“The particular aspect of history which both attracts and benefits its readers is the examination of causes and the capacity, which is the reward of this study, to decide in each case the best policy to follow. Now in all political situations we must understand that the principle factor which makes for success or failure is the form of a state’s constitution: it is form this source, as if from a fountainhead, that all designs and plans of action ot only originate but reach their fulfillment.”
Roman historian Polybius contended that Rome survived her battles with the Carthaginian empire because Rome possessed a form of government that encouraged public and private virtue. Rome’s constitution was mixed, combining the best elements of each regime–monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. This creates stability and allows a nation to escape anacyclosis or the cycle of regimes. Without a mixed constitution, the government will endlessly revolve to the different forms of regime and cannot survive.
In this episode of Handmade Humanity, Austin Hoffman takes Polybius’s teaching on the Punic Wars and the Roman constitution and applies it to the current political climate in America. We should all heed this insight of the political philosophers because every human society has a form of government. By recognizing the seeds of destruction inherent in each form of governance, we can best prepare for the future and avoid evils.
‘Therefore, say that what provides the truth to the things known and gives the power to the one who knows is the idea of the good. And as the cause of knowledge and truth, you can understand it to be a thing known; … As for knowledge and truth, just as in the other region it is right to hold light and sight sunlike, but to believe them to be the sun is not right; so too here, to hold these two to be like the good is right, but to believe that either of them is the good is not right. The condition which characterizes the good must receive still greater honor.’
‘You speak of an overwhelming beauty,’ he said, “if it provides knowledge and truth but is istself beyond them in beauty. You surely don’t mean it is pleasure.’
The city is sick because the soul of man is sick. Plato’s diagnosis of the ills of the city remains true to this day. We are witnessing the breakdown of our society and communities because we are unwilling to take personal justice seriously. Join Austin Hoffman for the latest episode of Handmade Humanity as he considers the nature of justice and the soul in Plato’s Republic.
A long-standing practice for memory and study, keeping a commonplace book is a forgotten art. Although many of the greatest orators and thinkers of the past frequently commended and used a commonplace book, the printing press and computer seem to have made them obsolete. How could keeping a commonplace book make you a more diligent and careful reader and enrich your life?
Join Austin Hoffman and Max Pointner as they talk about their own experience with commonplacing, why everyone should keep a commonplace book, and how you can get started with your own. Listen to this episode and start keeping a commonplace book today.
C.S. Lewis loved the medieval cosmos. It was one of his great moral and imaginative inspirations and delights. The ancient cosmology appears in his popular Chronicles of Narnia and Ransom Trilogy.
In this episode of Handmade Humanity, Austin Hoffman explains what was lost when we shifted away from the medieval cosmology and how we can recover their vision of the heavens while not rejecting modern scientific discovery.
On this episode of Handmade Humanity, Austin and Max discuss how these liberal arts might apply to the classroom. As humanities teachers, they primarily discuss grammar, logic, and rhetoric, but then lean out on the tree branch and discuss music and astronomy. These seven arts are endlessly informative and practical. They are the fundamental means of perceiving truth in any age.
“What we have in mind is education from childhood in virtue, a training which produces a keen desire to become a perfect citizen who knows how to rule and be ruled as justice demands. I suppose we should want to mark off this sort of training from others and reserve the title ‘education’ for it alone. A training directed to acquiring money or a robust physique or even to some intellectual facility not guided by reason and justice, we should want to call coarse and illiberal, and say that it had no claim whatever to be called education.” (Plato, Laws, 644a)