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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

Death and Hope: Plato’s Theatetus

As the drama of Plato's dialogue, the Theatetus, begins Socrates is on his way to the courthouse, where he will be charge and convicted to death for not believing in Athenian gods and corrupting the youth. Just prior to his arrival... Continue Reading →

Plato’s Theatetus: Becoming for Each Other

Left to my own devices at lunch time, I set a spoon on fire while making soup. Rather than panicking, I efficiently dunked the spoon in the soup and stirred. And now I have a master chef tip for improving... Continue Reading →

Plato,the Good, and Gloria

There were five cedar trees in my backyard. They are no more. They didn't flower. They were kind of straggly looking. And one day I had had enough. The shovel, however, was in the shed. The shed was locked. I... Continue Reading →

In Hope, Joy and Love: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

If asked what they think about Shakespear's play Hamlet most people have strong feelings - they either love the dark, brooding and philosophically searching main character or they hate what they take to be Hamlet's angst-ridden indecisiveness.  By way of... Continue Reading →

Big Little Lies: Shining A Light on Domestic Violence

In Aristophanes' comedic play Lysistrata, the woman of Greece, led by Lysistrata, combine forces with the women of Sparta and those of surrounding areas to wage war on their husbands. They hope that by withholding sex they will be able... Continue Reading →

How to be Good: Plato and the Purpose of The Laws

Sometimes my dog Tim does things that he shouldn't.  Like the time he ate the right shoe of two different pairs. Or when he jumped up and broke the ceiling fan. Or when, just prior to Thanksgiving dinner, he lunged... Continue Reading →

Losing Yourelf in Love: A Method for Self-Knowledge

 The novel Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper is a story about both losing and recollecting yourself in the love and life of another. Set 60 odd years after the Second World War, the novel is primarily... Continue Reading →

Philosophy for Life: The (In)Justice of Plato

Stop me if you've heard this one.  An Athenian, a Spartan and a Cretan walk into Hades....   The Laws, while ostensibly about the creation of a perfect city, like Plato's other dialogues, it is also about the desire for wisdom,... Continue Reading →

In Awe of Art: Plato and Poetry

In the Republic, Plato argues that an education in poetry or art more broadly understood is essential to the education of children. In one of my favourite passages, he says that we must "seek out craftsmen who are by nature... Continue Reading →

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