French philosopher Remi Brague speaks to Hillsdale stu­dents about the impor­tance of clas­sical studies. S. Nathaniel Grime | Col­legian

“Clas­sical studies can’t make us better pro­fes­sionals,” French philosopher and his­torian Remi Brague told a packed room of Hillsdale College stu­dents, pro­fessors, and members of the com­munity on Monday. “But they can make us better human beings.”

Nearly 200 attended Brague’s much-antic­i­pated lecture on the study of clas­sical lan­guages. The visit was the 71-year-old Brague’s first to Hillsdale College, and the cul­mi­nation of what was years in the making.

Brague is pro­fessor emeritus of Arabic at Sor­bonne Uni­versity of Paris and chair of phi­losophy at Ludwig Max­i­m­ilian Uni­versity in Munich. Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of English Dwight Lindley said he’s been inter­ested in inviting Brague to come to Hillsdale for a few years, and was pleased that it actu­alized this year.

Brague’s lecture addressed the benefit of studying Latin and Greek, and how Western people are to under­stand their rela­tionship with their clas­sical roots.  

“Clas­sical studies can hardly con­tribute to our instruction, in order for us to do things,” Brague said. “But they can con­tribute to our edu­cation, which is some­thing rather dif­ferent. Such studies are because they can enhance what is human in us.”

Brague explained why it is important to study the Western cannon in par­ticular, in relation to other cul­tures’ his­tories.

Brague argued that studying clas­sical lan­guages would not only strengthen ties to Western roots, but would open up a better under­standing and rela­tionship with other cul­tures.

After beginning his career studying clas­sical phi­losophy, Brague shifted his focus to both medieval and Middle Eastern cul­tures.

“As a his­torian of phi­losophy, I shifted from the study of the Greeks to the study of medieval thinkers, and thereby fol­lowed a track that pro­duces the very itin­erary of European cul­tural history,” Brague said.

In intro­ducing Brague, Lindley remarked on Brague’s ability to find con­ti­nuity through history and culture.

“To read him is to watch the pro­cession of human cul­tures down through the ages, each shim­mering with dif­fer­ences, but each aware of the same ends,” Lindley said.

Sophomore Dan Grif­ferty attended the lecture, and said he enjoyed having such a high-profile philosopher visit Hillsdale to speak.

“I’ve been con­sid­ering doing a Classics major and was talking to Dr. Lindley about it and he men­tioned that Brague was coming to talk about clas­sical lan­guages,” Grif­ferty said. “That worked super well with what I was thinking about.”

Grif­ferty said he was impressed with Brague’s thor­oughness in defending the study of clas­sical lan­guages.

“I’ve been taking Latin since I got to Hillsdale and just started taking Greek this semester. I was always inter­ested in Latin and Greek for the phi­losophy, so that I’d be able to read the original texts them­selves,” Grif­ferty said. “It was mainly prac­tical for me, but this got beyond the prac­tical, and why reading these authors is important in the first place.”

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Nathan is a junior at Hillsdale College studying Rhetoric and Public Address and Journalism. He is Sports Editor and beat reporter for the Football, Women's Basketball, and Baseball teams for the Hillsdale Collegian. When he's not watching or writing about sports, Nathan enjoys playing organ and singing. Originally from St. Louis Missouri, Nathan now lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. You can follow Nathan on twitter @nategrime or Hillsdale Collegian Sports at @HDaleSports.