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Western Civilization

What is the best life? What is virtue, and can it be taught? What is a just society? What makes something beautiful, or good?

The heart of the Tikvah experience happens at the seminar table—in rich, probing, and spirited discussions between students and teachers and among the students themselves. Each summer, our students choose seminars for the two weeks of study together in the fields of economics, politics, philosophy, and/or literature. The seminars focus on open-ended topics (and close readings of great texts) that lend themselves to varied opinions and spirited debate.

The Nature of Reason

In our cultural moment, society’s disregard of qualitative reasoning in favor of quantitative analysis–what spiritual master Rene Guenon dubbed “The Reign of Quantity”– has left a gaping hole in issues relating to morality, spirituality, and meaning. We will ask: “What is reason in the 21st Century?” To this end, we will ask essential questions like: Do the worlds of philosophical reasoning and empirical analysis speak different languages? This course will analyze the fundamental building blocks of these questions, and students will share reflections at the end of the course on how this study will impact the way they approach the world.

Friendship: Ancient and Modern

This course will examine the concept of friendship through the disciplines of literature, philosophy, and religion. We will draw from texts in the Western tradition including Plato’s Symposium, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, C. S. Lewis’s The Four Loves, and Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People.”

Great Leaders in History

“Leadership” is one of the most popular terms of approbation in our contemporary culture—think of all the programs that promise to teach you how to become a leader– and yet most remain oblivious of what real leadership looks like, let alone how to become a leader. Through the careful examination of four case-studies of military, political, and strategic leaders over the centuries, we will try to sketch the contours of a genuine theory and practice of leadership.


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