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.
March 12, 2020
“I have a divine sign…,” said Socrates in his Apology. “This began when I was a child. It is a voice, and whenever it speaks it turns me away from something I am about to do, but it never encourages me to do anything.”
Mysticism is hardly a Christians-only domain. And in fact the Medieval Masters learned a great deal from the Greek pagans, particularly Plato.
In this third lecture in the distance learning course “Into the Lenten Desert: Learning to Pray with the Medieval Masters,” “Pagans Grope Toward God: Piety and Prayer in Classical Antiquity,” Dr. Baxter explores the connections between Greek philosophy and mysticism and the Christian tradition in which we stand today.
January 7, 2020
We celebrated Epiphany last Sunday. We will celebrate the Baptism of Jesus next Sunday then the following Monday we begin “Ordinary Time.” There’s something going on here—actually many things going on here—that cannot be summed up with Google Calendar and a wristwatch.
Google Calendar and wristwatch time is what philosopher Charles Taylor calls “secular time”: It’s 10 AM. I have a meeting at two this afternoon. The corporate quarter ends on January 30. The year is 2020.
But is that all there is to time? Is it merely an empty expanse of moments that we fill or is there—as Taylor suggests—something more to time, something that, as he puts it, gathers and reorders secular time?
Dr. Jeremy Holmes has thought a great deal about the nature of time and is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
December 24, 2019
In his book, The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis imagined a reader saying, “You say we shall have no values at all if we step outside the Tao. Very well: we shall probably find that we can get on quite comfortably without them. Let us regard all ideas of what we ought to do simply as an interesting psychological survival: let us step right out of all that and start doing what we like. Let us decide for ourselves what man is to be and make him into that: not on any ground of imagined value, but because we want him to be such. Having mastered our environment, let us now master ourselves and choose our own destiny.”
That quote is at the end of the second chapter of The Abolition of Man our Wyoming Catholic College book of the year. In that chapter Lewis argued that the Tao or Natural Law is essential for any morality, any sense of “ought to.” But what if we throw away morality? What if we allow no ought, no permanent values, nothing but what we as humans choose for ourselves in any given age?
That question leads to the third and final part of the book and the final abolition of man. In this, our third podcast about The Abolition of Man, our guest is Wyoming Catholic College’s Academic Dean, Dr. Jason Baxter.
December 17, 2019
In his book The Abolition of Man Lewis argued that the practical result of making all moral judgments subjective—“I feel” rather than “I think”—“must be the destruction of the society which accepts it.”
Lewis saw in 1943—and we, seventy-five years later, certainly see—the ravages of such subjectivity. And that’s one of the reasons we’ve chosen The Abolition of Man as our Wyoming Catholic College book of the year.
But there’s a catch, wrote Lewis. Radical subjectivity while easy to preach is for the most part impossible. When people claim to reject the objective, what Lewis called the Tao—Natural Law or traditional morality—they are nonetheless forced to operate by smuggling shreds of the Tao back into their thinking.
To help us to understand the second lecture in The Abolition of Man, a lecture Lewis entitled “The Way,” we’re joined by author and scholar Joseph Pearce. Mr. Pearce is Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute, editor of the St. Austin Review, editor of Faith & Culture, and series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions. In addition he is a member of Wyoming Catholic College’s Catholic Scholars Advisory Board.
December 10, 2019
At some point in the early 1940s, scholar and author C. S. Lewis received a review copy of a textbook for “boys and girls in the upper forms of school,” that is, high schoolers. And while he was grateful to the authors for sending the book, “At the same time,” he wrote, “I shall have nothing good to say of them.”
Lewis tells the story of the textbook in the first of three lectures he delivered in 1943 and then published as the book The Abolition of Man. Now seventy-fifth anniversary, Wyoming Catholic College has chosen The Abolition of Man as our book of the year. This is the first in a series of three podcasts about the book.
This week we will consider the first lecture that Lewis gave the provocative title, “Men Without Chests.” In it he focused on the radical subjectivity regarding morality that he saw all around him and the enormous damage it does and would continue to do to the human person.
To tell us about “Men Without Chests,” our guest this week is Wyoming Catholic College moral theologian, Dr. Kent Lasnoski.
October 22, 2019
“Because life is brief…let us follow our desires” has a rather contemporary ring to it. Yet those words were penned in 1512 by the playwright, philosopher, and politico Niccolò Machiavelli in his play La Mandragola, The Mandrake.
Machiavelli is, of course, best known for his book The Prince that gives advice on how to rule. That book contains observations such as, “All ethical and moral values are arbitrary artifacts from the cultures that set them forth. All political and military greatness is derived from ignoring them.”
La Mandragola is, in a sense that kind of thinking turned into a play and Dr. Kent Lasnoski, our guest this week, has been teaching that play to our students with amazing results.
October 1, 2019
“Ready, fire, aim,” we tell our children,” is no way to live.” Careful thought comes first whether you’re hunting, choosing a college, building a birdhouse, or writing a constitution for a new republic.
What kind of government will allow human beings the greatest freedom to flourish? To answer that question, we first need to ask about the nature of human beings and second we need to ask about the nature of freedom.
And while the answers to those questions may seem obvious, they are far from it. They require careful questioning and reasoning.
The American founders lived in an age where questions about what it means to be human and about the definition of freedom were hotly debated and nowhere more so than by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
At Wyoming Catholic Colleges’ Constitution Day assembly, political philosopher Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos discussed Hobbes and Locke, their similarities, differences, and the way each influenced the American founding.
September 3, 2019
While there were too many copies of his works to make the plan practical, it is said that the great philosopher Plato wanted to gather every one of Democritus’ manuscripts into a great bonfire and thus to be rid of them forever.
While Plato did not get his wish, history has not been kind to the works of Democritus. Born in Trace around 458 BC, Democritus traveled widely in the ancient world and produced some sixty works of philosophy and science. But all we have left is fragments.
Yet to a modern reader, those fragments are intriguing in large measure because they sound so modern beginning with his view of the physical world: “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is optional.”
Wyoming Catholic College philosopher, Dr. Michael Bolin recently taught Democritus and is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.
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.