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Useless Houses

Useless Houses

“Well then, Critobulus,” said Socrates, “what if I demonstrate that, in the first place, some people spend a lot of money on building useless houses, whereas others spend far less and build perfectly adequate houses?” Xenophon, The Estate Manager I wonder what...

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A Teacher to the End

A Teacher to the End

“Yet even in these nobility shines through, when a man bears with resignation many great misfortunes, not through insensibility to pain but through nobility and greatness of soul.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics I didn’t realize how difficult it would be for me to...

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The Goal in Raising Children

The Goal in Raising Children

“Man lives by reason, which can attain to prudence only after long experience, so that children need to be instructed by their parents who are experienced.” Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles There are various ways to understand the ‘goal’ in raising children. In...

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Spending Large Sums Like an Artist

Spending Large Sums Like an Artist

The magnificent man is like an artist; for he can see what is fitting and spend large sums tastefully. The magnificent man spends not on himself but on public objects. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics To examine with Aristotle the various virtues is an eye-opening tour...

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Remembering Our Dead Daily

Remembering Our Dead Daily

"I saw them in all the times past and to come, all somehow there in their own time and in all time and in no time..." Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow Some time ago it really struck me when reading Wendell Berry’s fiction how he portrayed growing old, and the deepening...

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The Courage to Be a Man

The Courage to Be a Man

“The courage of men is to command, so that no fear cause them to fail to order what should be done...” Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle’s Politics To order what should be done. This is a rich and challenging notion. Aristotle and Aquinas are talking...

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Desire Not in Vain

Desire Not in Vain

“Our (natural) desire cannot be empty and vain.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle has a remarkable sense of the human drama, of the gift and the challenge it is to be human. Not that the style or voice of his writing is itself dramatic. But if we look through...

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The Joy of Birth-days

The Joy of Birth-days

It is good to exist. Thomas Aquinas It is noteworthy that the birth of a child is pretty much always a painful experience—especially for the mother. Surely it is a trying experience for the child too. Yet when things go well a child comes forth into the world....

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Focusing on Household for the Common Good

Focusing on Household for the Common Good

Now it is best that there should be a public and proper care for such [moral] matters; but if they are neglected by the community it would seem right for each man to help his children and friends towards virtue, and that they should have the power, or at least the...

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Planting as an Act of Hope

Planting as an Act of Hope

“But on a well-banked plot Odysseus found his father in solitude Spading the earth around a young fruit tree.” Homer, Odyssey It is one of the most powerful images of Greek literature. An old man is tilling the soil around a young tree. Most likely he will never see...

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Being Prepared in These Times

Being Prepared in These Times

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin One cannot but notice a growing sense of concern and even anxiety about the future. Are we in for serious disruptions of the social order, and should we be doing something to prepare? The fact is...

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A Woman’s Courage in Childbearing

A Woman’s Courage in Childbearing

“the courage… of a man and of a woman, are not…the same.” Aristotle, Politics Not many nights ago, my wife shared something remarkable with me. Here is basically what she said: In battle, or other such dramatic circumstances, a man might face the possibility of death,...

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