Can we have a democratic government in an increasingly post-liberal world? Must we return to a strict hierarchy if we are to abandon the “liberal experiment” that has rendered increasing ailment in recent decades? These are not questions with simple or straightforward answers. To answer them, we would be foolish both to ignore St. Thomas Aquinas and to caricaturize his thought to fit facile solutions. Thankfully, though under the auspices of a somewhat different world, great Thomistic thinkers have already anticipated the question and can provide us guidance going forward.
The famous saying of Aristotle that man is a political animal does not mean only that man is naturally made to live in society; it also means that man naturally asks to lead a political life and to participate actively in the life of the political community. It is upon this posulate of human nature that political liberties and political rights rest, and particularly the right of suffrage. Perhaps it is easier for men to renounce active participation in political life; in certain cases it may even have happened that they felt happier and freer from care while dwelling in the commonwealth as political slaves, or while passively handing over to the leaders all the care of the management of the community. But in this case they gave up a privilege proper to their nature, one of those privileges which, in a sense, makes life more difficult and which brings with it a greater or lesser amount of labor, strain and suffering, but which corresponds to human dignity.Jacques Maritain, The Rights of Man and Natural Law.
Many are familiar with Jacques Maritain, great Thomist author and figure of the twentieth century: a man who wrote on topics far and wide, and strove most of his life to bring a living Thomism into a broader public. Fewer are familiar with the thought of Yves Simon, scion of Maritain’s approach to understanding St. Thomas, and an adept thinker and careful author in his own right.
Among Simon’s many contributions is his Philosophy of Democratic Government, a work which presents the core insights of Maritain concerning the nature of democracy in a more deeply-rooted scholarly appraisal of St. Thomas, and rife with many additional insights of Simon’s own. Using this text as our basis, this seminar, taught by Dr. Francisco Plaza, will revisit these twentieth-century thinkers and discern how their thought can help address the troubles of our own times. View the syllabus here. Registration closes June 2.
|Study Topics &|
|Lecture 1: Christianity and Democracy|
» Jacques Maritain, Christianity and Democracy, pages 3 to 63
|Lecture 2: General Theory of Government|
» Yves Simon, Philosophy of Democratic Government, pages 1 to 71.
|Lecture 3: Democratic Freedom|
» Yves Simon, Philosophy of Democratic Government, pages 72 to 143.
|Lecture 4: Sovereignty in Democracy|
» Yves Simon, Philosophy of Democratic Government, pages 144 to 194.
|Lecture 5: Democratic Equality|
» Yves Simon, Philosophy of Democratic Government, pages 195 to 259.
|Lecture 6: Democracy and Technology|
» Yves Simon, Philosophy of Democratic Government, pages 260 to 321.
|Lecture 7: The Failure of Liberalism|
» Patrick Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed, pages 1 to 42; pages to 179 to 198.
|Lecture 8: Freedom, Nature, Community, and Democracy|
» Yves Simon Reader, pages 134 to 148; pages 267 to 284; pages 289 to 298; pages 399 to 414; pages 433 to 446.
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).
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[2023 Summer] Thomistic Defense of Democracy – Public Participant
A payment level recommended for those who are currently students, who are between jobs, or who have part-time employment.
[2023 Summer] Thomistic Defense of Democracy – Public 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). Helps allow us to subsidize lower-cost registrations.
[2023 Summer] Thomistic Defense of Democracy – Public Benefactor
Recommended for those with fulltime employment in well-paying professions and sufficient resources to provide a little more. Greatly aids us in allowing to subsidize lower-cost registrations.
|Standard price||Basic Lyceum|
|Advanced Lyceum Enrollment||Premium Lyceum Enrollment|
|Benefactor||$200 per seminar||$90||3 seminars included|
|8 seminars included|
|Patron||$135 per seminar||$65||3 seminars included|
|8 seminars included|
|Participant||$80 per seminar||$40||3 seminars included|
|8 seminars included|