Quid est veritas? A question, doubtless, familiar to many: “What is truth?” Today, whether put into those exact words or others like them, we witness a similar disdain for beliefs that there exists a truth and that we may know it. Seldom, however does this scorn rise from genuine intellectual conviction in the posit of radical relativism or of an intellectual nihilism—such conviction warring against what it proposes to uphold. Rather, for many, the rejection of truth is born from despair mingled with vice: sloth, pride, and lust. Truth gives rise to norms, and accepting norms requires that we evaluate the quality of our actions.
Yet… all human beings, as Aristotle rightly tells us at the outset of his Metaphysics, desire to know. The despair over truth’s attainment, and the lostness to vice, are not insurmountable obstacles. While recovery from vice takes many acts of will—opting for the arduous good rather than the facile but shallow pleasure—we need truth to discern what goods are genuine, and which are false. Here, as in so many other places, we find Thomas Aquinas to be a guiding light.
Thomas Aquinas held his first series of “disputed questions”, De veritate, over the course of the three years of his first regency at the University of Paris, 1256-1259. He was then in his early thirties. The structure of the “disputation” – both live and in its published form – reflects the continual raising of questions and resolution of difficulties between teacher and students engaged together in common, probing inquiry. This particular series of disputations, according to Aquinas’s biographer J.-P. Torrell, shows us “the genius of the young master… a genius in motion, perpetually in the act of discovery”.
Though we know this work as De veritate (On Truth), in fact Thomas and his students were occupied with two great themes: the true and the good. These two have a transcendental character: that is, each is a name for being itself, albeit under the aspect of a relation to mind (the true) or to appetite (the good). These two great themes yielded a total of 253 discussions (“articles”) ranged under a total of 29 areas of inquiry (“questions”). Access to the seminar, taught by Kirk Kanzelberger, PhD, begins on 1 April 2023.
|Study Topics &|
|Week 1: Being and the True I|
Lecture: “Truth as communication of being and mind”
» De Veritate (DV) 1, aa. 1-3, 5.
|Week 2: Being and the True II|
Lecture: “Truth and mutability, truth and falsity”
» DV 1, aa. 6, 8-12.
|Week 3: Divine Knowledge I|
Lecture: “Divine knowledge as divine perfection”
» DV 2, aa. 1-5, 8, 12.
|Week 4: The Idea of a University – Newman’s Vision of Liberal Education|
Lecture: “Divine knowledge as cause of the creature”
» DV 2, aa. 13-15.
» DV 3, aa. 1-3.
|Week 5: Human Cognition I|
Lecture: “The understanding animal”
» DV 10, aa. 1-6.
|Week 6: Human Cognition II|
Lecture: “The understanding animal understanding itself”
» DV 10, aa. 8-9.
» DV 11, aa. 1-2.
|Week 7: Faith|
Lecture: “Knowledge beyond nature”
» DV 10, aa. 11-13.
» DV 14, aa. 1-3.
|Week 8: Practical Knowledge|
Lecture: “Synderesis and conscience”
» DV 16, aa. 1-3.
» DV 17, aa. 1-3.
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).
[2023 Spring] Aquinas: De Veritate I – Public Participant
Recommended for those who are currently students or with part-time employment.
[2023 Spring] Aquinas: De Veritate I – 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).
[2023 Spring] Aquinas: De Veritate I – Public Benefactor
Recommended for those with fulltime employment in well-paying professions and sufficient resources to provide a little more.