[2022 Summer] An Introduction to the Philosophy of Culture

As the world grew into and through modernity, and technology shrank the distances between centers of civilization, the very nature of culture itself became an explicit philosophical question: most especially when technology produced in the wider reaches of communication something akin to a “global consciousness”: an awareness of people and their cultures all across the world. But all too often, this awareness of culture has not resulted in an understanding of culture—and thus, this has extended into a mistreatment of cultural goods.

A new civilisation is always being made: the state of affairs that we enjoy today illustrates what happens to the aspirations of each age for a better one. The most important question that we can ask, is whether there is any permanent standard, by which we can compare one civilisation with another, and by which we can make some guess at the improvement or decline of our own. We have to admit, in comparing one civilisation with another, and in comparing the different stages of our own, that no one society and no one age of it realises all the values of civilisation. Not all of these values may be compatible with each other: what is at least as certain is that in realising some we lose the appreciation of others. Nevertheless, we can distinguish between higher and lower cultures; we can distinguish between advance and retrogression. We can assert with some confidence that our own period is one of decline; that the standards of culture are lower than they were fifty years ago; and that the evidences of this decline are visible in every department of human activity. I see no reason why the decay of culture should not proceed much further, and why we may not even anticipate a period, of some duration, of which it is possible to say that it will have no culture.

T.S. Eliot 1948: Notes Toward a Definition of Culture.

In this seminar, we shall introduce the philosophy of culture, defining what culture is and where the study of culture fits into philosophy. We will then explore how there exists a speculative dimension to the philosophy of culture (i.e., explaining how culture exists in reality through human subjectivity and how it is determined by human nature), as well as a practical dimension (i.e., cultural values). After establishing the principles of this study, we will then look to its application to Western culture, in particular, the transition between the three major epochs of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modernity. We will then analyze modern culture in particular with an eye toward its trajectory into the next age. Finally, we shall conclude with a practical examination of what the philosophy of culture (as we have studied throughout the course) tells us about the present age and our expectations in this life.

DISCUSSIONS:
June 4—30 July
Saturdays, 2:00-3:00pm ET /
6:00-7:00pm UTC

WHERE:
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 engage a broad range of literature discussing the nature, praxis, and historical epochs of culture in the Western world as well as cast an eye toward its future. The instructor for this seminar is Francisco Plaza, PhD, Faculty Fellow of the Lyceum Institute. You can read more about Dr. Plaza here.

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).

[2022Su-A] Philosophy of Culture – Participant

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

$80.00

[2022Su-A] Philosophy of Culture – 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).

$135.00

[2022Su-A] Philosophy of Culture – Benefactor

Recommended for those with fulltime employment in well-paying professions and sufficient resources to provide a little more.

$200.00

[2022 Summer] Seven Interfaces of Philosophy

Traditional philosophical disciplines crystallized over time into a list that goes something like this: logic, cosmology, phil. anthropology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy and aesthetics—and, in the modern age, the hybrid and rather imperialistic enquiry known as epistemology.  Still, additional attention was demanded by issues lying both between or beyond these well-defined areas.  Thus was generated a long list of “philosophies of…” (for instance: science, religion, history, art, mind, language, education, culture, law, social science, technology, etc.).  Until quite recently, philosophy claimed a purview that had, at the very least, something to say about literally everything.  However, as the 19th century gave way to the 20th and then the 21st, some suspected Lady Philosophy may have stretched herself so thin as to no longer be about anything at all.

Many analytic philosophers maintained that there was no terrain left for philosophy as such, and that she had better learn to just arbitrate among the real sciences as technical specialists in conceptual and argumentative clarification.  Others still tried to show how one domain of old philosophy (logic, ethics, or philosophy of language, for instance) could gain purchase on the whole of the enterprise, turning over all else to the new specialists.

But philosophers have always had something meaningful to say about “the world,” although they have also needed to mark off their cognitive claims as not, on the one hand, replacing (or overlooking) what poetry and the arts, and even mythology, might have to say, as well as, on the other, what today’s physicists, astronomers, chemists and geologists teach from their university chairs.  And today they have a brand new task.  They must show themselves adroit at identifying what happened when the world turned modern, and be able to point out the causes and consequences of this unprecedented shift.  

As we survey the horizons of these human activities and questions which the philosopher inevitably faces, but cannot by rights command, we can roughly enumerate seven such domains: 1) the so-called humanities (especially history, human geography, language and literature), 2) the world of “production” (not only the fine arts, but also the servile and liberal arts), 3) the physical sciences, 4) the life sciences, 5) the new and still disputed social sciences, 6) the world of religion and theology, and 7) the very “problem of modernity.”

A person who has nothing “synoptic” and coherent to say about such matters—but without necessarily claiming expertise in any of them—is still only half a philosopher.  The wise, Aquinas reminds us, are the ones who judge all things.  They do this, however, not necessarily as specialists, but as those whose cognitive patience and contemplative leisure favor a posture of open enquiry, allowing the mind to slowly spot principles, which, in turn give birth to insights.  Within the light of this gradually embracing intellectual gaze, all the multiple and oft recalcitrant things in the world—both around us and within us—finally begin to share in an epiphany that slowly discloses how they all “hang together.”

The present seminar will begin with a metaphilosophical discussion of how philosophy has defined itself historically, and then how it can and should define itself today.  This will be followed by discussion of its obligatory interface with each of the seven problematics mentioned above. Peirce’s, and especially Deely’s, understanding of philosophy as “cenoscopic science” will serve as a useful key in bringing clarity to these relations, as will their new understanding of semiosis.  After all, one way we can sum up the synoptic scope of philosophical insight would be simply to acknowledge: everything is significant.

DISCUSSIONS:
June 4—30 July
Saturdays, 10:00-11:00am ET /
2:00-3:00pm UTC

WHERE:
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 learn what philosophy is in relation to the other human pursuits of knowledge as a cenoscopic science. The instructor for this seminar is Fr. Scott Randall Paine, PhD, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Brasilia and Faculty Fellow of the Lyceum Institute. You can read more about Prof. Dr. Paine here.

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).

[2022Su-A] Seven Interfaces of Philosophy – Participant

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

$80.00

[2022Su-A] Seven Interfaces of Philosophy – 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).

$135.00

[2022Su-A] Seven Interfaces of Philosophy – Benefactor

Recommended for those with fulltime employment in well-paying professions and sufficient resources to provide a little more.

$200.00

IO2S Deely – Reading and Teaching Literature Digitally

On 5 March 2022, Alexandra Milyakina, PhD, will present on “Reading and Teaching Literature Digitally: A Cultural Semiotic Perspective” at 10am ET/3pm UTC (check event times around the world here). Dr. Milyakina is a researcher at the Department of Semiotics in the University of Tartu, Estonia. The topic of PhD thesis is Digitalization of literary education in the context of cultural autocommunication. Main research interests are literary education, semiotics of culture, transmedia and digitalization. Alexandra is a co-founder of the Transmedia research group and digital research project “Education on Screen.”

Participate in the conversation via Zoom.

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.

Mending the Cartesian Rift: Walker Percy on Being Human

The colloquium lecture delivered in December 2020 by Kirk Kanzelberger, PhD “Mending the Cartesian Rift: Walker Percy on Being Human” 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! The Lyceum Institute is currently fundraising for 2022 to support the pursuit of philosophy and dedicated thinkers like Dr. Kanzelberger in their research, teaching, and publications.

Mending the Cartesian Rift: Walker Percy on Being Human

Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger

Preview – Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger: Mending the Cartesian Rift: Walker Percy on Being Human

“Our view of the world, which we get consciously or unconsciously from modern science, is radically incoherent,” argues Walker Percy in “The Fateful Rift: The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind.” The dualism of Descartes — the rift between man as psyche and man as organism — continues to pervade our inherited view of the world and scientific practice. And yet it was a century ago and more that Charles Sanders Peirce indicated the road to a more coherent anthropology based upon the crucial datum of the triadic sign-relation that unites “mental” and “physical” in one single natural event.

This lecture explores Percy’s argument and its background in the thought of Descartes and Peirce, and provides an assessment of this final public articulation by Percy concerning the issues that preoccupied him as a writer: the contemporary predicament of the human being, lost in the cosmos that it understands more and more, while understanding itself less and less.

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

Lectio Commedia: Dante, Poet of Hope

Beginning October 6th, every other Wednesday Dr. Mark McCullough (PhD in Humanities from the City University of New York) will facilitate a 45-minute discussion on one canto of Dante Alighieri’s masterwork The Divine Comedy at 12pm ET: the Lectio Commedia: Dante, Poet of Hope. This will be preceded by a reading of the canto with a brief commentary and explication on a given theme the Friday prior.

Join us as we explore the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, walking in the footsteps of Dante and his guides, and putting a concrete presentation of evocative imagery to insightful Thomistic moral doctrine.

“One test of the great masters” wrote T.S. Eliot, “is that the appreciation of their poetry is a lifetime’s task, because at every stage of maturing—and that should be one’s whole life–you are able to understand them better.”

Of these masters, Eliot chose Dante as the one he owed more to than any other poet. He said the debt he owed Dante “is the kind which goes on accumulating, the kind which is not the debt of one period” but of his whole life.

Indeed, Dante is a poet for all seasons. His Divine Comedy is the summit of his poetic powers. No one can claim to be well-versed in the great literature of the Western Canon without having encountered Dante’s vision of hell, purgatory, and heaven.

Translator Dorothy Sayer’s admitted that few modern readers are able to appreciate Dante’s vision without understanding something of the poet’s theological, political, and personal background. Yet who among us has the time to tackle all of this?

To address this difficulty, I have designed a twice-a-month course on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Starting October 6 at 12 noon, and every other week thereafter, for one hour, we will discuss a canto or two together. I have taught Dante for many years and am currently writing a book on Dante and psychology. In this course, I welcome anyone who desires to understand Dante better.

I will be reading from a number of translations, including Mark Musa, Robert and Jean Hollander, and Allen Mandelbaum. Look for audio uploads of my reading and discussing Dante’s poetry.

Dr. McCullough

This program is open to all members of the Lyceum Institute. Enroll here today.

This Week [5/16-5/22]

5/17 Monday

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

5/18 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!  Nunc triginta minutae prius.
  • 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 welcome to the conversation!

5/19 Wednesday

  • Paradise Lost – Book IX: The Fall of Adam and Eve (10:00-11:00am ET).  Part 2 of 2.  Join psychotherapist and former literature professor Dr. Mark McCullough for a two-part introduction to and discussion of one of the poem’s most significant passages, book 9 which dramatizes Paradise Lost’s central scene: the fall of Adam and Eve.  You can read more about this two-week symposium here.
  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

5/20 Thursday

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

5/21 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).

5/22 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Ex capitulo 17, discemus de numeros difficilis, et “responsum incertum nullum responsum est”!

This Week [5/9-5/15]

5/10 Monday

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

5/11 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (10:00-10:30am 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!

5/12 Wednesday

  • Paradise Lost – Book IX: The Fall of Adam and Eve (10:00-11:00am ET).  Part 1 of 2.  Join psychotherapist and former literature professor Dr. Mark McCullough for a two-part introduction to and discussion of one of the poem’s most significant passages, book 9 which dramatizes Paradise Lost’s central scene: the fall of Adam and Eve.  You can read more about this two-week symposium here.
  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.
  • Summer Seminar News will be posted on 5/12!  Stay tuned!

5/13 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (10:00-10:30am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • A new Quaestiones Disputatae Research Tutorial video will be posted.

5/14 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).

5/15 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Legemus ex capitulo 15 in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata et convertemus in linguam Anglicam.  Verba deponentia etiam tempestatem discemus.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions.  Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principles wraps up with its final week, discerning the principles which Jacques Maritain brings to bear upon the fundamental questions of the essentially analogical political order and the general means to its right realization.

This Week [5/2-5/8]

Be sure to look into the two-week Paradise Lost Symposium coming up soon!

5/3 Monday

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

5/4 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (10:00-10:30am 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: all guests can use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “Happy Hour” in the message box).  We’ll be talking about literature and habit this week.

5/5 Wednesday

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

5/6 Thursday

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

5/7 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).

5/8 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  In capitulo XV venimus, ut magistros et discipulos dicamus.  In librum, discipuli improbus sunt; sed nos semper praecepta diligenter attendimus…
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions.  The Semiotics: Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot seminar closes out with a consideration of signs as divided among the natural, stipulated (ad placitum) and customary (ex consuetudine).  Hard to believe it’s already coming to a close–but I think we have covered some very important ground.  Meanwhile, Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principles continues deeper into Maritain’s re-thinking of politics by taking up his notion of the historical ideal and the realities of pluralism.

[Symposium] Paradise Lost – Book IX

Paradise Lost

Book IX: The Fall of Adam and Eve

John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) is the most ambitious and complex poem ever written in English. Composed while Milton was blind and in political exile, the poem tells the story of angels’ rebellion in Heaven, the creation of the universe, and humanity’s fall into sin. Equal to its Homeric and Virgilian predecessors, the epic was an instant classic and inspired generations of poets. Today the poem continues to draw readers to its unrivaled depiction of Satan and attempt to “justify the ways of God to men.”

Join psychotherapist and former literature professor Dr. Mark McCullough for a two-part introduction to and discussion of one of the poem’s most significant passages, book 9 which dramatizes Paradise Lost’s central scene: the fall of Adam and Eve. No prior experience is necessary to join the discussions, though participants are asked to read book 9 and familiarize themselves with a few additional online interview/lectures about the poem prepared by Dr. McCullough.

This two week event (5/12-5/19) is available to all Lyceum Institute members.

(If you aren’t a member yet, first, you may want to re-evaluate your life decisions, and second, you can sign up here.)