This course offers a study in the classic texts of political philosophy, addressing the questions faced by both ancient people and people today: What are the ends of political life? What is the best form of government to serve these ends? What is the proper relation between government and the individual, and between government and religion? To answer these questions we will need to go beyond the surface-level policy discussions that we hear on the news and examine instead the fundamental issues that these policy discussions rest upon. By taking in a broad range of great books, we will also gain some understanding of the long historical development of western political ideas.

We will read: Plato Republic I–V; Aristotle Politics I, III–IV; I Samuel; Tacitus Annals I, XIII–XVI; Aquinas, Summa Theologica I-II QQ. 90–97; Machiavelli, Prince; Hobbes, Leviathan Introduction, 13–21; Shakespeare, Henry IV; Montesquieu Spirit of the Laws Preface, I–VIII; Rousseau, The Social Contract I–II; Locke, Second Essay on Government; Kant The Science of Right Introduction, Second Part; Federalist (selections); Hegel, Philosophy of Right Introduction, III.III; Mill, Representative Government I–VIII, On Liberty.

Term: January 13 – May 4, 2024
Time: Mondays, 5 – 7 pm ET
Credit Hours: Core | 3 credits
Instructors: Dr. Jonathan Price and Dr. Jan Bentz

The great natural philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, “Nature has some perfections to show that she is the image of God, and some defects to show that she is only His image.” In many ways, this profound statement summarizes the findings of scientists throughout history.

We will read: Selections from Archimedes’ On Floating Bodies, Ptolemy’s Algamest, Bacon’s Opus Majus, Copernicus’ On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Kepler’s Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, Galileo’s The Two New Sciences, Pascal’s Account of the Great Experiment Concerning the Equilibrium of Fluids, Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Newton’s Optics, Huygens’ Treatise on Light, Ray’s The Wisdom of God as Manifested in the Works of Creation, Lavosier’s Elements of Chemistry, and Darwin’s The Origin of Species. These selections will help students learn how natural philosophy built the foundations of modern science and the pivotal role the church played in shaping it.

January 8 – April 29
Time: Mondays, 7 – 9 pm ET
Credit Hours: Core | 3 credits
InstructorDr. Jay Wile

The ancient epic tradition of Homer stands at the beginning of all western literature. Many centuries later, Virgil self-consciously imitates this beginning in order to do for the Romans what Homer did for the Greeks. These poems tell the tale of larger-than-life heroes on the plain of battle, of gods aiding and foiling the plans of men, of glorious victory and pitiful loss—all in lofty lines of dactylic hexameter. In this course, we will read through the whole of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid, and we will study both the cultural milieu in which these epics were composed and the later culture that they helped to found.

We will read: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; Vergil's Aeneid. We will also read excerpts from epic poems by Apollonius of Rhodes and Titus Lucretius Carus.

Term: January 9 – April 30
Time: Tuesdays, 7 – 9 pm ET
Credit Hours: Core | 3 credits
InstructorDr. Frank Russell

All the questions we ask in other courses become philosophical questions in the end. To say anything meaningful about anything, we must at least tacitly make assumptions about the relationship between our minds in the world. Is it possible for fallible creatures like ourselves to know anything at all for certain? If we can know, what shape does this knowledge take and how far does it go? When we make claims about reality and think that some of those claims are true and others are false, what must the very structure of reality be? The deeper we go with such questions, the more esoteric they can seem, and yet they also press upon us with greater and greater urgency as we pursue a life of wisdom. This course will survey what has been said about such things by some of the great authors in the western tradition.

We will read: Plato, Republic; Aristotle, Metaphysics I, IV; Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, I–II; Aquinas, Summa Theologica I QQ. XVI–XVII; Montaigne, Essays, “Apology for Raimond de Sebonde”; Descartes, Discourse on Method I–IV; Spinoza, Ethics I; Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, IV.I–IV; Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge; Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding I–VIII; Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (selections); James, Principles of Psychology Ch. 28.

Term: January 11 – May 2
Time: Thursdays, 5 – 7 pm ET
Credit Hours: Core | 3 credits
Instructor: Dr. D.T. Sheffler

Echoes of Eternity: Boethius and the Pursuit of Timeless Truths
Embark on a profound exploration of Boethius's enduring philosophical legacy. This course invites participants to immerse themselves in key sections of Boethius's major works, including the Consolation of Philosophy, the De Hebdomadibus and his translation of the Isagoge. As we journey through these texts, we will unravel Boethius's profound influence on philosophy, especially during the Middle Ages, and contemplate the timeless truths embedded in his reflections on wisdom, reality, and the counsel provided by philosophy. Investigate Boethius's exploration of wisdom and reality, and seek to comprehend the enduring relevance of his insights. Delve into Boethius's conception of eternity and its implications for our understanding of time, existence, and the pursuit of truth. We will foster a collaborative learning environment through interactive discussions, encouraging participants to articulate their perspectives on Boethius's ideas. We will develop critical thinking skills by analyzing primary texts, secondary sources, and scholarly interpretations of Boethius's works. By tracing Boethius's impact on the broader landscape of philosophy, we will unravel the threads that connect his ideas to the evolution of Western thought. Finally, we will explore Boethius's profound influence on medieval philosophy, theology, and education, examining his enduring legacy.

Term: February 20 – March 26
Time: Tuesdays, 5 – 7 pm ET
Credit Hours: Elective | 1 credit
InstructorDr. Jan Bentz

441 - Roots of the Rule of Law: Justinian's Institutes and Digest

DESCRIPTION: The most influential books of the entire Roman heritage are, arguably, those of Justinian, particularly his Institutes and Digest. In the 6th century AD, these books reanimated the ancient wisdom and constitutions of Rome, as the law of the Eastern Roman Empire. But both Justinian's terms and his principles persist up to the present. Think of divisions such as: public vs private, person vs thing; or relations such as contract and obligation, or benefit and injury. These and many others are still our basic terms of law and public order. This seminar will treat selections from Emperor Justinian's two great works, connecting them to the development of law and constitutions.

TIME: Saturdays, 11am-1pm ET

TERM: April 6-May 4

INSTRUCTOR: Jonathan Price


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Introduction to Academic Writing

This course introduces the basic principles of academic writing: what academic writing is, how it relates to classical rhetoric, and what to expect at different levels (high school, undergraduate, and graduate). Students will receive instruction in both MLA and Chicago Styles. There will be some discussion of the role of technology in writing and the importance of cultivating good writing habits. Instead of Forums, evaluation for this course will consist of a mixture of quizzes and short paper submissions. The course is appropriate both for new Memoria College students wishing to improve their writing, and for veteran upper-school teachers who want to make sure their students are prepared for college. Students are welcome and encouraged to work on topics related to their other Memoria College course work, but written assignments must be newly composed/created for the course.

Term: Week of February 19 – Week of March 25
Time: Thursdays, 7 – 9 pm ET
Credit Hours: Elective | 1 credit