Look at nearly any online educational institution–or traditional educational institution that offers online courses–and you will see the same verbiage: save money, learn the skills employers seek, graduate faster, advance your career, “don’t worry, this is accredited”, flexible, personalized, etc., etc. Seldom if ever is it even suggested that the program will acquaint its students with the truth, foster in them better habits of thinking, or be in any way a benefit to their lives aside from a material advancement. Education is framed entirely as a means to a good independent of what it contains itself.

Rather, the Lyceum Institute strives to be an always-and-forever common pursuit of intellectual nourishment: not for a set period of time, but for life. Consider these words of the twentieth-century Thomist, Josef Pieper:

The ancients conceived the whole energy of human nature as a hunger. Hunger for what? For being, for undiminished actuality, for complete realization–which is not attainable in the subject’s isolated existence, for it can be secured only by taking into the self the universal reality. Hunger is directed toward the real universe, and the universe in its literal sense, toward the whole of being, toward everything that exists. We have all become accustomed to consider this proposition from an “ideal” point of view, to take the statement too figuratively and “spiritually,” and thus to falsify or simply obliterate its literal, specific meaning. To be sure, a principle frequently lurks behind such idealization: namely, the desire not to admit that man as a spiritual being can be “needy” at all. In point of fact the word “hunger” should be understood in its most drastic and literal sense. In so far as he exists spiritually, man desires satiation by reality; he wants to “have” reality; he hungers for “the whole,” longs to be filled to repletion. So furious is this hunger that it would have to be called desperate if there were no hope of satiation.

Old metaphysics, it has been said, was motivated chiefly by this one question: How is reality to be attained; how are we to obtain and receive it; how is it to be grasped, appropriated, incorporate,d possessed as a property of ourselves? This is the problem of a conquête de l’être, of the conquest of actuality. And the answer is: cognition, spiritual insight. For Thomas as well as for Augustine, cognition is essentially seizure of the world and grasping of reality. To know is by the nature of knowing to have; there is no form of having in which the object is more intensely grasped. In Thomas we more than once find the proposition that knowing is “the highest mode of having.” But this, we make haste to add, is not because that mode of having is the “most spiritual”–this would once again be an “idealizing” misconstruction, into which we seem almost necessarily to fall. Rather, knowing is the highest mode of having because in the world there is no other form so thoroughgoing. Knowing is not only appropriation which results in “property” and “proprietorship.” It is assimilation in the quite exact sense that the [cognition-independent] world, in so far as it is known, is incorporated into the very being of the knower. This, indeed, distinguishes cognitive from noncognitive beings: the latter have nothing outside themselves, whereas the knower obtains a share in alien beings in that he knows them, that is to say, in that he takes them into himself and, as Thomas puts it, possesses the “form” of these alien beings. Material things have closed boundaries; they are not accessible, cannot be penetrated, by things outside themselves. But one’s existence as a spiritual being involves being and remaining oneself and at the same time admitting and transforming into oneself the reality of the world. No other material thing can be present in the space occupied by a house, a tree, or a fountain pen. But where there is mind, the totality of things has room; it is “possible that in a single being the comprehensiveness of the whole universe may dwell.” This principle is expressed in that great dictum Aristotle which has become a truism for the Occident: “The soul is at bottom all that is,” anima est quoddamodo omnia.

…Happiness is attained in an act of cognition because there is no other perfect way in which we can truly obtain “the whole good,” and all reality in general.

Josef Pieper 1957: Happiness and Contemplation

Enrollment in the Lyceum Institute, and the attempt to join in the satiation of this essential human hunger, is open to all-comers: graduate and undergraduate students, professors, clergy, the philosophically-seeking general public, and so on.  Experts and novices alike profit from the community of common purpose and the mutual support in the pursuit of bettered habits.  It is affordable (costing less per month than most streaming entertainment services); accessible by computer, tablet, or phone, wherever one has an internet connect; and always-improving.

%d bloggers like this: