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Great Books


Why Read Great Books? And Why Pay Good Money to do so?

Why Read Great Books?

And Pay Good Money to Do So?

Dr. Thaddeus KozinskiWyoming Catholic College

1My Life with the Great Books

2Points to Discuss this EveningWhats a Great Book? Boethius Consolation of PhilosophyGreat Books: Friends of WisdomGreat Books: Enemies of WisdomThe True Liberal Arts College as Rite of Passage and Guild

3Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy

4The Consolation of Philosophy, Book I, Verse 1 Songs which once I wrote in flourishing description,tearful, alas, I am forced to form into gloomy measures. Look how the torn Muses dictate to me writing, and elegies bathe my face with real tears.Not even terror could overcome thesefrom proceeding as our companions along the way.Once the glory of my happy and green youth,they now console my fate of gloomy old age.For hurried unexpected age comes with evils,and sorrow has ordered her time to come in.From the head unseasonable gray hairs are spreading, and slack skin trembles on an exhausted body.

.asasasasasasa5Boethius (continued)Human death is lucky which in sweet years itselfdoes not intrude and comes when often called by sorrows.Alas, how it turns aside the wretched by a deaf earand cruelly refuses to close weeping eyes!While fortune may have favored by wrong trust in easy goodsa sad hour nearly overwhelmed my head;now because the clouds have changed their deceitful facevicious life is dragged out by unwelcome delays.Why did you so often consider me happy, friends?Whoever has fallen, that one was not in a steady position.

6Boethius: Prose 1 While I was silently thinking over these things in myselfand noting mournful complaints by a pen's servicethere stood over head visions for me,a woman of very majestic appearance,with eyes shining and sharp beyond common human health,from vivid color and of inexhaustible vigor,yet so mature in age as almost to be believed of our time,the height of doubtful determination.

For at one time she held herself to common human measure,while at another time in height she actuallyseemed to strike the heaven of the highest summit;which when her head was raised higher even penetrated heaven and was frustrating the observation of the humans looking.

7Boethius (Prose 1 continued)

Her clothes with the finest threads were by delicate skillfrom the imperishable material of perfection,which, as I have since learned from her coming out,she wove herself with her own hands;just as it usually does smoky pictures,a kind of fog of neglected antiquity covered their form.

On the lowest border of these a Greek Pi was embroidered,while on the highest a Theta could be read,and between both letters could be seenin the manner of stairs a kind of marked grade,by which the ascent should befrom the lower to the higher element.

However the hands of some violent ones had torn this dressand had taken away whatever particulars each could.At any rate in her right hand were books,while in the left she was carrying a scepter.

8The Lady Speaks! (Prose 1 continued)When she saw the poetic Muses standing by our bedand dictating words for my tears,upset for a little while and inflamed with wild lights:

"Who," she asked, "allowed the actress harlotsto approach this sick person?These sorrows not only have not encouraged any cures,but they actually nourish them further with sweet drugs.For these are the oneswho with the unproductive thorns of passionkill the fertile crop of reason with its fruitsand accustom human minds to stress;they do not liberate.

9 (Lady Philosophy continued) "Now if your allurements had drawn off someone profane, as it is usual with you in the crowd,I would think it bringing in less annoyance,since then none of our work would be harmed;while this one has been nurturedin Eleatic and Academic studies.But rather depart, Sirens pleasant all the way into ruin,and leave him to caring and healing by my Muses."

That sad chorus reprimanded by thiscast a gloomier look on the groundand having confessed shame by a blush went out the door.

10Great Books: Friends of Wisdom

11Great Books: Friends of WisdomObvious benefits: Culture, Intelligence, Worldview, the West Deeper reasons: Liberation1984, Brave New World, The MatrixSocratic dialectic and the Cave 12Deepest Reason for studying the Great Books: Transcendence Josef Pieper: The lover, too, stands outside the tight chain of efficiency of this working world, and whoever else approaches the margin of existence through some deep, existential disturbance (which always brings a shattering of ones environment as well), or through, say, the proximity of death. In such a disturbance (for the philosophical act, genuine poetry, musical experience in general, and prayer as well all these depend on some kind of disturbance) in such an experience, man senses the non-ultimate nature of this daily, worrisome world: he transcends it; he takes a step outside it.13Great Books: Enemies of Wisdom

14Great Books: Enemies of WisdomErsatz counterfeit, but a good tryNo trivium and quadriviumDilettantism, Eclecticism, Skepticism, and Relativism: My experience at St. JohnsBack to the Cave?

15Liberal Arts as Guild

16Why Pay for Great Books Classes in a Great Books CollegeWould one even ask this about physics or medicine? Masters and ApprenticesRite of PassageThe Science of Wisdom17Guildless Options On ones ownWith momIn an online discussion groupIn flesh-and-blood discussion groupIn an online classIn a face-to-face class, but not integrated and Catholic18