[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

The Problem of Christian Philosophy

In the second of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia in 2022, we present Dr. James Capehart, who brings us discussion of Christian Philosophy as it has been viewed in the Christian Middle Ages as well as transmitted through the debates of the 20th century.

How in fact is Christian philosophy a problem? The wording itself has proven to be the most problematic. Can there be a philosophy that is truly Christian? Does “Christian” specifically differentiate “philosophy”? Does that turn it into a theology? Given the existence of numerous volumes of Christian works of theology, can we say that any of their contents should be called philosophical? Is any of that content unique to Christian thinkers?

The Problem of Christian Philosophy – Preview

Dr. Capehart’s lecture is now available at the Lyceum Institute. The live question and answer session will be held on 14 May 2022 (Saturday) at 6:00pm ET. Colloquia lectures are released the year after publication at the Lyceum, and Q&A sessions are reserved for members. For information on signing up for the Lyceum, see here.

How to be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuhan

The colloquium lecture delivered in November 2020 by Adam Pugen, PhD “How to be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuhan” 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. Pugen in their research, teaching, and publications.

How to be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuhan

Dr. Adam Pugen

Preview – Dr. Adam Pugen: How to be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuahn

In the fifth of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia, we present our own Adam Pugen, PhD, who brings us a discussion of Marshall McLuhan–who, despite his popularity as a “media guru”, was more fundamentally and consciously a Thomist–a discussion ranging through the influences of Chesterton, New Criticism, Jacques Maritain, analogy and metaphor, the Trivium (especially the deepening and expansion of grammar), and all this aimed at the meaning of what it is to truly be a Thomist in our own times. Not merely incidental but integral to true contemporary Thomism is the wrestling with our techno-media environments–and conversely, to understand in depth McLuhan’s own “medium is the message”, we must understand the Thomistic roots of his thinking.

Full Lecture

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

Fall Seminars

The Lyceum Institute Fall Seminars will begin the first week of October. Brief descriptions and links with more details and enrollment options are below below.

More than Aesthetics: Ens Artificiale & the Philosophy of Art [REGISTER]

Matthew Minerd

What is the being of a work of art?  What is the nature of “poetic” knowledge, the experience of the artisan and the artist?  How should a Thomist speak about these matters?  This lecture series is devoted to these questions, taking as their principal guide, Jacques Maritain, who probed these questions in his works Art and Scholasticism, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, and Art and Poetry.  Other thinkers will be consulted along the way, presenting a synthesis which, however, uses Maritain’s texts as the primary guiding thread of the lecture discussion. [REGISTER]

Thomistic Psychology: The Meaning of Evil [REGISTER]

Kirk Kanzelberger

Every human being has some notion of evil, vague though it may be, as that which is opposed to a good:  the good that one desires, the good that one honors – or, perhaps, the good that one wishes one honored or desired more than one does.  Even those who lack an inclination to deeper questioning concerning the matter and the meaning of evil can nevertheless find themselves possessed with anger at states of affairs, ideas, and other persons they clearly judge to be evil.  Might there be some relation of dependence between the lack of deeper questioning and the frenzy of the anger, as well as the lack of humility it evinces?  For if we are honest, we must admit that, despite every good intention, we ourselves have some share in, and make some concrete contribution to, the mysterious reality of evil in the world.  This seminar aims to deepen our questioning concerning the meaning, that is, the intelligible reality signified by the term evil. [REGISTER HERE]

Metaphysics: God [REGISTER]

Brian Kemple

In the second Metaphysics seminar, we will engage in a deep Thomistic discussion of the intelligible discovery of the existence of God and the justifiable inferences which may be made concerning the Divine Nature.  This stands in corresponding opposition to the via resolutionis secundum rationem discussed in the first Metaphysics seminar, concerning the discovery of ens inquantum ens, as the via resolutionis secundum rem—according to the thing, according to the existential cause.  This will unfold further into a consideration of the attributes of the Divine which may be justly inferred from the resolution to a First Cause.  Thus, the primary reading for the course will be from the Prima pars of the Summa theologiae. [REGISTER HERE]

Lyceum Schedule [9/5-9/11]

Quaestiones Disputatae – Inquirere & Defensio

There are two available September sessions for Inquirere & Defensio in the Quaestiones Disputatae program. Members are encouraged to participate as Observers, Inquirers, or Defenders.

Fall Seminars

Fall 2021 Seminars are now available to sign up (follow the link for Syllabi).  Hard to believe we’re already approaching the last quarter of the year! Announcing our Fall Seminars, discussion sessions starting from October 2 and running until November 20. Members of the Lyceum Institute are free to participate for the first week (the enrollment period for members will be from September 25–9 October). Non-members can enroll from now until October 6.

[2021 Fall] Thomistic Psychology: The Meaning of Evil – Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger

Every human being has some notion of evil as that which is opposed to a good: the good that one desires, the good that one honors – or, perhaps, the good that one wishes one honored or desired more than one does. Even persons who might consider themselves at quite home with the official or trendy relativisms of the day frequently find themselves possessed with anger at states of affairs, ideas, and other persons they clearly judge to be evil. Might not the frenzy of the anger, as well as the lack of humility it evinces, suggest a deeper questioning? For if we are honest, we must admit that, despite every good intention, we ourselves have some share in the mysterious reality of evil in the world.

[2021 Fall] Metaphysics: The Existence, Nature, and Intelligibility of God – Dr. Brian Kemple

“In my opinion,” Umberto Eco once said, “it’s religion that produces God, not the other way around.” Once the sentiment of the purportedly rebellious thinker, today such is a commonplace. But for all Eco’s learning, for as much as he may have read St. Thomas Aquinas (and even admired his mind), it seems that the novelist did not understand the doctor: for having seized the truths of the divine so articulately explicated by Aquinas, one could not help but wish to create a religion around the being thereby revealed, were the Divine not to have already revealed Itself and given us the right means for worship.

[2021 Fall] More than Aesthetics: Ens Artificiale and the Philosophy of Art – Dr. Matthew Minerd

Human experience is filled with beings which are often considered a sort of “non-being” or, perhaps, “diminished” being by many scholastics: artifacts. Sometimes, we are told by this tradition that a door threshold is really just an accidental conjunction of a given shape with the substance of dead wood. However, a cursory glance around the world reveals the a host of realities which are structurally dependent upon human ingenuity and the long history of human exploration and creativity.

Exploring its topic from a broadly Aristotelian-Thomistic perspective, this course will use the work of Jacques Maritain to probe the broader set of philosophical issues involved in the “philosophy of art”…

Weekly Schedule of Events

9/6 Monday

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

9/7 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 (5:45-7:15pm 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!

9/8 Wednesday

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

9/9 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 Class (6:00-7:00pm ET).  Discimus de pastoribus, ovibus, canibus, lupis, nubibus, et multis aliis!  Legimus et convertimus ex capitulo IX!

9/10 Friday

  • Open Chat (9:30-10:30am 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).

9/11 Saturday

  • Intermediate Latin Class(10-11am ET).  In hac septimana, de praedonibus et classibus Romanis discemus!  Reddimus ad fabulam Lydiae et Medii.  Legemus et convertemus ex capitulo XXXII.

[2021 Fall] More than Aesthetics: Ens Artificiale and the Philosophy of Art

Exploring its topic from a broadly Aristotelian-Thomistic perspective, this course will use the work of Jacques Maritain to probe the broader set of philosophical issues involved in the “philosophy of art”: ens artificiale, the nature of practical reason, the metaphysics of art-craft, and topics pertaining to philosophical aesthetics, considered primarily from the perspective of this metaphysical consideration of the domain of ens artificiale.  Throughout our course, we will discover how questions of philosophical anthropology are in fact pivotally important for fashioning a metaphysics that is broad enough to account for the phenomenon of “being of art.”

Minerd

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we will study the nature of the artificial, its relation to the natural, morality, beauty, and more. The instructor for this seminar is Matthew Minerd, PhD, Faculty Fellow 2020. You can read more about Dr. Minerd here and download the syllabus here.

WHEN
October 2–20 November
Saturdays, 1:15-2:15pm ET/5:15-7:15pm UTC [6:15-7:15pm UTC after Nov.7]

WHERE
Lyceum Institute digital platform run on Microsoft Teams

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, with discounts for those who are professors and clergy (whose continuing education is not sufficiently prioritized by their institutions) and for students (who are already taxed excessively by the educational system). However, if you are part of the working world and wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the “standard” rate, it is acceptable to sign up at one of these discounted prices. 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).

The Breakdown of Secular Democracy and the Need for a Christian Order

The colloquium lecture delivered in July 2020 by Prof. Francisco Plaza, PhD Candidate (UST, Houston TX), “The Breakdown of Secular Democracy and the Need for a Christian Order” is now available to the public. You can listen or download below. Please consider supporting the Lyceum Institute if you enjoy this lecture! Your donations allow us to support talented academics like Prof. in their research, teaching, and publications.

The Breakdown of Secular Democracy and the Need for a Christian Order

Francisco Plaza, PhD Candidate

The question has been raised as to whether or not secular liberalism can sustain itself, especially as it seems to be breaking down in our present time, both from the perspective of anti-modernists who uphold tradition, but also from modernists themselves who have fallen into totalitarian ideologies, Marxism being the most common among them.

In this lecture, we shall begin by addressing the current state of culture, considering the nature of modernity and its crisis of meaning. For our purposes, we shall focus mostly on its political dimension. After providing a summary account of modernism and its crisis, we shall consider two responses from Catholic political thought that look to creating a truly post-modern order. The first of these is that of integralism, a revivalist type movement that looks to the past before modernity as the way beyond the modern problem. We shall consider the integralist response to modern politics, then consider where it is correct and where it may fall short. Finally, we shall conclude by considering Maritain’s defense of a “Christian Democracy” and “integral humanism” as the true way beyond modernity.

Preview – Prof. Francisco Plaza: The Breakdown of Secular Democracy and the Need for a Christian Order

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

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.