[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 Practice of Philosophy in a Time of Loneliness

In the first Lyceum Institute Colloquia of 2022, we present Brian Jones, PhD Candidate at the University of St. Thomas, TX, who brings us a challenging, interesting, and thought-provoking discussion of what it means to practice philosophy in a time of loneliness and political turmoil.

ABSTRACT: The COVID-19 pandemic and the destructive mitigation responses to it have certainly placed a heavy existential weight on democratic citizens. The social, political, and economic chaos of the past two years has profoundly disorienting. In the midst of such an unprecedented response, we are right to wonder about the very endurance of our modern liberal democratic regimes. The current crisis, however, is not the result of the pandemic. Rather, the general Western response to the pandemic has exacerbated certain social and political conditions present prior to the arrival of the virus. The pandemic has merely escalated an already existing form of disintegration. While there are many features of this present crisis, one that is most acutely felt and witnessed is a cultural condition which tends to incline citizens towards thoughtlessness.

Mr. Jones’ lecture is now available at the Lyceum Institute. The live question and answer session will be held on 4 March 2022 (Friday) 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.