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  • As You Head into Party …. ah, ahem … Reading Week

    vendredi 12 février 2016

    I spent over a decade enrolled as a univeristy student. Though it was by-and-large a valuable experience, it was the odd time that I truly applied myself. The following is not coming from a place of: “Do this because it’s what I did and it worked for me”. But more from a place of: “I wish someone would have said this to me early on and that I have had the gumption to follow it”.

    These are my top 5 reasons why you should take advantage of this study week (and for the rest of your university career) to … well … study.

    Don’t waste your money

    As a student at DUC, your tuition is more affordable than any other university in Ontario. But you’re still spending thousands of dollars. By doing the assigned readings and investing yourself in your studies, you’re getting your money’s worth. Make the $ you spend count.

    Don’t waste your time

    From the world of business we learn that the opportunity cost of an activity (i.e. going to university) is the next best alternative use of the resource. The time you spend enrolled in a program could have been put toward any number of Great Things. You chose to devote yourself to a university studies. The value you’re placing on education is evidently quite high: Great! Now it's time to make it count.

    It’s time well spent

    What happens as you go through the process, as you start to understand better what you’re reading and put your thoughts in order, is that you walk away with some very marketable skills. The skills gained from training in philosophy or theology are unique and sought after. Don’t underestimate the value of applying yourself to your education. It can pay off in life and in work.

    You want to

    As we hear in the first sentence of Aristotle’s Metaphysics,  “All men by nature desire to know.” When the papers are piling up and the winter seems to be endless drudgery, it’s hard to remember that you actually enjoy it. The spirit thirsts; and somewhere, buried in those 40 word-long sentences from Kant, or under some unending list of objections and replies to objections from Aquinas, we find that nugger which we are looking for. The line that makes the light go on and the soul say “Ahhh!”. It sometimes seems a twisted form of self-punishment. But if you’re persistent, somewhere in the slugfest is knowledge that will satisfy. 

    We need you to

    People become firefighters and paramedics because they care about saving lives. People become priests and evangelists because they want to save souls.

    Why bother with the study of philosophy or theology?

    Applying yourself to what the scholastics called “the Highest Sciences” gives you:

    Training and formation to be able to delve into the big questions.

    A framework to help others think through those questions.

    And the ability to build community and society based on sounder principles.

    Why study philosophy or theology?

    We need you to.

    It’s not just about you and a quest for your own enlightenment or a paycheck, we all benefit from you digging deep, barring down and understanding better. You gain prudence and wisdom. Whereever life takes you, you'll be able to shed light on how we can live better together.

     

  • Don't Unplug, Plug In

    vendredi 22 janvier 2016

    I love the internet as much as anyone. I’m not here to decry or lambaste. It has created, what would have been a fairly short time ago, an unimaginable world of sharing thoughts and ideas, technology and innovation, lives, joys, sorrows, struggles. It’s helped people connect, get married, stay married. Furnish your house, fill your fridge, your sock drawer, book a vacation, find a ride, play, read--and eventually, at some point in there, for the academics and budding academics alike, research.

    It’s a marvelous tool, but it’s also a world of big shiny objects that feed an all-too-ready wanderlust. A mindsucker and a time-zapper, if ever there was one. If you want to watch a morning slip away without tackling a blessed thing you intended, just open 8 of your favourite sites at one time. Your Word document, your essay, book, blog, etc. will begin to collect dust very quickly. As a perennial student, I’ve noticed that the favourite addiction of our age poses particular problems. I began my studies not before the internet (though many days I feel that old), but before the internet was nearly as interesting and useful as it is now. My attention span seems to be in direct negative correlation with the many interesting things to do online.

    The dazzled and distracted state created by the internet poses particular problems for students of philosophy and theology. It’s a tough go, the highest sciences. Try reading Anselm’s argument or Kant’s Critique with less than 100% attention and you’ll see what I mean. Most of us need 150% attention to get 50% comprehension.

    Yet, this isn’t a rally cry for the unplugged movement or a chance to try and sell you on the very fruitful life that exists in a web-free world. The thrill of the browse has gotten beneath my skin far too much for that. I’m writing simply to offer a trick that I’ve developed based on a lovely little excerpt from St. Thomas on curiosity. He says that it (curiosity: the vice opposed to studiousness) is “looking around in all directions curiously and inordinately”. If we could embody a vice in any entity I think this one’s name would be “Mr. Web”.

    Anyways, on very good days, when I have the temperance and courage to do so, I ask myself the following question to try and quell the rage of curious inordinateness: What am I hoping to do online? And then I do that thing. And that’s it. Close the browser and back to what’s at hand. It seems simple but it’s probably the most difficult form of aestheticism I’ve practiced. If you have a clear path of what it is you need to know/do when opening the time sucking beast, and you clearly have other things that are supposed to be happening, the likelihood of getting those other things accomplished goes up. Binge surfing goes down. There can be a need to read the newspaper, to watch Netflix, to check Facebook. Making it a purposeful exercise instead of a mindless one helps us get back control so we can do the thing and then get on with our lives. Have a purpose when going online.

    Don’t unplug, plug in.

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