Lectures are free and open to the public and are followed by a question-and-answer period.
“Incarnate Mind / Incarnate Love: Reflections on Embodiment in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov”*
Gregory Schneider, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Friday, January 22, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
Two contrasting worldviews—one godless and one Christian—in some ways organize everything that happens in Fyodor Dostoevsky's final novel, The Brothers Karamazov. One brother, Ivan, an up-and-coming public intellectual, contends that if the human soul is not immortal and if God is dead, all things are permitted. The younger brother Alyosha, following his mentor, the Elder Zosima, argues that all are responsible to everyone for everyone and everything. These contrasting frameworks lurk in the background as the passionate, sensualist brother Dmitri stands accused of killing their father Fyodor. Yet, at some of the most crucial points in the story, profound, embodied gestures take the place of argument or dialogue. Zosima bows deeply before an exasperated Dmitri; Alyosha embraces the earth in a moment of spiritual rebirth; Christ silently kisses the elderly cardinal in Ivan's tale of "The Grand Inquisitor." This lecture will explore these images of our embodiment and how they speak to the contrasting perspectives that play out in the novel.
“Anselm’s Ontological Argument for the Existence of God—and its Critics”
James Carey, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Wednesday, January 27, 3:15 p.m., The Junior Common Room
Anselm's argument occupies only a paragraph of the Proslogion. But in spite of its brevity, it is the most intensely contested argument in the history of rational theology. It continues to provoke intelligent defense and intelligent criticism, and to perplex, astonish, and annoy. In my talk I shall look closely at the structure of the argument and its presuppositions. I shall then consider objections that have been raised against it, especially those of Kant and Thomas Aquinas, the most perceptive critics of the argument.
No prior familiarity with Anselm, Kant, or Thomas Aquinas will be presupposed.
Bach’s Goldberg Variations
Chip Miller, Piano
Friday, January 29, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
Mr. Miller first performed at the College four years ago, playing the entirety of Book II of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier – and from memory. Because of the enthusiastic response to his performances, we have continued to invite him back every year. This is the first year that he will be performing on a Friday evening as part of the Dean’s Lecture and Concert Series.
Mr. Willis Glen "Chip" Miller, III began piano studies at the age of 4, and had his professional debut at age 11. He has received international recognition at the Young Keyboard Artists Association, Music Teacher's National Association Competition, and the Stravinsky International Piano Competition. Since 2003, he has specialized in the music of J. S. Bach. Mr. Miller received his Bachelor's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, his Master's from Eastman, and Doctorate from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. His teachers have included Wesley Ball, Landon Bilyeu, Benjamin Yu, Charles Asche, Nelita True, Mark Gibson, Timothy Hester, Horatio Guitierrez, and Ruth Tomfohrde. He has held a private studio for ten years, and has been a guest artist and faculty member at the Austin Waldorf School, the University of Houston, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Interlochen Pathfinder School, and the Interlochen Arts Academy. Mr. Miller's career is a blend of performing, education, and software development. This past year, he founded Colormusik, the world's first full-color music publishing company. The software, available through colormusik.com, paints shades of color using both harmonic and polyphonic algorithms according to color theory and his own synesthetic tendencies. This performance of the Goldberg Variations is part of a larger project called "Thirty-Two Pianos", detailed at 32pianos.com.
“How We Became Cabbages: Hegel's Reflections on the French Revolution and its Other Legacy.”
David Levine, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Wednesday, February 3, 3:15 p.m., The Junior Common Room
Hegel’s says that the French Revolution is “the greatest world event of our [his] time” and that its significance is “World-Historical.” The significance of its “inner revolution” is not simply “historical” but represents a decisive stage in the development of Spirit itself thus meriting a section in his Phenomenology of Spirit. Why? What is so unique about this event?
“Shakespeare’s Poetics of Modern Science”*
Natalie Elliot, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Friday, February 5, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
In the past several years, a small group Shakespeare scholars have begun to take note of the many allusions to scientific debates and technological innovations that appear in Shakespeare’s plays. Some have noted Shakespeare’s fascination with magnetism and the compass; others have explored Shakespeare’s meditations on gunpowder in Henry V and the Tempest; and still others have explored how he presents shifting views of planetary motion, especially in Hamlet. This line of research is significant because it draws our attention to the fact that Shakespeare, in addition to being a profound interpreter of human nature, also used his plays to explore the challenges of scientific change. By familiarizing ourselves with the science that Shakespeare explores, we can begin to see how one of the greatest poet-philosophers used his dramatic poetry to respond to the burgeoning scientific world. To explore Shakespeare’s poetics of science, I will turn to Hamlet, King Lear, and a selection of other plays to show how Shakespeare presents to us the human implications of scientific change. In doing so, I will make the case that Shakespeare offers a historically fascinating view of the scientific debates of early modernity, and presents a model for responding to the scientific debates of our own time.
“Rousseau on Heroism”
Richard McCombs, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Wednesday, February 17, 3:15 p.m., The Junior Common Room
Heroism is a problem. Heroes are dangerous, often extreme, often irrational, and seemingly outdated. Yet many of us, perhaps all of us, deeply desire to be the heroes of our own lives. And there is good reason to think that we need heroic virtues to face life's challenges, to pursue our dreams, to fulfill our potential, or to face the evils of human existence cheerfully and with dignity. In his lecture Mr. McCombs will interpret Rousseau's Second Discourse and his novel Julie to explore the problem of heroism and some possible solutions to it.
“Stendhal’s Prophecy for Liberal Democracy: Reflections on The Red and the Black”*
Jeffrey Smith, St. John’s College, Annapolis
Friday, February 19, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
The Red and the Black is sub-titled a "Chronicle of 1830," but Stendhal himself also proclaimed that his great novel of France's Restoration period would not be understood for at least 50 years, and perhaps much longer. His novel's teaching, Stendhal further suggested, is a bequest to the "happy few," in whatever country and time they might be found.
The lecture inquires into that teaching by tracing the nature and development of the young Julien Sorel, one of the novel’s main characters, as he journeys through various branches of French society. Stendhal imagines Julien to be both a superior soul and a tragic counterpoint to the novel’s portrayal of the nascent democratization and bourgeois outlook of French society. Julien’s tragedy, I suggest, is a tragedy of youthful self-consciousness in a democratizing age. If Julien’s particular superiority continues to be possible today, then Julien’s tragedy can be regarded as Stendhal’s prophecy for liberal democracy—a prophecy about exceptional young people and largely for those young people, regarding their consciousness of their power and how it is inevitably shaped by democratization.
“Krishna versus the British Empire: The Bhagavad Gita during the Indian Independence Struggle”
Richard H. Davis, Bard College, Department of Religion
Friday, February 26, 7:30 p.m., GH
Annual Rohrbach Lecture
During the Indian movement for independence from British colonialism, the ancient Hindu religious poem Bhagavad Gita played a major role. From the 1880s until the time of independence in 1947, Indian leaders identified the Gita as the single most important and relevant work of classical India to their current struggle. It was as if the god Krishna himself, the charioteer and teacher in the Gita, had incarnated again to lead the effort to free India. In my talk I want to address three questions. First, what are the reasons for this shift in the role and status of the Bhagavad Gita? Second, how was the Gita read and reinterpreted in Indian nationalist circles? And third, what are the consequences of this adoption of the Gita as a work for modern nationalists?
B.A., University of Chicago; M.A., University of Toronto; Ph.D., University of Chicago. Assistant and associate professor of religious studies, Yale University (1987–97). Publications: The Bhagavad Gita: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2014); A Priest's Guide to the Great Festival: Aghorasiva's Mahotsavavidhi (2009); Lives of Indian Images (1997; winner of 1999 A. K. Coomaraswamy Prize); Ritual in an Oscillating Universe: Worshiping Siva in Medieval India (1991). Edited volumes: Images, Miracles, and Authority in Asian Religious Traditions (1998); Picturing the Nation: Iconographies of Modern India (2006). Fellowships include Guggenheim, Fulbright-Hays, Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities. At Bard since 1997.
“The Idea of America in European Political thought: 1492 - 9/11”
Alan Levine, American University, School of Public Affairs
Friday, March 4, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
Why do Europeans contemptuously condemn Americans as uncouth, culturally backward hicks? This lecture shows how the stereotyping of America began with Christopher Columbus and how the caricatures developed from him through 9/11. Anyone serious about promoting good transatlantic relations has to know this history.
Alan M. Levine is Associate Professor of political theory in the Department of Government and the founding director of the Political Theory Institute. He is also an Affiliate Associate Professor in AU's Department of Philosophy. He has held fellowships at Princeton's James Madison Program; the Hoover Institution at Stanford; and the Institute of US Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. A specialist in the history of Western political thought, Professor Levine's teaching and research interests include the theoretical principles of the United States, the concept of "America," and ancient, renaissance, modern, and postmodern political theory. He has published on Montaigne, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Emerson, Chinua Achebe, Judith Shklar, European views of America, the Enlightenment's idea of commerce, and the origins of toleration. He has had fellowships from the NEH, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy to study counter terrorism in Israel, and to conduct archival research in France and the UK. He has received SPA's Outstanding Teaching Award (2000 & 2001); SPA's Outstanding Teaching in General Education Award (2000); and AU's Award for Outstanding Teaching in the General Education Program (2008).
“Do Not Stop the Convoy” *
Salvatore Scibona, Wesleyan University, English Department
Friday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
Mr. Scibona will read from his novel-in-progress. The book pertains to a U.S. Marine supply unit waylaid at the Siege of Khe Sanh, during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
Salvatore Scibona's first novel, The End, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Young Lions Fiction Award from the New York Public Library. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Harper's, The New Yorker, and he was among The New Yorker's list of "20 Under 40" writers to watch. He has received a Whiting Writers' Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and he is a Visiting Writer in Wesleyan's English Department.
Annual Worrell Lecture, TBA
Wednesday, April 6, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
Jack Glatzer, Violin
Friday, April 8, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
Mr. Glatzer will be performing Bach's "Partita for solo violin in D minor" and "Paganini and the Devil's Technique: A performance of 12 Caprices 'illuminated' by slides of paintings and cartoons of the life of Paganini."
Jack Glatzer was born in Dallas, Texas. He began the study of the violin at the age of five and at thirteen gave his debut recital. A year later he appeared as soloist with the Dallas Symphony under Walter Hendl. When he was seventeen Glatzer won first prize in violin in the nation's most important competition for young musicians, the Merriwether Post Competition in Washington, D.C. and subsequently performed the Brahms Concerto with the National Symphony under Howard Mitchell. Of this performance the Washington Post wrote: "Glatzer, electing to play one of the greatest tests of violin literature, gave it with real musicality. He put real music-making into his authoritative reading. He has already the marks of a real musician and a fine violinist."
Glatzer has studied with several of the greatest teachers of the post-war period, including Leonard Posner, Joseph Fuchs, Sandor Vegh and Maxim Jacobsen. In addition to his musical studies at Yale School of Music and the Musik Akademie of Basel, Switzerland. He also gained degrees in history, summa cum laude, at Yale, and with honor, at Oxford. Glatzer regularly makes concert tours around the world.
Glatzer's particular interest is the unaccompanied repertoire for the violin; he is celebrated not only for his interpretations of Bach, Paganini and Bartok but also for his performances of Locatelli, Roman, Ysaye, Bloch, Stravinsky, Elgar, Rochberg and Sculthorpe. He is one of the very few violinists to perform all 24 Caprices of Paganini in one concert as well as the complete solo works of Bach in a series of two concerts.
In addition to his concert career Glatzer has been recognized as a pedagogue, both in master classes and in lecture recitals, his background and interest in the history of culture have led to his highly successful concerts - "son et lumiere" - in which musical performance is elucidated by a lecture and illuminated by visual images.
During the 04/05 season, Glatzer performed three tour in Nrth America, and also played in Bolivia, the Caribbean, Portugal and Morocco. He continued his musical travels to faraway places with canadian tours in northern Manitoba on the shores of James Bay and on the Lower St. Lawrence of Quebec.
“The Right of Politics and the Knowledge of the Philosopher. On the Intention of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Du contrat social”
Heinrich Meier, director of the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation in Munich, professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, and permanent visiting professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.
Friday, April 15, 7:30 p.m., GH
Annual Steiner Lecture
Du contrat social is the work of a philosopher who speaks as a citizen to citizens in order to determine anew the right and limits of politics for all to see. This lecture will analyze the principles of political right and in particular the conception of the volonté générale as Rousseau's interpretation of the nature of the social contract. It will explain why Rousseau, in contrast to his predecessors, makes the sovereignty of the people and the supremacy of insight into the supporting pillars of his political teaching. It will show that Rousseau's intention remains misunderstood as long as the treatise is not understood as a response to the challenge of theocracy.
Heinrich Meier is director of the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation in Munich, professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, and permanent visiting professor in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is the author of eight books, including Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss and The Lesson of Carl Schmitt.
“In Praise of Caloric”
Howard Fisher, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Wednesday, April 20, 3:15 p.m., The Junior Common Room
I will argue that the modern view of heat as a form of energy does not replace, but rather supplements, the Caloric view of heat as a substance. I base this conclusion primarily on Sadi Carnot's analogy between the heat engine and the water wheel, which I examine at length. The talk is not very technical and draws on little more than the ideas of Caloric we study in the Freshman Laboratory.
“Nietzsche: The Motion That Is Man”
Lise van Boxel, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Friday, April 22, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
This lecture attempts to show how Friedrich Nietzsche thinks the human being, and in fact every being, is a kind of moving or developing or becoming. To see a being as Nietzsche sees it is to see its history, its genealogy. It follows from this that philosophy is genealogy. The lecture will also show that the human psyche is the realm in which the historical development of beings takes place. Thus, philosophy is the study of souls in their genealogical aspects: philosophy is genealogy is psychology.
The lecture will use as a kind of inroad to this genealogical thinking Nietzsche's own presentation of his biographical development as a philosopher. This philosophical biography is found in the "Preface" to On The Genealogy of Morals, a short bit of text, the reading of which is highly recommended prior to the lecture.
“Entropy, the New Caloric”
Howard Fisher, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Wednesday, April 27, 3:15 p.m., The Junior Common Room
I will argue that the concept of entropy, despite having accumulated a varnish of sophisticated philosophical and statistical interpretation, has virtually the same properties as were formerly ascribed to Caloric and ought to stand, along with the energy measure, as an equally valid substantial measure of heat. Moreover, a readiness to acknowledge both substance and energy as fundamental aspects of nature can be extended to other branches of physics--including electricity, mechanics, and physical chemistry--and, when so extended, reveals an impressive degree of unification among them. It provides the sort of unified vision that might have pleased Faraday, who all his life held a view of the powers of nature as being essentially one.
“Adam Smith's Politics: pragmatist or ideologue?”
Friday, April 29, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall
Adam Smith is famous for his description of the “invisible hand” and an economic system based on the “obvious and simple system of natural liberty.” Under this “system” the sovereign is freed from the duty of “superintending the industry of private people” according to hisjudgment, a duty “for the proper performance of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient.” His other major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, presents a less famous, but no less revolutionary, defense of our natural moral sentiments. He argues that it is the operation of our ordinary moral sentiments in the everyday transactions of social life, not the rigorous inculcation of morality by an established church or civil laws, that provides the most reliable guide to moderate and equitable moral judgments. Smith thus appears to be a dogmatic or systematic libertarian. In both these areas, Smith consistently compares the wisdom of nature, represented by natural human sentiments and desires, to the “folly of man”, exemplified most often by the pronouncements of statesman or philosophers. Yet is not Smith himself a philosopher proposing systems to statesmen? We will attempt to shed some light on these perplexities.
Mr. Brubaker received his Ph.D from Committee on Social Thought, Univ. of Chicago. He taught at Notre Dame and the Air Force Academy before coming to St. John's in 2005. Now retired.
“’The Tutor and the feeder of my riots’: The Problem of Friendship in Shakespeare’s Treatment of Falstaff and Prince Hal”
Walter Sterling, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
Wednesday, May 4, 3:15 p.m., The Junior Common Room
The rejection of Falstaff, at the conclusion of Henry the Fourth, Part 2, by the newly crowned Henry the Fifth may force a hard choice as to which character earns our deeper allegiance. There is good evidence for seeing in their relationship deep (if imperfect) mutual recognition, exquisite and rare shared pleasures of wit, and a bid for a radical, even philosophic, liberation from conventional pieties and morality. That we might be deeply moved by Falstaff’s rejection— despite its being forecast and seemingly inevitable — requires us to reckon with the good there was in their friendship (and in Falstaff) as well as the limitations of that friendship.
“What Is a Q.E.F.? Reflections on the Nature of Geometrical Making”
Michael Augros, Thomas Aquinas College
Friday, May 6, 7:30 p.m., GH
The lecture will explore the nature of Euclidean constructions. What kind of question are they meant to answer? How do they differ from a proposition that closes with Q.E.D.? And what exactly are we making in the constructive propositions of the Elements? Where, if anywhere, do geometrical constructions exist? If they are not our own chalk or pencil drawings, since these are inexact, are the things in our imagination any better in that regard? If a construction instead demonstrates the existence of geometrical possibilities in physical space, how is it that Euclid never refers to physical tools or empirical observations? Or are the things of geometry perfect entities already in existence in some abstract world that we only discover, and do not make at all? Every answer seems to have its difficulties, a sign that there is something worth wondering about in the nature of a Q.E.F.
Michael Augros earned his doctorate in philosophy at Boston College in 1995, and is a long time member of the faculty at Thomas Aquinas College. He is the author of Who Designed the Designer? from Ignatius Press, 2015, a book intended to make some of the philosophical principles underlying Thomas Aquinas’s five ways of proving god’s existence accessible to generally educated readers unfamiliar with his thought.
Dr. Augros is also the author of a number of scholarly articles and essays—for example:
• “The Disparity of Disagreement in Science and Philosophy,” an essay included in Reading the Cosmos: Science, Nature and Wisdom, a volume published by the American Maritain Association through CUA Press,
• “St. Thomas and the Naturalistic Fallacy,” in The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, and
• “Reconciling Science with Natural Philosophy,” published in The Thomist.
Although Dr. Augros’s degree is in philosophy, he has a deep and abiding interest in mathematics, and has published an on-line course in “The Liberal Art of Geometry”, available on The Arts of Liberty web site run by Jeff Lehman of Hillsdale College, to which site he has also contributed notes on Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton’s Principia Mathematica. He is also the author of an article called “Rediscovering Pascal’s Mystic Hexagon,” which appeared in the May 2012 issue of College Mathematics Journal (CMJ).
Since one of his teachers once told him never to trust philosophers who are no good with their hands, Dr. Augros keeps up oil painting and woodworking, too. But it is not his career or his projects so much as his wife and three children that keep him busy, happy, and well behaved.
*This lecture is part of the Carol J. Worrell Annual Series on Literature.