Spring 2023 PROGRAMS
Part 1 of 3
From the time of Aristotle, philosophers have identified several universal properties within every "being": every "thing" that exists possesses some degree of "goodness", "beauty" and "truth". Later, medieval scholars suggested that by appreciating these properties, our intellect is drawn to a world beyond the immediate material reality before us. The "beauty", "goodness" and "truth" we appreciate in the things around us help us to appreciate their Creator, much as a work of art offers insights into the mind of the artist. These "transcendental" properties of all beings are the reason we are attracted to any "thing".
Whether we realize it or not, human beings desire beauty, goodness and truth in each and every action. Over the next several semesters, we will be offering a series of lectures to help us reflect on the importance of "the transcendentals" in our life. The first in our series is courtesy of Professor Zena Hitz.
The life of the mind &
the human good
Zena Hitz, PhD
Saint John's College (Annapolis)
Zena Hitz is a Tutor at St John’s College (Annapolis, Maryland), where her scholarly work centers on law and human nature in Plato and Aristotle.
Her interest in the intellectual life began while writing an essay on Oedipus Rex as a freshman at St. John’s College in Annapolis. She studied classics and philosophy at Cambridge and the University of Chicago before completing a PhD in ancient philosophy at Princeton. Her dissertation considered Platonic & Aristotelian critiques of democracy, focusing on conceptions of democracy as driven by appetite rather than reason.
Professor Hitz has taught philosophy at McGill University, then at Auburn University and at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She then spent three years living and working in the Madonna House Apostolate before coming back to teach at St. John’s in 2015.
Professor Hitz believes that learning is good for its own sake: a powerful and necessary means to self-discovery and personal enrichment. In keeping with this conviction, she has sought to promote free, self-motivated inquiry in the humanities for non-traditional students: her Catherine Project is a scholarly initiative of conversation and community, tutorials and reading groups covering a range of classical disciplines for learners from a variety of backgrounds.
She is the 2020 recipient of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities & Culture.
Her newest book, A Philosopher Looks at the Religious Life, will be released this spring from Cambridge University Press.
Friday, MArch 17, 2023
The Michigan League
from 6-8 pm
Lecture begins at 6:30
Refreshments & Light Appetizers served
Zena's lecture will complement the insights of her critically acclaimed book, Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life.
The first 20 persons who register will receive a free copy of Lost in Thought. Please leave your mailing address in the "Statement of Interest" portion of the registration to receive your book before the event!
"[Lost in Thought] proved a salutary reminder for me, and may for other readers as well, that we should try to make at least a little space . . . for the contemplative learning that drew us into
the life of the mind."
—James M. Lang, Chronicle of Higher Education
"[Lost in Thought is] full of wonder, full of the joyful smiles of somebody who’s been saved, or saved herself, from empty toils of ledger-sheet learning. In her good-natured way, Hitz chastises the increasing commodification of intellectual endeavor. . . ."
—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review
"In her rich and rewarding book Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life, Professor Zena Hitz argues that the goal of education is not the status or privileges it confers upon us, or even the valuable life skills it demands that we acquire. In line with classical pagan and Christian traditions, she argues that we have a natural desire to understand the world outside of us, and that a true education carefully cultivates this natural love of learning and helps to bring it to its full maturity. . ."
—Jennifer A. Frey, Classical Learning Test blog
"[An] elegant and absorbing argument. . . .Hitz doesn’t just want to persuade you; she wants to win over your heart. . . .You might walk away from it with a little more clarity, a little more conviction, and a little more dedication to what
really matters in your life."
—Roosevelt Montás, American Political Thought
"Lost in Thought recounts the thrilling story of how Zena Hitz overcame the anxiety of uselessness, the fear that immersion in the intellectual life
cuts one off from what really matters.
What she discovers, for herself and for us, is that what truly matters only emerges
in the course of a commitment to think things through to the ground. Indeed, she concludes, 'If intellectual life is not left to rest in its splendid uselessness, it will never bear its practical fruit.' An old lesson, but one that must be relearned, especially at times like ours when a passion for social justice
is the new idol to which disinterested
contemplation is being sacrificed."
—Stanley Fish, author of Think Again