The Catholic University of America



School of Philosophy

Graduate Student Spring 2012 Lecture Series

The Catholic University of America


The Myth of Plato's Socratic Period

Lloyd Gerson, University of Toronto

Friday, February 10, 2 p.m.

Aquinas Auditorium


Freedom as Actuality:  Hegel's Critique of the Will as the Power to Choose

David C. Schindler, VillanovaUniversity

Friday, March 16, 2 p.m.

Aquinas Auditorium



March 30-31, Graduate Student Conference

March 30, 12 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., Caldwell Hall, Happel Room - student presentations

3 p.m. Aquinas Auditorium - Eva Brann, St. John's College, "The Dispassionate Study of the Passions"

March 31, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Caldwell Hall, Happel Room - student presentations

3:15 pm, Happel Room - Michael Rohlf, CUA, "Emotion and Evil in Kant"



Natural Law, Common Good, and Wisdom: The Distinctiveness of the Inclinations Proper to Man in Summa theologiae 1-2.94.2

Fr. Stephen Brock, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

Friday, April 13 2 p.m.

Hannan Hall 106



Abstract for


“The Myth of Plato’s Socratic Period’


Lloyd P. Gerson

University of Toronto


A hypothesis first proposed in the nineteenth century has since the middle of the 20th century been approaching mythical status.  It is the hypothesis that in the course of Plato’s philosophical ‘development’, he passed through a ‘Socratic period’ in which he was principally devoted to representing the philosophy of the historical Socrates rather than his own.  This Socratic philosophy is found in the so-called early dialogues and is sometimes called ‘Socratic intellectualism’. According to the myth, Plato only developed and wrote down his own philosophical position in the middle and late dialogues.  In this paper, I challenge the myth, arguing that there is no external evidence to support the initial hypothesis and significant evidence for rejecting it.  In fact, Plato was probably in some sense a proponent of Pythagoreanism and a ‘two-world metaphysics’  well before he wrote anything.  The claim that, external evidence notwithstanding, the early dialogues actually contain a philosophical position substantially different from that of later dialogues is also unfounded.  Although Plato’s thought continually developed within the context of ongoing Academic discussions, nowhere in any of the dialogues is Plato’s ‘otherworldy’ revisionist philosophy absent.



Abstract for

“Freedom as Actuality: Hegel’s Critique of the Will as the Power to Choose”


David C. Schindler

Villanova University


In his Confessions, Augustine describes the state of unfreedom as the will’s not being identical with what it chooses (ideo non est, quod imperat), which implies that freedom, conversely, is the unity of the will with its object. In spite of Augustine’s influence on the thinking of freedom in the West, however, most theories tend to associate freedom, not with the will’s actuality, but with some form of potentiality or possibility. Hegel is a rare exception. Through a discussion of the introduction to the Philosophy of Right, this paper will interpret Hegel’s essential definition of freedom—"being at home with oneself in an other" (bei-sich-sein in einem Anderen)—as a specifically concrete notion of freedom. It will then show how this notion corrects the failings of more conventional views of freedom as the will’s power to choose or as self-determination even while it fulfills the basic aspirations of these views. And, finally, the paper will conclude with a suggestion of the particular danger of Hegel’s concept of freedom as actuality.


Abstract for

 "The Dispassionate Study of the Passions"

Eva Brann

My question in this talk is this: Study is not mostly done in a state of arousal, while passions are arousals of the soul. How then can a sober mind succeed in capturing the nature of emotion? But, then again, how can an affectively moved one? Reading articles helps a little; using your imagination helps a lot.


Abstract for

Natural Law, Common Good, Wisdom:  The Distinctiveness of the Inclinations Proper to Man in Summa theologiae 1 -2.94.2 

Fr. Stephen Brock

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross


In his best-known passage on natural law – Summa theologiae, I-II, q. 94, a. 2 – Thomas Aquinas aligns the precepts of natural law with man’s natural inclinations.  He divides these into inclination common to all substances, inclination common to all animals, and inclination proper to man.  To exemplify the third set, he cites inclination to know the truth about God and to live in society.  In this paper I argue that there is something distinctive about these examples that accounts both for Thomas’s selection of them and for his citing them in that order.  This is their referring, in a particularly manifest way, to common goods.  On this account, the examples serve to bring to the fore not only a very fundamental element in Thomas’s overall conception of law, which is the primacy of common good, but also a no less fundamental element in his vision of the moral life as a whole, the primacy of wisdom.



 This series is sponsored by the graduate students of the School of Philosophy with the
generous support of the Graduate Student Association. 

 For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of the School of Philosophy at
202-319-5259 or visit


To request disability accomodations, contact Ms. Melissa Grim (x5260) at least a week prior to the event.  A good faith effort will be made to provide the accommodations requested.