At the center of today’s deepest and most divisive controversies lies the question about the nature and dignity of the human person: What does it mean to be a human person? How must we treat others and ourselves to respect our personhood? What is the significance of the body and of sexuality? Is freedom compatible with obedience, or dignity with dependence? This course addresses such fundamental questions. It is the most foundational one we offer.
The recently beatified John Henry Cardinal Newman, 1801-1889, is considered by many to be the most important Catholic thinker of the modern period and a pioneer in Christian Personalism. His insights on conscience, the individuality of the person, on reasoning, friendship, the dignity of the laity, and so on, anticipated and paved the way for the developments of 20th century Catholic thought. This course is an introduction to his life, writings, and major themes.
This lecture series draws on the insights of Christian personalism—especially the writings of Dietrich von Hildebrand and Karol Wojtyla on spousal love and human sexuality—and shows what they imply for courtship: the way a man and a woman meet, fall in love, and approach marriage. It considers the question of what conjugal love is, how to recognize it and distinguish it from its counterfeits; how it grows and develops, what it means for our lives, and what we do with our suffering in its absence.
Love plays a central role in human life. It is both our origin and our ultimate end. All desire it, and no one can be happy without it. But what exactly is it? How do we recognize and attain it? What are the different kinds of love? How can we distinguish between a genuine love and its many look-alikes or corruptions? How does Christianity change our understanding of love? And how is love related to sexuality, and to new life? It is questions like these that are addressed in this course.
In this course we discuss fundamental ethical norms and principles, paying particular attention to the interplay between these and the dignity of persons. We hope to show how the demands of morality are profoundly conducive to the happiness and flourishing of persons, both as individuals and in communion with one another.