Participation in every dimension of the Lyceum Institute is voluntary and conducted at the pace of the individual. This includes the everyday conversations conducted through open chats, common-channel threads, discussion of resources, and listening to lectures. That said, certain additional practices do form a “core” of the program, all of which are available to members at every level of enrollment, and which lay the foundations for the philosophical habits we strive to instill.
We do not, today, know well how to ask a question. Of course, in the superficial sense, we are all well-practiced at asking questions: what is that? What do you mean? Why are you shouting? Where do I go? But these are questions of practical efficacy–not questions about meaning. Most of all, they are not questions which drive at the underlying intelligible causes which truly provide an answer.
Believing that digital technology retrieves the inquisitive spirit of medieval scholasticism, Lyceum Institute members are encouraged to participate in the quaestiones disputatae program. This program consists in three continual phases.
First, participants craft a provisional question concerning some topic of philosophical interest. This can be vague, such as, “What is rhetoric and why is it important?”, or it can be very particular, such as “Why are there four species of the category of quality?” This should be elaborated in a discussion thread, stating the reason for one’s interest, the perceived difficulty or obstruction of clarity, and some goal which is sought. This process of elaboration may be quick or lengthy, taking as long as it needs to develop rightly. Other members and Faculty will contribute as well, suggesting ideas and readings, engaging one another in a dialectical process.
Second, participants engage with one another and Faculty in semi-formal discussions–called Inquirere sessions–where a report on progress is given and further issues are worked out in real time conversation, with more specific feedback and details being given.
Third, participants prepare a quaestio. This, ideally, should capture something of the medieval disputed question format. This need not comprise the specific “objection–response” structure, but should in principle explain the difficulty and propose a resolution to it. This prepared quaestio can be of any length, and should be presented in some format to the Lyceum Institute as a whole.
Program coming soon
The beginning of the liberal arts is grounded in a study of language and reason, which consists in three subjects, or a trivium. These three subjects—grammar, logic, and rhetoric—are the cornerstone of any education, for they teach us the fundamentals of how we use language, through which all teaching is communicated. While some persons, that is, might possess a mathematical aptitude from a very young age, such that elaborate linguistic explanation is found unnecessary for their success in dealing with numbers, that their numerical gifts be rendered fully incorporated into the good of human life nevertheless requires their possession of a well-developed facility with language. Human beings may excel in a variety of pursuits which entail no direct or immediate incorporation of language in those pursuits’ practice, but for those pursuits to become fully human themselves, they must themselves be incorporated by language.
Grammar: while languages are conventional in their particular structure—for example, the shapes of letters or sounds which correspond to words, this or that rule (“Don’t split your infinitives! Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put!”), the use of punctuation, and so on—language is an essential property of human nature. In other words, the development and use of some language is natural and necessary for human fulfillment. It is through language that we show ourselves to be fully human; and this is why learning a language or languages and being able to use language in order to communicate is so very important.
Core textbook: Linguistic Signification: A Classical Course in Grammar & Composition by Brian Kemple (forthcoming).
Logic: underlying, supporting, and structuring every language is human reasoning. We use language in order to communicate our ideas, and hopefully to communicate the truth. But before language is produced, those ideas have to be formed and developed; this process is called reasoning and understanding how we reason helps us to avoid errors in our thought. The study of this process, in its abstract form, is the subject of logic.
Core textbook: Logic as a Liberal Art: An Introduction to Rhetoric and Reasoning by R.E. Houser.
Rhetoric: understanding both the structure of language and the thought process behind us leads us to the study of how our use of language impacts human beings as a whole—what is persuasive, what is funny, what is emotionally moving, and so on. This belongs to the study of rhetoric, in which we employ not only grammar but also reasoning; in which we write with the intention of not only speaking the truth but communicating it effectively and persuasively to our audience.
Core textbook: Classical Rhetoric for Modern Students, 1st or 2nd edition, by Edward P.J. Corbett.
In addition to the study of the English language in the three dimensions of the Trivium, the Lyceum Institute also aims to offer education in other languages important for a robust education: specifically, Latin, ancient Greek, German, and French. At present, we only offer a program in Latin, but intend to expand in the coming few years.
The reasons for such linguistic study are threefold: first, the number of important texts which one can read expands dramatically by the addition of any of these languages. Second, the quality of one’s understanding, even of a text available in translation, is markedly improved by an ability to read a work in the author’s original language. Third, one’s mental dexterity is refined by thinking through linguistic signification in varied syntactic and semantic forms.
Taught by Sterling Contreras, the Lyceum Institute’s Introduction to the Latin Language enables students to have reading fluency for simple Latin texts, such as Cicero’s Commentarii de bello gallico and the Latin Vulgate Bible without need of external aids. This further enables the reading of Medieval Latin, including the works of Thomas Aquinas.
All Lyceum Institute members are, further, invited to participate in the colloquium series. These colloquia, comprising a pre-recorded lecture and a live question and answer session, invite respected academics and intellectuals to challenge our thinking through their own hard-earned expertise, reflections, and insights.
This series aims, year-by-year, to build the offerings of the Lyceum Institute and to expose its members to thinking they might not encounter otherwise, as well as to provide yet… [Read more].
Basic Lyceum Institute membership starts at $10.50 a month (for a limited time only). Enroll today to secure your membership price.