[Winter 2021] Metaphysics: The Discovery of Ens inquantum Ens

There are few topics which seem more unsuited to the 21st century than that of metaphysics: that is, the study of “being as being.”  The subject is impossibly vague; the claims it makes seem inescapably representative of opinion rather than fact; it is an impractical field of study, advancing no discernable good for those that undertake its study.  At best, it is seen as facilitating an ability for critical thinking or deconstructive analysis of arguments; but metaphysics as a science—as a real, substantive, revelatory process of human inquiry—is a mere pipe dream of religious academicians or would-be gnostic know-it-alls.  Metaphysics is impractical.  Metaphysics serves no purpose.  Studying metaphysics will not move you one iota closer to a better job, to a more diversified skillset, to a higher earning potential.


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One might go beyond that and ask: “Why study philosophy at all?”  For while there are many schools of philosophical thought which strive to make it applicable to contemporary life, most of these schools do so only by aping the methods and goals of modern day empiriometric sciences (which interpret the world through quantification of things insofar as they can be observed by the senses) or by turning philosophy into a kind of self-help program.  Oftentimes, the contemporary university has attempted to relegate philosophical study to the category of “mental training”—it makes one better at critical thinking, at reasoning, at arguing, but does not actually teach anything; it trains you to think, but does not give you any answers.

Such thinking, of course, betrays the greatest ignorance and the weakest understanding of truth. For no study has a greater necessity—and correspondingly, a lesser utility—than that of metaphysics: for it, and it alone among all the pursuits open to human beings by nature alone, orients our minds to the highest principles whereby all things are ordered. The worldview possessed today by the many is fragmentary, incomplete, and thus often results in ways of existing which are incompatible with one another and destructive to the attainment of true human good.

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we seek to open the doors to a genuine metaphysics which gives the needed view of the whole of being, ens inquantum ens. In the course of this study, we will examine the meaning of the term “being”, the nature of it as a science, the . This is an advanced seminar which provides a serious challenge to all participants.

WHEN: Saturdays from 16 January through 6 March 2021, from 1:15-2:15pm Eastern Time US.

WHERE: on the Lyceum Institute platform run through Microsoft Teams.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principal of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, with discounts for those who are professors and clergy (whose continuing education is not sufficiently prioritized by their institutions) and for students (who are already taxed excessively by the educational system). However, if you are part of the working world and wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the “standard” rate, it is acceptable to sign up at one of these discounted prices. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

Registration is closed.

This Week [12/6-12/13]

Events this week at the Lyceum:


12/8 Tuesday – Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Grab a drink and have a chat about the eternal things! Always open to suggested topics: any questions you may have, feel free to bring them. Open to the public this week. Use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “happy hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

12/11 Friday – Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute. A good way to transition into the weekend.

12/12 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions. The final sessions for our 2020 Fall seminars, and for the year. In “Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life”, we will undertake to grasp the nature and importance of cognitive habits. In “Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of John Deely”, we will take into consideration the universality of semiosis, from inorganic nature to the specifically-personal dimension of human semiosis.

We’ve also started Trivium Module 2 — on the rhetorical practice of inventio, the discovery of arguments — and will be having a Quaestiones Disputatae Inquirere session on 12/19! We had a great Colloquium Q&A this past Friday, and are poised for a great 2021.


Be sure also to check out the Lyceum Institute Shop! Keep your head warm with wisdom:

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This Week [11/29-12/5]

Events this week at the Lyceum:


12/1 – Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Grab a drink and have a chat about the eternal things! Always open to suggested topics: any questions you may have, feel free to bring them. I’ll be updating people on 2021 seminars and talking about the future of the Lyceum Institute, so if you’re interested in our growth, this would be a great chat to attend. Use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “happy hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

12/4 Friday – Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute. Great way to get a diverse set of well-informed philosophical perspectives.

12/4 Friday – Colloquium: Mending the Cartesian Rift – Walker Percy on Being Human (6:15-7:00pm ET). Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger, lecturer in philosophy at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and Faculty Fellow of the Lyceum Institute, will be answering our questions in a live Q&A session on his excellent lecture, already available through the Lyceum Institute platform. You can find more details here.

12/5 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions. The penultimate discussion sessions for our 2020 Fall seminars. In “Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life”, we will look closely at the nature of the act of understanding in human beings, as a complementary action of intellect and perceptual faculties. In “Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of John Deely”, we tackle one of the most important but challenging contributions that Deely gave us: the notion of physiosemiosis, that is, that virtual sign action permeates all dyadic relations and thereby grounds the possibility of growth and development in the universe.

We’ll also have a new Trivium module up soon!


Be sure also to check out the Lyceum Institute Shop! Stylish merch where the proceeds support the mission of the Lyceum! Look good, make your coffee more smarter, and help us change education for the better.

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Mending the Cartesian Rift – Walker Percy on Being Human

In the sixth of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia, we present Faculty Fellow Kirk Kanzelberger, PhD, who brings us an insightful, lengthy, and challenging discussion of Walker Percy, Charles Sanders Peirce, and their collected efforts to battle the Cartesian presuppositions.

ABSTRACT: “Our view of the world, which we get consciously or unconsciously from modern science, is radically incoherent,” argues Walker Percy in “The Fateful Rift: The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind.” The dualism of Descartes — the rift between man as psyche and man as organism — continues to pervade our inherited view of the world and scientific practice. And yet it was a century ago and more that Charles Sanders Peirce indicated the road to a more coherent anthropology based upon the crucial datum of the triadic sign-relation that unites “mental” and “physical” in one single natural event.

This lecture explores Percy’s argument and its background in the thought of Descartes and Peirce, and provides an assessment of this final public articulation by Percy concerning the issues that preoccupied him as a writer: the contemporary predicament of the human being, lost in the cosmos that it understands more and more, while understanding itself less and less.

Dr. Kanzelberger’s lecture is now available to all members at the Lyceum Institute. The live question and answer session will be held on 4 December 2020 (Friday) at 6:15pm ET/3:15pm PT. Colloquia lectures are released the year after publication at the Lyceum, and Q&A sessions are reserved for members. For information on signing up for the Lyceum, see here.

Preview – Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger, Mending the Cartesian Rift – Walker Percy on Being Human

This Week [11/15-21]

Events this week at the Lyceum:


11/17 Tuesday – Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Grab a drink and have a chat about the eternal things! Always open to suggested topics: any questions you may have, feel free to bring them. I personally am of a mind to discuss the impossibility of dealing adequately with temporal things if one does not only know but have a habituated bearing towards things unchanging. Open to the public this week. Use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “happy hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

11/20 Friday – Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute. We’ll talk about almost anything.

11/21 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions. Moving into the sixth week (how it flies!) of our 2020 Fall seminars, “Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life”, where we will continue considering the operations of intellectual discovery–and here with a particular focus on the formation of the intellectual word, the verbum mentis and how this unfolds in the judgments which are true or false–and “Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of John Deely”, which sees us recapitulating the lessons learned from Intentionality and Semiotics as pertaining to the continual spiral of semiosis in human understanding.

Additionally, I have a free trial for any seriously interested candidate in joining the Lyceum Institute from now until the end of November. This is full access for two weeks. If you are interested, use the Request a Tour form and Dr. Kemple will contact you ASAP.


Be sure also to check out the Lyceum Institute Shop! Stylish merch where the proceeds support the mission of the Lyceum! Look good, make your coffee more smarter, and help us change education for the better.

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This Week [11/8-14]

Events this week at the Lyceum:


11/10 Tuesday – Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Grab a drink and have a chat about the eternal things! Always open to suggested topics: any questions you may have, feel free to bring them. Not always open to the public, but it is this week. Use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “happy hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

11/11 Wednesday – Inquirere Session (5:30-7:00pm ET). Part of our Quaestiones Disputatae program, the Inquirere sessions allow participants to talk through their ideas and receive feedback from all members (including Dr. Kemple), such as suggestions on what to read, how to go about structuring their thoughts, possible objections, and next steps in proceeding forward.

11/13 Friday – Inquirere Session (9:30-11:00am ET). A second Inquirere session of the week.

11/14 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions. Moving into week five of our 2020 Fall seminars, “Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life”, where we will continue considering the operations of intellectual discovery–specifically this week in their discursivity–and “Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of John Deely”, which sees us tackling the difficult notion of relation’s ontological reality and its consequences for the intentional orientation of the human mind.


Be sure also to check out the Lyceum Institute Shop! Stylish merch where the proceeds support the mission of the Lyceum! New products added this week, so take a look.

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How to be a Contemporary Thomist – The Case of Marshall McLuhan

In the fifth of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia, we present our own Adam Pugen, PhD, who brings us a discussion of Marshall McLuhan–who, despite his popularity as a “media guru”, was more fundamentally and consciously a Thomist–a discussion ranging through the influences of Chesterton, New Criticism, Jacques Maritain, analogy and metaphor, the Trivium (especially the deepening and expansion of grammar), and all this aimed at the meaning of what it is to truly be a Thomist in our own times. Not merely incidental but integral to true contemporary Thomism is the wrestling with our techno-media environments–and conversely, to understand in depth McLuhan’s own “medium is the message”, we must understand the Thomistic roots of his thinking.

Dr. Pugen’s lecture is now available at the Lyceum Institute. The live question and answer session will be held on 6 November 2020 (Friday) at 6:15pm ET/3:15pm PT. Colloquia lectures are released the year after publication at the Lyceum, and Q&A sessions are reserved for members. For information on signing up for the Lyceum, see here.

Preview – Dr. Adam Pugen, How to be a Contemporary Thomist – The Case of Marshall McLuhan

This Week [11/1-7]

Events this week at the Lyceum:


11/3 Tuesday – Philosophical Happy Hour. Escape the election hysteria, grab a drink, and have a chat about the eternal things! Open to the public. Use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “happy hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

11/4 Wednesday – Latin “Alpha” Class. After our successful “pilot” class, we’re running two more fine-tuning tests to prepare! These classes are suitable for a wide range of students. Studied a little? Great. Studied a lot? Also great. Never touched it, but curious? This is still for you! We’ll be tackling Capitulum VI ex Lingua Latina per se Illustrata.

11/6 Friday – Colloquium: How To Be a Contemporary Thomist – The Case of Marshall McLuhan. In the fifth of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia, we present our own Adam Pugen, PhD, who brings us a discussion of Marshall McLuhan–who, despite his popularity as a “media guru”, was more fundamentally and consciously a Thomist–a discussion ranging through the influences of Chesterton, New Criticism, Jacques Maritain, analogy and metaphor, the Trivium (especially the deepening and expansion of grammar), and all this aimed at the meaning of what it is to truly be a Thomist in our own times. Not merely incidental but integral to true contemporary Thomism is the wrestling with our techno-media environments–and conversely, to understand in depth McLuhan’s own “medium is the message”, we must understand the Thomistic roots of his thinking.

11/7 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions. Moving into week four (already?) of our 2020 Fall seminars, “Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life”, where we will be considering the operations of intellectual discovery, and “Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of John Deely”, wherein we’ll see some of the semiotic revisions to Thomistic cognition theory. Both seminars are going well, with good participation and insights coming almost too quickly to process. It will be very interesting to look back on the seminars after they’ve concluded and see what develops out of the efforts put forth by everyone.


Be sure also to check out the Lyceum Institute Shop! Stylish merch where the proceeds support the mission of the Lyceum!

[Fall 2020] Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life

Among all things observed in the universe, human beings alone ask about things other than themselves: they ask what, how, why–and so on. This singularity, downplayed by those who would make us malleable to the worst of all moral inclinations, demands a careful and rigorous inquiry–one which seeks to understand not only the precise nature but also the full import of this distinctiveness.


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Put otherwise, we human beings today seldom truly understand ourselves. If we look to the traditions of modern philosophy or its ultramodern derivations, we will continue failing to attain such understanding: for all such traditions mistaken introduce one or another division between the nature of the human being and the being of humans. We must look either to postmodernity or to premodernity–and the only genuine postmodern traditions heretofore being those that retrieve the premodern–in order to affect a righted understanding of the human cognitive life.

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we will strive to affect a genuine postmodern retrieve of the Thomistic understanding of the singular human distinctiveness through grasping the nature and development of our intentionally-cognitive lives. In the course of this retrieve, we will study the specifically intellectual nature of the human soul, the operations of intellectual discovery, the formation and development of concepts, and the integral union of intellectual and perceptual faculties in the human person. This is an advanced seminar which provides a serious challenge to all participants.

WHEN: Saturdays from 17 October through 12 December 2020 (no session on 28 November), from 1:30-2:30pm Eastern Time US.

WHERE: on the Lyceum Institute platform run through Microsoft Teams.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principal of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, with discounts for those who are professors and clergy (whose continuing education is not sufficiently prioritized by their institutions) and for students (who are already taxed excessively by the educational system). However, if you are part of the working world and wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the “standard” rate, it is acceptable to sign up at one of these discounted prices. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

REGISTRATION IS CLOSED.

[Fall 2020] Semiotics: John Deely

Semiotics–toward which human beings took their first explicit steps in the beginning of the Latin Age of philosophy, in the work of St. Augustine of Hippo–is that by which we begin in a true postmodernism. This is one of the key and perhaps surprising claims of John Deely (1942–2017). That is, often today what is called “postmodernism” is nothing more, in fact, than an ultramodernism: a fragmentary, distorted view of the world grown out of the errors of modern philosophical thinking, run toward its natural, incoherent conclusions.


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In contrast, consider this description Deely gives in his 1994: New Beginnings (18 and 19):

In a word, postmodernism is the opening of a passageway from the age of classical modern philosophy to an epoch as distinct from the modern age as the modern age was from Latin times, or Latin times from the ancient Greek period. The opposition of modernity to Latin (and Greek) times eventually took the form of the opposition of idealism to realism in philosophy. Postmodern thought begins, properly speaking, not so much by rejecting this opposition as by transcending it, for in experience integrally taken, mind-dependent and mind-independent being assert themselves equally–not “equally” in the quantitative sense, but “equally” in the sense of components both asserting themselves in different ways at different times and in different proportions throughout the course of human life, both together making up the one fabric of our lives we call “experience”.

What was needed for philosophy to mature [to postmodernism] was not so much a shift as an expansion, an expansion of the notion of reality–and with it, being–to include the whole experience as the prior ground out of which human understanding arises and on which it throughout depends. From the start, being should have been an inclusive, not an exclusive and oppositional notion. Being is not only “that which can only be said in many ways” (Aristotle), but that out of which the division between what is and what is not independent of the mind arises (Aquinas), and not in any finally fixed way, but differently according to the time and circumstances of the one experiencing such a contrast among objects.

To understand and affect this maturation into postmodernity, we will turn our attention in this seminar to the major contributions to semiotics given by Deely: the proto-semiotic history, an expanded doctrine of causality,  the retrieved and clarified notion of relation, the concept of physiosemiosis, the continuity of culture and nature, the notion of purely objective reality, and the real interdisciplinarity which semiotics fosters. This is an advanced seminar which provides a serious challenge to all participants.

WHEN: Saturdays from 17 October through 12 December 2020 (no session on 28 November), from 3:00-4:00pm Eastern Time US.

WHERE: on the Lyceum Institute platform run through Microsoft Teams.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principal of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, with discounts for those who are professors and clergy (whose continuing education is not sufficiently prioritized by their institutions) and for students (who are already taxed excessively by the educational system). However, if you are part of the working world and wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the “standard” rate, it is acceptable to sign up at one of these discounted prices. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

REGISTRATION IS CLOSED.