I am a Tutor at St. John’s College. My new book, A Philosopher Looks at the Religious Life, will be released this spring from Cambridge University Press. For early birds on a budget, you can get it soonest and cheapest from Blackwells.

My previous book, Lost In Thought, from Princeton University Press, has been released in Spanish and is being translated into seven other languages. (Order the original here or here.) The book explores the meaning and the value of learning for its own sake, through images and stories of bookworms, philosophers, scientists, and other learners, both fictional and historical. I also give lectures at colleges for the Thomistic Institute, recently on the theme of leisure and its necessity for human beings. For other speaking enquiries, please contact Katie Stileman at PUP Speaks (Katie_Stileman@press.princeton.edu).

My essays, lectures, and podcasts are on the human need to learn for its own sake and what it means for educational institutions to take that need seriously. My scholarly work is on law, virtue, friendship, and human nature in Plato and Aristotle. I founded the Catherine Project and now serve as president of its board of directors.

I first thought I might want to read, write, and think for a living while writing an essay on Oedipus Rex as a freshman at St. John’s College in Annapolis.  After graduating I studied classics and philosophy at Cambridge and the University of Chicago before finishing up my PhD at Princeton.  I studied for a time self-knowledge in Plato and Aristotle.  Self-knowledge for them is not a matter of awareness of subjective states, but knowledge of human nature and of what it means to be a human being.  I wrote my dissertation on the criticisms of democracy in those thinkers, focusing on the conception of democracy as driven by appetite rather than reason.  My primary scholarly project has been about the role of law in education in Aristotle. More recently I have begun to think seriously about what it means that knowledge is the condition of a living being, as we see it in Plato and Aristotle. If this is so, what do dead artifacts like writing, information and data have to do with knowledge?

After finishing my degree I taught philosophy, briefly at McGill University, then at Auburn University and finally for some years at UMBC.  I then spent three years living and working in the Madonna House Apostolate before coming back to teach at St. John’s in 2015.  I have also taught in prison programs and have a general interest in bringing humanist studies to non-traditional students. 

This page is mainly to collect my writing for interested readers. I also have a Twitter page, where I post news and trivialities. You can contact me at my first name DOT my last name AT sjc DOT edu.