Liberal Learning

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I swore never to read again after 'To Kill A Mockingbird' gave me no useful advice on killing mockingbirds. — Homer J. Simpson I’ve sometimes been surprised by how few ordinary Americans read important books—even texts that underpin...

So here’s* my contribution to a symposium on “originalism” as the mode of interpreting the Constitution that facilitates the maximization of the libertarian value of “negative liberty.” Everyone else in the symposium operates on a higher pay grade...
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Before reviewing Peter Kalkavage’s Focus Press translation of the Timaeus, I must, in all fairness, confess my partiality. He, Eric Salem, and myself were the co-translators of Plato’s Phaedo and his Sophist for the same...
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Authentically Catholic liberal-arts colleges and universities accept the harmony of faith and reason. The overall intellectual bent of Catholic schools should thus be, at least to some extent, and hopefully to much extent, Thomistic; and the teaching...
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Congratulations to graduates in the Class of 2015. Graduating high-school students often ask me how college will differ from high school. And what I say usually seems to come as a surprise: In college, you should start...
commencement address

In this stubborn old college and at this pleasant old town of Hillsdale, the young ladies and gentlemen, who are being graduated today, have enjoyed four years of sanctuary from the hurly-burly of our era;...
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By an old tradition the first lecture of the year is dedicated to the new members of our college, to the freshman students and the freshman tutors. It is a chance to tell you something about the...
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The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Joe Sachs (Paul Dry Books: Philadelphia 2014) Joe Sachs’ brief introduction to his translation begins, memorably, like this: “I’ve never met a...
Eva Brann
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This is a splendid day for you, the students of Mesa Preparatory Academy—a day, a moment, of passage. In all the ways of life (“cultures” as they are called) that I’ve seen or read about, such a...
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If we are to make any kind of case for the liberal arts, we must first have a reasonably coherent notion of what the liberal arts are, and what they are for. That means clearing away some...

Some years ago, I walked across the braes from Old Cumnock, in Ayrshire, to the village of Ochiltree. Now Ochiltree is the “Barbie” of George Douglas Brown’s grim realistic novel The House with the Green Shutters. And...
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Rev. James Schall Probably the most famous letter writer of the ancient world was Cicero. In 59 B.C., Cicero wrote to Gaius Scribonius: “There are many sorts of letters. But there is one unmistakable...
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Alan Jacobs patiently explains why even the most scrupulous of scholars can’t understand the first thing about Flannery O’Connor’s stories without at least a good deal of biblical literacy.* Well, a real poet or a person with...