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Musings on Extrinsic Formal Causality and Practical Signs

This is not quite how I envisioned this first blog post turning out… Originally, I had considered writing something on the issue of the political common good, focusing on the plurality of common goods in relation to the political exercise of social justice in its original and true sense (namely, the right ordering of various goods within a social whole).  Oh well… That will be my next posting.

I am in the midst of working on a monograph devoted to a topic dear to my heart, concerned with (broadly speaking) the being of culture, exposited in line with a rigorous Thomistic metaphysic.  I am at a point of writing where I need to discuss the topic of extrinsic formal causality.  Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to write a blog post that teases out some of the ideas that will eventually enter into that particular chapter of my work.

The Platonic and Neo-Platonic universe is one that is dominated by the notion of extrinsic formal causality.  According to a kind of somewhat pedestrian, “kitchen table” Platonism, which philosophy professors often teach their undergraduate students, the world would be a kind of imitation of the transcend realm of the Forms or Ideas.  However, as any astute reader of Plato himself knows, many seeds for Aristotle’s own thought are found all throughout the written expression of the master’s thought, from which he drank for so many years.  Thus, in the Timaeus, we find the need to posit (by way of myth) a “receptacle” into which the form would be reflected (thus inserting material causality into the Platonic metaphysic), as well as the famous “Craftsman” (or “Demiurge”), who looks at the Forms and places them into the matter-receptacle(s), thereby making mutable copies of the immutable ideal realities (thus inserting efficient causality into the metaphysic).  Although Neo-Platonism would more clearly articulate the role of a kind of cosmic teleology, with all things going forth from the One and magnetized to return thereto (to the degree that this is possible), Plato’s conception of the Idea of the Good no doubt is the seed for such reflection on universal metaphysical gravitation.  (Think of how powerfully such teleology is expressed in Aristotle’s own account of the particular causality exercised by the First Cause when he discusses this not in the Physics but, rather, in the Metaphysics.)

But, with all of that being said, the most powerful of causes that operates on the Platonic and Neo-Platonic mind is extrinsic formal causality: the “really real” is to be found in the Ideas, with everything else being a copy thereof.  Thus, the world is full of copies and images, derivative realities whose intelligibility points to an external source upon whose model they were fashioned.  The Christian mind would readily develop this Platonic insight into the philosophical-theological metaphysics of the “Divine Ideas.”

It is, however, all too tempting for Christian philosophers to rush to the heights like this.  It comes from a laudable and pious sentiment.  But, the bright light of theological concern can tend to bleach out the importance of more quotidian realities.  Thus, among scholastics, one will most often speak of the “artistic idea” by which an artist fashions his or her work.  But such discussions are a kind of quick scaffolding for the sake of accomplishing the real construction: just enough elaboration so that one can then move on to the “truly important topic” concerning the Divine Ideas, the artistic exemplars of all created beings.

However, let us consider phenomena that are far more down to earth.  As I sit here typing, I see all sorts of things in my office.  A mug of coffee sits at my right.  Pens sit next to papers.  Slightly behind me, alongside the wall, there is a piano with a music book open, instructing me on the harmonization of a Bach chorale.

The last example is instructive (and, of course, purposely chosen).  Note the verb in the final clause: the book is instructing me.  Obviously, the sense of this verb is not the same as when it is used in its proper sense, referring to the activity of a teacher in relation to his or her students.  The act of instruction involves a kind of efficient causality.  But, for all that, is the transfer a mere metaphorical rhapsody?  No, for the most essential aspect of teaching is the act of presenting ideas before the mind of another, the “presentation of the object” to be known.  And this is something that the music text does to the person who has eyes to see.

Let us presume that I have never seen this harmonization of the “Darmstadt” melody before.  As someone who can somewhat plunk away at a piano, I have the agentive capacity to interpret music so as to then “transfer” its “message” to the tips of my fingers.  But, I cannot so transfer the “Darmstadt” melody until I know it.  In other words, my playing this melody depends, for its very being, upon the details intelligibly arranged on the paper.  And what is dependence in being?  It is a relationship of effect to cause.  My performance of this melody today must be “formed” by the message of the music pages.  My agency receives its form from outside of me—it is influenced by a causality that is, at once, extrinsic and formal.

In its merely “natural” being, the book of chorales is of use for starting a bonfire.  If civilization were to collapse, and if all modern Western music notation were to be forgotten, these properties would remain.  But, to the eyes of cognitional human agents, with a certain cultural and habituated ability to actualize the intelligibility that has been placed in these signs, the book is a window on the soul of a particular kind of music.  It pulls the musician into its orbit and expresses an intelligibility that is there in the paper—but in alio modo esse, according to another manner of existence.  It provides the “measure”, the right proportioning (at least in general terms), for my music playing.

And if one has eyes to see, one will realize that even blank paper itself also exercises this sort of causality.  In a literate culture in which writing upon paper is a possibility, a blank piece of paper is seen for the artifact that it is.  It is a practical sign of a kind of activity.  When viewed within the particular cultural context of sign interpretation, it is a kind of invitation to activity, it specifies a kind of activity: qua paper, this is something to be written on.  Sure, it can specify other activities too: make paper airplane from this, or cut out shapes from this, etc.  But the point remains, insofar as it brings into our minds the possibility of a practical activity—that is, insofar as this artifact is part of the relation-complex that leads my mind beyond the paper to a given kind of activity—the paper, precisely in this relational structure, becomes a sign, a practical sign.

We are surrounded by practical signs directing our action—they are everywhere.  They perfuse the world.  And although this kind of causality is exercised most clearly in human agency, where choice intervenes so as to constitute new forms of intelligibility, there is a real sense in which such extrinsic formal causality perfuses lower forms of activity as well.  When several trees interact with their environment so as to “communicate” with each other through their root systems, the various fungi and elements that take part in these processes have intelligibility as part of a kind of organic communication system only if one takes into consideration the life pattern of the trees in question.  In other words, the intelligibility of this system of activity, precisely as a unified system of activity, derives its intelligibility from the particular organic capacities of the plant life in question.  Even here, there is a kind of “extrinsic information” which gives an intelligibility that is not merely present in the uncoordinated activity of the parts of this now-active plant communication system.

But, I have gone on too long already.  I merely wanted to tease about on this topic to get a feeling for where the mind might go when writing on it.  Hopefully, though, this musing begins to get you thinking.  You’ll never look at the world the same again: the edge of the road is a practical sign (exercising extrinsic formal causality) telling you not to drive over it; the dashes between lanes indicate to you a kind of legal driving pattern; a driveway is an invitation to drive there and not on a lawn; a door handle is an invitation to turn and open a door; and in just the right context, a steep and open snowy hill begs you to ski down it.             

Extrinsic formal causality is everywhere, for the world is perfused with signs, both speculative and practical.  Let him who has eyes to see see.

Fall Seminar Previews

METAPHYSICS: THE DEPTHS OF ACT & POTENCY

“In long Indian file, as when herons take wing, the white birds were now all flying towards Ahab’s boat; and when within a few yards began fluttering over the water there, wheeling round and round, with joyous, expectant cries.  Their vision was keener than man’s; Ahab could perceive no sign in the sea.  But suddenly…

Metaphysics: The Depths of Act & Potency

THE FAULTS OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY

This is not a seminar about modernity, but about modern philosophy—and, specifically, about the fundamental flaws (or faults) which characterize modern philosophy’s thinking.  These flaws, once recognized, show their effects everywhere today: in the endless fragmentation of world, mind, self; in the intransigence of political discourse, the widening cultural divides, the polarization of extremes, and…

Science: The Faults of Modern Philosophy

SEMIOTICS: PEIRCE AND THE MODERN SPIRIT

“The last of the moderns,” writes John Deely of Charles Sanders Peirce, “and the first of the postmoderns.” Why this switch, this flip, between modernity and postmodernity? The question of postmodernity’s meaning and definition is altogether another issue: but one which we can understand only inasmuch as we first understand rightly what modernity is, or…

Semiotics: Peirce and the Modern Spirit

[Fall 2022] Metaphysics: The Depths of Act & Potency

“In long Indian file, as when herons take wing, the white birds were now all flying towards Ahab’s boat; and when within a few yards began fluttering over the water there, wheeling round and round, with joyous, expectant cries.  Their vision was keener than man’s; Ahab could perceive no sign in the sea.  But suddenly as he peered down and down into the depths, he profoundly saw a white living spot no bigger than a white weasel, with wonderful celerity uprising, and magnifying as it rose, till it turned, and then there were plainly revealed two long crooked rows of white, glistening teeth, floating up from the undiscoverable bottom.”

-Melville, Moby Dick
Chapter 133: The Chase—First Day.
Download the Syllabus
View the Syllabus

While preparing a lecture on the contribution made by Thomas Aquinas to the historical development of semiotics—particularly as it helped move understanding past the initial contributions to a Latin theory of signs constituted by Augustine of Hippo—I found that nothing was more central to the advance of this narrative than the Aristotelian doctrine of act and potency.  To understand the efficacy of a sign, that is, we need to understand relations, and to understand relations, we need to understand act and potency.

As I took one brief dive after another into the relevant texts of Aquinas—most especially his Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle—I fleetingly glimpsed what seemed an endless series of wonderous observations, each more than the last deserving of a thorough investigation.  This seminar provides an opportunity for all interested to join collaboratively in making such an inquiry.

Act and potency, I must admit, have together always seemed a doctrine that—despite long familiarity with the teaching—has escaped me for its depths.  The two interrelated concepts are indefinable, but not for lack of intelligibility; indeed, they are so rich that all description leaves us infinitely short of having exhausted their meaning or their pertinence to our lives.  To think of potency is to think of what is intelligible only in the light of act, but not as itself an act; to distinguish passive and active potency is to get a foothold on the nature of change, but through something itself unchanging.  It is through the change from potency to act that we come to know what anything is; and, indeed, such a change is how knowledge itself is realized within us.

If we are to explain being—to know being—we must know and be able to explain the distinction between those elements which divide it all. We must peer beyond what eyes can see.

Ten minute lecture preview
Discussion Sessions
3:30pm ET

(World times)
Study Topics &
Readings

September
24
Week 1: Form as Cause of Being & Knowing
Lecture: Principle of Substance, End of Knowledge
Readings:
» Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book VII, c.17.
» Aquinas’ Commentary on the Metaphysics, lib.7, lec.17 (§1648–1680).
» Owens’ Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics, c.12 (375-77).
October
1
Week 2: Form as Principle of Composite Being
Lecture: Intelligible Relations of Form and Matter
Reading:
» Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book VIII, c.1-2.
» Aristotle’s Physics, Book II, c.1.
» Aquinas’ Commentary, lib.8, lec.1-2 (§1681–1702).
October
8
Week 3: The One and the Many
Lecture: Infinite Material Plurality
Reading:
» Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book VIII, c.3-6.
» Aquinas’ Commentary, lib.8, lec.3-5 (§1703–1767).
» Owens’ Doctrine, c.13 (379-99).
October
15
Week 4: Definition and Distinction of Potency
Lecture: Discerning the Meaning of Potency
Reading:
» Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book IX, 1-2.
» Aquinas’ Commentary, lib.9, lec.1-2 (§1768–1794).
» Owens’ Doctrine, c.14, parts I-II (403-06).
October
22

BREAK
October
29
Week 5: The Grounds of Potency
Lecture: Potency and Possibility
Reading:
» Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book IX, 3-5.
» Aquinas’ Commentary, lib.9, lec.3-4 (§1795–1822).
November
 5
Week 6: Analogical Primacy of Act
Lecture: The Speaking of What Is
Reading:
» Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book IX, 6-7.
» Aquinas’ Commentary, lib.9, lec.5-6 (§1823–1843).
November
12
Week 7: Explanatory Primacy of Act
Lecture: The Existing of What Is
Readings:
» Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book IX, 8-9.
» Aquinas’ Commentary, lib.9, lec.7-10 (§1844–1894).
» Owens’ Doctrine, c.14, part III (406-409).
November
19
Week 8: The Divisions of Being
Lecture: The Governance of Truth and Falsity
Readings
» Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book IX, 10.
» Aquinas’ Commentary, lib.9, lec.11 (§1895–1919).
» Owens’ Doctrine, c.15 (411-41).

This is an advanced seminar. View the syllabus here and learn more about Lyceum Institute seminars here. Participants should have at least basic familiarity with Aristotelian physics and Thomistic psychology before enrolling.

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).

Registration is closed.

Introduction to Philosophical Principles

Introduction to Philosophical Principles: Logic, Physics, and the Human Person

What good is living? I know a man we’ll call “James”—successful, secure in his career, his family, his hobbies, his religious belief—who claimed not that he was depressed at this stage of his life, but that he found himself nevertheless asking frequently: “Is this all there is?” Then he discovered philosophy. It was not an immediate love; indeed, it was discovered as a requirement for his graduate business program. But, seeking out help, he found more and more to read. More and deeper questions arose. He found his philosophical inquiries were not simply aligned with success in the course, but sprung up from his own life experiences, his own encounters with the world. He became philosophically curious. He wanted to know. To understand. A deeper reality opened up for him; one of inexhaustible meaning.

Philosophy—real, true philosophy—is transformative. It will not make you successful in the world, but it will answer a question that all the success and security never can: what is the good of being alive?

In the nihilistic, “post-truth” context of late modernity, we might despair of finding an answer to that question. The odds seem against us, especially in the absence of success and security. But even the faintest glimmer of the answer—the dimmest light—gives us something that cannot be taken away by the worst the world has to offer.

I first met James at a coffee shop in 2016 to help him with the graduate course. We have since met almost every week for six years—sometimes two or three times in the span of a few days—to discuss philosophy. Our talks have ranged over the distinctions of Plato and Aristotle, of Descartes and Locke, the neglect of scholasticism, the influence of Islamic thought, the value of the Conimbricenses, the genius of João Poinsot and Charles Sanders Peirce, the breadth of Thomas Aquinas, the nature of culture and society, the threats to truth, and much more besides. These conversations, deep though many of them are, have opened more inquiries than we will be able to explore in a lifetime.

This book, now in a second and much expanded edition (with over 100 pages of new material) does not mirror my conversations with James. But it does mirror the endless joy of discovering meaning, a condensed breadth of philosophical learning, and the desire to understand, to answer the question: what is the point of living?

I hope you will read it. I hope you will enjoy it. I hope it will spark a similar philosophical curiosity in you. The text is divided into three main parts: Logic, Physics, and the Person. Each presents what I think are the essential principles for gaining a habit of philosophical reflection. These three parts are supplemented by an extensive series of Glosses, which provide deeper questions and connections to the historical traditions of philosophy from which the ideas in the main text were composed. These glosses serve as suggestions of other places to look for questions about topics such as time, motion, knowledge, causality, signs, and more.

Maybe you don’t think it’s a book for you. I could try to convince you otherwise, but either you have a hunger to ask the question or you don’t. But even if you don’t think it’s for you, I bet you can think of someone in your life who does have that hunger. [Link to book]

Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy and the Form of Health

The colloquium lecture delivered in September 2020 by Dr. Michel Accad, MD, “Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy and the Form of Health” is now available to the public. You can listen or download below (full lecture at the bottom). Please consider supporting the Lyceum Institute if you enjoy this lecture! Your donations allow us to support the pursuit of philosophy and dedicated thinkers like Dr. Accad in their research, teaching, and publications.

Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy and the Form of Health

Michel Accad, MD

Preview – Michel Accad, MD: Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy and the Form of Health

In the fourth of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia, we present Dr. Michel Accad, MD, a cardiologist and practitioner of internal medicine (see Dr. Accad’s site here), who presents for us some of his thoughts on the insights that Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy brings to an understanding of health and the practice of medicine.  This lecture lights upon the history of philosophy and the human body and challenges the commonly-accepted mechanicist and reductionistic views of the human body as a mere machine–grown out of a Cartesian view–in contrast to the classical Hippocratic theory, which encourages an approach to the body as a whole.

If you enjoyed this lecture, please consider supporting the Lyceum Institute with a small donation.

Lyceum Schedule [7/26-7/31]

Weekly Schedule of Events

7/26 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.
  • Semiotics: An Introduction (6:00-6:45pm ET).  The second discussion of the week for the Semiotics seminar–what do we mean by “reality”?  Or “belief”?  How are they related to “truth”?  These are our questions this week: and here, pulling together some of the varied threads we have seen in the previous weeks, we will see how the right understanding of signs can lead us from thought to truth itself: and all the benefits thereof.

7/27 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex ‘De principiis naturae‘ Sanctus Thomae et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  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!

7/28 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

7/29 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex ‘De principiis naturae‘ Sanctus Thomae et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Elementary Latin Class (6:00-7:00pm ET).  Week three of our new introductory Latin Class, proceeding through Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.  If you are interested in learning Latin, check out the class!  It’s not too late to sign-up!

7/30 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–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

7/31 Saturday

  • Intermediate Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Fabulam Daedeli et Icari Syra narrabit ad Quintum, et legemus et convertemus in linguam Anglicam, ex capitulo XXVI in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions: Week 8 of 8.
    • ​​​​​​​Science: Aristotle’s Organon (1-2pm ET).  Concluding with a look at key chapters in Book II of the Posterior Analytics, we will see precisely how it is that a knowledge of causes leads to a scientific knowledge–and inquire into the scope and possibility of such a knowledge’s attainment and certitude.
    • Semiotics: An Introduction (3-4pm ET).  Among the words one finds in all the key texts of Charles Sanders Peirce, “continuity” perhaps holds a principled place of importance: for the fundamental doctrine of Peirce is not his semiotic, but his synechism: his belief that the universe holds no gaps, no hard and fast distinctions in the occurrence, existence, and intelligibility of phanerons (or, we might say, “phenomena”).  It is to the thinking through of this synechistic principle that we turn our attention in this the final week.
    • Thomistic Psychology: World and Passions (5-6pm ET).  We have spent most of our time looking in this seminar at specific treatments of the passions themselves; but now we must constitute our understanding of these passions into our understanding of the world: a consideration of how thinking, which is always world-oriented, is modulated by these passions.  Here we combine an oft-neglected text of Aquinas with the thinking of John Deely.

This Week [7/18-7/24]

Weekly Schedule of Events

7/19 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.
  • Semiotics: An Introduction (6:00-6:45pm ET).  The second discussion of the week for the Semiotics seminar–how do signs shape our thinking?  In what manner does the vehicle affect the interpretant, and how does the interpretant regard the object?  How are we to classify the signs we use?  These are open-ended questions, to which Peirce gives us guidance but no final resolutions..

7/20 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  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!

7/21 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

7/22 Thursday

  • Elementary Latin (6:00-7:00pm ET).  Continuing into week two of our new introductory Latin Class, proceeding throughLingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.  If you are interested in learning Latin, check out the class!  It’s not too late to sign-up!

7/23 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–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

7/24 Saturday

  • Intermediate Latin Class (10-11am ET).  Postquam Syra facta Marci ad Quintum intimavit, ea narrat fabulam Theseum et Minotarum eum.  Legemus et convertemus (in linguam Anglicam) capitulum XXV ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions: Week 7 of 8.
    • ​​​​​​​Science: Aristotle’s Organon (1-2pm ET).  Diving into book II of the Posterior Analytics, we progress to a consideration of the method of scientific examination itself.  Here, we will see how important is the middle term in attaining demonstrations of a properly scientific kind.
    • Semiotics: An Introduction (3-4pm ET).  What do we mean by “reality”?  Or “belief”?  How are they related to “truth”?  These are our questions this week: and here, pulling together some of the varied threads we have seen in the previous weeks, we will see how the right understanding of signs can lead us from thought to truth itself: and all the benefits thereof.
    • Thomistic Psychology: World and Passions (5-6pm ET).  Anger–rage–hatred.  They are emotions familiar to us today, confronted as we are with a media panopticon of injustices and the suggestion that we are victims somehow.  But is this the right and fitting purpose of anger?  Or does it have some role to play, a more important role, in the pursuit not of vaguely-articulated rights, but rather in the rectifying of our pursuit of the true good?

This Week [7/11-7/17]

Weekly Schedule of Events

7/12 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.
  • Semiotics: An Introduction (6:00-6:45pm ET).  The second discussion of the week for the Semiotics seminar–though provisionally mentioned throughout heretofore, a close examination of the nature of triadic relations now shows itself as necessary for progressing deeper into an understanding of Peirce’s semiotics as revealed in some of his personal correspondence with Lady Victoria Welby and William James

7/13 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  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!

7/14 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

7/15 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Elementary Latin (6:00-7:00pm ET).  Beginning our new introductory Latin Class, starting from c.1 of Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.  If you are interested in learning Latin, you can participate for just $10.50 per month!

7/16 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–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

7/17 Saturday

  • Intermediate Latin Class (10-11am ET).  Quomodo sit Quintus?  Puer aegrotatus, dum frater eius strepitum facit; et Quintus cum Syra loquitur.  Legemus et convertemus (in linguam Anglicam) capitulum XXIV ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions: Week 6 of 8.
    • ​​​​​​​Science: Aristotle’s Organon (1-2pm ET).  We progress further this week, after making good progress the week previous, into the conditions and nature of science, this week attending to the varied degrees which Aristotle describes in a plurality of chapters from book I of the Posterior Analytics.
    • Semiotics: An Introduction (3-4pm ET).  How do signs shape our thinking?  In what manner does the vehicle affect the interpretant, and how does the interpretant regard the object?  How are we to classify the signs we use?  These are open-ended questions, to which Peirce gives us guidance but no final resolutions.
    • Thomistic Psychology: World and Passions (5-6pm ET).  Fear–what is it and what are its effects?  Today, I believe, our experience of fear is more diffuse, less sharp, but far more damning than in centuries past: for it causes us not to hide from things truly fearsome, indeed, but rather from the love whereby we would be ennobled in our humanity.

This Week [7/4-7/10]

Weekly Schedule of Events

7/5 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.
  • Semiotics: An Introduction (6:00-6:45pm ET).  The second discussion of the week for the Semiotics seminar–discussing C.S. Peirce’s “What Is a Sign?” and “Of Reasoning in General”, wherein we see the application of his categories to his semiotics in a consideration of the procession of thought.

7/6 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:00-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  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!

7/7 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

7/8 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:00-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!

7/9 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–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Colloquium Q&A (6:30-7:30pm ET).  Our own Dr. Michel Accad, MD, answers our questions concerning his lecture and articles on Wholes and Parts: A Thomistic Refutation of Brain Death.  You can learn more about the colloquium here.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

7/10 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Heu!  Marcus, discipulus improbus, esse vanidicus patefaciet.  Et Iulius argutiolam exercebit!  Legemus et convertemus (in linguam Anglicam) capitulum XXIII ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions: Already halfway through!  Where does the time go?
    • ​​​​​​​Science: Aristotle’s Organon (1-2pm ET).  Taking over for the second half of the seminar, Professor Boyer will undertake to show for us the necessary conditions of science (ἐπιστήμη) by leading the participants through a close reading of Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, I.1-4.
    • Semiotics: An Introduction (3-4pm ET).  Though provisionally mentioned throughout heretofore, a close examination of the nature of triadic relations now shows itself as necessary for progressing deeper into an understanding of Peirce’s semiotics as revealed in some of his personal correspondence with Lady Victoria Welby and William James.
    • Thomistic Psychology: World and Passions (5-6pm ET).  We continue this week with a consideration of the passion of sorrow, turning our attention from its causes and effects to a consideration of its remedy: how do we, in this world today, overcome not only the sorrows of lost particular goods, but the sorrow underlying our culturally-enmeshed lives?

This Week [6/27-7/3]

6/29 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  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!

6/30 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

7/1 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!

7/2 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–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

7/3 Saturday

  • No Latin class due to July 4th Holiday.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions.
    • ​​​​​​​Science: Aristotle’s Organon (1pm-2pm ET).  This week will focus our attention upon the acts of division and subsequent organization by looking at Aristotle’s work in On the Parts of Animals and On the Soul.
    • Semiotics: An Introduction (3pm-4pm ET).  What is thinking?  Yes–this was the topic for last week.  But it is the topic for this week too!  Looking at a few more works of Charles Peirce, we’ll pick up the propaedeutic from last week and deepen our understanding of what thinking is.
    • Thomistic Psychology: World and Passions (5pm-6pm ET).  Time for mourning and weeping in the valley of tears: this week we are on to pain and sorrow, and to see from Aquinas’ essential analysis in what ways we suffer such today.