Tag Archives: James V. Schall

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James Schall was a great teacher.  He had a natural ability to connect with everyone he met, especially the students who were readily drawn into his own excitement of learning.  A conversation with Jim Schall was always a lively event.  You never knew where it was going to lead, as he was capable of leaping across great intellectual chasms.  That…

Some astronomers think that a great, even infinite, number of universes are floating about somewhere out there in space. These worlds, with no real evidence, to be sure, are said to exist in addition to the one in which most of us have but temporary residence. The universe we do find ourselves in does seem vast enough for the purposes…

“Truth is the self-manifestation and state of evidence of real things. Consequently, truth is something secondary, following from something else. Truth does not exist for itself alone. Primary and precedent to it are existing things, the real. Knowledge of truth, therefore, aims ultimately not at ‘truth’ but, strictly speaking, at gaining sight of reality.”
- Josef Pieper, Scholasticism. 1960.
“Like anything human,…

“Shall it (the happy life) be that of the philosophers, who put forward as the chief good, the good which is in ourselves? Is this the true good? Have they found the remedy for our ills? Is man’s pride cured by placing him on an equality with God?”
— Pascal, Pensēes, #430.
“Salvation, such as it shall be in the world to come,…

Probably the most famous letter writer of the ancient world was Cicero. In 59 B.C., Cicero wrote to Gaius Scribonius: “There are many sorts of letters. But there is one unmistakable sort, which actually caused letter-writing to be invented in the first place, namely the sort intended to give people in other places any information which for our or their…

A recurring theme in Plato’s dialogues, including his Seventh Letter, describes the education of a young man who wants to achieve the highest things, which he considers to be achieved primarily through his ruling the polity. He wants to be a tyrant. This desire, he explains to others, means that he wants to “do good” and thereby receive high honors.…

Aquinas’ definition of law is very brief and straight-forward. Most lawyers and even college students will at least have heard tell of it. It reads: “Law is an ordination of reason, by the proper authority, for the common good, and promulgated.” Many things are stated and implied in this brief, compact sentence.
When each of these four elements of the definition…

What does a politician “do”? Some would have it that he does not do much of anything. Others think that whatever it is that he does, he usually makes things worse. Politicians certainly talk a lot. Their speeches sometimes move our souls or save our civilization like those of Pericles, Cicero, Henry V, Lincoln, or Churchill. The talk of politicians…

A friend of mine recently asked me how he should go about reading Samuel Johnson, the great 18th century English lexicographer, a man of many parts. I replied: “Find a good edition of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, one you can underline as you read it. Then sit down, begin on page one. Read a couple of pages every day or…

On Thursday, May 1, 1783, with “the young Mr. (Edmund) Burke” present, Samuel Johnson remarked: “It is strange that there should be so little reading in the world and so much writing. People in general do not willingly read if they can have anything else to amuse them.” The word “reading” here does not mean, say, the reading of e-mails, which…