The St. John’s College Graduate Institute has announced its summer lecture series. On Wednesdays throughout the summer, the college offers presentations by visiting scholars from notable universities nationwide and members of the St. John’s College faculty. Lectures will be held in person on the college’s campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. They are free and open to the public; seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each lecture will also be live-streamed on Zoom.
“The Graduate Institute is proud to offer this series of lectures free to our students, alumni and friends,” says Brendan Boyle, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in Annapolis. “Because the lectures are offered both in-person and online, we hope to welcome members of the community both near and far to watch and ponder timeless questions about great texts.”
“While classes at St. John’s generally proceed through discussion among students, the lectures provide an opportunity for students, faculty, and members of the community to hear an extended account from someone with considerable learning” says Ned Walpin, Associate Dean for the Graduate Programs in Santa Fe.
The full schedule can be viewed at All-College Online Graduate Institute Summer Lecture Series. To learn about other events at St. John’s College, see the Events Calendar.
The lectures on the Annapolis campus will be held at St. John’s College, McDowell Hall, 60 College Avenue, Annapolis, Md., 21401., at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Annapolis lectures are:
· June 21, 7:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. MT) Sherman Clark, Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, will present “The Best of the Achaeans? Patroclus, in the Iliad.”
· When scholars talk about Patroclus, they usually focus on his relationship with Achilles. But Patroclus is more than a sidekick and source of motivation. In fact, he is often called “the best of the Achaeans.” But what could that possibly mean? Patroclus is not the strongest, richest, or most powerful—those being common components of Homeric excellence. So, in what sense is he the best? In this lecture we will take a good look at Patroclus; and we will give him a good listen. And this, I hope, may help us think about what it might mean to be the best, even when you are not the strongest, richest, or most powerful—even in a world where those things can seem to matter most.
· Livestream link. Passcode: 077325
· July 5, 7:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. MT) Jackie Murray, Associate Professor of Classics at the State University at Buffalo, will present “Slavery, Racism, and Racecraft in Plato’s Republic”
· Although this topic has received very little attention in Platonic scholarship, Plato develops an interesting and complex account of the relationship between, racism, slavery, and racecraft. One reason this topic has been neglected is that most scholarship on theRepublic assumes that the just state in the dialogue, i.e., ‘the beautiful city’ includes slavery. I begin by challenging this widely held view. Despite the popularity of this interpretation, there is little to recommend it. Rather, like the first just state Socrates proposes, the city of pigs, there is strong reason to think there is no slavery within the beautiful city. Indeed, as Plato emphasizes in the text, among the very first signs that the beautiful city has devolved from a just state, is that when it becomes a timocracy mass slavery of the artisan classes (the bronze and iron races) is introduced for the first time. Beyond exploring why slavery is introduced as soon as the beautiful city devolves, we will also discuss Plato’s account of the tyrannical man, who is notoriously enslaved by his own appetites. By reading Socrates’s account of psychological slavery, together with his account of the genesis of slavery within political communities, I hope to elucidate important aspects of both Plato’s political and psychological theories. I will also give particular attention to the implications of Plato’s discussion of slavery for his conception of rulership. Moreover, I argue that Plato’s account of the origins of slavery, as he develops it in the Republic, also makes an important and interesting addition to our understanding of Ancient Greek attitudes about slavery, complicating the widely held view that the Ancient Greeks found it difficult even to imagine a world without slavery.
· Livestream link. Passcode: 837897
· July 12, 7:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. MT) Peter Danchin, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Jacob A. France Professor of Law, and Director of the International and Comparative Law Program at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, will present “Who is the ‘Human’ in Human Rights? The Claims of Culture and Religion.”
· Modern critiques of human rights law force us to confront two conceptual puzzles in the area of the claims of culture and religion. The first concerns the twin concepts, often run together, of the secular and freedom, and the question of how rights – e.g., the right to freedom of conscience and religion – mediate between these purportedly universal or objective positions and the imagined subjective claims of particular religious or cultural norms. The second concerns the question of what we mean by “human equality” and how this idea relates to deeply-situated issues of collective identity and culture. Such claims raise complex and difficult conflicts between equality norms on the one hand, and religious and cultural freedom norms on the other. In this lecture, it is argued that a value pluralist approach to such questions opens the possibility of less dogmatic and binary accounts of reason and religion in viewing both as human institutions and social practices requiring modes of justification and accountability. In order for this to occur, however, the primary obstacle is the inability of Western rights theorists to see their culture as one amongst others.
· Livestream link. Passcode: 920436
The lectures on the Santa Fe campus will be held at St. John’s College, Junior Common Room, 1160 Camino de Cruz Blanca, Santa Fe, NM 87505, at 4:15 p.m. MT. The Santa Fe lectures are:
· June 28, 4:15 p.m. MT (6:15 p.m. ET) St. John’s College Santa Fe faculty member Patricia Greer will present “Snakes in the Mahābhārata.”
· “When all this was without light and unillumined, and on all its sides covered by darkness, there arose one large Egg, the inexhaustible seed of all creatures. They say that this was the great divine cause, in the beginning of the Eon…” So begins the bard who will recite the entire Mahābhārata as he himself heard it recited at a twelve-year Snake Sacrifice in which black-garbed brahmins chanted hymns to lure all snakes into the flames of their sacrificial fire. Thus the world’s longest poem starts with the enigma of a great egg that lies below the cosmic waters in the kingdom of divine/demonic oviparous Snakes. This talk is about those snakes and their role in the Mahābhārata.
· Livestream link. Passcode: 961036
· July 19, 4:15 p.m. MT (6:15 p.m. ET) St. John’s College Santa Fe faculty member James Carey will present “Anselm’s Ontological Argument for the Existence of God.”
· Anselm’s argument for the existence of God occupies only a paragraph of theProslogion. In spite of its brevity, it has proven to be the most intensely contested argument in the history of theology. The argument continues to provoke intelligent defense and intelligent criticism, and to annoy, perplex, and astonish (not infrequently in that order). In my talk, I shall look closely at the logical structure of the argument and its presuppositions. I shall then consider objections that have been raised against the argument, especially those of Kant and Thomas Aquinas, its most perceptive critics. No prior familiarity with Anselm, Kant, or Thomas Aquinas will be presupposed.
· Livestream link. Passcode: 192774