Trivium: Rhetoric

Beginning the week of June 6, all Lyceum Institute members will have access to a 10-week course in the Art of Rhetoric. Discussion sessions will be held twice per week: Mondays at 6:00–6:45pm and Thursdays at 12:00–12:45pm (subject to change). Each week there will be an assigned reading, relevant practice, and brief lecture. Discussion sessions will cover both the reading and selected issues raised in the lecture.

The study of rhetoric is a study not only of defending ourselves against false accusations, slander, calumny, and other verbal assaults upon our character, but is further a study of making known the truth, so that it may speak for itself. If logic, which cannot be justly divorced from rhetoric, consists in learning the valid structures whereby one discovers truth for himself (by understanding the nature and action of thought), then rhetoric consists in the discovery of righteous means to persuade others to grasp those same truths—and, moreover, the ability to defend ourselves against the manipulative persuasions of others.

This talent resides not principally in the manipulative arrangement of language, but rather the effusion of virtue in that most-human of capacities, the linguistic. In the words of Quintilian:

The orator then, whom I am concerned to form, shall be the orator as defined by Marcus Cato, “a good man, skilled in speaking.” But above all he must possess the quality which Cato places first and which is in the very nature of things the greatest and most important, that is, he must be a good man. This is essential not merely on account of the fact that, if the powers of eloquence serve only to lend arms to crime, there can be nothing more pernicious than eloquence to public and private welfare alike, while I myself, who have laboured to the best of my ability to contribute something of value to oratory, shall have rendered the worst of services to mankind, if I forge these weapons not for a solider, but for a robber… To this must be added the fact that the mind will not find leisure even for the study of the noblest tasks, unless it first be free from vice… vileness and virtue cannot jointly inhabit in the selfsame heart, and… it is as impossible for one and the same mind to harbour good and evil thoughts as it is for one man to be at once both good and evil… Consequently, the bad man and the perfect orator can never be identical.

Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, lib.12, c.1

This course is open to all Lyceum Institute members. Download the syllabus or find out more in the links below.

Learn more about Rhetoric at the Lyceum

The Lyceum Institute offers courses in all three arts of the Trivium: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Together, they form a core of knowledge necessary to every educated human being.

Learn more about our approach at the links below.


Enroll

Trivium courses are included in every level of membership for the Lyceum Institute. See enrollment options here.

IO2S Deely – Augustine: Instituting the Given Sign

The Latin Age of philosophy was one of the most productive, systematic, and insightful times of intellectual inquiry in human history—despite the oft-given reductive and willfully-ignorant treatment that labels all between the fall of Rome and the rise of the Renaissance as the “Dark Ages”—for which the first major figure was Augustine of Hippo. Most well-known for his Confessions and City of God, works both of a deeply spiritual yet profoundly philosophical nature, Augustine was a contributor the tradition in many other ways, including but not limited to his definition of the sign and distinction of signs into natural and given.

On 15 January 2022 at 11am ET (4pm UTC – check times around the world here), Dr. Brian Kemple (Lyceum Institute) will give a lecture on Augustine’s contribution as well as his errors, and discuss what Augustine’s work provides us both in its historical significance and its overall importance for an understanding of semiotics. Dr. Remo Gramigna will provide commentary. This presentation is open to the public and can be watched below (live as well as recorded).

2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics (IO2S) | Website

This collaborative international open scientific initiative and celebration is jointly 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 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.

Winter Seminars – Reminder

Our Winter Seminars start tomorrow (first discussion sessions 1/15)! There’s still plenty of time to sign up, but readings are already available and discussion threads will begin on 1/8.

INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING

As you might surmise, this is a course for those who have had no (or have not had in a long time) formal philosophical education. It is a bit different than the typical introductory course. Here, you will find no histories or surveys, no trite clichés about questioning authority, no attempts at “dumbing down” a complex topic to make it “accessible”. Rather, you will find the essential challenge of philosophy itself: learning the habit of conscious reflection on our own conceptions. We will do this through a series of lectures, curated readings, and discussion sessions—with part of the seminar focused on Plato, as a master of the means to philosophical reflection—and a community of like-minded inquirers.

SEMIOTICS: CULTURAL WORLD OF THE SIGN

This is a much more advanced seminar, presuming the participant already has some familiarity with semiotics and possibly with scholastic realism as well. Here, we are asking the question of culture explicitly from the perspective of semiotics: how is culture constituted, mediated, diminished, and otherwise altered by the action of signs? How does culture, conversely, shape the “grammar” of signs by which we ourselves think? These questions are, I think, important especially today, in which we are experiencing a dramatic shift in the constitution of culture as affected by the digital paradigm of daily experience. If we are to change culture for the better, we must understand how we participate in it—and thus we must understand the signs through which culture affects human life, and, conversely, how human beings may affect culture through the use of signs.