WHAT: St. John’s College Graduate Institute Summer Lecture Series
DESCRIPTION: The Graduate Institute Summer Lectures are given by St. John’s tutors, last about an hour, are followed by discussion, and are free and open to the public.
WHEN: Wednesdays at 3 p.m. from July 2 – August 6
July 2 - Russell Winslow
July 9 - Kenneth Wolfe
July 16 - Arcelia Rodriguez
July 23 - Mark Singleton
July 30 - Frank Pagano
August 6 - Claudia Honeywell
WHERE: Junior Common Room, Peterson Student Center, St. John’s College, 1160 Camino Cruz Blanca, Santa Fe NM
CONTACT: 505-984-6000 (St. John’s College Switchboard)
Wednesday, July 2
Russell Winslow: “Human Nature and Democracy in Plato’s Republic”
In his lecture, Russell Winslow disrupts the long established view that Plato’s commitment to aristocracy is absolute, and his disdain for democracy complete. Winslow shows that while it is indisputable that for Plato, the best human soul is the aristocratic soul, it is possible that the only way that the soul can be ordered aristocratically—i.e., can be responsible for and examine itself as regards its very being—is by being born in a city organized democratically. In the Republic, only a democracy provides the occasion for the developing soul to wakefully take on its self-responsibility as a member of the polis.
Wednesday, July 9
Kenneth Wolfe: “Rumi: The Intoxication of Divine Love”
Wednesday, July 16
Arcelia Rodriguez: “The Moral Education of the Poets: Literary Techniques, Character and the Foolish Loves of Amadis and Orlando”
The lecture will present an outline of the parts necessary to explain and further study a literature of “reading between the lines,” including thoughts on: the character of the student of political philosophy; in what way a careful writer of normal intelligence is more intelligent than the most intelligent censor; and how the study of a common object of medieval philosophy and literature can lead us to differences between poetic and philosophic allegories that could be used by a careful writer in successfully passing off a poetic for a philosophic work (and vice-versa). These thoughts were inspired by readings of the histories of two of Don Quixote’s greatest heroes, Amadis de Gaula, as presented by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, and Charlemagne’s nephew, Orlando, as he is known in Italian and presented by Boiardo and Ariosto.
Wednesday, July 23
Mark Singleton: “Tantra in the Indian Tradition”
In the history of Europe and America’s encounter with India, there are few subjects which have provoked more indignation, fascination and misunderstanding than Tantra. For many early scholars, Tantra represented everything that was wrong with the Indian people. It was backward, savage and licentious, involving dimly perceived satanic rites, outrageous sexual acts and narcotics. Within the New Age movement, Tantra has largely been understood as “erotic empowerment,” sex therapy, or as a technique which guarantees spiritual growth through multiple orgasms. In his lecture Singleton will consider the historical and philosophical basis for the practices of Tantra, especially as they manifest within the Śaiva traditions of Kashmir. Through a reading of several short texts of Kashmir Śaivism (from around the 8th century CE), he will explore the relationship of Tantra to the orthodox philosophical teachings of Hinduism, and to the wider context of tantric yoga practices in religious traditions such as Jainism and Vajrayana Buddhism.
Wednesday, July 30
Frank Pagano: “Greek Pettiness in Montesquieu’s Considerations of the Grandeur of the Romans”
(Please note: Frank Pagano’s lecture replaces Alan Zeitlin’s lecture, announced previously in the June Community Calendar)
After first proclaiming the end of history and the final victory of the West, today popular social science widely proclaims the decline (and perhaps fall) of the West and the failure of its project of enlightenment: making the whole world civil by means of the Western science. In the Considerations Montesquieu studied the ancient version of enlightenment, the Roman Empire (which tried to make the world civilized Rome), and the ancient counter-example, Greece. The Greeks thought that the world was divided between Greeks and barbarians; that barbarians could never be brought to be Greeks; and that the attempt to make them Greek would only obscure what made the Greeks superior to barbarians. Rome thought all humanity could be Roman and civilized. Has history shown which of the two ancient peoples had the better argument? Is there a third way?
Wednesday, August 6
Claudia Honeywell: “One of the Ages When Things Begin: Genji and the Founding of the Japanese Aesthetic”
Although the Tale of Genji has a political backdrop, Genji himself is portrayed as more concerned with the arts and with erotic pursuits. In her lecture, Honeywell will offer an account of how Genji’s eroticism promotes the emergence of a Japanese aesthetic, influenced by the Chinese arts but distinct from them. She will explore how Genji can be seen, in the first half of the novel, as the founder of a uniquely Japanese interest in his lack of resolution and imperfection; a look at the second half of the novel reveals how Genji’s new aesthetic merged with the Buddhist precept of evanescence to build an enduring framework for the development of Japanese art.