Online group seminars (6-15 people per seminar group) are offered several times a year. These are given in 10 one-hour installments spread over a 10 week period. Each seminar will involve a guided discussion concerning a different topic, written work, or individual thinker from the history of philosophy. The specific matter of the seminar will be decided in discussion with the participants, or with a representative negotiating the seminar on behalf of the participants. Custom seminars are also available by request.
Currently offered seminar topics:
- Reasoning and Philosophy
- Human beings have for long been called “rational animals”. But what does this really mean? By considering the roots of the Western tradition, we will discover the intimate relationship between the philosophical life and the most-central of human capacities.
- Possible readings: Plato’s Apology, Meno, Josef Pieper’s In Defense of Philosophy, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, The Philosophical Act.
- Human Virtue
- The question of virtue is not a matter of conforming to rigid standards set by autocratic authorities, but rather based in a deep understanding of the human person and the good which pertains to the conduct of human life. We will discuss the nature of virtue and the difficulty of attaining it.
- Possible readings: Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Josef Pieper’s Four Cardinal Virtues.
- Life’s Purpose
- An underlying point of contention within Western culture today is the question of purpose: that is, specifically, whether life and the universe have some greater purpose–especially human life–or if it is naught but the product of inconceivable chaos. Are you prepared to ask the heaviest of questions–or worse, answer it?
- Possible authors to be read: Aristotle, St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, Nietzsche, Charles Peirce.
- The Nature and Action of Signs
- One of the most important emerging fields of study is that which Charles Sanders Peirce termed semiotics: the study of the action of signs. Understood properly, semiotics is, per Peirce, the normative science of truth. Though a daunting study–full of complex abstract thoughts and even more complex jargon–this seminar proposes to help the curious take their first step on the semiotic path, introducing the core concepts and their profound consequences.
- Possible authors to be read: excerpts from St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Poinsot, Charles Peirce, John Deely.
- Plato: Ascending towards Truth
- Western philosophy–the discipline of rigorously pursing the truth–begins in earnest with the writings of Plato. This survey will examine some of the most central ideas and texts to be found in his work.
- Possible readings: The Apology, Meno, Phaedo, Phaedrus, The Republic, The Symposium, The Sophist.
- Aristotle: Philosophical Science
- If Plato was the first great philosophical inquirer of the Western tradition, Aristotle was the first great provider of philosophical answers: to grasp the questions, to examine the answers given by others, and to discover the truth which eluded them all through systematic treatises.
- Possible readings: The Categories, The Physics, On the Soul, Nicomachean Ethics, Metaphysics.
- Thomas Aquinas: Wisdom and Synthesis
- Among all the bright minds of the 13th century, and of scholasticism generally, none brought so much illumination to Western philosophy as St. Thomas Aquinas. Though the majority of his writing concerned itself with theology, his philosophical insights–not to mention his commentaries Aristotle–are exemplars. A wide range of topics are available to be focused upon in this seminar, including focus on specific works, Aquinas’ life, or a survey of his life and works.
- Possible readings: selections from the De Ente et Essentia, Quaestiones disputatae de Veritate (or other Quaestiones disputatae), Summa contra Gentiles, Summa Theologiae, commentaries on Aristotle.
- Charles Sanders Peirce: Signs of Truth
- With much of his work being kept under lock and key in the archives of Harvard University until recently, Charles Peirce has long been well-known as a founder of pragmatism (misleadingly!) and of semiotics. But the nature of his proposals was poorly understood, in part because of ignorance of his own sources, the scholastics. In Peirce, what we find is a return to true philosophy, after the sophistical pursuits of the Moderns and their Way of Ideas. His was also an interesting life.
- Possible readings: selections from The Essential Peirce, volumes I and II, Joseph Brent’s Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life, selections from John Deely.
- Martin Heidegger: Phenomenological Method
- Charting a tumultous course that begins in scholasticism and ends in esotericism, there are great insights buried in the oft-difficult works of Martin Heidegger. Attempting to unearth these insights–if nothing else–is a great practice at reading difficult philosophical texts; but if one can discover the truths of his phenomenological method, philosophical ability cannot but improve–which may be discovered against the backdrop of Heidegger’s own life.
- Possible readings: History of the Concept of Time, Being and Time, Basic Problems of Phenomenology, “On the Essence of Truth”, “Letter on Humanism”, Rudiger Safranksi’s Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil.
- Special topics available upon request.
Registration for regular seminars is offered at a flat rate of $85 per person.
Custom seminars, which require more work, are offered at a rate of $95 per person.
Ordinarily, seminars are capped at 15 participants but exceptional cases will be considered.
Please submit all inquiries through the Contact page.