The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. -Thomas Jefferson


The aim of the Thomas Jefferson Center is to realize Jefferson's vision of educating citizens and leaders to understand the meaning of liberty and to exercise it wisely. We share Jefferson's conviction that one of the best ways to attain a liberal education--an education suited for a free individual in a free society--is through a serious study of the great books. In our courses, students will engage in a direct, respectful, but probing and critical study of major creative and theoretical works that have shaped human thought and history. They will enter into debates about human nature, ethics, and the meaning of life. They will learn skills of critical reasoning, close reading, and clear, cogent writing. They will join a community of scholars drawn from many departments and many schools of thought, united by a passion for fundamental questions, a spirit of friendly debate, and a willingness to engage in critical self-scrutiny.

We offer for students in all colleges the Certificate in Core Texts and Ideas, which provides an integrated path through UT's core curriculum based on a study of the great books. Outstanding freshmen and sophomores interested in pursuing this program through an integrated learning community may apply for the Jefferson Scholars Program. In collaboration with the The Center for European Studies, we offer an interdisciplinary major in European Thought. We sponsor post-doctoral fellowships, a lecture series, the Jefferson Center book club, and other symposia for the university and broader community.



Faculty Book Spotlight On Our Directors

Lorraine Pangle's Virtue is Knowledge Virtue is Knowledge



The relation between virtue and knowledge is at the heart of the Socratic view of human excellence, but it also points to a central puzzle of the Platonic dialogues: Can Socrates be serious in his claims that human excellence is constituted by one virtue, that vice is merely the result of ignorance, and that the correct response to crime is therefore not punishment but education? Or are these assertions mere rhetorical ploys by a notoriously complex thinker?

Thomas Pangle's Socrates Founding Political Philosophy in Xenophon's "Economist", "Symposium", and "Apology" Socrates Founding Political Philosophy


Pangle provides a sequel to his study of Xenophon’s longest account of Socrates, the Memorabilia, expanding the scope of inquiry through an incisive treatment of Xenophon’s shorter Socratic dialogues, the Economist, the Symposium, and the Apology of Socrates to the Jury. What Pangle reveals is that these three depictions of Socrates complement and, in fact, serve to complete the Memorabilia in meaningful ways.


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