Category Archives: Reflections on the Books

Wisdom in the Scriptures

[This is the text of a talk given to the Thomas Aquinas College community around 2000. In it, I shared what I thought I had learned about wisdom, which I have sought my whole life, from reading the Wisdom books … Continue reading

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Aristotelian Matter in an Evolutionary Cosmos

Presented at the Society for Aristotelian Studies June 2011 In the Theaetetus we learn that an opinion is not something easily formed, that it takes time, conversation both interior and exterior, the proper balance of daring and caution, and I … Continue reading

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The Medieval Roots of American Rights

One unfortunate consequence of a typical Great Books sequence is a one-sided view of the importance of authors like Hobbes and Locke on the natural rights doctrine of the American founding. In this Crisis article, Andrew Latham helpfully summarizes key … Continue reading

Posted in In the Public Square, Philosophy, Political Thought, Reflections on the Books | 1 Comment

The Role of the Philosopher in Society a la Socrates

Below is a transcription of the Q&A session following my talk on the education of the philosopher in the Republic (Turning the Whole Soul). Most of the questions centered on the role the philosopher is supposed to play in society. … Continue reading

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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

Posted in Living It, Philosophy, Reflections on the Books | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Living It, Philosophy, Reflections on the Books | 3 Comments

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

Posted in Living It, Reflections on the Books, Theology | 1 Comment