Food for Thought

Food for Thought (originally Coffee with the Classics) is a seminar for engaging foundational questions without the stress of grades or papers.  This informal seminar forum setting provides an opportunity to read and discuss some of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the ancient and modern Western Tradition.

Fall 2018 Modules

Module I


This Fall, join Collegium in a 4-week Food for Thought seminar dovetailing off of Penn’s Academic Theme Year: The Year of Why. 

In the face of the tragic, bereavement and horror force us to try to make sense of the senseless. Why does tragedy occur? From whence does it come, and what purpose – if any – does it serve? What does it imply about God? To address these questions, we will dive into classic texts stretching from Greek tragedy to Augustine’s Confessions to Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the Holocaust. 

Location: Room M20 at Harrison College House

Time: This module will be split into 4 sessions. They will take place on 9/5 | 9/12 | 9/19 | 9/26 |, every Wednesday of September from 5:45pm – 7:00pm, with Dinner and all texts are provided free of charge.  

Register: If you are a Penn undergrad/grad student, express interest or ask questions to Philippe Becker at or Jess Ferro at Contact Philippe if you would like to receive an electronic copy of the text. 


Week I (9/5) : What is Tragedy?

Selection from Antigone, Sophocles

Selection from Enchiridion, Augustine

Week 2 (9/12): Moral & Natural Evil

“Spring and Fall,” Gerard Manley Hopkins

Selection from Macbeth, Shakespeare

Selection from Eichmann in Jersualem, Hannah Arendt

Week 3 (9/19): Theodicy

Selection from Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume

Selection from “On Providence,” Seneca

Week 4 (9/26): Coping with Tragedy

Selection from Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker

Selections from The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky