Category Archives: Reflections on the Books

Hamlet’s Split Soliloquy

Years ago, a student became notorious at our college for arguing that Hamlet’s famous “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy is not about suicide. It became the subject of Soren’s senior thesis, which led him to draft a book … Continue reading

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Hamlet and the Problem of Conscience

Originally published in the St. Austin Review (March/April 2016) Introduction I have never really liked Hamlet, neither the character nor the play. The character I found too full of self-doubts, too wistfully desirous of death as a solution to his … Continue reading

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The Frenzy of Philosophy

For the second semester in a row, I handed out copies of “What I Learn From Exams”. Last year, it led to intense in-class discussions about what grades mean to students, and about aspects of our college’s culture that inadvertently … Continue reading

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Five Definitions of Man

Five Definitions of Man Am I a monster more complicated and swollen with passion than the serpent Typho, or a creature of a gentler and simpler sort, to whom Nature has given a diviner and lowlier destiny? Socrates, Phaedo I … Continue reading

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Questions, Opinions, and the Philosophic Life I, with Quotations from Authorities

I gave a talk this week at our college (Thomas Aquinas College) which I entitled, “Questions, Opinions, and the Philosophic Life”. In it, after sharing something of my experience as a sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully driven questioner, I tried to … Continue reading

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Discussing Elijah

I had a wonderful discussion of Elijah’s journey to Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 19) with St. Augustine Academy students. You never know where discussions will lead, and what students will come up with, if you can get students to talk, … Continue reading

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Turning the Whole Soul: The Moral Journey of the Philosophic Nature in Plato’s Republic

I forgot that we were playing and spoke rather intensely. For, as I was talking I looked at Philosophy and, seeing her undeservingly spattered with mud, I seem to have been vexed and said what I had to say too … Continue reading

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Macbeth’s Porter

I love directing Shakespeare’s plays. Since the words mean everything in a successful performance, I am always faced with the challenge of interpreting every speech, every difficult passage, every seemingly insignificant scene. I delight in discovering the dramatic impact of … Continue reading

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Stoic Lies and Assisted Suicide

Frequently, I find immediate connections between readings and discussions of great authors and contemporary issues. In our last CIT webinar discussion, we considered St. Augustine’s analysis of all the views held by philosophers about happiness. St. Augustine points to one … Continue reading

Posted in In the Public Square, Pagan and Christian, Reflections on the Books | 1 Comment

Telemachos and the Divine

The Odyssey is an epic that often reads like a contemporary novel.  It opens with an intimate portrayal of a terrible but familiar situation — a young man has grown up without a father, and is overwhelmed by responsibilities that … Continue reading

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