At Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, we combine the very best approaches to liberal education within a single institution, integrating a reading of the classic great books both in an interdisciplinary approach—in our Philosophy and Humanities Sequence—but also through the lenses of the classic disciplines, particularly in our major courses. Students will drink directly from the sources, engaging poets, philosophers, theologians, scientists, historians, playwrights, and artists in their own words and works. These transformative encounters expand, elevate, refine, and challenge the intellects and the imaginations of those who give themselves to the books while also receiving them deeply into their own interior lives.
Over the course of four years, students encounter a wide variety authors and texts in the Philosophy and Humanities Sequence, the major courses, and the other courses that constitute the Program of Studies.
One way to think of the Sequence is as a great conversation stretching back through time. Very often authors are in direct dialogue with one another–think of Kant’s being “awakened from his dogmatic slumber” by Hume–while others do not explicitly name their interlocutors. This is a conversation in which our students enter, not as passive onlookers but as active contributors. This dialogue–between authors, students, faculty, and alumni–forms the heart of our college.
The following offers a selection of the texts that all students read in the core courses, either in whole or in part:
Nichomachean Ethics by Aristotle
The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
The Republic by Plato
Elements by Euclid
Antigone by Sophocles
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Confessions and City of God by St. Augustine
Treatise on Law by St. Thomas Aquinas
The Prince by Machiavelli
Essays Concerning Human Understanding by Locke
The Plays of Williams Shakespeare
Democracy in America by Tocqueville
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky
Up from Slavery by Washington
Relativity by Einstein
Man’s Search for Meaning by Frankl
Documents from the Council of Trent and Vatican II