Friday, May 14, 2021

Apuleius of Madauros

Extended Version* of an article by Bruce J. MacLennan, University of Tennessee.

"The 1566 Adlington translation of The Golden Ass is often reprinted, but outdated and inaccurate and therefore to be avoided. Fortunately, good modern translations are available, including those by Hanson (with facing Latin text), Kenney, Walsh, and others. Unfortunately, English translations of Apuleius' other surviving works are harder to find. The only contemporary translation of the Defense is in a collection of Apuleius' rhetorical works. Taylor's translations of The God of Socrates and Plato's Doctrine are bound with his 1822 translation of The Golden Ass, which is available in a modern edition from the Prometheus Trust."
*In Meet the Philosophers of Greece, ed. Patricia O'Grady, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005.

See Apuleius, "Cupid and Psyche" from The Golden Ass, Walter Pater translation, in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 3.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

A Fever of Intellect: Prometheus Bound and its Authenticity

'The Uncertainty about the Play’s Authorship is One More Gift of Prometheus'

Tom Hendrickson at In Media Res.

"The very question of authenticity was born during an era of scholarly hubris when the field of classics was selling itself as a scientific discipline. Perhaps it was wishful thinking to put such faith in the power of knowledge, but it’s a faith clearly shared by the author of Prometheus Bound, whoever it was. Prometheus Bound is a celebration of the triumph of knowledge, although it also carries with it hints of the limits of knowledge, and the dangers intertwined with knowledge."

See Aeschylus, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 5, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 4.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Education of Henry Adams

Review essay by John Patrick Diggins of:
- The Education of Henry Adams: A Centennial Version, by Henry Adams, edited by Edward Chalfant and Conrad Edick Wright;
- History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), by Henry Adams, edited by Earl N. Harbert; and
- History of the United States During the Administrations of James Madison (1809-1817), by Henry Adams, edited by Earl N. Harbert;
in the Claremont Review of Books.

"Writers on the Left dismiss Adams as a white male elitist of the Brahmin starch collar class, and they can hardly acknowledge that the American historian who died 90 [now 103] years ago had sharper insights about power than do today's Marxists and poststructuralists. Scholars on the Right may find Adams too alienated from the timeless truths that they feel America needs in our culture of relativism."

See Henry Adams, "The United States in 1800", from History of the United States of American, in volume 6, and "St. Thomas Aquinas", from Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, in volume 10, Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963).

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Shattered Reflections on Hemingway

Geoffrey Smagacz at The European Conservative.

"Then we have Hemingway as pugilist taking on other writers as boxing opponents. Hemingway once wrote: 'I started out very quiet and I beat Mr. Turgenev. Then I trained hard and I beat Mr. de Maupassant. I’ve fought two draws with Mr. Stendhal, and I think I had an edge in the last one. But nobody’s going to get me in any ring with Mr. Tolstoy unless I’m crazy or I keep getting better.' Did he? I don’t think he wrote anything better than Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons and never limned a better character than Bazarov the Nihilist. Hemingway also literally knocked down poet Wallace Stevens ..."
For another version, see That Time Wallace Stevens Punched Ernest Hemingway in the Face: Things did not end well for him, by Olivia Rutigliano, Crime Reads.

See Hemingway, The Killers, in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 2, and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 60.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Identity Politics, Opium of the People

Carl R. Trueman at First Things on a relevance of Marx today.

"Quoted in full [from A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right], the paragraph reads as follows:
'Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.'
"It is clear from this that Marx has a somewhat more subtle approach to religion than is often attributed to him. In his view, religion may be false, but it is a function of something real. Religious people may be putting their faith in nonsense, but they do so because they are truly suffering. We might say that, while Marx has no sympathy for religion, he has deep sympathy for the poor people who put their trust in it."

See Marx, Capital, and Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 50, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 50.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Can Thucydides Teach Us Why We Go to War?

'A contemporary scholar uses the ancient Greek historian to explain the 1968 Pueblo Crisis in North Korea.'

Matthew Wills reports at Jstor Daily.

"On January 23, 1968, naval forces from North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK) captured the U.S.S. Pueblo in the Sea of Japan. The Pueblo was a spy ship gathering signals intelligence from Soviet submarines and both naval and land-based communications from the DPRK. The vessel does seem to have been in international waters, at least twelve miles from the coast—but the North Koreans, who have long maintained an intense interest in maritime security, claimed a fifty-mile limit. One American sailor was killed in the capture. The eighty-two surviving members of the crew were held for eleven months."

See Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 6, and (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 5.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Aristophanes and politics: new studies

Review by Richard Martin, Stanford University, of Aristophanes and politics: new studies, edited by Ralph Rosen and Helene Foley*, at the Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

"Thankfully, these dozen essays transcend the tired questions (from the late 18th-century onward) of “Aristophanes’ politics” that subjected the playwright to the historical equivalent of Gallup polling.[1] Provocative and nuanced, most of them succeed in showing, by contrast, how the dramatist embodies and enacts a public role: Aristophanes is politics."
*Columbia studies in the classical tradition, volume 45. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2020. Pp. x, 286. ISBN 9789004424456.

See Aristophanes, Plays, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 5, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 4.

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Perennial Wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Great Books Tradition

Heather M. Erb of Great Books Academey at Studia Gilsoniana.

"My aim is to show how Thomas’s thoughts on education, permeated as they are with his metaphysics and theology, indicate the fittingness of matching the perennial wisdom with the Great Books tradition used in classical liberal arts education." (104)

See Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volumes 19-20, and Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volumes 17-18.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Classical Education

Edna O’Doherty at The Dublin Review Blog.

"Regularly dropping Latin tags, or even French ones, into one’s conversation is now generally regarded as a sign of pretentiousness, but there was a time when ad hoc, inter alia or primus inter pares were common verbal tics among the half-educated..."
Sic? -ed.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

How the modern world was made

'The vital role of war ... a virtuoso global study of how nations were formed and constitutions written upends the familiar narrative at every turn'

Miles Taylor reviews The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen by Linda Colley at The Guardian.

"Few documents are venerated as much as the American constitution. Until recently, one million people a year filed past the original copy on display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington DC. Yet, as Linda Colley’s brilliant new book shows, viewing constitutions as national tablets of stone tells us more about their contemporary charisma than the complex histories from which they were wrought. ...
"Fresh insights are suggested for pivotal moments, such as the Philadelphia convention that agreed the first American constitution in 1787 in great secrecy, only to find it emblazoned across the newspapers as soon as it was ready. ..."

See American State Papers in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 43, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 40.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy: Apollo and Dionysus

'It’s more complicated than just order and chaos...'

Gregory B. Sadler, Ph.D., president of ReasonIO and editor of Stoicism Today, at Rationality Today.

"There is a fundamental — and rightly famous — distinction made from the very start in The Birth of Tragedy, one whose fruitfulness and insight accounts for the work being anthologized so often, and for being read and discussed in a number of fields outside of Philosophy or the History of Ideas: Theater (since it’s about drama, after all!), Art History (because it’s about aesthetics), Literature (since it deals with poetry), Religious Studies (myth is a key issue), Gender Studies (Paglia’s Sexual Personae being an example)... the list could go on. It’s been a broadly influential work. So, what’s the key distinction that captured the attention and imagination of thinkers and theorists in so many fields?"

See Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 43

Monday, May 3, 2021

Neil Postman’s Vision of Humane Education

Josh Pauling at The Imaginative Conservative.

"Postman’s technological skepticism led him to conclude that true education is ultimately a very low-tech endeavor, a journey of dialogue, where one person leads another. This can be seen in the Latin roots of the English word education, educere, which means to lead out—as in leading one out of the limiting shadows of Plato’s cave into the liberating experience of reality. The teacher’s aspiration is leading students into further experience of the real—into the world of embodied meaning—not keeping them in the cave of digital shadows. Postman proposed several ideas that still hold promising potential to address our current educational moment."
See Informing Ourselves to Death, a speech by Neil Postman at a meeting of the German Informatics Society (Gesellschaft fuer Informatik) on October 11, 1990 in Stuttgart, sponsored by IBM-Germany.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Euclid in a Nutshell

Eva Brann reviews reviews The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements, by David Berlinski, at CRB E-Reviews.

"The title 'Elements' betokens: choice of beginnings, logical sequence, economy of theorems, dramatic culmination. What those terms describe is a system: Euclid, Berlinski points out, shows us that the mathematical insights he draws into his book are interconnected, that there is 'mathematics,' a tight-woven realm of related 'learnables,' as the Greek word, mathematika, signifies, a world for which Euclid has found deft beginnings and dramatic directions."
[link fixed -ed.]

See Euclid, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 11, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 10.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Liberal Education for Conservatives

Mark Bauerlein interviews Jonathan Marks on his recent book Let’s Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education in this podcast at First Things.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Reading Rat - April 2021

Articles, Essays, Reviews

'Mystery Science Theater 3000' Kickstarter Campaign Returns to Fund New Episodes and Virtual Theater, by Chris Evangelista, Film

The Power of Pear: A Pear-Shaped Brain Tumor Halted Jeannie Gaffigan's Life, Brought Her Closer to God, and Showed Her How to Really Live, by Stephen Filmanowicz, Marquette Magazine

My Experience Conducting a Civil Jury Trial During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Three Separate and Unique Accounts; by Chelsea J. Wilfong, and Christina Davis-Sommers, Corneille Law Group, LLC; Andrew J. Versnik, American Family Mutual Insurance Company, S.I.; Patrick G. Heaney, Thrasher, Pelish & Heaney, Ltd.; WDC Journal, Wiscconsin Defense Counsel

How the Humanities Building Went Wrong: From the start, problems plagued a piece of architecture that could have been great, by Preston Schmitt, On Wisconsin

Court Packing: Should the Supreme Court be reformed? Nicole Etter interviews Associate Professor Joshua Braver, University of Wisconsin Law School, Gargoyle

Aquinas Leadership International April 2021 Update

This is a selection based on items from the Aquinas School of Leadership, provided to us by Dr. Peter A. Redpath. More recent announcements are posted here.

Selected upcoming events are posted on this blog's Conference Calendar page.

Selected recent news items are listed below.

More and later Announcements.

A kind of anti-Odyssey

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, from Classics Revisited (1968), by Kenneth Rexroth, at Bureau of Public Secrets.
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not modeled on the Odyssey the way Joyce’s Ulysses is, but it would have been quite impossible for Mark Twain not to have Homer constantly in mind, as he must also have had Robinson Crusoe, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and the travels of Peter and Paul and of dozens of others, not least Marco Polo. He carefully contradicts them all."

See Twain, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) in volume 2, Learning the River, from Life on the Mississippi, in volume 6; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 48.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

'Let’s Be Reasonable'

Professor discusses his book on a 'conservative case for liberal education.'

Scott Jaschik interviewed Jonathan Marks, author of Let's Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education, at Inside Higher Ed. [link fixed -ed.]

"Q: Your first chapter deals with the holiday place mat for social justice at Harvard University in 2015. What was striking to you about that story?

"A: That story had a little bit of everything. An initiative of the freshman dean’s office and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the place mats offered advice on how best to explain certain matters --- the abandonment of the title 'master' for resident heads, for example -- to one’s unwoke relatives.

"It was striking that this minor incident received coverage from major outlets, including Fox, CNN and The Washington Post. It was striking that the perpetrators were not campus crazies but rather administrators who initially seemed surprised at all the attention. 'Of course we’re distributing social justice talking points,' they seemed to tell us. 'Why all the fuss?' Still occasionally the province of marchers with signs, the struggle against injustice is more routinely handled by able administrators. It’s institutionalized, and campus leaders seem not to know or care how baking left-inflected politics into the bureaucracy may damage their reputations and undermine their academic missions. It is striking, maybe most of all, that students, often cast as snowflake villains in these tales, were the ones who explained that 'prescribing party-line talking points' on controversial matters 'stands in stark contrast to the college’s mission of fostering intellectual, social and personal growth.' They were asking to be treated as reasonable people."

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Dignity of Man and the 21st Century

Address by Mortimer J. Adler, October 10, 1952, audio and text at the Commonwealth Club of California.

"The announcement that I was to talk to you today on the 21st century, I think had its origin in the fact that last May and June, the time that I was trying to explain the work of the Institute of Philosophical Research to the press, I did say, I did mean, more than say, I meant that this work would probably take something around 50 years to do and its effect might be felt in the 21st century, if not the 20th."

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Best Goethe Books

Charles J. Styles interviews David E. Wellbery, author of A New History of German Literature, at Five Books.

"...Faust is unquestionably Goethe’s most masterful and encompassing poetic achievement. It is a grand synthesis and in its grandeur it exceeds the limits of genre. Even to call it a drama doesn’t capture the achievement; it has epic and lyric qualities as well. The time covered in Faust extends from the beginning of the world all the way to Byron’s death in 1824 following the siege of Missolonghi. The work has a theological frame, a cultural-historical frame, and an artistic frame. It draws on the imaginary forms of bourgeois tragedy, Shakespearean drama, Renaissance lyric, the folk song, Calderon’s theatre, and Dante’s poetic vision. It combines the classical and the romantic, the high and the low, the mystical and the burlesque. Remarkably, all this holds together."

See Goethe, Faust, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 47, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 45.

Monday, April 26, 2021

First Edition text of 'The Federalist' online

The online text is derived from "The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, As Agreed Upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787" according to The Online Books Page. It goes on to describe the source print edition for the online versions as "both volumes bound together: multiple formats at" and "both volumes: HTML at Evans TCP".

By comparison, three years ago a first edition print set up for sale was evaluated at $80,000-$120,000 according to Fine Books & Collections.

See The Federalist, by Publius (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay), in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 43, and (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 40.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Considering Online Education Through Newman’s Principles

Gerriet Suiter and Erika Kidd at The University of St. Thomas Newsroom.

"To think about online education with [John Henry] Newman must not mean to entertain a change of ends. There are those in the present day, as there were those in Newman’s day, who argue for utilitarian ends for education and who would say that the sole point of education is productive employment. Newman assails this position in his writings. Of course, liberal education may well, in a secondary way, be useful, he acknowledges, 'but that is a further consideration, with which I am not concerned. I only say that, prior to its being a power, it is a good; that it is, not only an instrument, but an end.' ([The] Idea [of a University], 112)"

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Free Time for Free Thought

'UChicago students need more time to think.'

Nathan Cairn Goldthwaite, a third-year in the College, at The Chicago Maroon.

"I hold administrative scheduling policies responsible for taking away our free time. Our professors routinely cram a semester’s worth of material into ten-week (now shortened to nine-week) quarters, and the pace and volume of work required quickly overwhelms us and shuts down opportunities for genuine reflection, engagement, or enthusiasm. We are constantly studying for endless exams, reading hundreds of pages for class, or writing papers. High-density courses in the College encourage students to memorize and regurgitate material and embrace academic vocationalism (like buying spots in easy courses) and outcome-oriented studying (or cheating) in order to stay afloat."