First Principles


July 15–28, 2018
Princeton University • Princeton, NJ

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This seminar examines two topics central to the work of the Witherspoon Institute, namely, (1) the purpose of the university and (2) friendship and marriage. Unfortunately, these topics are often taken up from the vantage point of the culture wars, rather than from a patient, careful study of first principles. In these two weeks, we examine them from the background of philosophical anthropology, the metaphysics of the person, and a study of personal action and the human good. That is, from the perspective of the nature of being, the nature of knowing, and the nature of action, both the university and human relationships can be understood as having purpose and order insofar as they contribute to, and partially constitute, human flourishing. Absent a basis in a personalist anthropology, the university and human relations tend to seek alternative ends which are profoundly alienating and potentially destructive to persons and communities. 

In the first week, the seminar examines traditional texts of metaphysics and epistemology as the backdrop for the university. In the second week, readings in human action and the human good provide a basis to examine friendship, sexuality, and relationship. Discussions are lively, vigorous, and socratic. The seminar includes guest lecturers and opportunities to interact with leading writers and public intellectuals in addition to regular faculty as well as cultural engagements with art, music, film, architecture, chances to explore Princeton, and a day trip to New York City. 

Join students from around the country (and the world) in this intensive course on what it means to be a human who knows, acts, and loves. 

Readings

Readings will likely include: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Voegelin, Nietzsche, Newman, Charles Taylor, Arendt, Pierre Hadot, Josef Pieper, and others.

Faculty and Lecturers

R. J. Snell, Director, Center on the University and Intellectual Life, Witherspoon Institute

David Corey, Professor of Political Science, Baylor University

Anna Moreland, Associate Professor of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions, Villanova University

Geoffrey Vaughan, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Fortin and Gonthier Foundations of Western Civilization Program, Assumption College

R. R. Reno, Editor, First Things

Sohrab Ahmari, Senior Writer, Commentary


Eligibility
This seminar is open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Application Information 
Please click here to access to application form.

The following documents are required of applicants: cover letter explaining your interest in the seminar, resume or curriculum vitae, copies of your unofficial transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. All application materials must be submitted online on or before February 18, 2018; applications received by email will not be considered. 

Location and Admissions Information 
Admitted students will be notified of their status in mid-March. A non-refundable $400 registration fee is required of all admitted students to offset the costs of tuition, room, and board to attend this program hosted on the campus of Princeton University.  

Questions?
Email us at summer@winst.org