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“The Lyceum is a place where I can really stretch my mind and grow in my self-learning through the assistance of others.” – Lee H.
“The weekly seminars are the highlight of my week—I look forward to them—it's a great community, there are students at all levels, and the faculty are top-notch.” – Michel A.
“The community at the Lyceum has been not only fun and dynamic but has challenged me intellectually.” – Joanna V.
The Lyceum Institute, a non-profit educational institution, uses digital technology to facilitate growth in the habits of lifelong intellectual development and to bring the fruits of this development into our communities. Among these habits, we include studiousness, diligence, orderliness, focus, knowledge, insight, and most of all, humility.
The development of these habits requires an environment that encourages the continued asking of questions: questions about the works and authors we read, the events of our lives, the meaning of our beliefs, and most especially, questions concerning our own understanding—what might be fairly called “self-criticism”.
But type “self-criticism” into any popular search engine today and see which results show up first: in result after result, the consensus seems to be that self-criticism is nothing but a destructive pattern of behavior to be avoided or stamped out. If one is “self-critical”, this is because one lacks “self-acceptance”. Consequently, most of the results one finds are concerned with turning that criticism into acceptance.
While this broad characterization does not apply to all views on self-criticism, it does present the common tendency of our day and age: the aggressive avoidance of acknowledging our faults, intellectual and moral alike. This willful neglect leads not only to our bad habits worsening, but also to an egotism which hardens us against others’ helpful criticism. We see this egotism reflected most perniciously in our institutions of higher education, where—far too often—only approved opinions are allowed, and real questioning is prohibited. A class of supposed “intellectual elites” habitually incapable of admitting fault, or even the conversational admittance of an alternative point of view, actively undermines a culture’s confidence in the ability to discover and communicate the truth—especially when those supposed “elites” stand in diametric opposition to one another.
Institutions of higher education resilient to this egotistical attitude stand few and far between while attendance in their courses becomes ever more difficult given the constraints of time, place, and cost. The services provided by such institutions remain invaluable, but their inability to address our contemporary educational needs is unquestionable.
The Lyceum, by its carefully-curated use of the digital sphere, provides an environment—affordably and flexibly accessible—where all members are encouraged to ask thoughtful questions: not only of one another, but most of all of ourselves. This thoughtful questioning is encouraged in weekly philosophy seminars, courses in the Trivium, the study of languages, and in on-going daily conversations. We thereby foster an attitude of fruitful self-criticism: learning to admit when we do not understand, when we have been wrong, and when we need to re-think what we believe. Through such reflective inquiry, we develop the intellectual habits through which individuals and thereby communities too are made more thoughtful.
Your generosity allows us to provide a low-cost digital environment accessible to many, through which these important intellectual habits—habits of inquiry, studiousness, humility, genuine conversation, and earnest love of the truth—can be fostered for many. Donate today and help us continue to grow!
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