Philosophy, Faith, and Signs

The Lyceum Institute brings two more seminars available to the general public, each taught by a uniquely qualified professor: Dr. Matthew Kenneth Minerd, translator of many, many works of Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, will teach us the philosophical thought of the “Sacred Monster” of Thomism; Dr. Brian Kemple, the only student ever to complete a doctoral dissertation under John Deely offers insight into the semiotic thought and contributions of a man once rightly called the “most important living American philosopher”. Listen to previews and sign up below. Discussion sessions for the seminars begin on July 2nd.



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Registration Closes

Philosophizing in Faith – What is final causality?

Deely’s Contributions to Semiotics – A new postmodern era?

The Semiotics of John of St. Thomas | by Anabela Gradim

This event is part of the activities of the 2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics: a Tribute to John Deely on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing, cooperatively organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies, the International Center for Semiotics and Intercultural Dialogue, Moscow State Academic University for the Humanities and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project.

Anabela Gradim graduated in Philosophy at the University of Porto. She holds a Masters Degree, a PhD and a DsC (Título de Agregação, in Portuguese) in Communication Sciences from the University of Beira Interior (UBI). Her PhD was obtained in 2004 with the dissertation “The communicational dimension of Peirce’s semiotics” (A dimensão comunicacional da semiótica de Peirce). She teaches Journalism, Communication and Methodology at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the UBI. She is the scientific Coordinator of the Research & Development Unit Labcom – Communication and Arts, and Director of the PhD Program in Communication Sciences at UBI. Her research interests revolve around Journalism, Science Communication, Semiotics, Rhetoric and the interface between these disciplines and the digital media plus Cyberculture. She has coordinated and been involved as a researcher in ten research projects, has authored numerous books, book chapters and scientific papers in the fields of journalism, semiotics and science communication.

Brian Kemple holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of St. Thomas, in Houston TX, where he wrote his dissertation under the inimitable John Deely. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. Philosophical interests and areas of study include: Thomas Aquinas, John Poinsot, Charles Peirce, Martin Heidegger, the history and importance of semiotics, scholasticism, phenomenology; as well as ancillary interests in the liberal arts, technology, and education as a moral habit. He has published two scholarly books—Ens Primum Cognitum in Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition (Brill: 2017) and The Intersections of Semiotics and Phenomenology: Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue (De Gruyter: 2019), as well as a number of scholarly articles, popular articles, and his own Introduction to Philosophical Principles: Logic, Physics, and the Human Person (2019) and the forthcoming Linguistic Signification: A Classical Course in Grammar and Composition (2021). In addition to being the Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute, he is the Executive Editor of Reality: a Journal for Philosophical Discourse.

June 10, 2022 / 1pm (EDT), 6pm (UTC+1h)
Lecturer: Anabela Gradim

Commentator: Brian Kemple

Chair: William Passarini

Zoom Link to Meeting

Reclaiming Wisdom – Summer Fundraising Campaign

Reclaiming Wisdom – Perennial Truths for the Digital Age

Once the center of Western culture, the University has lost its way.  For centuries, it was a force both stabilizing and civilizing, training young minds to discover the perennial truths by which they were elevated above the merely material concerns of our baser nature.  The University was a center of wisdom, guiding us to the principles by which we ought all to live. 

Today, however, we observe a culture in decay, and the root cause is the University itself… [read more]

The universities have abandoned the pursuit of wisdom for that of skills, for profits, for worldly success, for the latest ideological fashions.  What they have abandoned, we will reclaim.

The past two years have seen the Lyceum Institute continue to grow, develop, and has resulted in excellent work being done by our Faculty Fellows.  As our members and friends alike know, the Lyceum has not only already accomplished a great deal, but has the potential to do much more.  While money makes nothing happen of itself, it does help to remove some impediments for those striving to realize that potential.

And so, this summer, from June through August, we are ambitiously striving to raise $10,000.  We would be enduringly grateful to anyone who helps us reach that goal—or even just to reach towards it.  As a not-for-profit organization, we rely on the generous donations of supporters like yourself.  

Reclaiming Wisdom

Support the Lyceum Institute in providing access to perennial truths for the digital age and fostering a love and pursuit of wisdom through a community dedicated to bettering our philosophical habits.

[Summer 2022] Philosophical Thought of Garrigou-Lagrange

Philosophizing in Faith: The Philosophical Thought of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, styled by certain parties as the “Sacred Monster of Thomism,” taught at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the “Angelicum”) in Rome for a long career of over fifty years.  Although he is normally understood to be a conservative Roman theologian of his period, an honest assessment of his work shows that, while being integrated deeply into the Dominican schola Thomae, he was an active thinker, synthesizing, with a particular strength in pedagogy, Thomistic thought on many topics in theology and philosophy. This seminar will primarily consider his philosophical thought, tracing his treatment of topics pertaining to the philosophy of knowledge, metaphysics, moral philosophy, politics, with a bit of logic as well; it will end with a consideration of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s presentation of the boundaries between faith and reason.   Throughout the seminar, emphasis will be placed on his organic connection with the Thomistic tradition as well as with the ongoing development of Thomistic thought in the many figures he influenced over the course of years of teaching and writing.

Listen to a preview here

What is final causality?

To our day, the greatest philosophers, in agreement with natural reason, have said, “Becoming is not self-explanatory. It cannot exist by itself. It is not related to reality or to being as A is to A, as white is to white, as light is to light, and as spirit is to spirit.” First of all, it requires a subject. Movement is always the movement of something—of water, air, or the ether. Movement in general does not exist as such. Only this movement exists. It is only this movement or this becoming because it is the movement of this subject, of this mobile thing. No dream without a dreamer, no flight without that which flies, no outflow without a liquid, no flow without a fluid (no matter how subtle and small it might be). No thought without a mind, and if a mind is not, like God, Thought Itself and Truth Itself Ever Actually Known ab aeterno, it is distinct from its thinking and from its thoughts, which vary and are concerned with various objects while it remains one and the same (i.e., the same substantial being under the multiple and changing phenomena). And this imperfect mind cannot know without the concurrence of Him who is Thought Itself, Truth Itself, and Life Itself, He who is more intimately present to us than we ourselves are to ourselves, all the while being really and essentially distinct from us.

Garrigou-Lagrange, The Order of Things: The Realism of the Principle of Finality, 72.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, priced according to likely levels of income. If you wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the suggested rate, it is acceptable to sign up at a less-expensive level. 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).

July 2—27 August
Saturdays, 9:00-10:00am ET /
1:00-2:00pm UTC

Lyceum Institute digital platform run on Microsoft Teams

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (with a break at the halfway point—see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we will discover the profound insights of Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, a thinker of great subtly and wisdom. The instructor for this seminar is Dr. Matthew Minerd, Professor of Philosophy and Moral theology at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, PA and Faculty Fellow of the Lyceum Institute. You can read more about Dr. Minerd here.

[2022Su-B] Philosophizing in Faith – Participant

Recommended for those who are currently students or with part-time employment.


[2022Su-B] Philosophizing in Faith – Patron

Recommended for those in professions that do not pay as well as they ought and for whom continued education is especially important (including professors and clergy).


[2022Su-B] Philosophizing in Faith – Benefactor

Recommended for those with fulltime employment in well-paying professions and sufficient resources to provide a little more in support of the Lyceum Institute and its mission.


New Book – Linguistic Signification

Dr. Kemple has–at long last–finished his Linguistic Signification: A Classical and Semiotic Course in Grammar & Composition. Comprising twenty-six chapters and four appendices, this text is the work of two years concerted effort, but roughly a decade of thinking closely about the nature and function of language, particularly in light of the doctrine of signs–that is, semiotics. It is available in either paperback or hardcover from Amazon, or as a PDF to all Lyceum Institute members.

This book intends to serve one principal end: instructing students, of sufficiently mature mind, how to compose thoughtful and insightful essays in the English language. Accomplishing this rather specific end, however, requires a broad range of study: a study much broader than that comprised by a simple question of “how to write”. That is, we cannot write well unless we understand the instruments whereby writing is accomplished; or, to employ one of those instruments—the metaphor—the fruits of composition are nourished best through growing deep the roots of grammar. As we will see, this linguistic growth requires some knowledge also of logic and rhetoric: for although this book intends an introduction into the first study of the liberal arts, all three arts of the Trivium are nevertheless inseparably convergent in the flourishing of our natural human ability for linguistic signification.

We will combine some use of all the Trivium, however abecedarian our talents in these arts may still be, by the time we reach the final chapter. While we will draw upon logic and rhetoric, however, the focal study of grammar, as pursued in this book, forms not only the foundational but rather the central part of this non-trivial pursuit of the Trivium.

This aim is carried out through various readings, exercises, investigation of literature, philosophy, and more.

2021 Seminar Catalogue

Announcing the 2021 Lyceum Institute Seminar Catalogue: ten seminars taught by the Director and the Faculty Fellows, spanning the whole year. Each seminar lasts for 8 weeks and includes college-level exposure to philosophical education. Enroll today for discounts and more.


Metaphysics: The Discovery of Ens inquantum Ens

Brian Kemple

What is “being”, and how do we discover it?  The term presents ambiguities; as Aristotle says, it is said in many ways.  And as Aquinas, following Avicenna says many times over, it is the first conceived by the intellect, and that into which all other conceptions are resolved.  This, too, may be taken ambiguously; and, moreover, it may be conflated and confused with ens inquantum ens as the subject matter of metaphysics.  Indeed, resolution is said to be the mode of inquiry which belongs to the science of metaphysics most of all!  Yet what this means, and in what manner one resolves, requires clarification.  Thus, in this seminar, we will examine some seminal texts of Aristotle and of Thomas Aquinas himself, as well as important contributions and questions which have arisen in the Thomistic tradition, as the first of four seminars in a series on metaphysics.

Ethics: The Good Life

Brian Kemple

Can we be happy?  At times, looking around in our twenty-first century world, it would seem that “happiness” is a contingent, fleeting and difficult-to-grasp matter more of luck than of choice and action.  Such a view stems from an implicitly nihilistic worldview, one unconsciously imbibed by many today, in which meaning is imposed upon the realities which extrinsically act upon us.  The result of this worldview—this effort to burden the human being with creating the meaning for all the universe—is a deep, gnawing grief at the inevitable failure and ever-more-extreme attempts at improving anesthetics to dull this pain.  To the contrary of this sadly inverted worldview, this seminar will look at the philosophical treatments of the ancients and medievals in construing happiness as an inward bearing whereby the human person acts for the sake of attaining real goods meaningful in themselves.


Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principles

Francisco Plaza

This seminar will explore contemporary political and cultural issues from by incorporating classically realist foundations as the basis for a genuinely “postmodern” answer in response to the modern crisis and which looks beyond modernity for its resolution. This response retrieves from pre-modern political philosophy what modernity wrongfully left behind while engaging directly with modern thought–rather than a retreat to the past–in order to propose a way forward. In the first half of this seminar, we will briefly explore the classical foundation of a realist political philosophy, followed by an overview of the modern turn against classical and medieval thought. The second half of this seminar will be a survey of Jacques Maritain’s philosophy on these matters, as his work provides the basis for our claims in response to modernity. Here, we will consider Maritain’s critiques of modern culture, secular liberalism, and totalitarianism, and his philosophy of “integral humanism,” and the “concrete historical ideal.”

Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot

Brian Kemple

What is a sign, and how does it function?  It is a question which grew in importance throughout the Latin age of philosophy, and reached its culmination in arguably the last great thinker of that tradition: João Poinsot, better known as John of St. Thomas—a name adopted to signify his fidelity to the great Dominican Doctor around whose thought John based his own.  In a work painstakingly retrieved, edited, and translated by John Deely, John Poinsot presents a systematic treatise on signs, the Tractatus de Signis, which answers many questions modernity had not anticipated, and which would not be revisited by a capable thinker for another 200 years (C.S. Peirce).  In this seminar, we will closely and rigorously examine the entirety of this text of Poinsot.  It is strongly recommended that all interested parties have familiarized themselves with Thomistic Psychology and/or prior semiotics seminars before registering, as this seminar will prove quite challenging without these antecedents.


Science: On Being, Language and Reason, and Cause in Aristotle’s Organon

Daniel Wagner and John Boyer

[This seminar is to be taught in collaboration]. The subject is being (οὐσία), language and reason (λόγος), and cause (αἰτία) in Aristotle’s Organon.  In part I of the Seminar, Dr. Wagner will treat the logical terms of Aristotle’s sense-realism in Topics and Categories, and his method of induction (ἐπαγωγή) and division for obtaining definitions as the first principles of science (ἐπιστήμη) in Posterior Analytics and De Partibus Animalium. In part II,  Dr. Boyer will treat Aristotle’s theory of science through apprehension of the cause (αἰτία) by demonstrative syllogism (συλλογισμός). Both parts of the course will showcase the application of Aristotle’s realist logic in his own work (Physics, De Anima, Ethics, and Metaphysics), and in contemporary science.

Semiotics: An Introduction

Brian Kemple

In this seminar, we will focus on Charles Sanders Peirce and his unique contributions to the foundations of the discipline of semiotics proper and show how we must instantiate an understanding of signs in our day-to-day practices, both practically and theoretically.  Among the specific goals for the seminar are to understand the general theory of semiotics—as the study of the action of signs—which was founded in Charles Peirce and has since been developed; to understand the categorical basis of Peirce’s thought, or his “phaneroscopy”; and to understand especially how signs play a role in human thinking.  Readings will primarily be from the two volume Essential Peirce.

Thomistic Psychology: Environing World and the Passions

Brian Kemple

In the fourth Thomistic Psychology seminar, we enter into the discussion of the environing world—a concept formulated by a theoretical biologist, Jakob von Uexküll—as a dynamically-constitutive element of the human psyche, with a specific focus on how this affects and is itself effected by the passions.  Topics covered include moral and cognitive habituation, technology and technological media, the “moral imagination”, and the conscientious pursuit of the good in our environing worlds.  This requires a firm understanding of the faculties and cognitive operations of the human being.  Readings will be drawn from a wide array of sources but focus principally on the Secunda pars of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa theologiae.


Thomism, Artisanship, and Art

Matthew Minerd

What is the being of a work of art?  What is the nature of “poetic” knowledge, the experience of the artisan and the artist?  How should a Thomist speak about these matters?  This lecture series is devoted to these questions, taking as their principal guide, Jacques Maritain, who probed these questions in his works Art and Scholasticism, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, and Art and Poetry.  Other thinkers will be consulted along the way, presenting a synthesis which, however, uses Maritain’s texts as the primary guiding thread of the lecture discussion.

Thomistic Psychology: The Meaning of Evil

Kirk Kanzelberger

Every human being has some notion of evil, vague though it may be, as that which is opposed to a good:  the good that one desires, the good that one honors – or, perhaps, the good that one wishes one honored or desired more than one does.  Even those who lack an inclination to deeper questioning concerning the matter and the meaning of evil can nevertheless find themselves possessed with anger at states of affairs, ideas, and other persons they clearly judge to be evil.  Might there be some relation of dependence between the lack of deeper questioning and the frenzy of the anger, as well as the lack of humility it evinces?  For if we are honest, we must admit that, despite every good intention, we ourselves have some share in, and make some concrete contribution to, the mysterious reality of evil in the world.  This seminar aims to deepen our questioning concerning the meaning, that is, the intelligible reality signified by the term evil.

Metaphysics: God

Brian Kemple

In the second Metaphysics seminar, we will engage in a deep Thomistic discussion of the intelligible discovery of the existence of God and the justifiable inferences which may be made concerning the Divine Nature.  This stands in corresponding opposition to the via resolutionis secundum rationem discussed in the first Metaphysics seminar, concerning the discovery of ens inquantum ens, as the via resolutionis secundum rem—according to the thing, according to the existential cause.  This will unfold further into a consideration of the attributes of the Divine which may be justly inferred from the resolution to a First Cause.  Thus, the primary reading for the course will be from the Prima pars of the Summa theologiae.

Interpretation and Traditions

An Intersection for Semiotics, Phenomenology, and Thomism

Often, in my own work–and in a way which spills inevitably into my own teaching–I draw together insights from three distinct traditions: Thomisim, Peircean semiotics, and Heideggerian phenomenology. In this presentation, given at the University of St. Thomas, in Houston TX, in 2018, illuminates this connection. These three traditions inform much of the teaching, thinking, and conversation at the Lyceum Institute, beyond even my own contributions.

A text version is also available at Reality.