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Active and Passive Participation

One may approach use of the Lyceum in two ways: passively or actively.  The passive way is to sit on the sidelines and observe content: reading and listening.  This has its own benefits, for the development of the mind: one may quietly engage in the collective dialogue, thinking through the questions it raises with humility and a contemplative attitude.

The second way, the active way, is to engage in developing the habit of questioning: asking why and what, how, by whom, through what, and so on.  This may require proferring one’s own thoughts on a given topic.  It seems, perhaps, scary.  But one develops this habit, like all others, only through practice and with a certain fearlessness of criticism, a fearlessness of being shown to be wrong or in need of correction.  In the words of Thomas Aquinas:

If anyone wishes to write back against this, it would be most welcome to me.  For no method better opens the truth and confutes falsity than making a stand against contradictions; as according to Solomon, “iron sharpens iron, and a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17).

1269-70: Liber de perfectione spiritualis vitae, c.26, n.5.

About the Lyceum

What is the Lyceum Institute?

Not to be overly dramatic, but the Lyceum Institute is something new, bold, and challenging: it is a persistent online, digital, archival, communal educational institution grounded in the Western philosophical tradition (but open to truth from all sources) dedicated to helping all of its members foster better habits of intellectual living—and most especially of living within the digital sphere which has become an integrated part of our lives.

How does it work?

Rather intuitively: the Lyceum Institute currently operates through the use of Microsoft Teams, which has applications available for desktop PCs, Macs, iPhones, Android, and which is always available. Through those applications, one can engage the thoughts of others lectures, threads, group chats, video conference sessions, and more. Many sessions are scheduled for live participation, but preparation and further investigation alike can be done on one’s own schedule—fitting the busy and varied lives of people far-flung while nevertheless enabling a communal growth and interaction.

The technical adaptation may take some time to figure out, but a short amount of time spent navigating the application—on whatever platform—and it quickly becomes an integral part of one’s digital life.

What makes the Lyceum different from other online educational institutions and programs?

Community. Most other online programs are centered around content. We are centered around thinking: which is always a social and communal activity. While we have a large content “library” (featuring hundreds of lectures—with more being added every quarter—as well as textual resources and more), this content is ancillary to real learning, which occurs through the personal nature of our environment. We are here neither to seek credentials nor to acquire ammunition for ideological battles, but to discover the truth.

Why not seek accreditation?

There are many reasons not to seek accreditation. The simplest and purest is that—apart from very particular applications—it serves little purpose for a liberal arts education in our world today. The original purpose of an accredited education was to inform potential employers (or those making decisions concerning admissions to graduate programs) that the student is capable. It was an early way of building a school’s reputation. But ask yourself: are you truly impressed by someone having a degree from Harvard, Stanford, or MIT?

Further: we have no set curriculum. There is no terminal point of “completion”. Drink deep from the Pierian spring.

How does the Lyceum Institute approach education?

Can an education be both rigorous and flexible? Yes: but not in the same respect and at the same time. Our seminars range from introductory courses to those of a graduate-level difficulty. Our Trivium classes reiterate with growing options of difficulty: from the basis of English grammar to the most complex considerations of speculative rhetoric. Our other language courses again range from introductory to advanced (such that one can go from reading no Latin at all to reading classical Latin poetry in a relatively short time).

But this rigor in difficulty is paired with as much flexibility in time as we can offer. We blend both the synchronous and the asynchronous. Moreover, there are no timetables for passing. If you struggle with a course, it remains for you to revisit and re-take for as long as you might need.

What kind of courses does the Lyceum Institute offer?

We have a long and growing list of Philosophy seminars—see a full list here. We also offer language courses, with a special focus on Latin and plans to add Greek, German, and French; Trivium courses—Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric; occasional reading groups (such as our discussion of Etienne Gilson’s Linguistics and Philosophy); and periodic but growing study of literature and the arts. We also have annual Colloquia series and have a developing program titled the Quaestiones Disputatae.

How is the Lyceum funded?

Our primary sources of funding are twofold: donations and nominal fees from members and seminar participants, as well as charitable donations from the public. As a 501(c)(3) public charity, we rely upon public recognition of our good works. Thus, we will be releasing an increasing quantity of public-facing media in the coming years: videos, audio lectures, and written publications.

How can I make a donation?

We have a number of different ways you can support us. Find more here.

How can I enroll?

We have three enrollment tiers: basic, advanced, and premium. Advanced and premium enrollments included a number of seminars in their price, as well as everything included in basic—which is access to everything except seminars and advanced language courses. Sign up here.

I’ve spent a lot of time online; why should I believe this will actually work?

“Doesn’t this just turn into a Facebook group or a Discord server, where everyone just echoes the thoughts of the others or gets kicked out?” Skepticism is understandable: most of our experience of social relationships online has been undermined by a technological structure which, rather than encouraging personal relations, inclines us instead toward popularity and ideological conformity. By deliberate and conscientious awareness of the medium in which we interact—as well as the private nature of our community—we avoid the pursuit of likes and reactions; we seek, instead, the challenges which come both from ourselves and from others to better ourselves and our understanding.

One thing worth considering: the Lyceum has been continually operating since 2019. While some members have left, many have been with us since the very beginning, and yet new members continue to join and to become a part of the community.

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