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A Great Book Can Change Your Life

Philosophy and Literature For Your Life

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A Great Book Can Change Your Life

Sara MacDonald is an award-winning professor at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada where she founded a Great Books program in 2002 that she directed until 2015 and in which she continues to teach. Known for a teaching style that promotes lively, penetrating discussions through a blend of intellectual rigor, Socratic humility and a quirky sense of humor, Sara's courses generally focus on the ways in which great works of philosophy and literature can help illuminate perennial themes and questions of human life. In addition to her teaching, Sara researches and writes about political philosophy, with an emphasis on ethics, freedom and human rights. Sara received her graduate education in political science at Fordham University and her undergraduate education at St. Thomas University. She is currently on sabbatical and trying her hand at on-line teaching. Check her out at greatdiscourses.com

Aristotle wrote You a Valentine

In Aristotle’s Ethics, he sketches a pathway for our happiness. On the surface it seems quite arduous - a list of moral do’s and don’ts that could send anyone into a state crippling anxiety. A closer look, however, reveals an... Continue Reading →

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The Beauty of Justice: Plato’s Euthyphro

In the Euthyphro we might take Socrates’s great delight in meeting Euthyphro at the courthouse with a grain of salt. Euthyphro is a professed expert in piety who came to the court house to prosecute his father for murder - an... Continue Reading →

Sentenced to Love: Socrates and Athens

In Plato’s Alcibiades Socrates implies that knowledge of the good and the true depends on knowing yourself, Knowledge of yourself, however, depend on the friendship of another. We only know ourselves, Plato suggests, by knowing and understanding those who we love and... Continue Reading →

Of Love and Justice: Plato’s Republic

At the beginning of the Republic, Socrates piques the interest of  the group of young men he is speaking with, suggesting that to know justice is to know the only way of living that is worthwhile.  However, as he begins... Continue Reading →

The Wisdom of Humility: Plato’s Gadfly

At the beginning of Plato’s Republic, Socrates encounters Thrasymachus, a sophist or wise guy, who argues that “justice” is whatever the person or people with the most power want, and they always want what is to their advantage.  Plato heightens... Continue Reading →

What are Words Worth: Plato’s Crito

Imagine a friend you have had since childhood has been tried, convicted, and now will be executed for a crime he did not commit. Now imagine that you have the means for him to escape and can provide a safe... Continue Reading →

Palm Trees and Being Just

In the “Symposium,” Diotima, who is described by Socrates as the women who taught him all he knows about love, but also as a sophist, describes a ladder of love. Desirous of beauty, she says that individuals ascend from limited... Continue Reading →

Dionysus: A Libation for Wisdom

Dionysus is a strange god - one whose powers we recall in that moment when we realize that we have drank exactly too much, and who we recollect again the next day when we think in horror about what happened... Continue Reading →

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Dante Version

The Divine Comedy, Dante wakes up lost in a dark woods. He has to take a terrifying and arduous journey - first through Inferno, then up Mount Purgatory and finally through the dizzying spheres of Paradise before he can finally... Continue Reading →

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