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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

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 →

The Problem with Alternative Facts: Plato’s Alcibiades

The image we get from Plato's dialogues of his teacher, Socrates, is strange and often startling. He wanders around Athens speaking to everyone, bothering most people, rarely taking the hint. He is generally barefoot and goes without bathing such that... Continue Reading →

Plato and Talking Your Way to Health: The Soul Doctor

  (*Note: Since I originally published this post, I had a longish period of not feeling well. Living in a new city, I met lots of great people and maintained my friendships with those in other places.  And I kept... Continue Reading →

Barking for Beans: How to Be A Better Person

My dog, Tim, has the bad habit of barking whenever he goes outside. It doesn't really even matter if there is something to bark at. He just has to announce, rather loudly, his presence in the world.  To get his... Continue Reading →

On Forgiveness and Letting Go: T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding”

I have a terrible memory for some things.  I can watch whole movies without remembering that I have already seen them. I don't remember the names of causal acquaintances, and lots of times I can't remember the names of my immediate... Continue Reading →

Recollecting Yourself: David Adams Richards and Why We Read

When I was a kid, I used to love to climb a particular tree in my backyard and lose myself in a book. That is until we discovered that I was allergic to said tree and no longer allowed to... Continue Reading →

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