Quiddity is Moving!

The CiRCE Institute has a beautiful new website and Quiddity is part of it. Please click HERE to visit the blog and please update your links to Quiddity for the convenience of our mutual visitors. Thank you!

We hope that this new website (created with help from the fine folks at Blackwood Media Group) will enable us to more effectively provide you with information, inspiration, and insight that will, in turn, enable you to direct your students towards the True, The Good, and The Beautiful.

Of course, we’re still getting acclimated to our new digs and ironing out a few details. If you see any problems (like links that are dead, for example) please don’t hesitate to email us. If you are confused about the layout of this new site, or miss something about the old one, or if you are having a difficult time finding something, let us know and we will do our best to get it sorted out for you.

A few things you will notice:

1. Our blog is now incorporated into the layout the main website. Now all of our posts will be right here in the website, easily accessible, and clearly labeled and linked. As time goes on you will find that we will be publishing primarily four kinds of posts: our usual, daily posts, made up of less formal musings, quotations, videos, etc; profiles, which will introduce and detail the work of other organizations and groups who are doing great things in the world of classical and Christian education; features, which will be formal featured articles by guest writers; and book reviews (presented with help from ISI and Eighth Day Books).

2. You will notice that our store is still visually a part of the old site. This will be the case for a while until we get it moved over too. No worries – it still operates as it always did.

3. Please note the Nota Bene space on the right of the homepage. Here you will find links to the most recent news and blog posts. As soon as something is posted in one of those two sections it’s linked in this section – so check back daily to stay up to date.

4. Finally, if you scroll down to the bottom of the homepage, you will find a section titled “Your Feedback,”
made up the most recent comments from our readers. This is a great way to keep up with the ongoing conversations that are continually popping up and percolating around our blog.

If you’re a regular reader of Quiddity be sure to update your RSS feeds to the new blog, be sure to bookmark the new link, and please be sure to send us a note with any concerns you have about this transition.

Please note: we will continue to post here for a short time during the transition but will eventual post exclusively at the new website.

We hope that this new website leads to deeper conversation, more thorough exploration, and more passionate teaching. We hope that it operates as a tool, as an aid, for those of you dedicating your lives to the vision and mission of classical, Christian education.

We hope that it will allow us to seek first the Kingdom of God alongside you. As Aslan said in The Last Battle, let us go further up and further in!

The Lost Tools of Birthing

Between Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of The Canterbury Tales who died in 1400, and Edmund Spenser, who published The Sheapherd’s Calendar in 1576, you will scan your anthologies of English verse in vain for a renowned poet.
Why did English literature blossom in the 14th century only to enter an aesthetic dark age until Spenser? And why did the late 16th century, the Elizabethan age, experience a flowering that many students of English literature still consider a golden age? How did nearly 200 obscure years disappear in the radiance of Spencer, Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, and so many great poets, writers, explorers, and scientists?
Grammar and rhetoric.
In 1540, King Henry VIII issued an Executive Order that every school throughout the realm should teach a uniform grammar. In the 1544 version, the following “letter to the reader” explains why he issued his history-altering decree:
“His majesty considering the great encumbrance and confusion of the young and tender wits, by reason of the diversity of grammar rules and teachings (for heretofore every master had his grammar, and every school diverse teachings, and changing of masters and schools did many times utterly dull and undo good wits) hath appointed certain learned men meet for such a purpose, to compile one brief, plain, and uniform grammar, which only (all others set apart) for the more speediness, and less trouble of young wits, his highness hath commanded all schoolmasters and teachers of grammar within this his realm, and other his dominions, to teach their scholars.”
Every English school child in Elizabethan England memorized this famous “Lily’s Grammar.” Even earlier, Dean Colet had re-founded St. Paul’s school in London, where he implemented a curriculum and text books written and assisted by his friend, Erasmus. By the time Shakespeare reached the Stratford Grammar School in 1571, the curriculum and methods of St. Paul’s had spread throughout England. Sister Miriam Joseph describes the manner of teaching:
“The method prescribed unremitting exercise in grammar, rhetoric, and logic. Grammar dominated the lower forms, logic and rhetoric the upper. In all forms the order was first to learn precepts, then to employ them as a tool of analysis in reading, and finally to use them as a guide in composition…. The boy must first be grounded in the topics of logic through Cicero’s Topica before he could properly understand the one hundred and thirty-two figures of speech defined and illustrated in Susenbrotus’ Epitome Troporum ac schematum et grammaticorum et rhetoricorum”
The assumption behind this Renaissance curriculum is the same assumption that an athlete or a painter or a dancer makes when he seeks excellence: virtue requires “unremitting exercise,” which is to say, disciplined mastery of the craft.
The Lost Tools of Writing is a shadow of the curriculum Erasmus and Lily established in 16th century England. It is hoped that this shadow, learned by eager students and taught by humble teachers, can plant the seeds of a thousand individual Renaissancen.
The Lost Tools of Writing rests on the conviction that our world is populated by geniuses and intelligent people who fail to realize their genius or fulfill their intelligence for lack of disciplined training in the craft of writing. When the insights and epiphanies come, the unprepared mind has no vessel to preserve it.
The more intelligent the student, the more frustrating the experience.
Perhaps it strains the point to insist that writing is a craft with tools that empower the craftsman through practice, that writing produces artifacts that can be objectively assessed for their consistency with the principles of the art, and that the goal of instruction is for the student to attain self-mastery, which is synonymous with freedom.
If American education is going to be reborn, if the United States are going to experience a much-needed rebirth of freedom, it will only occur through a wide-spread commitment to the verbal arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

“Teaching Attentiveness” – chatting today @ 3pm ET.

Teaching Attentiveness

The Temptation of Christ

Here is a passage from the Philokalia (Love of Beauty/Goodness) on the temptations Jesus endured that relates to what I wrote this morning.

Of the demons opposing us in the practice of the disciplined life, there are three groups who fight in the front line: those entrusted with the appetites of gluttony, those who suggest avaricious thoughts, and those who insight us to seek the esteem of men. All the other demons follow behind and in their turn attack those already wounded by the first three groups. for one does not fall into the power of the demon of unchastity, unless one has first fallen because of gluttony…. That is why the devil suggested these three thoughts to the Saviour: first he exhorted Him to turn stones into bread; then he  promised Him the whole world, if Christ would fall down and worship him; and thirdly he said that, if our Lord would listen to him, He would be glorified and suffer nothing in falling from the pinnacle of the temple. But our Lord, having shown Himself superior to these temptations, commanded the devil to ‘get behind Him.’ In this way He teaches  us that it is not possible to drive away the devil, unless we scornfully reject these three thoughts (cf. Matt. 4:1-10).

Evagrios the Solitary

What is man? Who knows?

Darwinism was the lynchpin of Naturalistic Materialism.  Since Darwinism is not accepted by many scientists anymore, that role has been replaced by the neo-Darwinist synthesis built on genetics and DNA.

Is the theory of the evolution of species separable from naturalistic materialism? Is the principle of adaptation sufficient in its explanatory power to bring about consciousness? Is man a spiritual or merely a highly complex physical being?   

These are the questions that civilized life turns on. Darwin argued that morality evolved from the social instinct and language. If so, then those who discover this (or have been taught it on Darwin’s authority) have escaped from that evolved morality.

As we reflect on liberty in the follow-up to this past conference and on the nature of man in preparation for the next, these are the sorts of questions we need to reflect on.

It took a long time to prepare for the day, but the world changed when Darwin published his Origin of Species and his The Descent of Man.

So far, the human soul and therefore human society has not been able to adapt to the changes. What then are the foundations of this theory and what are its implications?

Foundation one: sound knowledge of the world is gained only through the empirical approach of the natural sciences.

Implication one: The human brain has adapted to the environment so as to enable the survival of the species, but it is not capable of knowing it according to its nature and essence.  

Therefore the first implication undoes the first foundation.

Wards of the State

This article shows how the world, and particularly the US, was prepared for President Obama and it shows why his presidency is not a minor misdirection. Read it closely.

Belloc’s key insight was that Britain’s ruling elites would buy political tranquility at the cost of personal liberty. “Future … industrial society,” he wrote, will guarantee “subsistence and security … for the proletariat … at the expense of … political freedom.” Britons faced a future in which there would be “the fixing of wages by statute,” “the imposition of a minimum wage during employment,” the use of compulsory arbitration during industrial disputes (“a bludgeon so obvious that it is revolting even to our proletariat”), a vast bureaucracy to herd the working classes into conformity:

Where the Post-Modern Goes

Post modern thought, to the extent that it dominates culture, will and must lead to, or at least make inevitable, tyranny.