The Witherspoon Institute

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Fall Seminar for Graduate Students:
Christianity, Open-Mindedness, and the Intellectual Virtues

The Institute is pleased to announce its 2016-17 reading group on Christianity, Open-Mindedness, and the Intellectual Virtues. This reading group is sponsored by the Center on the University and Intellectual Life.

This reading group will discuss texts and themes that address, directly or indirectly, the place and proper identities of particular academic virtues in the Christian tradition. Using philosophy (mostly Aristotle) and theology (drawing heavily on Augustine and Aquinas), the group will take up such questions as: What is the connection between open-mindedness (or its absence) and social segregation along ideological lines? What are the costs of such social segregation? What is the difference between true and false intellectual humility? Under what definitions would open-mindedness be (and not be) a bone fide virtue? What changes do the infusion of the theological virtues make to the academic virtues such as intellectual charity? Is it a sin to be intellectually boring? Continue reading


Fall Seminar:
Ambition: Intellectual, Moral, Political

Case_for_GreatnessThe Institute is pleased to announce its 2016 fall seminar on Ambition: Intellectual, Moral, Political sponsored by the Center on the University and Intellectual Life. This seminars is part of the Institute’s efforts to assist the next generation of scholars in reflecting on truly human questions.

In this year-long seminar, undergraduate students will study and challenge the ironism found in both society and the university, exploring the intellectual, moral, and political foundations for a healthy and reasonable ambition, including the quests for truth, free society, and statesmanship. Students’ readings will orbit around Robert Faulkner’s The Case for Greatness: supplementing this with readings on political glory and fame in Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Aristotle, Seneca, Montaigne, Josef Pieper, Aquinas, Tocqueville, and the life of George Washington. Professor Faulkner will lead one of the sessions, while all others will be led by Dr. RJ Snell. Continue reading