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St. John's College

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Your world needs you; it needs your desire to understand it, your openness to what it has to teach you, your acceptance of its imperfections, and your sincere wish and best efforts to be useful to it because you care for it as it has cared for you, however...
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At St. John’s I learned how to struggle with fate—before I was even capable of truly grasping what fate might possibly be—as I viewed what it meant to be human through the eyes of war-like Achilleus and as I wandered with crafty Odysseus, searching for my own...
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Entertaining questions requires wisdom, a considering, reflecting frame of a mind still resonating with past experience but now focused by desirous expectation. Otherwise put: Questions are a mode of blessed ignorance, a thorough apprehension of our own cognitive limitations which clears our minds of mere opinions and,...
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Founded in 1696, St. John's College has a unique history as one of America's first, and leading, liberal arts institutions. St. John's (campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe) explores the great books of Western Civilization through seminar discussions. As Christopher Nelson (President, St. John's College, Annapolis)...
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The vivid love-speeches of the Symposium come to us, reach us, through several layers of incomplete remembrance, and as though from a mythic past... Symposium (or Drinking Party) by Plato, translated and edited by Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage, and Eric Salem (Hackett, 2017)
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The one incident in Cervantes’s huge novel that has become American folklore is Don Quixote’s adventure with the windmills. As it happens, it contains, almost incidentally, the Don’s own statement of the crux of his life, the...
St. Johns College
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We want to give our students a classroom in which inciting books are talked about not as mere literature nor as historical documents, but boldly as they meant themselves to be taken: as the Word of God, or the insight of the intellect, or the wisdom of...
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The tradition, for us in America, is the Western Tradition, most ours because it has given us the two notions and their realizations which we live by in much of our private and civic life... Editor's Note: Dr. Eva Brann delivered this address at the Free Enterprise...
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Is “the knowing of what one knows and what one does not know that one does not know” ever possible? And what is the benefit of that knowledge? Profound Ignorance: Plato's Charmides and the Saving of Wisdom by David Lawrence...
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Music assures us that we are not alone: that there is something out there in the world that knows our hearts and may even teach us to know them better. Thanks to music, we experience what it means to be connected to the whole of all things...
Plato
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So there are, at least in my experience, not many books that deal with the question “What’s the good of justice?” But there is one that deals with it preeminently. It...
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We live in a country in which liberty is both exercised and preserved by free action. Such action is by its very nature pre­ceded by thought, from which it follows that human be­ings, the young especially, ought to have a period of re­flective learning as a prelude...
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The "liberal" in "liberal arts" has traditionally and rightly been understood to refer to freedom in several ways. In a classical context the liberal arts rescue us from banal pursuits. In a religious context they deliver us from earthly bonds. And in a modern context they set...
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The great vehicle of liberal learning is discussion, in which begetting, questioning, refuting, and again questioning take place... What I have to speak about, briefly and in a most elementary way, is what...