[2021 Summer] Thomistic Psychology: World and Passions

The passions, though born into us by nature and fitting to our lives, must obey the orders of reason, else they bring disorder to the whole of our being.  But since the passions are not disordered by nature (though of reason’s voice they are hard-of-hearing in a postlapsarian existence), we must uncover the causes of their disorder so prevalent today if we are to understand how they fail, and how they might succeed, in attaining their proper and fitting good.  

The approach taken in this seminar to the question of the passions will seek a certain mean between two extreme and opposed perspectives.  On the one hand is situated the modern position—and by far the more dangerous of the two—espoused by David Hume (1711—1776), namely, that “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them” (1739: A Treatise of Human Nature, Book II, Part III, Section III).  On the other hand is that position held generally by the Stoics, which—though we may learn much from it—may holds in its extreme forms that a cause of movement from without ourselves is contrary to our nature and the passions arising therefrom as objects which we ought to master, as the domestication of a beast.  In the Humean perspective, we are but gifted animals bound to seek increasingly clever satisfaction of irrational forces; in the extreme Stoic, we are intellectual spirits striving against an unruly flesh.

Contrary to both, the Aristotelian-Thomistic perspective sees in the intellect and human body a hierarchical complementarity, for the passions are a means of receipt and response to the world—and especially the specifically human world—in which we live and by which we pursue our proper ends.  Thus, understanding the dynamism of world and passions is essential to understanding the rectitude, and failures, of our passionate dispositions.

WHEN: Saturdays from 12 June through 31 July 2021, from 8:30-9:30pm Eastern Time US / 12:30-1:30am UTC.

WHERE: on the Lyceum Institute platform run through Microsoft Teams.

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), an oft-neglected element of Thomas Aquinas’ psychology will be examined closely, in connection with other Thomistic Psychology seminars which have considered the whole of the human person, the means of human action, and the life of a cognitive agent: here we shall see the life of a cathectic patient. The instructor for this seminar is Brian Kemple, PhD, the Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. You can read more about Dr. Kemple here.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, with discounts for those who are professors and clergy (whose continuing education is not sufficiently prioritized by their institutions) and for students (who are already taxed excessively by the educational system). However, if you are part of the working world and wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the “standard” rate, it is acceptable to sign up at one of these discounted prices. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

[2021 Summer] Thomistic Psych: World and Passions – Standard

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Price is suggested for those with full-time employment.

$135.00

[2021 Summer] Thomistic Psych: World and Passions – Professor / Clergy

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Price is suggested for those with full-time employment.

$85.00

[2021 Summer] Thomistic Psych: World and Passions – Student

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Discount is suggested for students and others with part-time employment.

$60.00

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.

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

What is a sign? It is a deceptively difficult question–deceptive because we think we know when we have never bothered truly to ask the question. We believe that we see and hear signs everywhere: guiding our use of streets, telling us where to exit, the location of the bathroom, what dangers might lie ahead, and so on. But in truth, though we experience signification in this instances, the things we identify as the “signs”–the on the street corner, the plastic “EXIT” over a fire door, the nondescript white silhoutte of a representatively feminine shape over one door, the print of a large clawed mammal in soft dirt–are only a part of the signs that we experience.


Read more about
Lyceum Institute Seminars

And so, you now stand today on the edge of a road: a road little used and oft neglected for the previous four centuries, but for the occasional intrepid traveller—its development abandoned very nearly at this spot where you stand today.  Where does it go—where ought it to go?  And from where does it come?  To answer the latter, we must know something of the former: and it is this knowledge that the seminar intends to provide, with indications for where the road leads and where it ought to lead.

First Lecture, “An Abbreviated History” – Preview

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 treatise on signs.  This treatise was extracted, translated, edited, and compiled by John Deely (following a cue from Poinsot himself) and published in 1985 under the title Tractatus de  Signis: The Semiotic of John Poinsot, with a second edition released in 2013. 

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we will carefully survey this text we will discover the Way of Signs—that long-abandoned road—and thereby reclaim not only the history of thought abandoned by modernity but find a way forward past its recalcitrance to the realist thought of semiotics. The instructor for this seminar is Brian Kemple, PhD, the Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. You can read more about Dr. Kemple here.

WHEN: Saturdays from 20 March through 8 May 2021, from 1:00-2:00pm [Session 1] and 8:30-9:30pm [Session 2] Eastern Time US.

WHERE: on the Lyceum Institute platform run through Microsoft Teams.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, with discounts for those who are professors and clergy (whose continuing education is not sufficiently prioritized by their institutions) and for students (who are already taxed excessively by the educational system). However, if you are part of the working world and wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the “standard” rate, it is acceptable to sign up at one of these discounted prices. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

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

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Price is suggested for those with full-time employment.

$135.00



[2021 Spring] Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot – Professor / Clergy

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Discount is suggested for professional academics and clergy.

$85.00



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

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Discount is suggested for students and others with part-time employment.

$60.00

[Fall 2020] Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life

Among all things observed in the universe, human beings alone ask about things other than themselves: they ask what, how, why–and so on. This singularity, downplayed by those who would make us malleable to the worst of all moral inclinations, demands a careful and rigorous inquiry–one which seeks to understand not only the precise nature but also the full import of this distinctiveness.


Read more about
Lyceum Institute Seminars

Put otherwise, we human beings today seldom truly understand ourselves. If we look to the traditions of modern philosophy or its ultramodern derivations, we will continue failing to attain such understanding: for all such traditions mistaken introduce one or another division between the nature of the human being and the being of humans. We must look either to postmodernity or to premodernity–and the only genuine postmodern traditions heretofore being those that retrieve the premodern–in order to affect a righted understanding of the human cognitive life.

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we will strive to affect a genuine postmodern retrieve of the Thomistic understanding of the singular human distinctiveness through grasping the nature and development of our intentionally-cognitive lives. In the course of this retrieve, we will study the specifically intellectual nature of the human soul, the operations of intellectual discovery, the formation and development of concepts, and the integral union of intellectual and perceptual faculties in the human person. This is an advanced seminar which provides a serious challenge to all participants.

WHEN: Saturdays from 17 October through 12 December 2020 (no session on 28 November), from 1:30-2:30pm Eastern Time US.

WHERE: on the Lyceum Institute platform run through Microsoft Teams.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principal of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, with discounts for those who are professors and clergy (whose continuing education is not sufficiently prioritized by their institutions) and for students (who are already taxed excessively by the educational system). However, if you are part of the working world and wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the “standard” rate, it is acceptable to sign up at one of these discounted prices. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

REGISTRATION IS CLOSED.

Study and Motivation

Why study anything? Mostly, we open the books because a possession of the knowledge contained therein is believed to profit us: either because it will gain us coveted credentials or because it will enable us in some practical application. Our motivation seldom comes from the thing-itself-studied, but rather from something extrinsic, something beyond the practice of studying itself.

Thus, absent that promise of something beyond, we seldom if ever find ourselves in possession of the motive to study. Perhaps we will indulge an intellectual curiosity: reading a “smart” book–something concerning economics, or politics, history, literature, even a book of philosophy–or listening to a “smart” debate, watching a “smart” television show or documentary, and so on. But most of this, if we are honest, is entertainment masquerading as some sort of “self-improvement” or “continued learning”. We may gain information from such endeavors, but we do not gain understanding.

Understanding is an act, a recursive process whereby we gain knowledge of a thing–whether presented to us directly or through information about the thing–to the extent that we no longer simply know about it, but know it, through knowing its causes. We may be very familiar with an object–say, a person with whom we live or work for a long time–but that familiarity is not yet understanding, properly speaking; for understanding entails an intellectual grasp which no quantity of familiarity alone can provide.

And yet, understanding is a natural good for the human being. Understanding begets a right ordering of ourselves toward the objects of our experience, and consequently an ability to help rightly order those objects as well. It is a good not easily earned and yet one which rewards without dissipation; a reward that does not pass into disinterest or out of fashion. Why do we not seek it more?

Simply, because the processes of education to which we have all been inured, which ape the right pursuit of understanding but perversely convince us of the worthlessness of understanding in and of itself. Certainly, study is tiring, and does not give us the immediate gratification of a cheap pleasure. But pleasure is always the consequence of an action; and, as doubtless we have all experienced, the pleasure derived from immediate gratifications wanes all-too-quickly.

Perhaps, if we are to gain the motivation which ought in some way be directive of us toward that natural good–indeed, the highest of natural goods–we need to unlearn these lessons.