What does it mean to live a “life of the mind”?
Why is it important that we make time to ponder and contemplate the heftier ideas of what it means to be a human?
And if we have the desire to lead a contemplative life, how exactly do we go about doing it?
Well, my guest today has spent his life pondering and thinking about these questions. His name is Father James Schall. He’s a Jesuit priest, philosopher, and the Professor of Political Philosophy at Georgetown University. Father Schall has written on a wide variety of topics, but today on the show we focus on his book The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking, in which he expounds on ways of approaching thinking so that it delights and edifies us. Today on the show, Fr. Schall and I discuss what it means to take part in the Great Conversation, why the life of the mind has some drudgery to it, and brass-tacks things we can all do to live a more thoughtful and contemplative life.
- Why Father Schall decided to become a Jesuit priest
- Why the contemplative life is hard
- Why you should approach training the mind like you do training the body
- Why the life of the mind requires drudgery
- When the contemplative life turns from drudgery into a “lightness of mind”
- How to live a contemplative life even in the business of life
- The book written by a 1920 Dominican priest that can be a guide to living an intellectual life admist hustle and bustle
- What the Liberal Arts are and how studying them frees you
- How thinking well often requires writing
- Why you should collect books (particularly physical books)
- Why even lousy novels can teach us something about life
- The books Fr. Schall recommends folks have in their personal library
- Reading and the contemplative life
- Why the life of the mind is figuring out “what is”
Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast
- G.K. Chesterton
- St. Paul
- Ignatius of Loyola
- The Intellectual Life
- Education of a Wandering Man
- Leisure: The Basis of Culture
- Ralph Macknernene
- C.S. Lewis
- A Guide for the Perplexed
- Joseph Piper’s Anthology
- The Politics of the Person as Politics of Being
- Emmanuel Levinas
- The University Bookman
- The Hungry Soul
- The Praise of ‘Sons of Bitches’
The Life of the Mind is a short read, but jam-packed with insights on how to think and live better. I highly recommend that you pick a up a copy and give it a read. Also, if you’d like to read more from Father Schall, check out this website that catalogs and collects his essays.
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