• 8 Lessons


    In this course, we will investigate the reality and meaning of the famous categories of Aristotle. He introduces them as logical concepts, as modes of predication occurring in various sorts of propositions. He does this work in the book called the Categories. He goes on to argue, however, in Book 5 of the Metaphysics, that the categories correspond to modes of being, a claim that sets the stage for many of the conclusions he draws in the Metaphysics, for example, in Book 7. Ultimately, they underpin theology itself, as he shows in Book 12. Prior to these metaphysical considerations, Aristotle shows that the categories are necessary in defining concepts belonging to natural philosophy, for example, the definitions of nature and motion.

    Consequently, in order to lay out an overarching view of Aristotle’s use of the categories in his philosophy, we will first consider his view of them in the Categories as logical concepts, i.e., as predications (kategoria in Greek). Then we will look at the role of the categories in the definitions of nature and motion in Book 2 of the Physics. Finally, we will look at the role they play in defining being itself in Books 5 and 7 of the Metaphysics, along with a glimpse of their application to the Divine Being itself in Book 12.

  • 8 Lessons


    This course, the first of four, begins Fellows’ journey through Athenaze, the celebrated, graded introduction to ancient Greek from the Oxford University Press. At the end of the fourth course, and the second volume of Athenaze, Fellows will be prepared to make their own way (with the help of a lexicon and reference grammar) through any ancient Greek text: Homeric epic, tragedy, classical philosophy, the Septuagint, New Testament, or the philosophy of later antiquity. That’s 32 weeks to a working knowledge of ancient Greek.

  • 8 Lessons

    NORTHERN LITERATURE: The Eddas and Sagas

    “Quid enim Hinieldus cum Christo?” Alcuin asks this famous question of the bishop of Lindisfarne after receiving news of the monks’ interest in hearing pagan stories, accompanied by the harp, during mealtimes. “Let the words of God be read at dinner. It is proper for a reader to be heard there, not a harpist, the discourse of the fathers, not the song of the heathens. What has Ingeld to do with Christ? Your house is narrow and cannot contain both.” This course will engage Alcuin’s question by examining the literature of the pre-Christian and early Christian north, a body of mythology, poetry, and prose which, in partial answer to Alcuin’s question, had such a formative influence on subsequent Christian writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Sigrid Undset, W. H. Auden, George Mackay Brown and others. We will read both the prose and poetic Eddas—those repositories of Norse mythology, cosmogony, and heroic legend. We will familiarize ourselves with two of the most memorable characters in the Icelandic saga: the pious and unyielding Hrafnkel (“Frey’s Godi”) and the quintessential moody, violent Viking, Egil.  Finally, we will immerse ourselves in one of the neglected classics of Western literature, the masterful Njal’s Saga.

  • 7 Lessons

    WAR: Reflecting on the Nature of Conflict and Strategy through the Great Books

    War raises questions. Why do men endanger themselves and others in battle? How do large-scale conflicts arise? Do individual men act according to universal principles in killing opponents; is all killing personal?  What is an “enemy?” Why do men kill strangers with whom they have no personal hatred? How has lethal force been controlled or organized for good purposes? What can go wrong? Why does violence have a tendency to take control of human will? How does one act in a just and noble way during conflict? What is the relationship between war and politics? Is there humor in war; why? How should leaders prepare for war? Why is war so memorable? What obligations do successive generations have to those who sacrifice themselves in war?  This course examines the nature of organized conflict and the human response to the sustained and violent struggle that civilized men have called "war."  Readings will focus on classic works which treat the origin and nature of war.