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The Pursuit of Wisdom: Father Basil Burns Gives his Last Lecture

By John Syms, Part-Time Staff Writer

On Nov. 21, Father Basil Burns gave his final lecture at Saint Vincent College (SVC) at Luparello Lecture Hall in Dupre. Burns will be returning to Saint Joseph Abbey, his previous monastery in Louisiana, once the fall semester is over. Burns’ lecture was mainly about philosophy, theology, and the quest for wisdom.

In his lecture, he described philosophy as a “romance, a battle, and a journey, in which these three tropes are the most common you will find in any work of literature and one of the things that you meet with incredible odds while searching for wisdom.” He discussed Socrates and Plato and some of their works and values. Burns discussed Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and how Socrates would find people in Athens to try and judge Socrates' wisdom by asking him questions.

Burns emphasized that “Socrates died for teaching and living, the fact that the unexamined life is not worth living, (and) he died for having honest conversations that we still need to be having. Now what is the unexamined life? The unexamined life is where you never ask yourself the great questions, and I know you can.” He explained why he found it important to live a life purposefully, and how Socrates is a good example of it.

Basil spoke of the pursuit of wisdom in his talk, as well as his education in college and what he did afterwards.

“During my pursuit of wisdom, I knew I was looking for something, but I did not imagine I could find it in a pile of books, and there are definitely things in life you can find by just looking at them,” Burns said. “So, how do we think? We think in concepts, and the more precise our concepts are, the more precise our universe will be.”

The lecture would end with Burns talking about the Consolation of Philosophy, and why it is important to pursue the quest for wisdom. His one-hour talk concluded with a few final questions and a round of applause from the students that gathered for his lecture.


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