Speaker Series: Dr. Christopher Morrissey

May 6, 2017
Dr. Christopher Morrissey
Professor of Ancient Philosophy

“Truth, Goodness, and Beauty: The Three Ideas by Which We Must Judge”

11:00 am,  St. John Cantius, Auditorium

Video of Dr. Morrissey's Talk

Synopis: The ideas that we have about truth, goodness, and beauty will shape the way we see the world. Concerning truth, we may admit that scientists can construct an objective account of the world, and yet we may still be unable to explain why relativism and skepticism are wrong. In the realm of personal behavior, by what standard of truth are we able to judge the actions both of our selves and of others?


Concerning goodness, we may admit that while people will act for what they believe to be in their own best interest, and yet we may still be unable to explain why not all of our desires are merely desires that are acquired from others (“socially constructed” desires) or freely chosen by us (in response to “apparent goods”). In social interactions, by what standard are we able to judge the difference between right and wrong?


Concerning beauty, we may admit that in our encounters with the beautiful we are able to experience a transcendent reality that pulls us outside of our ordinary mode of existence, and yet we may still be unable to explain why this experience is more than merely subjective. In matters of taste, by what standard are we able to judge the difference between the objectively beautiful and the subjectively beautiful? How can we judge rightly about what is beautiful and what is ugly?


In this lecture, the ideas of truth, goodness, and beauty are defined and explained as “transcendentals” that permit us to have real access to the right way of judging reasons, actions, or artworks. By drawing upon the resources of ancient philosophy and scholastic tradition, we will learn how the desires we have, when shaped by the virtues we ought to have, can be in accordance with right reason. This will involve giving answers to all those pressing questions about personal behavior, social interaction, and matters of taste that may still linger, despite our own heartfelt desire to live a life in harmony with truth, goodness, and beauty.



Dr. Christopher S. Morrissey teaches Greek and Latin on the Faculty of Philosophy at the Seminary of Christ the King located at the Benedictine monastery of Westminster Abbey in Mission, British Columbia. He also lectures in logic and philosophy at Trinity Western University. He is a Fellow of the Adler-Aquinas Institute, an Executive Member of the Semiotic Society of America, and a Member of the Inklings Institute of Canada. He studied Ancient Greek and Latin at the University of British Columbia and has taught classical mythology, history, and ancient languages at Simon Fraser University, where he wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on René Girard. He is the managing editor of The American Journal of Semiotics. His book of Hesiod’s poetry, Theogony / Works and Days, is published by Talonbooks. He regularly writes columns for Catholic World Report, The B.C. Catholic, and The Imaginative Conservative.

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