The Lyceum Institute aims to facilitate members in the undertaking of a liberal education, with a particular emphasis on a commitment to good intellectual habits. One of the defining traits of human beings is our capacity for linguistic signification. As such, we offer courses in the study of language not only to help members improve their understanding of individual languages, but also to develop the intellectual habit of communicating in a well-ordered, logical, and persuasive manner.
Language study at the Lyceum consists of two main programs.
First, we offer courses in the three liberal arts of the Trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These arts are studied in the context of the English language. Emphasis is placed on the interconnectivity of these arts as well as their necessary role in helping us think and communicate well. So too, these arts are studied in the context of the general principles of language and reasoning, or the rules and foundational concepts which apply to all individual languages and processes of reasoning.
Second, we offer a study of specific languages. We currently offer several courses in Latin, and we intend to offer an Elementary German course in Fall 2023. Our language courses are intensely grammatical, designed primarily to help participants read and translate the great works of our intellectual tradition. As in our Trivium courses, these languages are studied with reference to the universal principles and structures of grammar which are common to all languages.
To be sure, some may find the study of language impractical if not irrelevant. For instance, in a world increasingly devoted to a study of and reverence for STEM, some may ask one or more of the following questions:
- Must we waste time learning the formalities of grammar, so long as we can communicate our main concerns “well enough”?
- Is rhetoric truly a worthwhile art? Could rhetoric be nothing more than aesthetic decadence, if not an immoral method of manipulation?
- Why do we need to learn other languages if Google can translate them for us in an instant?
At the Lyceum, we hardly consider the study of language to be a preoccupation for aesthetes and dilettantes. On the contrary, linguistic studies are taken to be the foundation of all intellectual disciplines, as all thinking has some fundamental connection to language. Moreover, a careful and consistent study of language provides many benefits for the mind, which include but are not limited to: first, a better understanding of the principles of general grammar, which aids the understanding of our native language(s) second, an enhancement of our communication and listening skills; third, training of the mind in skills such as memorization and clear, organized thinking; fourth, a deeper appreciation for the historical, cultural, political, and religious traditions of Western civilization, which helps us overcome the intellectual limitations and provincialism of the immediate, the local, and the familiar; and fifth, a deeper appreciation of reality itself, given one’s increased ability to recognize the structures and patterns of reality as a whole.