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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

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 →

Plato, Hegel and Drawings on a Wall

In the Republic, a dialogue about justice, Socrates and a group of young men put poetry or artwork on trial. One of the primary pieces of evidence against art is that it is deceptive. For instance, one can paint a... Continue Reading →

Plato’s Symposium: Love as Reconciliation

Diotima, in Plato's Symposium, says that love is our way of participating in immortality, for those in love give birth in beauty. Explaining herself to Socrates, Diotima says, "And in that way everything mortal is preserved, not, like the divine,... Continue Reading →

The Poetry of Love: Plato’s Symposium Part II

At the end of the Symposium, Alcibiades bursts in and drunkenly declares his love for Socrates. To him, Socrates is both the beautiful and the good. Alcibiades, however, doesn't understand the poetry of love. He seeks the good for his... Continue Reading →

The Poetry of Love: Plato’s Symposium

In the Symposium, Socrates recounts what his teacher, Diotima, taught him about love. In her speech she indicates a relationship between the act of loving and the act of creation, or, as she says, of poetry. We all, she says, love... Continue Reading →

Plato’s Symposium: My Wisdom is … a Shadow in a Dream

In the middle of Plato's dialogue the Symposium, Aristophanes follows several others, all of whom have been tasked with giving speeches on love or eros.  Aristophanes prefaces his speech, once his hiccups have subsided, by saying that he will speak in... Continue Reading →

Piety, Justice and Love: Plato’s Euthyphro

A servant gets drunk and angry and kills a slave. Your father, wanting to bring the man to justice, sends someone to a prophet to ask about the proper course of action. In the meantime, he ties the servant up... Continue Reading →

Plato’s Timeaus: Where the Heavens Meet the Earth

At the beginning of the Timeaus, Socrates indicates that what we are about to witness is a work of a political philosophy. Having presented an image of the most just city the day before, he now asks the men gathered... Continue Reading →

Our Hearts are Restless: David Adams Richards’s Mary Cyr.

In the Confessions, Augustine writes “my heart is restless until it rests in you.” In a book that describes Augustine’s many failures, particularly his failure to sufficiently love others, this phrase explicitly explains Augustine’s incapacity to find peace until he... Continue Reading →

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