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Last Chance to Register for Fall Seminars

With discussion sessions beginning this coming Saturday (9/23), I would be remiss if I did not put out a final call for registration in our Fall seminars. We have three provocative offerings, each of which promises to confront the errors of modernity in radically differing ways.

Registration for all seminars closes on 21 September 2023 at 11pm ET!

Fall 2023: Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

Rosenstock-Huessy’s is a powerful and original mind. What is most important in his work is the understanding of the relevance of traditional values to a civilization still undergoing revolutionary transformations; and this contribution will gain rather than lose significance in the future.

Lewis Mumford

“Rosenstock-Huessy, Who Is He?”

Join us for an invigorating seminar that delves into the profound thought of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a Jewish convert to Christianity, World War I veteran, and multifaceted thinker of the 20th century. A maverick philosopher and teacher, Rosenstock-Huessy emigrated from Nazi Germany to Harvard—where he was marginalized both for an interdisciplinary approach (before it was fashionable) and for unapologetically using the word “God” frequently in class. Thankfully he found a congenial home at Dartmouth College where his thought was given free reign until his death in 1973. Despite often being overlooked by conventional academia, his vast collection of works continues to resonate with contemporary scholars and has been praised as seminal by many critics.

The seminar promises to unlock the sui generis insights and methodologies that set Rosenstock-Huessy apart. His philosophical contributions defy easy categorization but open doors to understanding aspects of reality previously unnoticed. His ideas, stemming from unexpected cultural corners, offer a refreshing perspective on time, speech, and history—topics notoriously challenging to pin down.

Seminar Goals

Participants will explore Rosenstock’s enduring insights, focusing on his unique “grammatical method” of understanding. This approach safeguards against the modern tendency to reduce human reality to mere “scientific” statements. The discussion will also probe his perspective on the precedence of the second person over the first in our encounter with reality, his critique of prioritizing space over time, and his innovative “Cross of Reality” to reorient human consciousness.

Furthermore, the seminar will address Rosenstock-Huessy’s theories on the origin of language, emphasizing the primacy of hearing over seeing. It will also explore his alignment with other “speech thinkers” of the last century and his intricate understanding of history as a central theme converging all his insights.

This seminar invites scholars, students, and curious minds to engage with the challenging and inspiring works of this often-underappreciated thinker. It offers a stimulating journey into philosophical realms that continue to enrich and provoke our modern understanding of the cosmos and our place within it. Join us for this enlightening exploration that promises to be both intellectual revelation and tribute to one of the past century’s most intriguing and neglected minds.

Pricing Comparison

Standard priceBasic Lyceum
Enrollment
Advanced Lyceum EnrollmentPremium Lyceum Enrollment
Benefactor$200 per seminar$903 seminars included
$90 after
8 seminars included
$90 after
Patron$135 per seminar$653 seminars included
$65 after
8 seminars included
$65 after
Participant$80 per seminar$403 seminars included
$40 after
8 seminars included
$40 after

Fall 2023: Heidegger’s Phenomenological Method – Part I

Phenomenology, a term rich with various meanings through history, is now commonly recognized as a collection of intellectual pathways pioneered by Edmund Husserl in his seminal work, Logische Untersuchungen or Logical Investigations (1900, revised in 1913 to coincide with the more-developed Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy). These philosophical explorations, all grounded in the foundational study of human understanding, are as diverse as they are profound. One remarkable and often misunderstood approach within this tradition is that of Martin Heidegger: a distinguished student of Husserl, but one whose interpretations diverge sharply from those of his mentor.

Join us for this eight-week seminar (the first of two) that delves into the complexities of Heidegger’s phenomenological method. Beginning with a contrast to the background that shaped his thinking, followed by an examination of Heidegger’s own conceptualization of his method, and culminating in a rigorous exploration of his groundbreaking work, Being and Time (Sein und Zeit), this course offers a comprehensive study of Heideggerian phenomenology. A focused consideration of his thought-provoking essay, “On the Essence of Truth” (Vom Wesen der Wahrheit), will reveal both the merits and shortcomings of Heidegger’s approach.

Discover Phenomenology

  • Phenomenological Method: Discover the unique manner in which Heidegger conducts his own phenomenology—or “fundamental ontology”—by reading his most important works.
  • The Question of Being: Learn how Heidegger reinvigorated the question of being and opened new avenues for philosophical understanding across traditions.
  • World and Meaning: Investigate the structures of the World (Welt) and Meaning (Sinn and Bedeutung) through Heidegger’s philosophy.

Method & Structure

The seminar, designed for those familiar with the Western philosophical tradition, consists of:

  • Weekly Recorded Lectures: 40-60+ minute lectures expositing the work of Heidegger and attempting to make it more clearly intelligible.
  • Discussion Sessions: Participants and the instructor gather to discuss weekly readings and lecture every Saturday at 3:00-4:00 pm ET.
  • Reading: The primary text is Heidegger’s Being and Time with additional readings provided in PDF.
  • Time Commitment: Expect 8-10 hours per week for reading, lectures, and discussion.
  • Auditing or Completing: Participants who write an essay may “Complete” the seminar (and be considered for publication in Reality).

Meaningful Postmodernity

What distinguishes this seminar is its focus on demystifying the often-obscure thoughts of one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. Under the instructor’s guidance, participants will navigate the intricate terrains of phenomenology and the question of being, gaining insights that resonate deeply with human existence and intellectual curiosity.

Embark on this philosophical adventure with the Lyceum Institute, and unravel the mysteries of Being through the eyes of Heidegger. Whether you are a seasoned scholar of phenomenology or simply eager to explore these profound questions, this seminar offers a rare opportunity to engage with the complex landscape of modern philosophy. Register today and join a community dedicated to rigorous intellectual pursuit and enlightening discussion.

Pricing Comparison

Standard priceBasic Lyceum
Enrollment
Advanced Lyceum EnrollmentPremium Lyceum Enrollment
Benefactor$200 per seminar$903 seminars included
$90 after
8 seminars included
$90 after
Patron$135 per seminar$653 seminars included
$65 after
8 seminars included
$65 after
Participant$80 per seminar$403 seminars included
$40 after
8 seminars included
$40 after

Psychological Order and the Noble Soul

On 7 June 2023, the Lyceum Institute held a Philosophical Happy Hour discussing the nature of “mental health” and why it has become so problematic in the 21st century.  While the conversation ranged across many topics—isolation, technology, dualism, abuse of medicines, the pathologizing of every difficulty—two themes caught my attention.  These Happy Hour discussions are open to the public.

Note that this presentation proceeds in a manner open-ended and dialectic, even as it takes a definitive position.

1. Introduction: Seeking Definitions

Download PDF

If there were but one complaint that I could lodge against the scientific discipline of psychology (and the practical extension of it in psychiatry and therapy), it is this: you have no good causal definition of “mental health”.  Mind you, there are many other just complaints, but this, I think, is principal among them all, for the failure to provision (or accept) a good definition of mental health leaves one incapable of pursuing it.

To be clear, it is not as though the psychological professions have no definitions of mental health; only that those they have—or, to be fair, the most prominently-displayed among them, as I will not pretend to have exhaustive knowledge of the field—are not good definitions.  To look at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,[1] the statement closest to a definition I could find is this: “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel, and act.  It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.”  Comparably, the World Health Organization gives as a definition: “a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.” 

Operative in both definitions is the word “well-being”.  This, of course, says more vaguely what is said by “health”—such vagueness being quite problematic, given the role assigned to the word, “well-being”, in each definition.  The CDC further differentiates this “well-being” by “emotional, psychological, and social”; the WHO by the various things it enables people to do.  Neither differentiation is helpful.  The CDC’s specification seems oddly redundant (are not emotions something that belongs to the psyche?).  The WHO’s checklist may include key indicators, but this hardly constitutes a positive definition of what mental health is.  Indeed, neither definition gives us anything like a formal or final cause.  One could say, instead, that both are merely nominal definitions.  Such may be safer in an age lacking common first principles (a kind of “metaphysical pluralism”), but nominalism quickly gives way to motivations other than the discovery of truth or the promotion of the common good.

This radical deficiency is, of course, disastrous.  Despite a proliferation of “mental health professionals” in recent decades, the strength of our sanity seems only to wane, day by day.  I would not hesitate to identify the imprecision and vagueness of our definitions and our conception of what constitutes “mental health” to be a key cause (by absence) of this weakening sanity.  But, even further, I question whether the very concept of “mental health” itself is not a fundamentally misbegotten notion.  In back of this questioning I have also a yet-deeper concern over beliefs prevalent in medicine—and the broader conception of “health”, treated mechanistically so often as it is—but here, we will focus specifically on the application of “health” to the “mental”.

For, indeed: what do we mean by “mental”?  What is “the mind”?  To many, including those within psychology and its related fields, this question has not been answered.  Worse, for many of that many, the question either cannot or does not need to be answered.  The rationale for such positions (functionally the same), is that one can treat mental illness solely on the basis of the external indicators, such as social well-being or the ability to cope with stress and work; thus, we can adjudicate the mental healthiness of an individual not by anything formal or intrinsic to that individual, but by their perceptible relations to others and the social norms of the day.

In contrast to these deleterious positions, I would like here to suggest that the truth represented only obliquely by the phrase “mental health” can better be grasped through the concepts of order and nobility.

2. The Concept of “Mental Health”

Before proceeding into these positive conceptions, however, allow me a few paragraphs to expound on the shortcomings of the phrase “mental health”.  There are two principal and interrelated problems that I see.  The first is contingent upon the present conventional understanding of health, such that the idea of “health” broadly considered suffers a mechanistic interpretation.  The second both promotes and is exacerbated by this mechanicism: namely, that the separation of “mental health” from “health” generally at the very least implies a kind of dualism, and quite often compounds that dualism into a position of radical incoherence.

This first problem consists in the predominance of a background mechanistic conception about the whole world.  At the heart of this conception, as applied to health generally, is the belief that “health” follows from the correct kinds of efficient cause operating on properly-disposed matter, and that these two alone give a sufficient causal explanation for what is meant by “health”.  The limited but precise and impressive success in treating many conditions of the body following this conception has led to the concept’s entirely unsuitable extension to the so-called “mental”.  In other words: the mechanistic conception, though inaccurate in identifying the health of the body as such, has resulted in many efficacious treatments.  However, it is entirely unsuitable to the treatment of problems of a psychological nature.  It may and sometimes does genuinely treat of the symptoms of such a problem, and, in treating of those symptoms may even allow for a correction of the root problem—but incidentally, as it were, thereby confusing those who believe it sufficient and accurate in treating of all psychological difficulties.

Bridging this and the second problem of dualism runs the notion that “health” is an instrumental good of “the self”.  In some ways, of course, this is true, as it pertains to the body.  If “physical health” may be broadly (and provisionally) defined as “the right disposition of the organic body for the sake of the animal’s characteristic activities”, then “health” does, in a certain way, serve as an instrument—or rather, describes the condition of the instruments, namely, the organs through which we operate.[2]  But, even granting more extreme instrumentalist vies of the body, does the mechanistic conception of “health” result in an extension of this instrumentality to the “mental”?  In other words: if the health of the body is “for the good of the ‘self’”, then what is “mental health” for?

Thus, to identify the second problem, that of dualism: the notion of the body as merely an instrument suggests that the person and his or her body are not a unity, but, rather, that the body is a possession of the person.[3]  But, although the word “dualism” suggests a simple duality—the physical and the mental—we can see with a little reflection how much more complex the problem is in fact.  Ordinarily, that is, one suspects most dualisms of simply treating the body as an instrument and the mental as the personal self to whom that instrument belongs.  But with the mechanistic appropriation of “mental health”, the mental too becomes an instrument.  For thus “mental health” becomes something that one has—and we describe mental health problems as hurdles that the person has to overcome, and so on.  Holding that the body is a possession, an instrument, we strive after physical health as a right functioning of that instrument.  So, too—implicitly, unconsciously—the mind comes to be held likewise as a possession and an instrument in need of being well-tuned in order to perform as we wish it would.

Often, and paradoxically, this particular twist in dualistic thinking goes hand-in-hand with materialism: believing, for instance, that all our psychological experience is constituted neurologically—such that our “mental health” difficulties arise principally if not exclusively from physically-explicable (and resoluble) disorders in the brain—one becomes a de facto dualist.  For we experience a will and a desire to be something other than what is neurologically constituted (and all the flaws located therein).  Even if one maintains materialism as true, accepting this opposition must mean that some part of the brain—the part with which we identify—constitutes something distinct in its identity from the flawed parts.  Thus, the self becomes divided, again and again, part against part, with no resolution to any sense of a whole.

Finally, even if one were to post this standing of part against part, of the “true self” as only a part of one’s material whole as merely illusory—as though any identity of the self apart from the material consists in naught but epiphenomena—then one would be forced to accept that our manner of experience is entirely other than what the things purportedly-experienced themselves are in fact.  Such is a one-way street to solipsism.

3. Psychological Order

By contrast, we here propose that the psychological, or at the very least what we conventionally if vaguely designate by that term, is both distinct from the corporeal but also inseparable from the physical.[4]  This too might, prima facie, appear paradoxical.  But it must be known that not all distinctions are of two wholly different beings.  Certainly, my hand is a part of me; but I am not my hand.  Likewise, the psyche is the intrinsic principle of my body, but it is not my body itself.[5]  Moreover, the activities of the psyche are not limited to those which are strictly constrained to the corporeal, but are able to exceed that corporeality.  I’ll not dive into this here (such being a more difficult and engaged topic—covered, not incidentally, in the Thomistic Psychology: A Retrieval seminar) but simply posit these points as true in order to arrive at the main point of this essay: namely that, in brief, these psychological activities are relational, and consist in a being-towards objects understood under lights irreducible to the corporeal.

Let us therefore distinguish between the psyche as the principle of our whole being and the “psychological” as a descriptor used in designating those activities of the psyche which are not corporeally-constrained but rather relational in their constitution.  Anything constituted in its own proper being as intentional (by which is meant not “purposive” but “being-towards”), in other words, deserves the name of “psychological”: thus, activities of cognition and emotion or appetite.  These intentional activities, as it has been noted by a few particularly keen-minded individuals, are irreducibly triadic.  That’s a rather complex phrase to unpack.  Suffice it here only to say: they are realities that cannot consist merely in the efficient causation of one agent or instrument on another matter or recipient, but which exist together as a certain whole always constituted by no fewer than three distinct parts.[6]  Remove any part, and you destroy the whole—destroying the whole, you change the other parts, too.

There are things that happen to us, that happen to and within our bodies, that may affect our psyches but which are merely dyadic—like one billiard ball hitting another (although much more multifaceted and complex in the case of the human organism)—and there are things that happen to us and things that we do, things that are psychological, which are always triadic: things like knowing, and loving, desiring and hating, wondering, and anything that involves the presence in or to your mind in a way quite different than anything which comes to be present in your body.  Our lives are constituted from more than merely those experiences of which we are conscious—but it is through consciousness that we know ourselves and effect control and order in our lives.  Thus, it is easy to see how one can reduce the self to these psychological activities and their consequents.  But such would be a mistake, for a little reflection upon those psychological actions shows how dependent they are upon those dyadically-constituted and pre-conscious realities.

The myriad psychological activities in which we engage can be distinguished by the various kinds of objects towards which they are intentionally oriented.  Seeing light differentiated into colors differs from hearing the vibrations of motors and the chirping of birds, while knowing that five times six equals thirty is quite something other than loving your wife.  Distinguishing precisely the kinds of objects towards which we are intentionally oriented—and sorting out the complex ways in which they may intertwine in our experience—would take quite some time (and has already been well-done in the Aristotelian-Scholastic tradition).  Briefly, however, we can generically enumerate what we call the external senses, internal or perceptual senses, the appetitive (or somewhat more broadly, cathectic) faculties, and the intellect and will.

Across all these diverse faculties which we possess for engaging in such triadic action, however, there exist three important commonalities: one, that each has some proper and fitting object for the kind of triadic action in which it is involved; two, that, although there is a proper object, the complex interaction of these faculties means that we can relate to any of these objects in ways which are unfitting for us; and, three, that not only within each faculty but also through their relations to one another, we form habits of relating to our objects.  The malleability of these habits are what allow us to be better or worse in the way that we live, in the way that we exercise our conscious living.  Therein we achieve, approach, deviate from, or destroy our psychological “well-being”: the right order that obtains between our faculties.

Or to put this otherwise, the possession of a right and fitting psychological order—what is sought after but missed by the phrase “mental health”—consists in the correct proportioning of these facultative habits both to their objects and to one another.  We must love the right things, rightly understood, in the right degree, and we must engender this love habitually.  We must not be consumed by cathectic habits of anger or lust.  We must know the truth—and, moreover, be able to perceive it, and especially to perceive the truth about the good in the world that we inhabit.

Unfortunately, today, the standard criteria and practices of “mental health” are ordered instead toward the myopic and self-focused.  It neither perceives nor promotes an awareness, let alone any “treatment”, of what are essentially triadic and intentional disorders, but rather attempts various subjective adjustments.  Being so-inwardly focused, what most of all has been lost is the sense of right-ordering towards what is noble.  Indeed, by contrast, it seems that while admiration for noble acts continues, behaving nobly is seen by most persons as unduly-burdensome.  This belief, I think, is the fundamental cause of much psychological disorder.

4. Habituating a Noble Soul

The word “noble” may conjure images of wealthy men riding in carriages, French or English aristocracy (or perhaps an oligarchy)—mansions and riches and so on.  Students of chemistry make think of gases or metals—of elements often found resistant to change.  Or it may evoke the thought of selfless and praiseworthy deeds, of chivalric action, of high aspirations.  For those familiar with the thought of Plato and Aristotle, it brings to mind virtue, of course, but also the beautiful: for the same word, καλόν (kalon), often is translated into English as both “noble” and “beautiful”.

Discussion of the noble could—and likely should—receive a whole treatise.  In the provisional manner of a short essay such as this, however, we can give it only a heuristic description: nobility, as a characteristic of the human soul, consists in the willingness to endure suffering and to make sacrifices for the greater good.  When the concept of “the good” becomes increasingly self-centered, self-focused, and myopically ordered to individual benefit and “well-being”—when a materialistically-presuppositive individualism becomes the norm—undertaking the actions indicative of a noble soul appears, indeed, unduly-burdensome.  Mind you, this is far from claiming that “mental health” and the many very real struggles had today reduce, simply, to “being selfish”.  The causes of psychological disorder are many.

But all of these causes are exacerbated when the individuals constituting the society fold in upon themselves, and direct their action primarily not at the common but solely the individual good.  This often-unconscious selfishness—taken not as a moral flaw but as a given of human nature—undermines the whole society; it frays the threads, the relations, that hold us together.  It leaves us lonely, even surrounded by others, for it saddles each and every one of us with the burden of an entire universe.

Contrariwise, what today we need are habits of the noble soul.  That is, we need habits that order us toward a good irreducible to ourselves: goods that are truly common.  When we pursue such goods, there is a converse resultance in ourselves: that is, we become ennobled by seeking noble ends.  This ennobling of our souls helps rectify the psychological order.  We are swayed less by distractions, temptations, more enabled to suffer anxieties and worries, if we know that our endurance of them may help contribute to a true and lasting good—that truly it serves a purpose beyond the satisfactions of the self.

5. Conclusion: Nobility and Rectitude

What conclusion can we reach, in so short a composition?  Nothing too immediately useful.  But for now suffice it only to say: our society is not well.  Focus on “mental well-being” has failed to produce it.  Rather, it has resulted in fragility.  Fear, anxiety, anger, despair—consequences of waning hope in the possibility of attaining a meaningful good, for we have only an atrophied and distant sense of the noble—and thus, fall into psychological disorder of countless and increasingly complexified kinds.  Pulling any thread of the knot in which we have tangled ourselves seems only to tighten it.  What leaves the knot tied, most of all, is the unwillingness to keep at it; to give up; to slide into a palliative care. 

But our situation is not hopeless; indeed, there is no knot that cannot be untied, with diligence, patience—strong, dexterous fingers—and recognition that our suffering, our struggle, serves a purpose beyond mere self-satisfaction.


[1] When did they add “Prevention”?  I just noticed this and find it disturbing.  Perhaps it has always been there.  Perhaps I should always have been disturbed.

[2] That is, the body is not an instrument as such, but has parts which are used instrumentally for the good of the whole person.  But this proves a topic more complex to demonstrate in full than would here be appropriate.

[3] The widespread tacit acceptance of this philosophical position appears, for instance, in the common mantra of “it’s my body, it’s my choice”—the implication being that one’s choice and one’s body are separate; that the latter possesses an absolute dominion over the former.

[4] That is, inseparable by nature.  Death and the question of the afterlife can only be understood as exceeding our experimental verification—thus, we can infer justly that an afterlife is necessarily fitting to what we as human beings are, but the reality of that afterlife exceeds our ability here and now to know with any certitude.

[5] Cf. Aristotle c.330bc: ΠερΨυχς, (On the Soul) book 2, c.1.

[6] For an introductory consideration of this triadic nature of the psychological, consider the 1989 lecture by Walker Percy titled, “The Fateful Rift: The San Andres Fault in the Modern Mind”.  This can be watched online here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?7788-1/san-andreas-fault-modern-mind or read in Signposts in a Strange Land.  One can also listen to a colloquium by Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger on “Mending the Fateful Rift” in our 2020 colloquium series.  A more in-depth treatment by Percy can be found in his “Delta Factor” article, printed in The Message in the Bottle.

Phenomenology: An Introduction

What is phenomenology? This question has been asked, indeed, seemingly since the word “phenomenology” was first introduced. It is a question, also, which gives testimony to a point often made by John Deely: efforts at philosophical innovation require either the posit of a neologism, in which case no one understands its significance, or the effort at adapting an old term to a new meaning, in which case everyone will attempt to interpret your new meaning by the old. Despite this confusion, phenomenology has continued to exercise an influence for just as long as its meaning has been questioned.

In an effort, therefore, to provide a much-needed clarification—not by mere didactic exposition but by a “genuine repetition” of the inquiry that led to its development—this seminar will endeavor to re-discover phenomenology from its very roots. Accordingly, we focus our inquiry primarily on the thought of Edmund Husserl (1859–1938), the first founder of phenomenology as a formal movement within philosophy.  But we will also expand our considerations into the practical application of phenomenological method for understanding various aspects of human experience, including what it means in fact to be a human person, and to dwell among and with other persons.

By our inquiry into phenomenology, we hope to clarify both what it is, itself, and its fittingness in the context of philosophical inquiry broadly speaking.  This seminar, taught by Drs. Daniel Wagner and Brian Kemple, will lead students through the tangle and into the clearing. View the syllabus here.

Schedule

Discussion Sessions

1:00pm ET

(World times)
Study Topics &
Readings


June
3
Break with Reality: The Need for Phenomenology
Lecture 1: Classical Sense-Realism and the Modern Break
Readings:
» “Key Texts on Sense-Realism in Aristotle & St. Thomas Aquinas” and “The Modern Break”.
June
10
The History and Question of Phenomenology
Lecture 2: Origins and Methodologies
Reading:
» [Required] Spiegelberg 1956: “Introduction” and “Part One: The Preparatory Phase, Chapter One: Franz Brentano” (1-52).
» [Recommended] Moran 2000: Introduction to Phenomenology, 1-22.
June
17
The Phenomenological Attitude
Lecture 3: From Natural to Phenomenological Attitude via the Phenomenological Ἐποχή
Reading (same for weeks 3 and 4):
» [Required] Husserl 1907: The Idea of Phenomenology, 1914: Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and a Phenomenological Philosophy,51-62 (§27–32).
» [Recommended] Moran 2000: Introduction to Phenomenology, 124-163.
June
24
First Fruits of the Phenomenological Reduction
Lecture 4: Intentionality, Νοησίσ-Νοημα, and the End of Idealism
Reading:
» [Required] Husserl 1907: The Idea of Phenomenology, 1914: Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and a Phenomenological Philosophy,51-62 (§27–32).
» [Recommended] Moran 2000: Introduction to Phenomenology, 124-163.
July
1

BREAK
July
8
The Self and the Other
Lecture 5: Other Persons, Empathy, Intersubjectivity, and Objective Truth
Reading:
» [Required] Husserl 1931: Cartesian Meditations, Meditation V.
» [Recommended] Selections from Stein 1916: On the Problem of Empathy.
July
15
Structures of Experience
Lecture 6: Perception, Memory, and Language
Reading:
» [Required] Sokolowski 2000: Introduction to Phenomenology, c.5-7.
» [Recommended] Excerpts from various authors.
July
22
Structures of the Lifeworld
Lecture 7: Temporality, Science, and Meaning
Readings:
» [Required] Sokolowski 2000: Introduction to Phenomenology, c.9-11.
» [Recommended] Moran 2000: Introduction to Phenomenology, 164-191.
July
29
Phenomenology of Personhood
Lecture 8: Reflections upon Intentional Consciousness
Readings:
» [Required] Spaemann 1996: Persons, 1-40.
» [Recommended] Wojtyła c.1965: Person and Act: The Introductory and Fundamental Reflections (36-58).

Registration

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).

One payment covers all 8 weeks.

[2023 Summer] Phenomenology: An Introduction – Public Participant

A payment level recommended for those who are currently students, who are between jobs, or who have part-time employment.

$60.00

[2023 Summer] Phenomenology: An Introduction

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.

$135.00

[2023 Summer] Phenomenology: An Introduction

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.

$200.00

Pricing Comparison

Standard priceBasic Lyceum
Enrollment
Advanced Lyceum EnrollmentPremium Lyceum Enrollment
Benefactor$200 per seminar$903 seminars included
$90 after
8 seminars included
$90 after
Patron$135 per seminar$653 seminars included
$65 after
8 seminars included
$65 after
Participant$80 per seminar$403 seminars included
$40 after
8 seminars included
$40 after

Seminar Catalog for 2023

The year 2022 saw the Lyceum offer a spate of diverse and fascinating seminars. so how can we top this wonderful past year of seminars? Why, with a new year of wonderful seminars, of course! We are covering a broad range of thinkers and ideas this year: Aristotle, Aquinas, John Henry Newman, John Poinsot, Yves Simon, Edmund Husserl, Edith Stein, Martin Heidegger, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy—and more. Introducing our seminar catalog for 2023:

2023 Seminar Catalog

W I N T E R (JANUARY—APRIL)Instructors
» Ethics: Virtue» Dr. Brian Kemple
» Aquinas’ Cosmological Vision» Dr. Brian Kemple
S P R I N G (APRIL—JUNE)
» Quaestiones disputatae de Veritate – Part I» Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger
» John Henry Newman in Four Books» Dr. Scott Randall Paine
» Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot» Dr. Brian Kemple
S U M M E R (JUNE—SEPTEMBER)
» Phenomenology: an Introduction» Drs. Daniel Wagner and Brian Kemple
» Politics: A Thomistic Defense of Democracy» Dr. Francisco Plaza
» Ethics: The Moral Noetic of the Natural Law» Dr. Matthew Minerd
» Quaestiones disputatae de Veritate – Part II» Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger
F A L L (SEPTEMBER—NOVEMBER)
» Thomistic Psychology: Habits and World» Dr. Brian Kemple
» Phenomenology: The Contribution of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy» Dr. Scott Randall Paine
» Phenomenology: Heidegger’s Method – Part I» Dr. Brian Kemple

These seminars are open to the public, but enrolled members of the Lyceum Institute are offered discounted fees. Each lasts 8 weeks and includes the opportunity for an in-depth engagement with important philosophical questions. Anyone with a serious commitment to the truth is welcome. Our instructors are among the very best and bring decades of insight, wisdom, and experience in teaching. Download the Seminar Catalog for full descriptions of each seminar.

Details (dates, times, syllabi, required books, and in-depth descriptions) and registration for each seminar will be posted approximately one month before they begin. Keep your eyes here for news about Ethics: Virtue and Aquinas’ Cosmological Vision this weekend—and consider enrolling!

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John Deely on Semiotics and Logocentrism

Within current philosophy, David Clarke has made a belated attempted to define semiotic itself in the restrictive terms already established as proper to semiology: an “attempt to extend analogically features initially arrived at by examining language use to more primitive signs, with logical features of language becoming the archetype on which analysis of these latter signs is developed”. It is simply a misnomer to title a book based on such a thesis Principles of Semiotic. To try to reduce semiotic to the status of a subalternate discipline within the dimensions of current linguistic philosophy already evinces adherence to the modern perspectives of idealism which semiotics points beyond.

Among modern philosophers, the one who struggled most against the coils of idealism and in the direction of a semiotic, was Martin Heidegger. His failure to free himself from the modern logocentrism is, to be sure, a testimony to its pervasiveness in modern culture, and to the scale of the task semiotic in its fullest possibilities has to face. Yet in the debate between realism and idealism, he is the one who perhaps most clearly brough tot he fore the fact that, whatever its drawbacks and “no matter how contrary and untenable it may be in its results”, idealism “has an advantage in principle” over realism. That advantage lies in the simple fact that whenever we observe anything that observation already presupposes and rests within a semiosis whereby the object observed came to exist as object—that is to say, as perceived, experienced, or known—in the first place.

No one, including Heidegger, realizes this fact better than the semiotician. Indeed, at the heart of semiotics is the realization that the whole of human experience, without exception, is an interpretive structure mediated and sustained by signs. So it is perhaps not surprising that much of the original semiotic development in our time has taken place along the tracks and lines of a classical idealism in the modern sense, an environment and climate of thought within which the structuralist analysis of texts and narratives is particularly comfortable.

Yet we are entitled to wonder if such a perspective is enough to allow for the full development of the possibilities inherent in the notion of a doctrine of signs—to wonder if the “way of signs” does not lead outside of and well beyond the classical “way of ideas” of which Locke also spoke. We are entitled to wonder if what we need is not rather, as the recent collaborative monograph by Anderson et al. calls for, “a semiotics which provides the human sciences with a context for reconceptualizing foundations and for moving along a path which, demonstrably, avoids crashing headlong into the philosophical roadblock thrown up by forced choices between realism and idealism, as though this exclusive dichotomy were also exhaustive of the possibilities of interpreting human experience”.

Such a development seems to be what is taking place in the tradition of semiotic. This tradition, in fact, given its name by Locke, had reached the level of explicit thematic consciousness and systematically unified expression only very late—as far as we currently know, not before the Tractatus de Signis essay in 1632 by the Iberian philosophy of Portuguese birth, John Poinsot.

John Deely 1990: Basics of Semiotics [8th edition], 5-6.

For much more on John Deely, see the Wikipedia entry, a lengthy bibliography [1965-1998] [1999-2010], an obituary written by Christopher Morrissey, and the many presentations at the International Open Seminar on Semiotics: A Tribute to John Deely on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing.

⚘ Meanings we live in: Husserl’s theory of meaning and the surrounding world | Hamid Malekzadeh

Hamid Malekzadeh (PhD in Political Theory, University of Tehran) is the Executive Manager of the Iranian Society for Phenomenology (ISP) as well as the co-editor-in-chief of the Iranian Yearbook of Phenomenology (IYP). Some of his publishing are I Am A Not-Others: An Inquiry in Concreteness of the Political Subject (Pajvak, Tehran: 2014) and Embodiment and The Transcendental Basis of Politics: An Essay in Political Ontology (Gam-e-Nou [New Step]: Forthcoming). He is also the translator of Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau Ponty, Beauvoir by Sara Heinämaa (Gam-e-Nou [New Step]: 2021).

Malekzadeh began his study of politics with a focus on the concept of recognition in Hegel’s system of thought and sought the explanation of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology in search of an explanation for the relationship between the individual Ego and collectivities. In recent years, the discussion of the ontology of politics from a phenomenological point of view with a focus on the body and embodiment, intentionality, and Husserl’s Egology have been the most important topics that he has focused on.

Mohammad Shafiei obtained his Ph.D. in philosophy from Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne University, in 2017. Currently, he works in the philosophy department of Shahid Behesti University. His doctoral thesis has been published under the title Meaning and Intentionality. a Dialogical Approach. Besides publishing articles under labels such as the Revista de Humanidades de Valparaíso, the South American Journal of Logic, Synthese, and Análisis Filosófico, Shafiei has also co-edited, with prof. Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen, Peirce and Husserl: Mutual Insights on Logic, Mathematics and Cognition. His areas of interest include phenomenology, philosophical logic, semiotics and Metaphysics. He is co-editor of two forthcoming volumes, one with prof. Pietarinen on further links between phenomenology and phaneroscopy, and the other with Dr. Iulian Apostolesco on possible synergies between Husserlian phenomenology and Leibniz’ monadological metaphysics.

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.

Introduction to Philosophical Principles

Introduction to Philosophical Principles: Logic, Physics, and the Human Person

What good is living? I know a man we’ll call “James”—successful, secure in his career, his family, his hobbies, his religious belief—who claimed not that he was depressed at this stage of his life, but that he found himself nevertheless asking frequently: “Is this all there is?” Then he discovered philosophy. It was not an immediate love; indeed, it was discovered as a requirement for his graduate business program. But, seeking out help, he found more and more to read. More and deeper questions arose. He found his philosophical inquiries were not simply aligned with success in the course, but sprung up from his own life experiences, his own encounters with the world. He became philosophically curious. He wanted to know. To understand. A deeper reality opened up for him; one of inexhaustible meaning.

Philosophy—real, true philosophy—is transformative. It will not make you successful in the world, but it will answer a question that all the success and security never can: what is the good of being alive?

In the nihilistic, “post-truth” context of late modernity, we might despair of finding an answer to that question. The odds seem against us, especially in the absence of success and security. But even the faintest glimmer of the answer—the dimmest light—gives us something that cannot be taken away by the worst the world has to offer.

I first met James at a coffee shop in 2016 to help him with the graduate course. We have since met almost every week for six years—sometimes two or three times in the span of a few days—to discuss philosophy. Our talks have ranged over the distinctions of Plato and Aristotle, of Descartes and Locke, the neglect of scholasticism, the influence of Islamic thought, the value of the Conimbricenses, the genius of João Poinsot and Charles Sanders Peirce, the breadth of Thomas Aquinas, the nature of culture and society, the threats to truth, and much more besides. These conversations, deep though many of them are, have opened more inquiries than we will be able to explore in a lifetime.

This book, now in a second and much expanded edition (with over 100 pages of new material) does not mirror my conversations with James. But it does mirror the endless joy of discovering meaning, a condensed breadth of philosophical learning, and the desire to understand, to answer the question: what is the point of living?

I hope you will read it. I hope you will enjoy it. I hope it will spark a similar philosophical curiosity in you. The text is divided into three main parts: Logic, Physics, and the Person. Each presents what I think are the essential principles for gaining a habit of philosophical reflection. These three parts are supplemented by an extensive series of Glosses, which provide deeper questions and connections to the historical traditions of philosophy from which the ideas in the main text were composed. These glosses serve as suggestions of other places to look for questions about topics such as time, motion, knowledge, causality, signs, and more.

Maybe you don’t think it’s a book for you. I could try to convince you otherwise, but either you have a hunger to ask the question or you don’t. But even if you don’t think it’s for you, I bet you can think of someone in your life who does have that hunger. [Link to book]

IO2S Deely – Signs and Being: the Role of Semiotics in Heidegger’s Thought

On 30 April 2022, at 11am ET (check event times around the world here), Rocco Gangle will present on “Signs and Being: the Role of Semiotics in Heidegger’s Thought”. Prof. Gangle is the author of several books, including Diagrammatic Immanence: Category Theory and Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2016). His research focuses on semiotics, diagrammatic logic, French phenomenology and post-structuralism, and the work of Francois Laruelle. He is Professor of Philosophy at Endicott College, USA and Distinguished Research Fellow with GCAS College Dublin, Ireland.

Commentary will be provided by Mafalda Blanc, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon, since 1980.

Join the Zoom meeting to participate in the Q&A.

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.