By Ella Fordyce, Class of 2019
Founded last year by Honor Scholars of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Milk Street Society exists to provide a place for political and philosophical discussion outside of the classroom. This society is named after the street where Thomas More, our saintly patron, was born.
This year, the society is led by Miss Evangeline Soutsos and Mr. Daniel Leahy, both Class of 2019. The group meets once a week to discuss general questions of political philosophy, such as: What is the difference between modern and Catholic political thought? What is the end of a political community, and what is meant by a common good? Through asking these questions, the students hope to gain a better understanding of the relation between the religious and political spheres, as well as the proper limitations of government.
In addition to meeting weekly, Milk Street often goes to talks relevant to the material being discussed. Most recently, the students went to a talk at MIT in Boston, which was part of the Thomistic Institute Lecture Series. The talk was given by Chad Pecknold, a professor at Catholic University of America. In his talk, Mr. Pecknold discussed St. Augustine’s understanding of politics as expressed in his City of God. In this famous work, Augustine speaks of two cities, the earthly and the heavenly. Apart from their location, these cities also differ in their common object of love.
It is this common good that makes a polity of a city; however, Mr. Pecknold explained, modern politics lacks a common good, and thus is not truly politics at all. In today’s society, the constant push for individual goods had subsumed most notions of communal goods. Thus, America’s current political disunity can come as no surprise. In this era of political strife, how best should a Catholic respond? Mr. Pecknold advised that Catholics should adhere to the principles they know to be right, and pursue common goods in a manner that is in keeping with the Catholic faith. After the talk, Milk Street students met and conversed with Professor Pecknold; both parties were mutually delighted with the encounter.
In the future, Milk Street hopes to attend many other talks. They aim throughout the semester to continue engaging in questions of Catholic political thought. “Milk Street gives students who are interested in political philosophy a chance to discuss human issues outside the classroom,” said Miss Soutsos. Mr. Leahy explained that such an aim is well in keeping with the aims of TMC. As a philosophical institution, TMC prompts its students to explore and discuss principles on their own. The Milk Street Society is only one way by which TMC students continue to seek further knowledge of the truth.