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Announcing: Latin 2024

We are delighted to announce our Latin courses available in 2024. But… why Latin? Does the study of Latin—a language spoken by no people, no country, no nation today—offer us anything other than an affectation or the satisfaction of niche reading (or liturgical) interests? Do we gain anything from this language itself, or does it provide us nothing more than a means to other pursuits?

In studying Latin, we enter a phase of language similar to the intimacy of family life… In Latin Grammar, every one theme [of grammatical structure] is still disclosing the full complexity of real life. The daily food of modern people speaking English does not contain, in every cell, so to speak, the full life of speech; the Latin does. And when you compare the real obstacles to efficient speech: confusion, indifference, fear, forgetfulness, to the minor difficulties of learning Latin, you will understand why people have learned Latin for so many centuries. It is difficult. But since it is so difficult to speak at all, we can hardly criticize too harshly the difficulties of learning another language.

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, 1937: “Articulated Speech” in Speech and Reality.

The study of Latin, that is, proves fundamental not only to opening entire worlds of literature, philosophy, theology, and indeed the original language of a great many essential figures in the Western intellectual tradition, but also to our own growth in the ability to think at all. Few languages, understood in their grammatical depths, will so greatly increase the dexterity of thought. Thus we are delighted to offer six (and possibly more) courses in Latin for 2024:

We are very excited to continue inclusion of these courses, and to add Composition, within the repertoire of our Language program. Latin study is open to all enrolled members of the Lyceum Institute at no additional charge. Additionally, successful applicants to the Columbanus Fellowship will be able to join and fully participate in these courses (among many others) at no cost.

Reclaiming Culture in the Digital Age

The provincial attitude is limited in time but not in space. When the regional man, in his ignorance, often an intensive and creative ignorance, extends his own immediate necessities into the world, and assumes that the present moment is unique, he becomes the provincial man. He cuts himself off from the past, and without benefit of the fund of traditional wisdom approaches the simplest problems of life as if nobody had ever heard of them before. A society without arts, said Plato, lives by chance. The provincial man, locked in the present, lives by chance.

Allen Tate 1945: “The New Provincialism”

Hollow men, T.S. Eliot named denizens of the 21st century. Are we any less vacuous in the 21st? Or have we been further emptied?

It often proves difficult to describe our situation—our time and place in history and the world—without sounding morose, or, indeed, without falling into that trap of assuming our present moment is unique, or, to take Tate’s criticism farther, that we, as somehow constituting this moment, are ourselves unique. Arguably, our situation is unique. But we remain as human as any and every human ever has or ever will. There are challenges faced in 2023 that were not and perhaps could not quite be imagined in 1945—let alone 1845, or 545. But the uniqueness of these challenges, such as how culture is to be formed or reclaimed in the digital age, leaves us yet with an unchanged nature.

Regional Cultures

Among the unchanging truths of human nature: we are cultural beings. There has never been a time nor a place in which a human being did not carry some mark of culture—even its absence (say, in a child raised by wolves!), that is, being something distinctly human, visible in its resulting deficiency. But the deficiencies sometimes come not from the absence of culture, but from its own noxious constitution. These noxious cultural vapors are hard to discern when living amidst them. It belongs to the insightful critic, therefore, to give us the perspective from which they can be seen.

Allen Tate (1899–1979)—American poet laureate in 1943, essays, social commentator, brilliant mind and troubled soul—proved himself such an insightful critic time and again. His 1945 essay, “The New Provincialism”, clearly articulates the titular source of a cultural vapor much-thickened in the past 80 years. The term “provincialism” has often been used in criticism of rural thinking. To be “provincial”, it was often said, was to be narrow-minded. The provincial man, in other words, is an unsophisticated bumpkin.

Against the “provincial”, Tate contrasts the “regional”, which he describes as “that consciousness or that habit of men in a given locality which influences them to certain patterns of thought and conduct handed to them by their ancestors. Regionalism is thus limited in space but not in time.” In other words, the regional carries on local tradition. It may carry such traditions on across countless generations. Regionalism focuses not upon the now, but the here. Thereby, it constitutes a cultural place: an innermost boundary within which a culture may be located.

Contemporary Provinces

The ”provincial” man, however, as stated above, takes his regional here and extends it into the world, transforming the idiosyncrasy of place into an idiom of time. He becomes “locked in the present”. Do we not hear this all-too-often today? “C’mon, it’s 2023!” Do we not see obtuse historical idiocy trotted out daily?

Our culture today consists little in regional awareness and almost entirely in provincial outlook. We have no place for our cultures. They seem, therefore, to lack solidity, sameness, any transgenerational durability. Buildings across the world look increasingly similar. Dialects disappear. Styles of art—painting, sculpture, music, cinema, one and all—lose their distinctiveness through a flattening refinement of technique and production.

Can we recover any genuine “regionalism” in our modern, hypercommunicative world?

Digital Culture

As the Executive Director of an institution founded within the hypercommunicative digital environment, I think often of how our technological tools of culture can be used without contravening the good of our nature. I do not believe regional dissolution follows of necessity from our global communication. But I do think we need better habits of living today, in order that we not lapse forevermore into the “new provincialism”. Come join us (details below) this Wednesday (11/1/2023) to discuss Tate’s essay and the formation of these habits to discover how we might reclaim culture in the digital age.

Philosophical Happy Hour

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Come join us for drinks (adult or otherwise) and a meaningful conversation. Open to the public! Held every Wednesday from 5:45–7:15pm ET.

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
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

Henry Osborn Taylor on the “Middle Ages”

Preface to the First Edition, 1911: The Medieval Mind (2 volumes), Vol.I, xi–xiv:

The Middle Ages! They seem so far away; intellectually so preposterous, spiritually so strange. Bits of them may touch our sympathy, please our taste; their window-glass, their sculpture, certain of their stories, their romances—as if those straitened ages really were the time of romance, which they were not, God knows, in the sense commonly taken. Yet perhaps they were such intellectually, or at least spiritually. Their terra—not for them incognita, though full of mystery rand pall and vaguer glory—was not the earth. It was the land of metaphysical construction and the land of spiritual passion. There law their romance, thither pointed their veriest thinking, thither drew their utter yearning.

Is it possible that the Middle Ages should speak to us, as through a common humanity? Their mask is by no means dumb: in full voice speaks the noble beauty of Chartres Cathedral. Such mediaeval product, we hope, is of the universal human, and therefore of us as well as of the bygone craftsmen. Why it moves us, we are not certain, being ignorant, perhaps, of the building’s formative and earnestly intended meaning. Do we care to get at that? There is no way save by entering the mediaeval depths, penetrating to the rationale of the Middle Ages, learning the doctrinale, or emotionale, of the modes in which they still present themselves so persuasively.

But if the pageant of those centuries charm our eyes with forms that seem so full of meaning, why should we stand indifferent to the harnessed processes of mediaeval thinking and the passion surging through the thought? Thought marshalled the great mediaeval procession, which moved to measures of pulsating and glorifying emotion. Shall we not press on, through knowledge, and search out its efficient causes, so that we too may feel the reality of the mediaeval argumentation, with the possible validity of mediaeval conclusions, and tread those channels of mediaeval passion which were cleared and deepened by the thought? This would be to reach human comradeship with mediaeval motives, no longer found too remote for our sympathy, or too fantastic or shallow for our understanding.

Not only shalt thou do what seems well to thee; but thou shalt do right, with wisdom. History has laid some thousands of years of emphasis on this. Thou shalt not only be sincere, but thou shalt be righteous, and not iniquitous; beneficent, and not malignant; loving and lovable, and not hating and hateful. Thou shalt be a promoter of light, and not of darkness; an illuminator, and not an obscurer. Not only shalt thou seek to choose aright, but at thy peril thou shalt so choose. “Unto him that hath shall be given”—nothing is said about sincerity. The fool, the maniac, is sincere; the mainsprings of the good which we may commend lie deeper.

So, and at his peril likewise, must the historian judge. He cannot state the facts and sit aloof, impartial between good and ill, between success and failure, progress and retrogression, the soul’s health and loveliness, and spiritual foulness and disease. He must love and hate, and at his peril love aright and hate what is truly hateful. And although his sympathies quiver to understand and feel as the man and woman before him, his sympathies must be controlled by wisdom.

Whatever may be one’s beliefs, a realization of the power and import of the Christian Faith is needed for an understanding of the thoughts and feelings moving the men and women of the Middle Ages, and for a just appreciation of their aspirations and ideals. Perhaps the fittest standard to apply to them is one’s own broadest conception of the Christian scheme, the Christian scheme whole and entire with the full life of Christ’s Gospel. Every age has offered an interpretation of that Gospel and an attempt at fulfilment. Neither the interpretation of the Church Fathers, nor that of the Middle Ages satisfies us now. And by our further understanding of life and the Gospel of life, we criticize the judgment of mediaeval men. We have to sympathize with their best, and understand their lives out of their lives and the conditions in which they were passed. But we must judge according to our own best wisdom, and out of ourselves offer our comment and contribution.