Pints with Aquinas Episode

On New Year’s Day, Pints with Aquinas, a podcast that seeks to explain the thought of Thomas Aquinas to non-specialists, featured an episode on happiness; it is a conversation between me and the podcast’s hilariously self-deprecating and generous host, Matt Fradd.  The episode is titled “How to be happy” but its not about that (no one can tell you how to be happy–virtue is not a technique,  and philosophy isn’t self-help).  I’m posting a link to it here; I hope you enjoy our conversation!

Side note:

Whenever I do a podcast, I always think  about what I wish I had said as opposed to what I actually said.  In this episode,  for instance, Matt asked me why I don’t like Jordan Peterson’s writings.  I wish to say a little bit more in response here than I offered Matt during our conversation.  I didn’t want to derail our episode, but at the same time, I want to be on record about why male interest in Jordan Peterson bothers me.

First and foremost, I don’t follow Jordan Peterson and I have not read his book.  I do not consider this a failure on my part.  I am a finite being with limited resources, and I have to be prudent  about what I decide to read, especially since I read very carefully and in a time consuming way.  Jordan Peterson is famous not because he has brilliant ideas–from what I can gather, his book promotes many pedestrian, time worn platitudes about us, in addition to some fairly shallow readings of great books–but because he is an admitted, radicalized culture warrior.  I am allergic to our toxic culture wars,  as they drag down discourse rather than elevate it.  Culture warriors have practical (typically political) ends and reality gets dragged around to meet these ends on both sides; I have no time for that.  I don’t need to engage yet another voice opposed to finding common ground together.  I want to search for common ground, and if I didn’t believe that was possible I would sooner give up on discourse rather than further destroy it.

But I went further and said I don’t like his work, and that is what needs to be explained.   Jordan Peterson says  some unserious (indeed, laughable) but also dangerous things about women, and frankly, whatever sensible, true  things  he says about our culture is outweighed by his toxic attitudes about women.  For instance, that the feminine is deeply associated with chaos whereas order and reason is masculine, and to treat it any other way would be “transhuman” or denying reality.  For instance:

“You know you can say, ‘Well isn’t it unfortunate that chaos is represented by the feminine’ — well, it might be unfortunate, but it doesn’t matter because that is how it’s represented. It’s been represented like that forever. And there are reasons for it. You can’t change it. It’s not possible. This is underneath everything. If you change those basic categories, people wouldn’t be human anymore. They’d be something else. They’d be transhuman or something. We wouldn’t be able to talk to these new creatures.”

Or, if that wasn’t weird enough, here’s something JP tweeted in 2016:

“Women, if you usurp men they will rebel and fail you and you will have to either jail or enslave them.”

Um, OK.

And please note that his “Twelve Rules for Life” is an antidote to chaos–an antidote to the feminine. I think I know enough already about what he is on about, and I’m not interested in what he’s selling.  If you are interested–if this vision of women appeals to you and rings true to your experience–I’m concerned about you.

Having said this, I certainly don’t want to silence Jordan Peterson, even though I think this vision of the feminine is dangerously false.  I will  raise daughters to be proud of their feminine genius insofar as they have cultivated it. But when men ask me point blank, as Matt did, why I don’t like him, as if he’s obviously great, I hope the answer is now clear:  I don’t have time for misogyny masquerading as eternal verities.  Life is too short, and I’d rather be reading wise women like Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Donna Tartt, Edith Stein, Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil, Marilynne Robinson, Eleonore Stump, or any of the incredibly amazing contemporary women philosophers and theologians I am so blessed to work with and learn from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walker Percy Podcast

 

I was in DC yesterday giving a talk on Walker Percy and the Federalist Radio Hour asked me to swing by their recording studio to do an episode with them.  It was fun (Ben was an incredible host) and I’m delighted they invited me on the show.  In the episode, we discuss Percy’s ideas about the self and self-knowledge, the south, being a southern catholic, despair, sin, sex, women, false transcendence, and how to be alive to your own inevitable catastrophe of self.  If you are interested in Percy, you may want to bust out the Early Times, have a listen, and share with all of your friends. You can access the full episode here.

Sacred and Profane Love Episode 13: Jane Austen on the Virtues of Social Life

 

Download Episode 13: Jane Austen on the Virtues of Social Life

 

In episode 13 of Sacred & Profane Love, “Jane Austen on the Virtues of Social Life, I speak with professor Karen Stohr of Georgetown University about how Austen brings into relief the social dimensions of virtue in her novels. We discuss the importance of social roles and environments for the exercise and development of virtue, and how friendship and family life are the best contexts in which virtue can be fostered and strengthened.  I hope you enjoy our conversation!

 

Karen Stohr is the Ryan Family Term Associate Professor of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy Senior Research Scholar at Georgetown University, and has an appointment at The Kennedy Institute of Ethics. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina, and her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.  She has published widely within virtue ethics, and has a book forthcoming from Oxford, Minding the Gap: Moral Ideals and Moral Improvement. Dr. Stohr also has a passion for the work of Jane Austen.

Jennifer A. Frey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research lies at the intersection of philosophy of action, ethics, and law, with a particular focus on the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition.  She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and Psychology

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This podcast is a project of Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life, and is made possible through a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Content copyright the University of South Carolina and the University of Chicago.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

“To be Good is to do the Truth”

 

 

In October I participated in a brilliant conference put on jointly by The Thomistic Institute and the Morningside Institute, titled, “Desire and the Good Life: Reflections on the Aristotelian Tradition.”  You can listen to my talk, which is on the concept of  practical truth titled, “To be Good is to do the Truth,” here.  I hope to put the essay up online soon, but if you have comments on the audio, feel free to leave them here for now. Also, via the same link, you can find the talks given by Candace Vogler and Dhananjay Jagannathan.

 

CFA: Habit

Hi everyone!  I expect to have a new episode of Sacred & Profane Love out later this week, but in the meantime, please make a note of the following upcoming project of two awesome colleagues of mine.  I will try to submit an abstract and attend (schedule permitting); if you do philosophical work on habit, you should too!

Conference on Habit: Call for Philosophical Abstracts

 

Scholars of virtue may find the following event of interest: Habit: Practical, Theoretical, and Historical Approaches, a conference in Chicago on September 27-28, 2019. This conference is generously funded by the Center for Ethics & Education and hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The conference is open to all, so please join us for discussion even if you do not wish to submit for presentation.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Jennifer Hornsby (Birkbeck)
Stephen Engstrom (University of Pittsburgh)

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS

We invite abstracts for papers on any aspect of the philosophical significance of habit. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • the role of habit in the history of philosophy (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Wittgenstein, etc.)
  • habituation and the acquisition of habits, skills, and virtues
  • the nature, structure, and rationality (or lack thereof) of habitual action
  • the relationship between habits, intentions, and policies
  • habits of thought and reasoning
  • the ethical and/or epistemic significance of habit

ABSTRACT SUBMISSION DETAILS

Abstracts should be between 500 and 800 words, prepared for anonymous review, and submitted to philosophyandhabit@gmail.com by March 1, 2019. We will begin reviewing abstracts shortly after the deadline.

CONTACT

For questions, please contact conference organizers Will Small and Jennifer Rothschild at philosophyandhabit@gmail.com.

Will Small is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Jennifer Rothschild is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Florida.

 

Sacred and Profane Love Episode 12: Meaning, Murder, and Divine Madness

 

Download Episode 12: Meaning, Murder, and Divine Madness

In Episode 12 of Sacred & Profane Love, “Meaning, Murder, and Divine Madness,” I speak with the eminent moral theologian, Fr Michael Sherwin, O.P., about Donna Tartt’s breakout bestseller, The Secret History.  We discuss how the novel is best situated within both the Southern Gothic and the Southern Catholic Gothic literary genres, and how Donna Tartt, like Flannery O’Connor, understands the task of the novelist as helping us come to see ourselves and our world as it truly is.

For good measure, we also discuss demonic possession, mystery cults, religious ecstasy, evil, Augustine, Nietzsche, Shakespeare, and Walker Percy.  I hope you enjoy our conversation.

 

Rev. Prof. Michael Sherwin OPwas one of our faculty for our 2016 Summer Session “Virtue & Happiness”, and is Professor of Fundamental Moral Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Fr. Sherwin is director of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Institute for Theology and Culture and of the Pinckaers Archives.  Author of articles on the psychology of love, virtue ethics and moral development, his monograph, By Knowledge and By Love: Charity and Knowledge in the Moral Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (CUA Press, 2005) has been reissued in paperback.

 

Jennifer A. Frey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research lies at the intersection of philosophy of action, ethics, and law, with a particular focus on the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition.

 Subscribe

Preview on iTunes

This podcast is a project of Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life, and is made possible through a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Content copyright the University of South Carolina and the University of Chicago.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.