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.

This Week [4/25-5/1]

4/26 Monday

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

4/27 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 philosophical psychology and its insight into the current instabilities of society.

4/28 Wednesday

  • Inquirere Session (9:30-10:30am ET).  Our monthly Inquirere session for the Quaestiones Disputatae.  In addition to the responses on current questions, there will be some discussion of the new structure.
  • Exercitium Lingua Latina (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

4/29 Thursday

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

4/30 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).

5/1 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Legemus ex capitulo XIV in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata et convertemus in linguam Anglicam.  In istud capitulum de participiis cogitabimus!
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions.  First, Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot will investigate the nature of concepts as formal signs (engaging in a careful discussion about the meaning and the nature of “formal awareness”); and second, Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principle will continue our inquiry into Jacques Maritain’s Integral Humanism, seeking an understanding of how his anthropological approach extends itself into our politics.

This Week [4/18-4/24]

What happened to April?

4/19 Monday

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

4/20 Tuesday

  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (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).  We’re back to Happy Hours!  Happy Easter!  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 “Open Chat” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

04/21 Wednesday

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

4/22 Thursday

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

4/23 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–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute.  A good way to bring the thinking of one week to a close and launch into the next.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

4/24 Saturday

  • Cursus Linguae Latinae.  Our first week under the guidance of Richard Sharpe.  Istud dies Saturni, capitulum XIII in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata–de annis et mensibus Romani–legemus et convertemus in linguam Anglicam.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions.  Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot (first at 1:00pm ET and again at 8:30pm ET) will focus on the specifying causality proper to signs in their diverse realizations.  Second, Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principles begins its reading of Jacques Maritain’s seminal Integral Humanism, which shows us the way forward past the disasters of modern politics.

Buy some goods from the Lyceum Institute Shop!

This Week [4/12-4/17]

4/12 Monday

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

4/13 Tuesday

  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (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).  We’re back to Happy Hours!  Happy Easter!  Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  Open to the public: tell your friends to use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “Open Chat” in the message box) and we’ll see them on Teams!  Dr. Kemple will be talking about the preservation and transmission of knowledge, which is to say (according to the original meaning of the word), small-t tradition–handing down not the matter of thought (books and words and “information”), but its form as well.

04/14 Wednesday

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

4/15 Thursday

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

4/16 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–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute.  A good way to bring the thinking of one week to a close and launch into the next.
  • Latin (11pm-12am ET). An additional Latin class, suitable for those in Asia and other time zones (11am Manila time).

4/17 Saturday

  • No Latin Class.  Taking a week off!  We could all use a new break.  Additionally, Richard Sharpe will be taking over as our resident Latin Fellow starting on 4/24.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions.  Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot (first at 1:00pm ET and again at 8:30pm ET) will dive into a consideration of the sign-relations whereby objects specify powers.  Second, Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principles–delayed last week–will step into a consideration of dialectical materialism with a through looking at the work of Marx and his politics.

Show your affiliation with merch from the Lyceum Institute Shop!  New merch!  Check it out.

This Week [4/5-4/10]

4/05 Monday

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

4/06 Tuesday

  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (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).  We’re back to Happy Hours!  Happy Easter!  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 “Open Chat” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

04/07 Wednesday

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

4/08 Thursday

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

4/09 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–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute.  A good way to bring the thinking of one week to a close and launch into the next.

4/10 Saturday

  • Latin Class (10-11am ET).  Continuamus nostrum studium linguae Latinae in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata capitulum duodecimum, de militibus et exercitiis.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions.  Continuing our study of Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot (first at 1:00pm ET and again at 8:30pm ET) wherein we at last get to a discussion of the nature and existence of signs themselves, with a focus on how they are relations and how they can be natural (with some consideration concerning stipulated as well).  Second, Politics: Postmodern Culture and Politics dives–however briefly–into the deep end of dialectical materialism with a consideration of Marx and his politics.

Show your affiliation with merch from the Lyceum Institute Shop!  

There are also a lot of fun things happening internally–podcasts on controversial philosophers, discussions on Flannery O’Connor, the meaning of education, and more–but you’ll have to sign up to join in on the good stuff…

This Week [3/28-4/3]

3/29 Monday

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

3/30 Tuesday

  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (10:00-10:30am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Open Chat (5:30-7:00pm ET).  Join us for 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 “Open Chat” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

3/31 Wednesday

  • Quaestiones Disputatae: Inquirere (9:30-10:30am ET).  Monthly Inquirere Session for those participating in the Quaestiones Disputatae program.  Here participants may seek feedback on any extended programs of research and inquiry, learning how to form and pursue philosophically insightful and thoughtful questions.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (2:00-2:30pm ET).  Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

4/1 Thursday

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

4/2 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–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute.  A good way to bring the thinking of one week to a close and launch into the next.

4/3 Saturday

  • Latin Class (10-11am ET).  Continuamus nostrum studium linguae Latinae in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata capitulum undecimum, de corpore humano et uno “medico crasso”.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions.  Continuing our study of Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot (first at 1:00pm ET and again at 8:30pm ET) where we will attend to the notion of relation, in both its secundum esse and secundum dici meanings, as well as all its possible meaningful divisions.  Second, Politics: Postmodern Culture and Politics will look at the counterposition of modernity, through the lens of Thomas Hobbes, whose conception of the rule of law and the state are seen in stark opposition to the Aristotelian-Thomistic position.

Quaestiones Disputatae

We do not, today, know well how to ask a question. Of course, in the superficial sense, we are all well-practiced at asking questions: what is that? What do you mean? Why are you shouting? Where do I go? But these are questions of practical efficacy–not questions about meaning. Most of all, they are not questions which drive at the underlying intelligible causes which truly provide an answer.

This Wednesday we will have our monthly Inquirere session.  Believing that digital technology retrieves the inquisitive spirit of medieval scholasticism, Lyceum Institute members are encouraged to participate in the quaestiones disputatae program. The Inquirere is the intermediate phase of producing a quaestio, in which participants report, give feedback, and seek clarity on their questions and their development.

This Week [3/21-27]

3/22 Monday – Exercitium in Lingua Latina (10:00-10:30am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam.

3/23 Tuesday – Exercitium in Lingua Latina (1:30-2:00pm ET).  Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

3/23 Tuesday – Philosophical Open Chat (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for 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 “Open Chat” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

3/25 Thursday – Exercitium in Lingua Latina (10:00-10:30am ET).  Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

3/26 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–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute.  A good way to bring the thinking of one week to a close and launch into the next: now open to select members of the public.

3/27 Saturday – Cursus in Lingua Latina(10-11am ET).  Continuamus nostrum studium linguae Latinae in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata capitulum decimum.

3/28 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions.  Continuing our study of Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot (first at 1:00pm ET and again at 8:30pm ET) where we will examine closely the notion of the ens rationis and its constitutive role in human experience.  Second, Politics: Postmodern Culture and Politics will undertake an investigation of Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy of law.

Show your support with merch from the Lyceum Institute Shop:

This Is Not A Sign
This Is Not A Sign

Quaestiones Disputatae

Inquirere sessions are coming!  One session will be held on March 28 at 3pm and another on March 31st at 9:30am.  These are an integral part of the Lyceum Institute experience, as they instill in us the habit of asking questions with a deep and thoughtful philosophical perspective.

[This Week] 3/14-3/20

3/15 Tuesday – Philosophical Open Chat (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for conversation, lively debates, and get to know each other!  Open to the public: use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “Open Chat” in the message box) and we’ll you on Teams!

3/19 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–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute.  A good way to bring the thinking of one week to a close and launch into the next.

3/20 Saturday – Latin Class (10-11am ET).  Continuing our “new look” Latin class with more focus on grammar and translation.  This week we’ll be concentrating on identifying the first three declension endings and the first conjugation active indicative.

3/20 Saturday – Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot [First Session](1-2pm ET).  Spring seminar discussion sessions start this week!  In the first week of the Poinsot seminar, we’ll be taking on a brief history of semiotics and seeing how Poinsot fits in, both historically and doctrinally–the latter by grounding ourselves in some of the key definitions and distinctions he exposes in the Tractatus de Signis. Still time to sign up!

3/20 Saturday – Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principles (3-4pm ET).  Professor Plaza opens his seminar with a consideration of the foundations of political science, drawing on Aristotelian and Thomistic roots and examining what “political science” really means–or ought to mean. Sign up before it’s too late!

3/20 Saturday – Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot [Second Session](8:30-9:30pm ET).  A second discussion session for the Poinsot seminar, held to accommodate more schedules and time zones.

This Week [2/28-3/6]

2/28 Sunday – Inquirere Session (3:00-4:00pm ET).  The first of two sessions this week dedicated to sharpening our questioning after difficult topics of philosophical interest in the Quaestiones Disputatae program.

3/2 Tuesday – Philosophical Open Chat (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for 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 (and write “Happy Hour” in the message box)!

3/3 Wednesday – Inquirere Session (3:00-4:00pm ET).  The second of two sessions this week dedicated to sharpening our questioning after difficult topics of philosophical interest in the Quaestiones Disputatae program.

3/5 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–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute.  A good way to bring the thinking of one week to a close and launch into the next.

3/6 Saturday – Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Continuing our immersion in the Latin Language: reading capitulum sextum in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata and establishing our habits of thinking in the language.

3/6 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions.  First at 1:15pm ET we will be finishing out our discussion of Metaphysics: Discovery of Ens inquantum Ens with a consideration of the act of existence as really distinct from that which exists by it.  Second, at 3:00pm ET we’ll be considering how to bring the silence, celebration, and joy a mind attains in leisure out into the world in ​​​​​​​Ethics: The Good Life.

Spring Seminars Open!

The two spring Seminars are now open.  Discussion sessions will begin on March 20.

[2021 Spring] Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principles

This seminar will explore contemporary political and cultural issues from a classically realist foundation, proposing a genuinely “postmodern” response to the crisis of our time. When the term “postmodern” is used today, it typically denotes what is in practice a kind of “hypermodernism,” that is, an ideology which simply takes modern thinking to its logical conclusion (e.g., complete subjectivism, moral relativism, skepticism, nihilism, etc.). What “postmodern” should signify is something which looks beyond modernity, and it is in this sense which we use the term ourselves. Our “postmodern” response against the modern crisis retrieves from pre-modern political philosophy what modernity wrongfully left behind while engaging directly with modern culture. More information & registration.

[2021 Spring] Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot

There are few works which have received less of the attention they deserve than the Cursus Philosophicus of John Poinsot—more commonly known as John of St. Thomas, for his professed fidelity to the teaching of Thomas Aquinas. Within this cursus—a tome spanning 2348 pages—Poinsot addresses logic both formally and materially, as well as many intricacies of natural philosophy pertaining to physics, life, and psychology. But dispersed through these considerations there exists an implicit treatise, one concerned with an element essential to understanding not only topics logical but also natural; namely, the Tractatus de Signis. More information & registration.