. It is possible that some readers have long been itching to remind me that it had a serious defect; it was not true.”
Last week the annual Wyoming School of Catholic Thought was held here in Lander. The topic was “Beauty is Truth: Science and the Catholic Imagination.” Our readings in science and in literature considered this question of how we see the world, how we image it even before we think about it.
That began with a look at Medieval science and cosmology. The group read and discussed chapter 5 and the Epilogue from Lewis’ The Discarded Image guided by Dr. Tiffany Schubert who offered this introduction to the topic.
May 12, 2020
On June 8, 1978, Alexandre Solzhenitsyn went to Harvard University and delivered his now famous commencement address, “A World Split Apart.” It was, to say the least, not what people expected—or wanted.
By the time he delivered the Harvard commencement address, Solzhenitsyn had been living in the United States for some time, observing our politics and culture. In the address he offered a critique of our ideas of freedom and the good, of our sense of well-being, of our overall shortsightedness, and our lack of spirituality.
Wyoming Catholic College sophomores read Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard commencement address as part of Trivium 202: Political Rhetoric and the Common Good. In that course they not only study great examples of rhetoric, but learn to write and deliver their own speeches.
With those students at home across the land, Drs. Virginia Arbery and Pavlos Papadopoulos recorded this conversation about Solzhenitsyn.