Socrates says that he wanted to help his fellow Athenians to “take care of their souls.” He wanted them to think of the moral life not in terms of the wealth and prestige they could gain from it, but in terms of how their souls were formed or deformed by it. He wanted them, before all else, to cultivate moral virtue and good moral character in themselves. He stands at the origin of a rich tradition of thought about virtue.
In this seminar we want to enter in to this tradition, and to ask: What is it to be a person of integrity? What does it mean to have a well-formed character? Why is it so vital for one to live an authentic existence? The ancients do not mention authenticity, nor do the great medieval teachers. Is it a real virtue? If so, what does it consist in, and how does it fit in with the classical and the Christian virtues?
Max Scheler, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Karol Wojtyla, and other early personalists asked all these questions, and answered them with great originality. We will listen to them, as well as to other voices in our tradition, from Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, to more recent figures, such as Kierkegaard, Buber, Soloveitchik, and Levinas, as we work toward an understanding of virtue and character that is adapted to the historical moment in which we live.
The seminar assumes no previous knowledge of these works, and is open to all intellectually serious men and women who want to enter into the intellectual and spiritual world of Dietrich von Hildebrand, John Paul II, and their tradition, and to think with them about the current questions of our day.
In addition to the plenary sessions on The Care of the Soul, participants select one of several special tracks, which will provide an opportunity to look more deeply into particular ideas and applications.
(1) Education & the Virtues
(2) Virtue & Gender
(3) Leadership Track
In addition to plenary presentations, small groups, and tracks, attendees will have the opportunity to further delve into seminar themes through written reflection. On the second to last day, attendees will submit brief papers (1,000 words) commenting on a new idea or point of disagreement encountered during the seminar. Faculty will review papers and invite 4-5 attendees to present their reflections to the entire group on the final day. All attendees are expected to participate in this written component.
John F. Crosby is Professor and Director of the MA Program in Philosophy at Franciscan University. He has published extensively on the philosophy of the human person. He was a student and friend of Dietrich von Hildebrand, and during his ten years teaching at John Paul II's Pontifical Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome was deeply formed through personal and philosophical encounters with the Holy Father. He is a Senior Fellow at the Hildebrand Project, which he co-founded. His latest book is The Personalism of John Henry Newman.
Rabbi Mark Gottlieb is Senior Director of the Tikvah Fund and founding Dean of the Tikvah Institute for High School Students at Yale University. Prior to joining Tikvah, Rabbi Gottlieb served as Head of School at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and Principal of the Maimonides School in Brookline, MA and has taught at The Frisch School, Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Hebrew Theological College, Loyola University in Chicago, and the University of Chicago. He received his B.A. from Yeshiva College, rabbinical ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, where his doctoral studies focused on the moral and political thought of Alasdair MacIntyre. Rabbi Gottlieb is a member of the Orthodox Forum Steering Committee and serves on the Editorial Committee of Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought.
Josef Seifert received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Salzburg in 1969 and, under Professor Robert Spaemann, his habilitation from the University of Munich (Privatdozent) in 1975. He studied chiefly under Balduin Schwarz, the most distinguished German former student of Dietrich von Hildebrand, at the University of Salzburg, and under Gabriel Marcel in Paris. Since his childhood (from age 3 on) he knew Hildebrand personally, because Seifert’s mother had been a student of Hildebrand in Munich and both of his parents were Hildebrand’s friends. He is the author of many books, and Europe’s leading student and teacher of Hildebrand’s philosophy.
Anne Snyder is the Director of The Philanthropy Roundtable‘s Character Initiative, a program that seeks to help foundations and business leaders strengthen “the middle ring” of morally formative institutions in the United States. Her first book, “The Fabric of Character: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Social and Moral Renewal,” will be published in March of 2019. She is also a Fellow at the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, a Houston-based think tank that explores how cities can drive opportunity for the bulk of their citizens, and a Senior Fellow at The Trinity Forum. From 2014 to 2017 Anne worked for Laity Lodge and the H.E. Butt Family Foundation in Texas, and before that she worked at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, World Affairs Journal and The New York Times. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism from Georgetown University and a B.A. in philosophy and international relations from Wheaton College (IL). Anne is a Contributing Editor to Comment Magazine, an advisor to Sea Dog Theater and serves as a trustee for the Center for Public Justice, the Hyde Park Institute, and the Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center. She has written for The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, National Journal, City Journal and a wide variety of other publications.
Mark K. Spencer is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas. He earned his Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, and his M.A. and B.A. from Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he first encountered the work of Dietrich von Hildebrand. In his research, he focuses on topics like the human person, beauty, and God's relations to us. In over thirty articles, he has brought together many approaches to these topics, including Thomism, Scotism, phenomenology, personalism, and Greek patristics. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife, Susanna, and their four children.
John Henry Crosby is a translator, writer, and cultural entrepreneur. Under his leadership, the Hildebrand Project has become the world’s leading organization dedicated to Dietrich von Hildebrand’s legacy. His work has been featured in both popular (e.g., The Daily Beast) and scholarly publications (Logos). His numerous radio appearances have taken him from PRI's The Takeaway to the Hugh Hewitt Show. He was host of He Dared Speak the Truth, a 13-part television series on the life of Dietrich von Hildebrand, which aired on EWTN (2014).
Christopher T. Haley is Director of Publications and Marketing at the Hildebrand Project, where he manages the Hildebrand Press and communicates Hildebrand’s philosophical witness to new audiences. He studied philosophy and ancient languages at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Dallas. He is a frequent guest on a number of Catholic radio shows and has published broadly on topics in art, culture, and Catholicism, with a special interest in the work of Edith Stein.
The Hildebrand Project’s annual Summer Seminar is an intensive immersion program in the philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand. Since 2011, it has brought together students, scholars, and professionals who wish to understand the contributions of Hildebrand and the broader traditions he represents (notably Christian personalism and realist phenomenology) in addressing both perennial and pressing philosophical questions.
Alongside Hildebrand, seminars may explore the thought of Karol Wojtyla, Max Scheler, John Henry Newman, Søren Kierkegaard, Edith Stein, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and others.
The seminar offers both introductory and advanced sessions, designed for both new and advanced students. A schedule of plenary sessions and special tracks allows participants to concentrate on areas most relevant to their own interest, studies, and practice.
Hildebrand Project events are intellectual and convivial. Participants are sent a list of reading materials upon acceptance, which should be completed before the start of the seminar. The days are devoted to seminar sessions, while the evenings are free—and often devoted to wine, music, and conversation.
There will be an opening reception on July 5 and a closing banquet on July 10.
The seminar is open to anyone who wishes to explore the nature and significance of character, virtue, integrity, and authenticity, including especially:
The application process is based on interest but subject to space limitations. Applications will be reviewed on a weekly basis, so we encourage you to apply early.
The application window ends on May 1. The last day to apply with financial aid consideration is April 15.
We encourage faculty to nominate students to attend. Nominations will serve in lieu of letters of recommendation. The online nomination form is here. The last day to submit nomination is April 15.
The seminar will be held on the campus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where participants will be lodged in university housing. Professional participants also have the option of staying at the Franciscan Square Inn at their own expense (there is a discounted seminar rate available). Participants will have access to the university library, internet, and other basic amenities. All costs for room and board are included in the seminar fee.
Travel to and from Pittsburgh International Airport will be provided. Parking will be available on campus for those who drive.
The fee covers room, board, and reading materials for the length of the seminar. Attendees are asked to pursue all possible funding sources as fees play a critical role in making the seminars possible. Attendees whose participation is contingent on financial support may request a scholarship when applying. To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must submit a letter of recommendation or receive a nomination.
Professional (dormitory housing): $1,500
Professional (no dormitory housing; attendee covers hotel accommodations at the special seminar rate of $105/night): $1,250