Benjamin Franklin, Boethius, Homer, and Machiavelli Walk into a Bar

by Thomas More College on October 3, 2013

2013-09-30 16.19.35The first month at Thomas More College has passed, and students have once again entered into the great conversations of Western civilization. There are no textbooks seen in the Humanities classrooms at Thomas More, and students are given their history, theology, and literature firsthand, through the works themselves. The discussion-based classes provide opportunity for students to discover questions and find answers by conversing with fellow students, the teacher, and the author of the text.

“We’re reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin,” said upperclassman Kristina Landry of her Senior Humanities course. She explained that her class is studying early America, beginning with the first separatists who left England, and focusing on the contrast between English Authority and American Individualism.  “Some of us who thought he (Franklin) was a great man were surprised that others were not fans of his” said senior Paul Guenzal.2013-09-27 17.06.10

The sophomores just finished the ever-applicable The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. It is written as a dialogue between “Lady Philosophy” and the author himself, alternating between poetry and prose.  It is this aspect that Sophomore Allison Welton particularly enjoys. “It’s easy to understand, and it’s fun because it’s human. We do the same thing (make the same mistakes) as Boethius,” she says. “It’s about friendship, true happiness, and virtue.”

Will Johnson, a freshman, also said he “sees the events in ancient times mirroring today’s,” in the Iliad, which is the first book read in Freshman Humanities. Outside class, the discussion continues in a playful manner, and the freshmen have named each of themselves after characters from the epic poem.  Walking across campus you can often hear freshman reading the epic aloud to one another or better yet reciting excerpts.2013-09-30 16.21.06

Having recently completed a paper on Machiavelli’s The Prince, Ian Kosko, a Junior, was eager to share his thoughts on the clever but morally dubious work on rules for the government of peoples. When asked whether he agreed with Machiavelli’s theory of government, Kosko replied, “Well, there’s the whole part about murdering your nobles so that they won’t take your place.” After a short pause he concluded, “He’s probably a decent enough guy.”

Such are the thoughts of Thomas More undergraduates who always seem to maintain a good sense of humor even while grappling with the most complex minds of history.

 

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